Dimensions: 120cm x 100cm
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In the garden, close to the Ballroom end of the house, sits a square grey stone monument.
It is about chest-height and under one meter wide with a two stepped plinth at the base. Each side has a narrow indented border a few centimetres from the outer edge. The monument incorporates elements of classical architecture, such as triangular pediments which sit on the top of each side, and a decorative scallop pattern which sits proud on each top corner. Three of the sides are plain, but on the third, carved into the stone, is an inscription. The stone monument has weathered but the inscription is still legible:
‘In the garden which having been the scene of amusement to six other beloved children had just been dedicated to the amusement of John James Hamilton, this stone is now dedicated to his memory. He was a sweet and promising child born on an inauspicious day of the year 1800. In 1808 on the 29th April a day already marked by calamity to his father he died! Happily for himself he had not yet committed fault or felt unkindness or known misfortune but to the bitter anguish and regret of his surviving parents’.
The sculptor has never been identified and the monument has been a source of mystery; however, it is almost certainly referring to the illegitimate son of John James Hamilton, 1st Marquess of Abercorn. In 1799, the Marquess’s mistress, Frances Hawkins, gave birth to their son, John James, often referred to as Arthur Fitzjames. He died in 1808, the same year as another of the Marquess’s sons, Claud Hamilton, whose mother was Catherine Copley, the Marquess’s first wife.