Swinging open the gate of Brompton Cemetery is a bit like swinging open a little bit of London history.
Here rests famous suffragist Emmeline Pankhurst, and Beatrix Potter strolled its 39 acres, plucking names from tombstones to use in her work, including deceased Peter Rabbett and Mr. Nutkins.
Moreover, here more than 35,000 monuments in all are present, rich and poor, known and unknown.
In the middle of the grounds and shrouded by trees stands a fascinating mausoleum in Egyptian style made from granite, with a heavy bronze door secured by a keyhole, the largest and most elaborate construction in the cemetery.
It would be remarkable for its imposing stature alone, but there’s more to the story, as It is believed to be a fully functional time machine.
Well, Hannah Courtoy, born Peters, was a mysterious woman.
In short, she never married, but she inherited a fortune from an elderly merchant by the name of John Courtoy. She worked for him as a housekeeper and later took his name. Of course, rumors spread that she was his mistress, but also the mistress of kings, politicians, and other rich, powerful men.
Born around 1784 (sources differ), she fled an abusive father at a young age and found work as a housekeeper and as a tavern employee. In 1800, a friend introduced her to John Courtoy, a 70-year-old former wigmaker in poor health who had made a fortune in the lending business. Hannah was shortly in his employ as a housekeeper and, within the year, she had given birth to the first of three daughters. She claimed they were Courtoy’s, although some eyes were raised in suspicion that the friend who made the introduction, Francis Grosso, might have been the real father.
In any case, like many Victorians of the era, Hannah was intrigued by Egyptian iconography, particularly hieroglyphics and so it is not surprising that she and two of her three daughters, Elizabeth and Mary-Ann, rest in the tomb with many Egyptian characteristics while Susannah, who married, was buried elsewhere.
Hannah believed Egyptians had a deep understanding of astrology and their place in the universe, and she invited Egyptologist Joseph Bonomi over for regular visits.
The curious mausoleum was designed by two of Hannah`s good friends, Joseph Bonomi himself and Samuel Alfred Warner.
Samuel Alfred Warner was an inventor, and some people think that he was the genius who invented the torpedo, while others believe that he was just a fraud who tried to convince The British army to finance his development of several advanced weapons, too advanced to actually exist.
The other, Joseph Bonomi was a noted Egyptologist, artist, sculptor and museum curator, and he was among the first to decipher some of the hieroglyphic texts found in the Valley of the Kings. The story goes that he discovered the secret of time traveling from hieroglyphs he saw on one of his expeditions.
Supposedly, the two men convinced Hannah to finance their secret project: to design and build a mausoleum that would actually be a time machine. By placing their device in a cemetery, they ensured that no one would interfere with their journey through time, since cemeteries are rarely changed.
Either way, mausoleum was finished in 1853, 5 years after Hannah died and, shortly after the completion of its construction, Warner died in suspicious circumstances.
Some say he died because of what he discovered while working on the time machine, others that Bonomi killed him to stop him from telling anyone about their project. Another version of the story is, that Warner didn’t die at all and simply travelled in time. And he disappeared.
Both Samuel Alfred Warner and Joseph Bonomi are buried in Brompton Cemetery, the first in an unmarked grave and the other in the immediate vicinity of mausoleum. When he died in 1878, he arranged for a depiction of Hanna’s tomb to appear on his own modest headstone. Whether Bonomi intended it or not, an illustration of Anubis, the Egyptian god of the dead, appears to be “looking” in the direction of his friend’s final resting place.
However, this is just one detail that supports the story of the mausoleum being a time machine.
In fact, there are also strange wheel motifs on the bottom of the mausoleum door and a large circular hole in the top with 8 smaller holes surrounding it. Some say that it looks like a clock or dial was supposed to be in that place. In addition, for almost every structure in the Brompton Cemetery there exists an architect’s plan, but not for this mausoleum.
To make everything even more mysterious, the key of the mausoleum went missing, so no one was able to see what is inside it for more 150 years.
Another version of the story is that the mausoleum is not a time machine, but a portal or teleportation device.
It is believed that Bonomi designed at least one of the others Egyptian-inspired structures that resemble a lot the one on Brompton Cemetery. The others are placed on the “Magnificent Seven”, a group of London’s historic private cemeteries that form a perfect ring around London.
Images from web – Google Research