Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Shelton Abbey, Arklow, Co. Wicklow

With tastes fast moving away from the Classical style, so popular in the eighteenth century, many nineteenth-century landowners sought to erect new houses in the more fashionable neo-Gothic style. This was the case at Shelton Abbey, near Arklow, Co. Wicklow. There an existing Georgian house, dating from 1770, was remodeled in the Gothic style in 1819. Shelton Abbey had been the ancestral home of the earls of Wicklow until 1951, when it was bought by the Irish state. Still standing, and with its character largely intact, the house now functions as an open prison. The title 'earl of Wicklow' became extinct in 1978, the eight earl having died childless. 

From this angle the modification of the house from its original Georgian style to the Gothic is noticeable. The frontal exterior of the house was lavishly adorned with buttresses, tall pinnacles, Gothic windows, and a projecting arched porch. All of these additions gave the buildings its distinctive 'abbey' style, and were designed to give the appearance of a fourteenth century religious edifice. 

To the right is visible one of two wings, which were not part of the original house, but were subsequently added in the 1840s. 

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Woodstock House, Inistioge, Co. Kilkenny

Woodstock House is a large three-storey Classical style country house dating from 1745. Built for Sir William Fownes to designs by Francis Bindon, the house was subsequently altered in the the early nineteenth century, with flanking wings being added to the central building. Woodstock continued to act as a family home until the 1920s when the house was burned by IRA forces during the Irish Civil War. No longer occupied, all that remains is the house's deteriorating shell.

A view of the house and the Winter Garden

Waterfall flowing into the River Nore 

The Terrace Garden 

In the 1860s the Winter Gardens were laid out to the designs of a Scottish gardener, Charles McDonald. The gardens comprised four massive sunken panels filled elaborately with planted parterres. Their creation is believed to have involved the removal of some 200,000 cubic yards of soil. These elaborately decorated gardens could be admired especially well from the overlooking elevation of the house. 

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Powerscourt House, Co. Wicklow

Construction on Powerscourt House commenced in 1740 for Richard Wingfield, Viscount Powerscourt. The house was built on the site of a fourteenth century castle, to the designs of the German architect Richard Cassels. The chosen style was Palladian, Cassels having previously overseen the construction of similar great country houses at Carton, Co. Kildare, and Russborough, Co. Wicklow. Much altered in the nineteenth century the house came into the hands of the Slazenger family in the 1960s. It met with tragedy, however, in 1974, being completely destroyed by fire. Since renovated the house is now part of a hotel and golf complex.

The house with Sugar Loaf Mountain in the background

In the nineteenth century substantial alterations were made to the house itself, giving an uneasy symmetry that is visible in this image. The other major development was the erection of formal gardens and lake, projects largely pushed by the seventh Viscount Powerscourt. It is said that he took inspiration from the gardens at Versaille and the Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna. The terrace includes statues of Fame and Victory, flanked by Apollo and Diana. 

The main entrance hall

The saloon 

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Mitchelstown Castle, Co. Cork

Construction began on Mitchelstown Castle in 1823, when a standing Palladian house was demolished. The castle was the ancestral home of the earls of Kingston, and was built to the designs of James and George Richard Pain. Erected at a cost of £100,000 it was the the largest Gothic Revival house in Ireland at that time. The castle no longer stands, having being blown up in 1922 during the Irish Civil War by IRA forces. The stone was subsequently used to rebuild the Cistercian abbey at Mount Mellary, Co. Waterford.

The castle, largely a Gothicised house, contained some sixty principal rooms, twenty minor rooms, and a large dining room. 

The entrance hall

The Long Gallery

The drawing room