Written in Stone

An abiding problem in the study of Irish country houses is ascribing a date of construction. Not so Bonnettstown, County Kilkenny where on completion of building work the original owner helpfully provided this information. On one of the quoins to the left of the entrance is the gentleman’s name, Samuel Mathews, while its match to the right features the date May 14th 1737. On the other hand, what remains unknown is who was responsible for the design of Bonnettstown: like a number of other houses in this part of the country for the past half-century it has been attributed to the gentleman-architect Francis Bindon.

More on Bonnettstown at a later date…

8 comments on “Written in Stone

  1. Ken m says:

    I was wondering if you ever came across Masonic keystones on building s in Ireland. Placed in the south east (or is it west?) corner, they are usually the first stone laid and this was traditionally a ceremony with it.

  2. Patrick says:

    I notice the double L in Sam in the same position above as the r in Esquire, could it perhaps be Samualle rather than Samuel . Also interesting is that it appears the stone carver while giving generous spacings for all of the letters almost ran out of space at the end on both occasions with the last digits having to be foreshortened to prevent them falling off the edge .As it’s beautifully carved this is unlikely to have been accidental as all the letters would have been marked out before the work commenced. There are other interesting aspects of these two stones I could continue with at another time .
    I feel like a cat in the corner of a great room , oblivious to its architectural beauty and focused solely on a feather gently moving in the breeze, my apologies .

    • Yes, one often notices in 18th/early 19th century stone carvings (tombs for example) that the end of words are foreshortened in a way that initially looks like carelessness but then one concludes it must have been intentional since so frequent (there couldn’t have been that number of incompetent stonemasons at work…)

  3. Bettyjane Wesson says:

    I have a copy of the book Bonnettstown. Wonderful photos.

    • david terry says:

      Oh, I also love that book. I have two copies of it……having messed-up, long ago, the one I bought in the late 80’s. I got the current two copies from Amazon.com and, as ever these days, was amazed at how much it costs to replace what I so-casually mishandled during my twenties.


      david terry

  4. Sally says:

    Addicted to your website.
    Just trying to find out if Lady Ursula Grosvenor & Major Stephen Vernon’s house- Fairyfield, Kinsale, Co. Cork still exists?

    • Thank you for getting in touch. Yes, Fairyfield still stands – and has long been of interest to me because of the link to the Vernons – although I have not (yet) seen it. It is mentioned (as are they) in Sally Phipp’s wonderful new biography of her mother Molly Keane…

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