In the mid-1780s, Ralph Smyth purchased the Gaybrook estate in County Westmeath from one John Gay (reputedly related to the earlier John Gay, whose 1728 ballad drama The Beggar’s Opera, produced by John Rich, was famously said to have made ‘Rich gay and Gay rich’). Advised by amateur architect, the Rev Daniel Beaufort, Smyth embarked on building a new residence for himself on the property, but the gates and lodges are of a later date, constructed by his younger son Robert who inherited the place in 1827. At the eastern end of the estate, the front elevation of this one, with a canted central bay, suggests the house was only on one level. However, examination of the rear indicates it was actually two storeys high. Dean, in his gazeteer of Leinster lodges, speaks of the octagonal entrance hall having ‘a delicately vaulted plaster ceiling’ but alas, no evidence of this now survives, in consequence of the lodge being long neglected. The house itself, having survived until the early 1970s, was subsequently demolished.
Category Archives: Gate Lodge
A Pocket Castle
The former gate lodge to Flesk Castle, County Kerry, both now in ruinous condition. Of two storeys over basement, the brick-and rubble rendered lodge takes the form of an octagonal tower with castellated roofline and Tudoresque hood mouldings over the door and windows, the former having quatrefoil-decorated spandrels. It would appear there was only one room per floor, and with no signs of an internal staircase, J.A.K Dean (in his gazeteer of Munster gate lodges) suggests access between different levels must have been via an external staircase. Flesk Castle was designed by and built for owner John Coltsman in the second decade of the 19th century, so presumably he was also responsible for this building.
The Glandore Gate, which once marked the main entrance to the Ardfert Abbey estate in County Kerry. Of limestone ashlar and flanked by battlemented walls, with a two-bay single-storey flat-roofed Gothic Revival style gate lodge to one side, the gate was constructed c.1815 for John Crosbie, second (and last) Earl of Glandore, whose coat of arms, topped with a peer’s coronet, can be seen above the arched entrance. Originally on a site further south, the gates were moved to their present position in 1880 by then-owner of the estate, William Talbot-Crosbie. The present gates evidently date from that period, since that on the left features the Talbot-Crosbie crest and motto (Indignante invidia florebit Justus – Despising envy, the just shall flourish), while that on the right has the crest and motto of the Talbots, Earls of Shrewsbury (Prest d’Accomplir – Ready to accomplish). Ardfert Abbey was gutted by fire in August 1922 during the Civil War, and the ruins subsequently demolished, so that today the gates lead nowhere, while the adjacent lodge has been converted into a private dwelling.
Next Tuesday, 7th February at 6pm, I shall be speaking about the destruction of Ardfert Abbey, among a number of other houses, during a talk Left without a Handkerchief: Stories of Country House Loss, which may be attended live or watched online. For further information about this event, please see: IGS Lecture: Left Without a Handkerchief: Stories of Country House Loss | Irish Georgian Society
God will Provide
In a rather sorry state, this is the front lodge to Bective, County Meath. In the mid-19th century, the estate was laid out by then-owner Richard Bolton who added two lodges, one of them – seen here – in Tudoresque style, the front looking onto the avenue having two arched projections, one accommodating a large mullioned window, the other an entrance porch. Above the latter is a plaque featuring a hawk from the Bolton crest and the family motto ‘Deus Providebit’ (God will Provide). Smothered in cement render and dating from 1852, the building’s design has been tentatively attributed by J.A.K. Dean to Dublin architect William Geoerge Murray. Towards the end of the last century, the whole estate went into decline but it was bought a few years ago and the land is now a stud farm. The other lodge, classical with a Doric loggia, has been restored and is now used as a tea room. One must hope a similar revival awaits this building.
Testament to the Fall
The ruins of Duckett’s Grove, County Carlow featured here some years ago (see Duckett’s Grove « The Irish Aesthete). Now lurking beneath a web of telegraph wires, here is one of the former entrances to the estate which, like the house is today a mere shadow of its former self. Dating from 1853-55, the architect responsible was John McDuff Derick, seemingly a friend of Augustus Welby Pugin and other members of the Gothic Revival movement. For his client, John Dawson Duckett, he produced this quite fantastical structure in local granite, replete with castellations, towers, turrets, bartizans and buttresses, together with a wealth of narrow arched windows. Some 240 feet long, the building is composed of two parts, that on the left (now a public road) intended to provide access to the tenants, that on the right being reserved for members of the Duckett family. The latter’s coats of arms, originally coloured and gilded, are elaborately carved over two of the entrances: one proclaims Spectemur Agendo (Let us be judged by our actions), the other Je Veux le Droit (I will have my Right). At one time, efforts were made to run the family entrance as a pub, but this venture failed and the entire structure now sits in decay, testament to the decline and fall of a landed family.
