Castle Coole, a Faรงade?
Figure1: Front cover, central portico and front door.
Castle Coole, a Faรงade?
James Houston 100927463
A Dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of the degree of BA in Architecture 2012.
Figure 2: Castle Coole East colonnade.
Acknowledgments Thanks to Peter Marson, Belmore archivist and the 8th Earl of Belmore for permitting access to the Belmore archives.
Introduction………………………………………………………………….…..7 Origins…………………………………………………………………………..7 Design…………………………………………………………………………...8 Build……………………………………………………………………………13 Materials……………………………………………………………………….14 Workforce……………………………………………………………………...18 Physical implications…………………………………………………………..22 Money………………………………………………………………………….22 Latter years…………………………………………….....................................28 Conclusion……………………………………………………………………..31 Bibliography……………………………………………………………...........33
Introduction ‘As we see no reason why the complimentary title of ‘Palace’ should be conceded to a Bishop’s residence and withheld from that of a temporal Peer, merely because he is a plain honest Lord, who acknowledges he is a sinner like another man; so in the description of Castle Coole, we shall not hesitate to call Lord Belmore’s house a palace, notwithstanding his Lordship may be a sinner and no Bishop.’ 1 With the death of his mother in 1779, Armar Lowry Corry succeeded to the family estates and to political power in West Ulster. To fully establish himself in the heady world of Irish society, he commissioned the build of a house that would be grander and more fashionable than those of his peers. Neo-Classical Georgian in architectural style, Castle Coole was designed by the popular and esteemed English architect James Wyatt who adhered closely to periodic ideals of near-perfect symmetry throughout, with an Ionic portico and flanking Doric colonnaded wings. 2 Considered the peak of Wyatt’s classical achievements, Castle Coole’s recognition as a masterpiece is undisputed. However, was it the honest attempt of a wealthy man to provide for his family, or the ‘carefully considered plan to establish political influence’3?
Origins In 1641, John Corry, from Dumfries in Scotland, settled as a merchant in Belfast. Family memoirs detail that James Lowry, also from Dumfries, had taken this same journey not long before, joining Sir George Hamilton’s plantation in County Tyrone. Despite having a different experience of life in Ireland, the availability of land, cheap for Protestant purchasers and the most secure large investment that could be made, enabled swift establishment. With both investing their respective business profits, prosperity was inevitable. 4 John Corry and his son James made a successful team. On 1 July 1654, John was elected a ‘merchant of the staple’, a position permitting entry into a closed circle of businessmen who monopolised the trade in staple goods. The resulting financial rewards enabled him to amass a fine fortune. However conditions in Belfast were deteriorating due to civil war, economic problems and pestilence. For this
Alan Atkinson, Ireland in the Nineteenth Century, (Harvard College, 1833), pg. 392. Brendan O'Neill, Irish Castles and Historic Houses (London: Caxton Editions, 2002), pg. 26. 3 Anthony Malcolmson, Belmore Papers: Introduction Country life, December 17 1992. 4 Peter Marson, Belmore: The Lowry-Corry Families of Castle Coole, 1646-1913 (Belfast: Ulster Historical Foundation, 2007), pg. 2. 2
8 reason and his growing age, John moved his family 100 miles south west to the estate of Manor Coole in County Fermanagh. 5 For the subsequent 80 years things steadily improved for the two families. In the year 1733, their rapidly attained wealth and power was secured through the marriage of Galbraith Lowry and Sarah Corry, John Corry’s great granddaughter. 6 Born in 1740, Armar Lowry-Corry was to unite three family fortunes; 7 representing the inheritance he would receive from his father, his mother and his childless uncle Margetson Armar. With 70,000 acres of land, an annual income of £11,000 and a wife who brought with her ‘youth, beauty, elegance of manner and a fortune of £30,000’ 8, Armar could execute his plan by commissioning a mansion that would not just impress, but would surpass the expectations of high society. In sixteen years Armar would rise from commoner to Earl.9
Design A.W. Pugin called James Wyatt (1746-1813), ‘this monster of architectural depravity – this pest of cathedral architecture’, and pronounced that ‘all that is vile, cunning and rascally is included in the term Wyatt’. ‘Where, infamous beast, where are you? What putrid inn, what stinking tavern or pox-ridden brothel hides your hoary and gluttonous limbs?’ stormed William Beckford, infuriated at the architect’s delays and evasions during the building of Fonthill Abbey. Despite James Wyatt’s total lack of organisational skills, legendary neglect of clients and questionable personal life, 10 of which women and drink played a large part, he is widely recognized as the most celebrated and prolific English architect of the 18th century. 11 During the late 1760’s there were considerable changes in fashionable attitudes to life. At Heaton Figure 3: James Wyatt. 5
Peter Marson, Belmore: The Lowry-Corry Families of Castle Coole, 1646-1913 (Belfast: Ulster Historical Foundation, 2007), pg. 2-3. 6 Peter Marson, Belmore: The Lowry-Corry Families of Castle Coole, 1646-1913 (Belfast: Ulster Historical Foundation, 2007), pg. 20-21. 7 Oliver Garnett, Castle Coole (Warrington: the National Trust, 2008), pg. 35. 8 Desmond Guinness and William Ryan, Irish Houses and Castles, (London: Thames and Hudson; November, 1971). 9 John Cornforth, Castle Coole, co. Fermanagh, A property of the National Trust and the Home of the Earl and Countess of Belmore, Country Life December 17, 1992. 10 Adrian Tinniswood, County Fermanagh, Castle Coole, Florence Court, the Crom Estate (Centurion Press Ltd, 1998), pg. 6-7. 11 John Martin Robinson, James Wyatt, 1746-1813, Architect to George III (Yale University Press, 2012).
