Is the mysterious tomb in a graveyard a gateway to immortality?
Nobody knows very much about Hannah Courtoy. Or about her two daughters, Elizabeth and Mary-Ann.
But for the last 150 years, they’ve been at eternal rest in a mausoleum at Brompton Cemetery, west London. It’s a stone structure covered in carvings of ancient Egyptian gods and hieroglyphs.
Hannah died in 1849. She was 65.
During her lifetime, she’d amassed a fortune. Some said she’d been the mistress of kings, politicians, and rich, powerful men.
No-one knows who fathered her two daughters. But they died soon after their mother.
And nobody knows how they died.
More mysterious still is the mausoleum, standing 20ft tall in the middle of Brompton Cemetery.
And rumoured to be a time machine…
In another corner of the cemetery is a headstone with a line diagram of the Courtoy Mausoleum carved onto it.
On top of the headstone is a carving of Anubis, Egyptian God of the Dead and the Afterlife.
It’s the grave of Joseph Bonomi, the famous Egyptologist, and Hannah’s friend.
In the 1820s and 30s, Joseph Bonomi led many important expeditions to Egypt. He was among the first to decipher some of the hieroglyphic texts found in the Valley of the Kings.
He was fascinated by Egypt, as was Hannah Courtoy.
She may even have financed some of his archeological expeditions, as she likely believed the Ancient Egyptians had discovered the secrets of time travel.
Of eternal youth, and eternal life…
Deep in the temple of Seti I, in Abydos, the oldest city of Upper Egypt, is a stone covered in hieroglyphic carvings of aircraft.
Maybe the people of Ancient Egypt had visitors…
What did they come for? What knowledge did they leave behind?
For hundreds of years, archeologists have searched for clues.
Could Joseph Bonomi have found that information?
Did he share it with Hannah? And with his friend, Samuel Alfred Warner?
Samuel is also buried at Brompton Ceremony, in an unmarked grave.
He died a poor man.
And yet, some are convinced Samuel Alfred Warner was a genius who invented the torpedo. He claimed it could be powered by teleportation, which he believed the ancient Egyptians had mastered.
Perhaps with the help of their visitors from space…
In 1853, Samuel was in talks with the Duke of Wellington to develop weapons on behalf of the Royal Navy.
He wanted permission and funding to develop an aerial bomb. Far more advanced than any military device at the time.
But the talks fell through. And soon after, Samuel was dead.
The circumstances were mysterious. The plans for his weapons were never found.
Was he murdered, his plans swiped to stop them falling into enemy hands?vOr had Samuel been working on something much bigger with Joseph?
Hannah had died just four years earlier. Laid to rest in the mausoleum designed by Joseph and Samuel.
To this day, for nearly every structure in the cemetery, there exists an architect’s plan. But not for the Courtoy mausoleum.
Then, the key to the door has disappeared. Lost – in order to keep the curious out, maybe?
It’s thought no-one’s stepped foot inside the mausoleum for 150 years. No-one really knows what lies within it.
The corpses of three women?
Or, were their deaths made up to give Joseph and Samuel reason for building the structure?
Because, if they’d wanted to build a time machine, a cemetery would be the best place to do it. Cemeteries are very rarely redeveloped.
And then, there are the other mausoleums. In seven other cemeteries, there stand mausoleums just like the Courtoy Mausoleum. 20 feet tall and temple-like.
They form a perfect ring around London.
One, at Abney Park Cemetery, was designed by Joseph. Were the other designers his associates?
Do these structures form a network? A portal through which it’s possible to pass through space and time?
Was that what Hannah Courtoy was looking for? Did she want to cheat death?
The answers are locked forever behind the heavy doors of her mausoleum.
An eighth mausoleum resembling the Courtoy tomb can be found at the Montmartre Cemetery in Paris. Built in 1825, it belongs to the Minodet family. It was built in 1829. On either side of the doorway is a carving of Antinous – the personification of Egypt and symbol for the belief in the afterlife.