A scrolled pediment over the main entrance to Millbrook, County Laois carries the date 1885, the year this house was built as a residence for the agent of the de Vesci estate. Its architect was William Chambers (no relation of the 18th century architect of the same name), who just four years later would design Britain’s first purpose-built mosque in Woking, Surrey. Broken windows, lost slates and encroaching vegetation all indicate that Millbrook is now in an imperilled condition.

9 comments on “Imperilled

  1. Giles FitzHerbert says:

    The agent at Abbeyleix for whom Millbrook was built in 1885 was my great grandfather, Henry Corry FitzHerbert, whose mother was a Vesey.

  2. Brian Maher says:

    The building is on the Record of Protected Structures in the current Laois County Development Plan and as such can be subject of enforcement and hefty fines. It is a duty of the Planning Authority to investigate and take appropriate action to inform the property owner of their duties ;

    “Under the Planning and Development Act 2000, there are penalties for owners or occupiers of protected structures who endanger the structure or who fail to carry out work that has been ordered by the planning authority. If they are found guilty, they could be liable for fines of up to €12.7 million and/or a term of imprisonment of up to 2 years”.

    • “It is a duty of the Planning Authority to investigate and take appropriate action to inform the property owner of their duties”. Sadly this is a duty rarely exercised by any local authority in Ireland…

      • Julian Humphreys says:

        Look what happened to Vernon Mount outside Cork City. The owner Jonathan Moss, who lives in California, took no responsibility for his ‘investment’ after his plans for redevelopment were refused and he has never been awarded any penalty for his failure to protect that gem of a house destroyed by vandals last summer.

  3. Colm Owens says:

    Dear Robert,

    Once again you bring to our attention yet another building of architectural importance which, without immediate intervention by either the owner or local authority, will soon only be a memory. In the last few months you have also brought to our attention the worrying condition of Cuffsborough House, another Co. Leix house of architectural importance.
    Having visited both houses as recently as this past Christmas, I find it incredible that each house has been allowed to deteriorate to their current condition so quickly. They are so different from how I remember them while I was still living locally.
    To use your own words, “It is time to understand that our cultural heritage is not a renewable asset: when it’s gone, it’s gone,” as I feel they are as appropriate in this instance as when you used them to describe the possible sale of the contents of Bantry House in 2014. And, if the owners of the above two houses or other owners who allow our built heritage to deteriorate beyond repair are not prepared to maintain their properties, then we must ensure that the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs or local authority are prepared to enforce their sale or repair.

  4. Richard says:

    I found Millbrook by accident yesterday. It is an absolute gem in terms of the quality of the craftsmanship, the design and the setting and it is such a shame that it is being allowed to become a ruin. From my brief walk around it, quite a lot of the joinery is recoverable and I think it is the roof that needs the most urgent attention.

    Personally I would spend 2 years of my own time saving this place.

    I also visited Portarlington railway station yesterday and was dismayed to see one of buildings fenced off and being allowed to decay because all the lead had been removed from hips and ridges of the roof. This needs fixing up right away.

    So just as a general note to anyone in Ireland who has public responsibility. These buildings are really important. The effort, labour, and creativity that brought them into being should never be underestimated. Tourists and future generations will not stand in awe looking at rows of white concrete bungalows and shopping centres, but at these wonderful creations.

  5. Brian Maher says:

    The situation would appear to have taken a turn for the worse. It seems that the attempted CPO was frustrated by the original owner and the “stripping out” works undertaken have left the building in a very perilous state. The roof is leaking very badly and much of the original fabric has been ripped out and thrown out in the elements and the intermediate floors have collapsed. The windows are falling in and unless something is done urgently the building will have to be declared a dangerous structure. A shame to see something so beautiful neglected to this degree.

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