9 Hall in Lancashire, Wyatt, ‘working for young clients responded to that changing mood and challenged not only Robert Adam, but his older rivals in terms of concept, plan, handling of space and architectural decoration’ 12. This approach to design secured his fast track to the forefront of high society’s attention. Rising to principle architect of the day, Wyatt became recognised as a brilliant but facile designer, altering the influential styles of other fashionable architects in a way that gave him superiority. In particular, it was the Adam brothers whose style of interior decoration he imitated with such success that they complained of plagiarism in the introduction to their ‘Works in Architecture’, which appeared in 1773. 13 Wyatt retorted that the brothers were ‘polite society’s favourite architects’ 14. Considering his questionable morals and manners, his rapid overtaking of the brothers in popularity must have truly infuriated them. Although Wyatt is the architect associated with Castle Coole, the resource book suggests it was Richard Johnston, a Dublin architect who produced the earliest surviving designs for the house, which are dated 14 October 1789, the foundations were dug following these proposals. However Belmore seems to have lost faith in Johnston, between October 1789 and May 1790 he called in James Wyatt. 15 It is the general consensus in published documents that Wyatt was employed in favour of Johnston, taking over where he left off. The resource book states ‘Belmore’s decision to replace Johnston may well have been connected with the fact that in December 1789 he was created a viscount. Perhaps he felt that his new title required a rather grander, more sophisticated residence than Johnston could provide’ 16. Given Belmore’s apparent ambitions, it is presumed that he deemed the Irishman insufficiently prestigious, opting for the English architect, who had recently designed the Pantheon in Oxford Street, a commission which brought him to public notice in a way which has few parallels in English architectural history. 17 There are however signs that suggest this may not have been such a segregated switch. The Irish Architectural Archive highlights their personal connection, referring to Johnston acting as one of James Wyatt’s agents in Ireland. 18 Despite Wyatt only visiting Ireland once, in 1785, his strong connection to the Irish architectural circle was as if he had been situated there full time. His Irish practice began in 1772, a direct offshoot of his Pantheon fame. He operated through Irish executants
John Cornforth, Heaton Hall, Lancashire, Country life December 10, 1992. Howard Colvin, Biographical Dictionary of English Architects, 1660-1840 (John Murray Publishers Ltd; December 1954), pg. 723. 14 Adrian Tinniswood, County Fermanagh, Castle Coole, Florence Court, the Crom Estate (Centurion Press Ltd, 1998), pg. 6. 15 Oliver Garnett, Castle Coole (Warrington: the National Trust, 2008), p. 38. 16 Adrian Tinniswood, County Fermanagh, Castle Coole, Florence Court, the Crom Estate, (Centurion Press Ltd, 1998), pg. 1. 17 The Royal Academy website, http://www.avictorian.com/royalacademy.html 18 Thomas Murray, Murray Collection Catalogue, (University of Cambridge, Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, 1901), p. 286. 13
10 and took advantage of the vastly improved communications from London in the reign of George III. In John Martin Robinson’s recently published book he discusses Wyatt leaving his ‘Hibernian cygnets to swim on their own’, following appointment as a surveyor of the King’s works in England in 1796. The surmise that Wyatt was a father figure reinforces the suggestion that his relationship with Johnston was deeper than conveyed in the guidebook. Given that Wyatt was thirteen years Johnston’s senior perhaps it was one not dissimilar to tutor and student. Robinson mentions the similarity of Castle Coole’s plan to Wyatt’s earlier Mount Kennedy and suggests that ‘Johnston’s plans were in fact based on earlier Wyatt ideas for the house and that Wyatt had already been involved before Johnston, whose elevations provided an alternative not a prior design.’ 19 Letters sourced from the public records office of Northern Ireland, show correspondence between T.G.F Paterson, curator of the County Museum Armagh 1936-1963 and Lady Dorothy Lowry Corry, daughter of the 4th Earl of Belmore. The first from Paterson dated 18th June 1952: ‘The part played at Castle Coole by Richard Johnston becomes more intriguing, and your suggestion that Wyatt supplied Johnston with a ground plan to elaborate upon seems just as feasible as Mr Fedden’s surmise that Lord Belmore rejected or alternatively forwarded Johnston’s plans to Wyatt. It is certainly curious that by the Autumn of 1789 the ground floor for the basement should have been excavated, the shape and size planned exactly the same as that of the present mansion, and that Wyatt should not come into the picture properly until May 1790. The architects of the last quarter of the 18th century are linked together in a most bewildering fashion.’ 20 In response to this, Lady Dorothy Lowry Corry replied with, ‘My chief reason for thinking that Wyatt’s original plans must have been received by Lord Belmore as early as 1788 is that William Kane, stone cutter was paid for work done between 29th October-20th December 1788 which included taking dimensions of Portland Stone.’ 21 Johnston had not mentioned this in his designs. The interesting relationship between Johnston and Wyatt may never be fully understood. There is however no doubt that Wyatt’s involvement was for the better. When comparing the two sets of elevations as shown, Wyatt’s chosen proportions are notably more elegant.
