It Shouldn’t Happen to a Bishop

When Charles Este became Bishop of Waterford in 1740, he found his official residence in the city in ‘so ruinous a condition that part of it has fallen down … and what is left is so small and dangerous to live in..’ He therefore had to hire another house but wrote to his immediate superior, Archbishop Bolton of Cashel, requesting permission to build a new episcopal palace. The architect responsible for this building was German-born Richard Castle, but Bishop Este dying in 1745 and Castle six years later the work was finished by local man John Roberts (who would go on to design Waterford’s  new Anglican and Roman Catholic cathedrals). The palace is notable for its two facades being quite different on character. That on the garden side (above) is of eight bays with an elaborate pedimented breakfront treatment on the first floor. Meanwhile, the side facing the cathedral is simpler, with a Gibbsian doorway set into a rendered ground floor and the seven-bay first-floor being centred on a single pedimented window. These differences may be explained by the change of both client and architect (and fashion) before the building was completed. The Bishop’s Palace, having been beautifully restored, is today a museum focussing on Waterford’s 18th century history.


6 comments on “It Shouldn’t Happen to a Bishop

  1. Michael King says:

    The garden facade is similar to that of Mantua in Co Roscommon.

  2. The lamp standards on the garden front appear to be double height or at least exceptionally tall. Is that the case? And if so, is there any particular reason?

    • Thank you for getting in touch. I think it is an illusion in my photograph that the lamps appear to be of double height. Unfortunately I am out of the country at the moment and therefore unable to look at the file of pictures to compare what I used with others, but will do so on my return and advise you if there is something exceptional about these elements of the design.

  3. winnie says:

    I find your site absolutely delightful and I often have a potter around these very charming posts, so different from where I live in sunny Madrid. But I have to admit I find it a pity that the lighting features are sometimes exaggeratedly blown up, even in Victorian photographs. A question of the ‘Knight Frank treatment’ which diminishes their charm. Best wishes, and thanks.

    • Thank you for your kind comment and for getting in touch. Yes, the public lighting can be intrusive, especially in relation to the former Bishop’s Palace in Waterford. This side of the building was originally the garden front and would have had terraces leading down towards the river. Hence the intervention of the street and so forth interfere with how it was originally intended to be seen.

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