The main entrance to the Colebrooke estate in County Fermanagh is marked by a triumphal arch, the central section high and wide enough to accommodate carriages, with pedestrian entrances on either side, the parts divided by Tuscan pilasters. The arch was part of a substantial improvement to the property carried out c.1820 by Sir Henry Brooke who employed Dublin-born architect William Farrell for the job. Farrell was also responsible for the adjacent lodge, of three bays and with a substantial central bow. In recent years, the lodge has been restored and is now available to rent through the Irish Landmark Trust.
A Good Showish Figure
The pretty Doric gatelodge which stands at the entrance to what was formerly the Bishop’s Palace in Clogher, County Tyrone. Mrs Delany, who was close friends of the then-Bishop Robert Clayton and his wife, paid a visit to the place in August 1748 when she wrote ‘this house is large and makes a good showish figure; but there is a great loss of room by ill-contrivance within doors.’ Perhaps that is why it was replaced by the building seen today, erected on the site. This was commissioned in the early 19th century by Bishop Lord John George Beresford (although the wings may be survivors of the earlier palace) and designed by Dublin architect David Henry. The facade is of seven bays and three storeys over basement, with a three-bay pediment and a large Doric porch on the ground floor. The land immediately behind the house drops away steeply to give views of what remains of the 18th century landscaped park, which can be seen from a high arcaded terrace (alas, not accessible on a recent visit). Clogher is a tiny village, dominated by the former palace and the small cathedral which sits to its immediate west. Inevitably, in the aftermath of the Disestablishment of the Church of Ireland, the house was sold to a private owner and then, in 1922, bought by the Roman Catholic Church and turned into a convent. Today it is a residential care home.
Eight years ago, the Irish Aesthete wrote about the Volunteer Arch at Lawrencetown, County Galway (see: Gateway to the New Year « The Irish Aesthete). As was explained then, this monumental gateway was built in 1782 as the principal entrance to an estate called Bellevue owned by Colonel Walter Lawrence, an ardent supporter of the Volunteer movement and of Henry Grattan’s efforts to achieve greater legislative independence for the Irish parliament. Following the realisation of the latter ambition, the colonel erected this arch which consists of a main entrance flanked by smaller openings which in turn are connected to two-room lodges. The entrance is surmounted by a pediment topped with an urn and with a carved medallion beneath, while sphinxes rest on either side. A recessed panel directly beneath the pediment bears a Latin inscription which translated reads ‘Liberty after a long servitude was won on the 16th April 1782 by the armed sons of Hibernia, who with heroic fortitude, regained their Ancient Laws and established their Ancient Independence.’ The arch was restored some years ago, not least thanks to the efforts of a local voluntary group, but what was once the private entrance to an estate is now a public road and in consequence the structure recently suffered serious damage, as can be seen in the images below: these suggest that a tall vehicle collided with the upper section of the arch, knocking out the keystone and thereby rendering the whole thing vulnerable to collapse. Since it is listed for protection, the local authority has, it seems, committed to carrying out necessary repairs, and these need to be undertaken sooner rather than later if the arch is to survive. But just as importantly, some protective bollards need to be erected in its immediate vicinity, and perhaps something discreet to moderate the height of vehicles passing under the arch. Otherwise this will remain an accident waiting to happen again.
Loughgall, County Armagh is an exceptionally handsome and well-preserved village, laid out in the 18th century by the Cope family, who were resident landlords. It comprises one long street lined on either side with residences other than at one point where an extraordinary set of gates and gate houses announce entry to the Cope estate. The family had come to this part of the country in 1611, after land here was either granted by the crown or purchased by Sir Anthony Cope of Oxfordshire. He passed the property onto one of his younger sons, also called Anthony but the latter then sold part of the estate called Drumilly to a brother, Richard Cope, so that there were two branches of the same family living adjacent to each other. Drumilly was an exceptionally long house, its facade running to 228 feet, and comprised a central, two storey-over-basement block linked to similarly scaled pavilions by lower, six-bay wings; when Maria Edgeworth visited in 1844, she thought it ‘one of the most beautiful places I think I ever saw.’ Not long afterwards, a vast conservatory with curved front was added to the entrance. In the middle of the last century, the house and land came into the ownership of the Ministry of Agriculture and Drumilly was used as a grain store, with the result that it fell into disrepair. A contents auction was held in 1960 and six years later, the building was demolished; the Belfast MP Roy Bradford described this as ‘a Philistine Act of the most heinous irresponsibility embarking on a reckless course of artistic nihilism.’ Today nothing remains of the place, meaning only Loughgall survives to represent the former presence of the Copes in the area.