embellishments of the Johnston elevation included corner pilasters that Wyatt avoided fastidiously, by omitting all superfluous details, Wyatt produced a clear outline devoid of minor projections and
John Martin Robinson, James Wyatt (1746-1813) Architect to George III, (Yale University Press 2012) pg. 119. Exchange of letters between T.G.F Paterson and Lady Dorothy Lowry Corry 1952, PRONI D3007/D2/19/1. 21 Exchange of letters between T.G.F Paterson and Lady Dorothy Lowry Corry 1952, PRONI D3007/D2/19/1. 22 Peter Marson, Belmore: The Lowry-Corry Families of Castle Coole, 1646-1913 (Belfast: Ulster Historical Foundation, 2007), pg. 52-54. 20
Figure 4: Johnstonâ€™s elevation top and Wyattâ€™s below.
12 ornaments. 23 This is demonstrated in the rooftop balustrade, with Wyatt’s removal of Johnston’s suggested urns and again in the windows, where Wyatt eradicates Johnston’s unnecessary architraves and entablatures to enhance the magnitude of the ionic portico. 24 The changes Wyatt employed emphasise the magnificent simplicity of the finished house. 25 Dr McParland refers to the house as being ‘severe, almost bleak, and shaved of all unnecessary ornament. The great pedimented portico gains impact from being set close against the sheer unrelieved face of the main block. Form contrasts with form; light and shade are exploited to heighten the contrast; and all is worked out with the precision of impeccable stonework’. 26 Wyatt’s design for Castle Coole is spectacular. It replicates the Palladian plan of central block with pavilions linked by straight colonnades of Heaton Hall. The baseless Doric sub-order of both colonnades which are Roman Doric with fluted columns, Wyatt’s favourite hybrid, provide the perfect frame for the huge Ionic order of the central entrance portico. Wyatt’s design blends fastidious detail with serene majesty of scale. 27
Figure 5: Castle Coole entrance front.
John Martin Robinson, James Wyatt (1746-1813) Architect to George III, (Yale University Press 2012) pg. 120. Oliver Garnett, Castle Coole (Warrington: the National Trust, 2008), pg. 38. 25 Peter Marson, Belmore: The Lowry-Corry Families of Castle Coole, 1646-1913 (Belfast: Ulster Historical Foundation, 2007), pg. 52-54. 26 Edward Mcparland, Guidebook to Castle Coole co. Fermanagh. (Hertfordshire: The Stellar Press, 1981). Pg. 10, 12. 27 John Martin Robinson, James Wyatt (1746-1813) Architect to George III, (Yale University Press 2012) pg. 120-121. 24
Build In May 1788 the groundwork for the house began. 28 There was a hierarchy of control descending from Belmore. He was not just the client; his was the controlling influence at all times. The weekly accounts of building were meticulously kept, giving an accurate picture of the immense logistical undertaking that was the building of Castle Coole. 29 Using the accounts of Alexander Stewart, clerk of works, and Lady Dorothy Lowry Corry’s compiled transcripts, both generously provided by the current 8th Earl of Belmore, the mammoth build of Castle Coole will be discussed with three main focuses, the materials, the workforce and the physical implications. Lord Belmore suffered from rheumatism, indicated by his many trips to Bath, where the waters were believed to be a good treatment. Consequently his choice of site was one on the hill away from the lake to avoid dampness, which exacerbated 30 his complaint. It cannot be denied that this location was exceptionally beautiful and well placed with respect to sealing political power in the North-West. The Dublin Chronicle on 4th November 1790 states, ‘the situation is princely and there will now be a residence there adequate to the demesne’31. However one would question the sense, when his life was controlled so much by illness, of deciding to build a house in one of the wettest counties in Ireland, considering he had land in four others across the country. The first necessity was the clearance of a large orchard and levelling of ground to prepare the site. According to Alexander Stewart's building account, on the 2nd May 1788 labourers ‘chop down the cherry orchard’, and ‘wood from the cherry and apple trees is used by the workmen to build their cabins.’ 32 With the site cleared, the task of lowering the hill by twelve feet and the excavation of the colossal hole which would hold the foundations and the basement storey commenced. Without the presence of modern day machinery, the unrelenting task of digging with spades and shovels, then drawing the earth away by horse and cart was unavoidable. Fortunately the estate’s tenant farmers, who commonly struggled to support their families from endeavours on small plots of land, eagerly sought the opportunity for extra work. With word quickly spreading, men came from as far away as the County’s boundary hills. 33 With the site excavated, Alexander Stewart sought another source of workmen. Referred to as Jail stones, prisoners in nearby Enniskillen jail were employed to break up
