The Surviving Twin

Around 1720 Algernon Coote, sixth Earl of Mountrath agreed to take a lease on a house due to be built at 30 Old Burlington Street, London. Erected over the next few years this property was designed by Richard Boyle, third Earl of Burlington (and also fourth Earl of Cork), together with his protégé the Scottish architect Colen Campbell. In the event, Lord Mountrath never occupied the building, which was demolished in 1935. However, what might be described as its twin can be found in Dublin, at 9 Henrietta Street, which dates from c.1731.
Why this similarity of design between the two houses (especially since images of 30 Old Burlington Street were neither engraved nor published)? The original owner of 9 Henrietta Street was one Thomas Carter, an ambitious politician who would serve as Master of the Rolls in Ireland and Secretary of State for Ireland. Known for his opposition to English government interference in the affairs of Ireland, Carter’s great ally in the Dublin parliament was Henry Boyle, future first Earl of Shannon and a cousin of Lord Burlington (whose Irish affairs he managed). Furthermore in 1719 Carter married Mary Claxton, first cousin of Sir Edward Lovett Pearce, to whom the design of 9 Henrietta Street is attributed (in turn, Pearce’s uncle was Thomas Coote of Cootehill, a cousin of Lord Mountrath). It will also be remembered that Pearce was the architect who designed the new parliament building in Dublin. Family connections were as helpful in 18th century Ireland as they are today.

Aside from certain details, 9 Henrietta Street follows the design of the Old Burlington Street house both inside and out. The exterior is of five bays and three storeys over basement, of brick other than rusticated rendering on the ground floor (unlike the London property which was all faced in brick). The entrance is through a doorcase with blocked Ionic columns rising to a pediment centred on a massive keystone. Directly above, as with London, is an arched window, flanked by Ionic pilasters.
Likewise internally the plan differs little from the London house, notably in the entrance hall which is the finest extant on Henrietta Street (so many of the other staircases were pulled out when buildings were converted into tenements). On entering the property, one sees a screen of Corinthian columns (of marbleized timber) to the right of which is the double-height staircase, taking up a quarter of the entire space. Beneath an elaborate wrought-iron balustrade with mahogany handrail, cantilevered Portland stone stairs climb around three walls to reach the first floor. The walls retain their original plasterwork panelling, beneath a compartmentalised and coffered ceiling. Thanks to its scale and quality of finish, this is one of the most dramatic 18th century interiors in Dublin.
9 Henrietta Street’s other important room is to the rear of the ground floor, which, like the entrance/staircase hall has been little altered (although in line with changing fashion the windows here were lowered c.1800). Once more the walls are plaster panelled and the ceiling compartmentalised. The chimneypiece, of painted wood and marble, features a lion’s head with foliate garlands to either side; above is an aedicule with Corinthian pilasters and a gilded eagle occupying the pediment. The main doorcase, leading to the room in front, is likewise pedimented and flanked by Corinthian columns.

Unlike many other houses on Henrietta Street, No.9 had a relatively benign history over the past three centuries, which explains why its appearance has changed so little. Following Thomas Carter’s death in 1763, his two sons lived in the building, after which it was occupied by John, first Viscount O’Neill who was killed by rebel forces during the Battle of Antrim in June 1798. For some four decades in the first half of the 19th century, the house was residence to Arthur Moore, a former member of the Irish parliament (and opponent of the Act of Union), later Judge of the Court of Common Pleas in Ireland. Following his death it was used as the Queens Inns Barristers’ Chambers. At the start of the last century the building was acquired by the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul who also owned the neighbouring 10 Henrietta Street (see Shedding Light on a Subject, March 20th 2017). It remains in their care to the present time. 9 Henrietta Street was restored some twenty years ago by Paul Arnold Architects and is now used as a resource and education centre for the local community.

9 comments on “The Surviving Twin

  1. upsew says:

    beautiful interior, so good to see a cared for building

  2. Mairtin Conor D'Alton says:

    Very interesting post, thank you!

  3. says:

    There must have been a close connection between Sir Edward Lovett Pearce and the Earl of Burlington & Cork. Pearce’s design for the Parliament building in Dublin echoes Burlington’s Chiswick Villa in the use of an Octagonal Dome and design of rooms, and Burlington’s later designs for the new Houses of Parliament in London are also very similar to those produced by Pearce for Dublin.

  4. Hibernophile says:

    The survival of this fine interior is testament to the propitious approach by the Sisters of Charity, as they did not institutionalize the building. They must also be commended for the courageous decision to carry out a thorough restoration. They truly were most charitable towards this significant structure and deserve recognition for their approach.

  5. Deborah Sena says:

    Just curious if those marble columns could be Connemara marble?

  6. Kevin Hurley says:

    John Cornforth in his book ‘Early Georgian Interiors (2004) suggested that the marble hall in Holkham Hall could have been influenced by Edward Lovett Pearce’s House of Commons.

    “(William) Kent would also have known of Lord Burlington’s richly columned hall at the York Assembly Rooms. But is there another intriguing influence here, Sir Edward Lovett Pearce’s Houses of Parliament in Dublin that started to rise in 1729? It is hard to believe that architectural cognoscenti in London were not aware of that ‘unique project’ in Europe. So was Kent – or Coke and Kent – influenced by the now lost Dublin House of Commons with its octagon of columns on a high base encircling the floor of the house, and by the surviving House of Lords with its echoes of Ancient Rome in its shallow barrel vault and great apse?”

    While Richard Castle’s (destroyed) saloon at Powerscourt Co. Wicklow may have been influenced by the York Assembly Rooms.

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