The Hopper Mausoleum is a grand and ornate tomb thought to have been built in 1752 by Humfrey Hopper in memory of his wife Jane Hodgson. Humfrey himself and later generations were also subsequently buried and commemorated here. The elaborate structure, which is a Grade 1 listed monument, stands in the corner of the cemetery of St. Andrew’s Church at Kiln Pit Hill close to the Northumberland/County Durham border. The mausoleum is described as neo-classical in style with a dome and cupola, a number of pyramidal finials and a family crest.
The church and mausoleum stand on a lonely and bleak hill, set well back from the road and can only be reached by a three minute walk on a footpath alongside a farmer’s field. The elevated site gives a fine view of the surrounding countryside, shown here in the fading light of an autumn afternoon.
A plaque on the mausoleum reads:
Erected by Humfrey Hopper of Blackhedley, in memory of his wife Jane Hodgson, who died February 29th, 1752, aged 77. Humfrey Hopper, died [date blank] 1760, aged 83. John, his son, died December 16th, 1776, aged 76. Joseph, his son, died October 18th, 1795, aged 86. Mary Walton, wife of Joseph Hopper, died [date blank] Humfrey, captain 32 Regement [sic] Foot died at St. Vincent, August 10th, 1765, aged 43. Nicholas, son of Joseph Hopper, died February 22nd, 1807. George son of Joseph Hopper, died January 24th 1818. Joseph Hopper, captain of the ship Formosa.
One of the statues on the mausoleum appears to be wearing a mitre and, according to The Churches Conservation Trust, is believed to be the martyred Bishop Hooper (presumably no relation to Humfrey?) while another statue has been decapitated and another is missing.
St. Andrew’s Church itself is a simple building more typical of the style you would expect to find in this part of the world. It was built in 1769 replacing a much older church on the same site. The church was declared redundant in 1973 – not surprising given its remote rural location. While it is no longer in regular use it is looked after by The Churches Conservation Trust who put on occasional services and events. There are even plans to place a stargazing pod in the churchyard to take advantage of the area’s dark skies due to lack of light pollution. Unfortunately the church was closed and locked on the day of my visit so was I was unable to peek inside.
The Hopper Mausoleum is well worth a visit if you are in the vicinity. The location is shown on this map.
The Hopper Mausoleum, Greymare Hill,
Kiln Pit Hill, Consett DH8 9SJ
GPS: 54°53’29.9″N 1°55’50.9″W
There is just about space to park one car on the verge opposite the entrance to the footpath without blocking the farmer’s field. Otherwise you will have to find a parking spot elsewhere and walk.