Alexander Stewart, Weekly building accounts 1778-1798, PRONID/3007/D2/2/1-11. Peter Marson, Belmore: The Lowry-Corry Families of Castle Coole, 1646-1913 (Belfast: Ulster Historical Foundation, 2007), pg. 58. 30 Oliver Garnett, Castle Coole (Warrington: the National Trust, 2008), p. 38. 31 Collection of Dublin Newspapers, PRONI MIC/457. 32 Alexander Stewart, Weekly building accounts 1778-1798, PRONID/3007/D2/2/1-11. 33 Interview with National Trust house steward. 29
14 the blocks of stone required for the retaining wall. 34 On Thursday 19 June 1790 foundation laying began. 35 Since the arrival of the Lowry and Corry families in Ireland, things had gone very well, with both families making huge gains economically, politically and socially. However with building about to commence, the implications of commissioning what was essentially an Italian Villa in the West of Northern Ireland, were about to come into focus.
Materials In true planter style, Lord Belmore chose to use mostly imported materials. While partially due to a lack of availability, it is undoubted that the vernacular was turned down in favour of something more representative of a symbol of wealth. This culminated with the use of Portland stone, a limestone quarried on the isle of Portland, Dorset, which had been used as a construction material since the Roman Empire. Many of England’s prestigious buildings bore its uniquely pure resplendent aesthetic, most famously Sir Christopher Wren’s use of nearly one million cubic feet to rebuild St. Paul's Cathedral after the Great Fire of London in 1666. 36 While this prestige naturally fitted Belmore’s checklist, the suitability of the porous Portland stone in the wet climes of Fermanagh, where it is prone to deterioration, must be questioned. Again form was selected over function. As impressive in weight as in appearance, the workforce faced the mammoth task of bringing sufficient stone to encase the exterior and cover parts of the interior. A brig, ‘Martha’, a sailing vessel with two square-rigged masts, was used to carry the Portland stone from Dorset, around the south coast of Ireland to Ballyshannon on the west coast. Belmore thus built his first Portland quay here, on the land of Castle Caldwell which was generously loaned by friend and future brother-in-law, Sir John Caldwell. Linking the Atlantic Ocean to Ballyshannon Bay and Lower Lough Erne, flat-bottomed boats could then transport the Portland to a specially built quay in Enniskillen.37 In November 1788, ‘Alexander Stewart signs a receipt for 14 horses drawing timber from the deer park to erect a stage in Enniskillen for landing the stone’. 38 The final leg of the journey was by bullock and cart. The presence of a water route almost all of the way simplified transportation, although the journey still took six weeks, across 700 miles of sometimes treacherous water and was not without complications. On Saturday 6th March 1790 ‘a boat sinks in the lough and has to be hauled up’ 39, an inconvenience which escalated what was already a huge expense, and occurred several more times in the years to come. 34
Lady Dorothy Lowry Corry’s transcripts, PRONI D3007/D2/19/1. Alexander Stewart, Weekly building accounts 1778-1798, PRONID/3007/D2/2/1-11. 36 Bournemouth, Dorset & Poole minerals core strategy, background paper 11: Portland Stone (July 2012). 37 Peter Marson, Belmore: The Lowry-Corry Families of Castle Coole, 1646-1913 (Belfast: Ulster Historical Foundation, 2007), P.60. 38 Alexander Stewart, Weekly building accounts 1778-1798, PRONID/3007/D2/2/1-11. 39 Alexander Stewart, Weekly building accounts 1778-1798, PRONID/3007/D2/2/1-11. 35
Figure 6: Map of the United Kingdom and Ireland showing the route taken to Castle Coole by the Portland stone, fireplaces and mahogany.
