Friday 15 November 2019

Human remains found at stately home believed to be eccentric first owner

Dominic Harris

Human remains discovered at a stately home are believed to be those of the man that built it - ordering that he be buried in his best clothes with his pipe as he waited for the afterlife.

An excavation of a mausoleum in the grounds of Pentillie Castle in Cornwall are thought to have uncovered the body of Sir James Tillie, who died 300 years ago in 1713.


Sir James, who built the home in 1698, left instructions that on his deathbed he should not be buried.


Instead he was to have been dressed in his best clothes, bound to a stout chair and placed with his books, wine and pipe in his favourite folly to await resurrection.


His servants are believed to have brought him wine for two years until, unable to bear their macabre orders any longer, they had his remains interred and a marble statue built in his place.


Mystery has long surrounded Sir James' final resting place, and it was long assumed his remains were moved to a local parish church.


But recent renovations of the mausoleum uncovered a brick chamber under granite floor slabs, in which human remains were found.


Archaeologist Oliver Jessop, who had been recording the historic fabric of the building, and building surveyor Richard Glover, said: "It is a very exciting find. The discovery of this body in the vault contradicts local tradition and adds another twist to the eccentric goings on of the Coryton family."


Ted Coryton, who has been restoring Pentillie Castle with his family since inheriting it in 2007, was present when the vault was opened.


"It was an exciting moment, to finally uncover the truth and to know that Sir James was in fact in his mausoleum," he said.


"Over the past five years we have researched much about him and the castle, so to finally tie up the loose ends was extraordinary.


"There is no doubt these are very old remains, and all indications are that it is likely to be Sir James Tillie. There was no sign of his pipe, books or wine but there was the remains of a chair that looks typical to the 1700's when he would have been placed there."


The public will be able to view Pentillie Castle's gardens over the coming months, but will not be able to visit the mausoleum.

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