Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Sir James Tillie's Strange Interment

Tuesday, October 31, 2017
Sir James Tillie's mausoleum
Loretta reports:

Looking for a suitable historical topic for Halloween that didn’t involve burning nuts or bobbing for apples, I found myself considering the subject of earthly remains and what to do with them. In Sir James Tillie's case, it was definitely not the usual thing.

A drawing of his mausoleum, along with the same exact account of his ideas for his dealing with his corpse, appeared in various 19th C magazines over the years, like the 1828 Gentleman’s Pocket Magazine and the Ladies’ Pocket Magazine of 1837.

Other versions of the story appear in An Illustrated Itinerary of the County of Cornwall as well as this one from The Monthly Review 1803:

"Mr. Tilly, once the owner of Pentilly-House, was a celebrated atheist of the last age. He was a man of wit, and had by rote all the ribaldry and common-place jests against religion and scripture, which are well suited to display pertness and folly, and to unsettle a giddy mind; but are offensive to men of sense, whatever their opinions may be; and are neither intended nor adapted to investigate truth. The brilliancy of Mr. Tilly's wit, however, carried him a degree further than we often meet with in the annals of prophaneness. In general, the witty atheist is satisfied with entertaining his contemporaries; but Mr. Tilly wished to have his sprightliness known to posterity. With this view, in ridicule of the resurrection, he obliged his executors to place his dead body, in his usual garb, and in his elbow chair, upon the top of a hill, and to arrange on a table before him, bottles, glasses, pipes, and tobacco. In this situation he ordered himself to be immured in a tower of such dimensions as he prescribed, where he proposed, he said, patiently to wait the event. All this was done; and the tower, still enclosing its tenant, remains as a monument of his impiety and prophaneness. The country people shudder as they go near it.”

Lady's Magazine

You might also enjoy this version (please scroll down) by Sabine Baring-Gould in his 1906, Book of Cornwall.

And then there was the discovery of human remains on the site, as reported by the BBC a few years ago.

Photograph: Mausoleum of Sir James Tillie of Pentillie Castle by Rod Allday. Creative Commons license. You can get more information about the building here at Images of England.

Clicking on the image will enlarge it.  Clicking on the caption will take you to the source, where you can learn more and enlarge images as needed.


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