16 In addition to importing the stone was the consequent cost of importing the workers trained to build with it. Records show these employees first arriving on the 2nd June 1790, with some stone preceding their arrival to ensure work commenced immediately. Stone sawyers cut the Portland into manageable sections, which were then referred to as ashlar. It was subsequently cut again to the desired size by stone cutters. In early 1790, ‘three stone cutters were facing and squeezing ashlar’, 40 to ensure that it was perfectly smooth and the exact size required. It would then be numbered in preparation for assembly by the stone masons who used a complex pulley system to position the blocks which weighed up to half a tonne. The Portland stone was attached to the inner brick work with iron clamps to produce the desired powerful, yet dignified peripheral. 41 Unfortunately, the ingress of rainwater eventually caused the rusting of the iron clamps and the subsequent crumbling of much of the Portland stone off the exterior. The only resolution was the replacement of most of the façade in the 1980’s. 42 Perhaps a vernacular material, accustomed to the wet climate and exposed site may have been more appropriate. Nevertheless, it would have been to the detriment of Castle Coole’s appearance had Belmore’s desire to use a material symbolic of power not prevailed.
Figure 7: A stone mason removing the damaged Portland stone cladding in the 1980’s.
Figure 8: Castle Coole park front, showing the resplendent Portland stone.
The second of Belmore’s eclectic imports travelled 4500 miles across the Atlantic from Jamaica. Swietenia mahagoni, indigenous to the West Indies and known in the 18th century as Cuban, Jamaican and Santa Domingan mahogany, was considered some of the most prized timber money could buy. 43 40
Alexander Stewart, Weekly building accounts 1778-1798, PRONID/3007/D2/2/1-11. The Royal Institute of British Architects how we built Britain series, www.architecture.com/HowWeBuiltBritain/HistoricalPeriods/GeorgianWestAndIreland/GeorgianIreland/CastleCooleCount yFermanagh.aspx 42 Interview with National Trust house steward. 43 Information about mahogany, http://pegsandtails.wordpress.com/2010/02/21/mahogany/ 41
17 With this in mind, the reasoning behind Belmore’s decision to have it in his house is clear. The timber came by a large merchant sailing vessel landing in Limerick on Ireland’s South West coast. From there it travelled by ox-drawn cart through Ireland. 44 The timber was then shaped by carpenters on site to form the colossal yet majestic doors, fine sache windows and some pieces of furniture. When passed on to the joiners for installation the issue of door hanging arose. Due to their size and weight the conventional method of hinge hanging was not adequate; instead a hole had to be formed through the length of the door and a bar inserted which would pivot at the top and bottom. 45 A third calculated operation was required to carry Sir Richard Westmacott’s six heavy marble fireplaces, costing £969, 46 across from London, accompanied by two men competent in installing them. Westmacott, a sculptor who had studied under his father and in Rome with Antonio Canova, was beginning to gain significant recognition at the time the house was being commissioned. A rising star in sculpture, Belmore had to have him. Very special instructions were issued concerning the care of his creations in transit. The route passed through the centre of England to Liverpool, where they were shipped across to Dublin. Lord Belmore himself made the arrangement for their concluding passage by road to Castle Coole. They arrived in flawless condition. However, the journey was exasperated by the fact that Irish miles were longer than English, and thus took more time than initially anticipated. Alexander Stewart’s building records state that in the Summer of 1794, ‘Richard Westmacott supplies statuary drapery marble chimneys for the library, a richly carved statuary marble chimney piece for the drawing room, dining parlor, breakfast room, two for the hall and superior statuary slabs to hall chimney’ 47. The library chimney piece carved to simulate festooned drapery came at a price of £126, making it the single most expensive furnishing in the house (shown below). 48
Figure 9: The library chimney piece.
