Charity Edifieth


The principal entrance to the former Southwell Charity and Parochial Schools on English Street, Downpatrick, County Down. This long two-storey, red-brick building is centred on a clock tower (directly above the archway seen here) and terminates in a substantial three-bay pavilion at either end. With fine views on a sloping site overlooking the town and providing almshouses for six old men and six old women as well as schools for ten poor boys and ten poor girls, the charity was established in 1733 by Edward Southwell who like his father and grandfather served as Secretary of State for Ireland. As is far too often the case, we do not know who was the architect responsible: in 1996 Maurice Craig proposed Sir Edward Lovett Pearce but five years later Dr Edward McParland declared ‘its mannerisms are not Pearce’s’. Although looking as though a refurbishment would be beneficial, the Southwell Buildings remain one of the most important architectural ensembles in Downpatrick.

5 comments on “Charity Edifieth

  1. barrett eagan says:

    What a perfect photo!

  2. Mairtin D'Alton says:

    It’s detailing seems similar to the school in celbridge, by thomas burgh and later isaac wills, i believe it is contemporary? I may have to look in greater detail. Maurice Craig stated it is tempting to always ascribe the really good stuff to Pearce. Lovely photo as always.

  3. The problem with this building, and many others of the period, is that they were created using then-fashionable architectural mannerisms and so are difficult to ascribe to any individual, especially in the absence of documentation. Pearce was clearly a dominant influence and hence his impact can be seen in the Southwell Buildings even if he didn’t design them.

    • Mairtin D'Alton says:

      This has proven to be a better method of designing buildings that trying to invent an entire architectural language on one’s own, or copying another’s recent attempts!

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