It is difficult, if not impossible, to miss the entrance to the Loughgall estate. The architect responsible is unknown, although the design has been attributed to William Murray who had spent many years working with Francis Johnston and succeeded as architect at the Board of Works. Over a period of 15 years, Murray was involved in the construction of nine district lunatic asylums and indeed, there is something a little mad about the Loughgall entrance. Set back from the road, it begins with sweeping, semi-circular stone balustrades sitting on top of polygonal rubble walling and topped with stocky urns. This is duly terminated by pairs of square piers on either side of the actual entrance, their form alternating prismatic and vermiculated bands before concluding in fleur-de-lys from which emerge fire-breathing dragons. The wrought-iron wicket and double-carriage gates are signed and dated ‘R.Marshall, Caledon 1842’ and above the latter once rose an overthrow at the centre of which hung a lantern; seemingly this was hit by a lorry in the 1960s and not restored. Beyond the gates are a pair of identical lodges, equally fanciful and looking like miniature Jacobethan mansions. In fact, these L-shaped buildings are single-storey and only held two rooms: it didn’t help that so much space was given up to the porch supported by a tapering pier. Constructed of more polygonal rubble, the two most prominent walls have oriel windows below fanciful gables featuring a series of steps topped by finials: the apex finials originally had carved animals but these have since gone. Inside each gable can be seen the Cope quarterings and the motto ‘Equo adeste animo.’ All this work was undertaken by Arthur Cope in the years immediately prior to his death at the age of 30 in 1844, when the estate was inherited by a cousin, Robert Wright Cope Doolan, who duly changed his surname to Cope.
From the gates, the drive runs straight, lined by limes and first dropping before rising sharply to Loughgall Manor. Designed by Dublin architect Frederick A Butler, this was built in the mid-1870s for Francis Robert Cope. After the flair of the entrance, the house is something of a disappointment, a relatively modest, two-storey Tudor revival block with only an irregular west-facing gabled facade providing any visual interest. Old photographs suggest that originally the building was not painted white but instead left with the cut stone exposed. At present, the bleak forecourt, devoid of grass or any planting, only adds to the disappointment. A gabled porch is fronted in sandstone and the hoodmoulded arch concludes in a pair of heads, one of which may represent the house’s then-owner (but if so, who is the woman, since he was unmarried at the time). The house and estate at Loughgall remained in private ownership until 1947 when it was sold by Field-Marshall Sir Gerald Templer, a descendant of the Copes. It was then bought, like Drumilly, by the Ministry of Agriculture, although in this instance the buildings were not demolished but are used as office space by a division of that body.
No Longer Triumphal
A former entrance to the Rathfarnham Castle estate in County Dublin. Constructed of granite and taking the form of a triumphal arch, the building’s design according to James Howley (in his 1993 book The Follies and Garden Buildings of Ireland) was inspired by the Porta Portese in Rome: both share a number of features including engaged Doric columns, square recessed panels above niches, and a balustraded top above the arch. One obvious difference is that inside the Rathfarnham entrance can be found a keystone made from Coade stone and representing a hirsute Roman God. When Howley was writing, the architect responsible for this work was unknown, but more recently in his Gazetter to the Gate Lodges of Leinster (2016) J.A.K. Dean has proposed Francis Johnston, the design based on James Wyatt’s entrance to Canterbury Quad, Christ Church College, Oxford: Dean points out that Johnston’s early patron, Richard Robinson, Archbishop of Armagh, was a graduate of Christ Church and had provided the funds for the rebuilding of Canterbury Quad. Alas, despite such a distinguished pedigree, today the Rathfarnham arch languishes neglected on a tiny strip of land, surrounded by housing estates and intermittently subjected to vandalism. It deserves better than this: why might it not be moved into the grounds of Rathfarnham Castle, which would provide a safer home than is the case at present.