Alexander Stewart, Weekly building accounts 1778-1798, PRONID/3007/D2/2/1-11. Interview with National Trust house steward. 46 Desmond Guinness and William Ryan, Irish Houses and Castles, (London: Thames and Hudson; November 2, 1971). 47 Alexander Stewart, Weekly building accounts 1778-1798, PRONID/3007/D2/2/1-11. 48 Desmond Guinness and William Ryan, Irish Houses and Castles, (Viking Press; November 2, 1971), pg. 166. 45
18 Unfortunately for Belmore it was not just the logistical strain of transporting materials that cost money, but also the colossal tax consequently acquired. In May, John Andrews was repaid the £17. 19s. 4.5d he had paid for carriage duty between Holyhead and Dublin, a tax which would have been present on every import and been reduced had more local materials been sourced. Despite the many overseas purchases, Lord Belmore did opt for indigenous resources in some integral parts of the house. Bricks and ironwork were made on site. Stone was dug from places in the demesne such as Killynure, and boatloads of sand and gravel were brought in from sites around Lough Erne. In December 1789 the building records state, ‘four brick kilns and a covering for the old kiln are put up by Owen Mullen and partner. 50,000 bricks are produced out of two kilns’ and in the autumn months before, ‘22 loads of stone are brought from Donagh Quarry’ 49, a nearby source which could be accessed by water. According to Lady Dorothy’s transcript, ‘the iron work was made at Lord Belmore’s forge on the Dublin road close to the site’.50 The Castle Coole estate contains some magnificent timber, much of which is older than the house itself. In the creation of the ancient oak flanked front avenue, many oak trees were removed and fittingly relocated to the principal floors of the grand house, forming one of the most admired parts of the interior. The talented joiners who had been sought from England used the oak trees throughout the spring and summer of 1792 to fashion the long thick planks 51 which have stood the test of time, with very little maintenance.
Workforce Perhaps as impressive as the logistical undertaking of transporting material, was that of importing a large part of the 157 man workforce, ‘an operation worthy of a Roman invasion force’. In a similar manner to the Portland Stone or Jamaican mahogany, men and animals had to be brought to the site by boat, carriage and ox cart 52, with some coming from as far away as Italy. The month of May 1790 saw the work force at its height with a wages bill of £159. 13s. 7.5d paying twenty-one cutters, twenty-six stone masons, ten stone sawyers, seventeen carpenters and eighty three labourers. 53
Alexander Stewart, Weekly building accounts 1778-1798, PRONID/3007/D2/2/1-11. Lady Dorothy Lowry Corry’s transcripts, PRONI D3007/D2/19/1. 51 Lady Dorothy Lowry Corry’s transcripts, PRONI D3007/D2/19/1. 52 Peter Marson, Belmore: The Lowry-Corry Families of Castle Coole, 1646-1913 (Belfast: Ulster Historical Foundation, 2007, Pg. 58. 53 Desmond Guinness and William Ryan, Irish Houses and Castles, (London: Thames and Hudson; November 2, 1971), pg. 164. 50
19 ‘We are like a numerous family depending entirely on the market day for all we want and my Admiral must look very sharp, more so than ever he has done yet by far’. Alexander Stewart’s words suggest his view of Belmore as commander in chief, with all positions spreading out below him. The workforce extended through many ranks down to the labourers and apprentice boys at the bottom, with pay decreasing subsequently. Much like the indecisive clients architects are plagued with today, so Stewart, Wyatt, and Rose had to put up with Belmore’s constant changes of mind. Stewart complained, ‘no man living could tell where it might end’. While Rose, trying to steer clear of argument, told Belmore, ‘please yourself as to what you choose to have done as I do declare that I have no wish about it, only that you should be pleased’. 54
Figure 10: Alexander Stewart’s building return for week ending November 30th 1793.
The men first mentioned in the build of Castle Coole were locals employed to carry out the more menial tasks. The building record recalls, early 1789, ‘labourers McGirr, Doughertey, McAleer, McManus and McCafrey cut and square apple trees, make shades for the bullocks and move stone into place.’ The Irish names form a contrast to those of the joiners arriving later. Week beginning 11th
54 Peter Marson, Belmore: The Lowry-Corry Families of Castle Coole, 1646-1913 (Belfast: Ulster Historical Foundation, 2007, Pg. 52.
20 January 1792, ‘two new joiners arrived, James Peacock and Archibald Sayers, both from England’. 55 It is clear from the pay sheets that the English employees were seen to be of higher value than the Irish; it may be fair to suggest that some of the Irish workers were stereotyped into a more brawn than brain category. When reflecting on the interior, with relatively untrained Irish joiners producing some of the most admired features it seems a contradiction is formed. One such example was Barney McGirr; the local carpenter who had never received proper training and had previously taken occasional employment as Lord Belmore’s house carpenter. When the Castle Coole build began he had started as a labourer, given his natural talent he joined the other carpenters, he was later promoted to joiner and as such did a lot of the most difficult work. Lady Dorothy Lowry Corry comments, ‘He must have had wonderful hands and a most delicate touch to have produced some of the work he did’. 56 The side board, pedestals and urns shown were made by McGirr in 1797.
Figure 11: Side board, pedestal and urn.
