Appeals: The Johnstone Mausoleum

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The Independent Online
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The Johnstone Mausoleum, at Bentpath, Dumfriesshire, designed by Robert Adam (1728-92) circa 1789; it was commissioned by John Johnstone of Alva (1734-95), in memory of his father, Sir James Johnstone. The building, which is now owned by Annandale and Eskdale District Council, is in need of restoration, which Solway Heritage, a local environmental and buildings charitable trust, has undertaken to complete.

The mausoleum, which is Grade A listed, is described by Peter Burman, Director of Conservation Studies at the Institute of Advanced Architectural Studies, York University, as 'a Greek Doric building of the first European importance'; its original plans survive in the Soane Museum, in London. Robert Adam, who also made some alterations and additions to the now demolished Alva House for Johnstone, designed the mausoleum in finely worked ashlar with a frieze, cornice and parapet surmounted by a leaded dome. Much of the building, and especially the dome, has been damaged by vandals and as a result it is deteriorating rapidly. It is surrounded by gravestones in a walled burial ground contrasting with the wild Eskdale Hills in the background.

Solway Heritage, which was founded in 1989, hopes to open the mausoleum to the public once it is restored. The building work will cost about pounds 22,000, of which pounds 4,000 still needs to be raised. The organisation has previously worked on several local projects which include converting the Mill on the Fleet, at Gatehouse of Fleet, a former cotton mill, into a visitor centre; and, in 1991, helping Dumfries Museum to buy the Walter Newall Collection, the drawings, plans and archive material of an important local 19th-century architect. Its most recent restoration project, which is nearly completed, is that of the area's only cruck-framed cottage, a house built with an 'A'-shaped timber frame with a thatched roof and an unusual interior chimney made of wood, turf and thatch, at Torthorwald. For further information, contact: Solway Heritage, Kirkbank, English Street, Dumfries DG1 2DD, telephone 0387 60064.