A Baby Sister

The south-facing garden front of Corravahan, County Cavan. Dating from c.1840 the building shares many characteristics with the slightly earlier and considerably larger See House at Kilmore in the same county (see See and Believe, September 14th last). This is hardly surprising as both were designed by the same architect, William Farrell. Just as importantly whilst Corravahan was commissioned by then-local rector, the Rev. Marcus Gervais Beresford, the See House had been built on the instructions of his father, George de la Poer Beresford, Bishop of Kilmore. Ultimately Marcus Beresford would succeed to the same bishopric (by then united with the See of Ardagh) before being appointed Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland in 1862. His immediate predecessor in this position was a cousin, Lord John George de la Poer Beresford: one might almost suspect nepotism was a feature of the 19th century Anglican church in Ireland. The present owners of Corravahan, who have spent recent years restoring the house, believe the ground floor bay window to the left is a later addition, perhaps added by a subsequent owner, the Rev. Charles Leslie or a member of his family.

7 comments on “A Baby Sister

  1. Michael King says:

    I suspect that the walls would have been plastered and whitewashed. I am not sure that I agree with this modern craze for exposing stone that was not meant to be exposed…

  2. Ian S. Elliott says:

    Indeed you are correct, Michael. The coursed rubble masonry of this south-facing (not “east” as published above) wall was originally rendered with lined-and-ruled lime plaster, as is present on the rest of the building . However, the present state of exposure does not have anything to do with a modern (and ill-advised) craze. The “craze” evidenced here is much more ancient, the cracking of the render having been caused as early as the 1880s by the downward deflection of the inadequately supported masonry over the enlarged bay-window ope. Photographic evidence further indicates that sometime before about 1900 most of the render had either fallen off or been deliberately removed, apparently in anticipation of its being fully and correctly reinstated, once the masonry had quit shifting. One hundred years later, the work has still to be undertaken…

  3. David Foster says:

    I suspect that Knockbride Glebe House in the same county is also by Farrell. Incidentally there was also a Beresford rector here in the late C19th. I remember it rendered and whitewashed though it too has now been stripped to expose the brickwork around the windows which of course was never intended to be seen and may now suffer from the exposure. Interesting point made by Ian, above, that the trend to remove rendering began in the C19th. The 1860s wings of the nearby Knockbride Church may never have been rendered, while photographs c.1900 show the rubblestone of the main body of the church exposed only to be re-rendered sometime later.
    Unhappily everything was stripped, acid ‘cleaned’ and drawn over with raised cement pointing in 1990.

    • Thanks for this additional information: it is always wonderful to receive informed feedback, adding to one’s stock of knowledge (so more please!)

    • Ian Elliott says:

      I’m not sure, David, that the removal of the render at Corravahan was part of any perceived trend; more out of necessity here. But I do agree that Knockbride Glebe House looks like a Farrell in all respects (I shall add it to my growing inventory!). In style it is much more reminiscent of Rathkenny House (1829) with its broad corner pillasters, or Tullyvin House (1820) with its exposed eaves, which indeed suggests a correct date of 1821 for Knockbride, rather than the present structure being a later replacement as proposed by the NIAH (reg. no.40402318). In any case, Farrell died in 1851, having ceased to be architect to the Ecclesiastical Commisssioners a decade earlier…

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