The combination of County Fermanagh’s unrelenting rainfall and the workers’ unsatisfactory living arrangements left Stewart, at times, short of the workforce required. March and April 1791 Stewart refers to ‘borrowing labourers’, sending an express to Donegal for masons. 57 The issue of attracting workers extended to those coming from further afield. A letter from Joseph Rose, Italian plasterer states: ‘I have sent you four more plasterers but I have been obliged to give more wages, otherwise they would not have left England…My men are rather afraid of being pressed, why they should be I cannot tell, as none of them are sailors. If anything of this kind should happen I hope your Lordship will stand their friend – I hope your Lordship will excuse my leaving this letter open for if they should be taken hold of by the Press-Gang this letter will convince them they are going to work for your Lordship’. 58
Alexander Stewart, Weekly building accounts 1778-1798, PRONID/3007/D2/2/1-11. Lady Dorothy Lowry Corry’s transcripts, PRONI D3007/D2/19/1. 57 Alexander Stewart, Weekly building accounts 1778-1798, PRONID/3007/D2/2/1-11. 58 Rose’s letters PRONI/D/3007/D/2/17/1 and 3 and D/3007/D/18/2. 56
21 The impress service, more commonly called the press gang, was employed to seize men for employment at sea in British seaports. 59 Men of disrepute, normally homeless vagrants were targeted; however after the outbreak of the French Revolutionary war in 1793, the navy needed an influx of sailors thus a long journey through ports, and across the Irish Sea may have seemed hazardous. In June, the reluctance of the plasterers to go to Castle Coole had spread to the ornamental specialists and costs were rising. 60 The whole Irish project seems to have been getting on top of Rose: ‘I am rather afraid I shall have some difficulty in getting the ornamental men to come – I understand that there are letters from the last men I sent your Lordship saying that it is an unhealthy place, that most of my men are ill and that there is not lodgings for them but in damp rooms indeed my lord if you should be dissatisfied with me for it costing you more money than you expected I shall wish I had never seen Ireland’.61 In addition to ensuring that men would arrive and leave Ireland safely, personal feuds on location caused issues. The presence of two men, each thinking they possessed the same authority was not ideal. Alexander Stewart and William Armstrong were constantly getting on each other’s nerves. Armstrong had worked at Castle Coole since childhood, following in his father’s footsteps. He had risen to be land steward but had an alcohol problem, making him at times difficult to work with. A letter from Stewart to Belmore reads, ‘I got the timber out of the grove yesterday and I had a great deal to do to stop Will from continuing to draw a parcel of trees there belonging to George. The bullock boy attempted to make him sensible and he beat him on the spot. This is one of the most cruel days of wind and rain I ever saw and he has the poor animals out. I leave it to your Lordship what will be the consequence.’ 62 This inability of two figureheads to agree undoubtedly reduced productivity and angered Belmore. However, in the face of adversity there were some perks of working on the build. A regular appearance in the cost records was a gallon of whiskey for the men, week ending 17 December 1791, ‘the labourers are given whiskey’ and on the 23rd April 1796 ‘Henry Busby was given 9 shillings and sixpence for giving whiskey to the remaining labourers and watchmen who have been discharging boats of Marble chimney pieces at the quay near Enniskillen’. Other bonuses included public holidays and reward days off, in the week ending August 9th 1794, ‘no work done as all the labourers went to the races’. 63
Royal Navy website, information on impressment, http://www.royalnavalmuseum.org/info_sheet_impressment.htm Peter Marson, Belmore: The Lowry-Corry Families of Castle Coole, 1646-1913 (Belfast: Ulster Historical Foundation, 2007, Pg.52. 61 Desmond Guinness and William Ryan, Irish Houses and Castles, (London: Thames and Hudson; November 2, 1971). 62 Lady Dorothy Lowry Corry’s transcripts, PRONI D3007/D2/19/1. 63 Alexander Stewart, Weekly building accounts 1778-1798, PRONID/3007/D2/2/1-11. 60
Physical implications The challenging and often severe weather conditions offered a final hurdle. The autumn of 1789 was particularly ruthless with regular subsidence delaying the digging of the foundations and putting additional pressure on Belmore’s already strict budget. 31st September, ‘last night a most tremendous storm of wind and rain, the flood is within a foot of the top of the mill this morning’. Friday and Saturday 1st and 2nd October, ‘the floods continue and are predicted to reach the level of the mill before night.’ Tuesday 6 and Wednesday 7 October, ‘the weather continues shocking bad. The mill mason is obliged to stop and brick maker have his break and go home after 15 days raining continually’. Throughout January 1791, ‘29 cutters and masons work in the workshop, too cold to work outside’. 64 With relatively constrained room in the workshop, production became much less efficient. Building records show this recurring each winter, with the weather implications extending to the house itself. In 1796 Bartoli claimed that the moist Fermanagh air was spoiling his work on the Scagliola columns in the hall. Rose was at a loss; ‘As I did not know what was best to be done when the columns mildewed I asked Bartoli, he told me that wiping them dry would be the case in warm moist weather, it was the best that could be done.’ 65 It cannot be doubted that the Fermanagh weather played havoc with building progress, a letter from Stewart to Belmore on 12 January 1791 reads: ‘Your Lordship was pleased to allow me a few turfs to burn in this office. I wanted a few more and could not get them unless I would carry them out of the barge on my back and really it is so cold that I cannot hold the pen and my paper so damp that my pen goes through it like a cobweb. I believe we shall have never a stone on this ground or a cill up until the 1st March’. Stewart ‘estimated the cost to 1793 as £28,180 – the total amount to finish.’ 66 Unfortunately this had not accounted for the repercussions that Castle Coole’s location would bring. In reality the build cost closer to £70,000 and was to continue for a further five years, twice the time-scale expected.
Money When looking at the building records, it is difficult to pick out a time from commencement of ground works when Lord Belmore could have truly relaxed, with every month bringing a new difficulty to overcome. If a line graph were to reflect Belmore’s state of contentment, then the year 1797 would 64
Alexander Stewart, Weekly building accounts 1778-1798, PRONID/3007/D2/2/1-11. Lady Dorothy Lowry Corry’s transcripts, PRONI D3007/D2/19/1. 66 Peter Marson, Belmore: The Lowry-Corry Families of Castle Coole, 1646-1913 (Belfast: Ulster Historical Foundation, 2007, pg.65. 65
23 feature as a rapid decline. Rumours of a combined Spanish and French invasion of England, and mutiny at Spithead and Nore in late autumn, 67 caused concerns among some members of the British ruling class that an uprising similar to the French Revolution might occur. Growing panic and increased withdrawals forced the Bank of England to suspend cash payments producing a subsequent run on English and Irish banks. 68 With Belmore’s financial situation far from buoyant, a potential economic depression would be arriving at a most unfortunate time. The most secure investment remaining was in property, a fact that made the next event all the more lamentable. In the summer of 1797, a pan of hot ash left on the staircase of the Queen Anne House, the nearby residence the family was occupying, resulted in its complete destruction. Belmore, his wife, his five children, three of whom were illegitimate, and his servants, had no option but to move into the new house despite it being largely unfurnished and hosting a team of eleven joiners and six painters still at work. 69 With the dust and strong smell of paint, it was far from ideal for an Earl attempting to seal his position in society and politics. Belmore’s embarrassment at being still ‘deep in mortar’ 70 was the least of his worries. With nine years of difficult transportation, weather conditions, rising estimates and recent unfortunate circumstances, Belmore was in great debt, with his economic situation showing little prospect of improvement. He now had the house to fit the high life, but not the money to support it. By the end of 1797, the increased stress and pressure was taking its toll and Belmore’s health entered a steady decline. The squeeze on credit was biting, forcing Belmore to desperate measures. In a letter to his brother-in-law Sir John Caldwell he writes: ‘Nothing but the utmost necessity could induce me to call on you for the payment of your sister’s fortune. The fact is I am indebted to my bank £4,000 and the terms are such that they must be paid’. 71 The family connection and friendship meant that Caldwell eventually obliged. However sympathy for Belmore must have been limited considering he had just purchased the Borough of Ballyshannon from Thomas Connolly for £12,000. To Caldwell he confessed: ‘You must know that my house and the borough of Ballyshannon has made me as poor as a rat and bankers in these times cannot venture to advance large sums for any length of time. Nothing
67 Royal Navy research guide, http://www.rmg.co.uk/researchers/library/research-guides/the-royal-navy/research-guide-b8the-spithead-and-nore-mutinies-of-1797. 68 Peter Marson, Belmore: The Lowry-Corry Families of Castle Coole, 1646-1913 (Belfast: Ulster Historical Foundation, 2007, pg. 75. 69 Interview with National Trust house steward. 70 Peter Marson, Belmore: The Lowry-Corry Families of Castle Coole, 1646-1913 (Belfast: Ulster Historical Foundation, 2007, pg.67. 71 Peter Marson, Belmore: The Lowry-Corry Families of Castle Coole, 1646-1913 (Belfast: Ulster Historical Foundation, 2007, Pg.52.
24 but the cash will answer them, which must justify me in requesting you will as soon as possible pay the contents of your bond to your affectionate Belmore’.72 To make matters worse, Belmore’s masterpiece was receiving more scrutiny than support. A French tourist, de la Tocnaye, visited in the late 1790’s and commented acidly in his book, ‘A Frenchman’s walk through Ireland’ that, ‘comfort has been almost entirely sacrificed to beauty’, and concluded that ‘temples should be left to the gods’. 73 Perhaps staying in a fairly cramped attic room in a house still occupied by workmen was to the detriment of his review. With financial pressure continuing, the comfort of owning the finest neo-classical house in Ireland must have been at an all-time low. Wherever possible bill paying was delayed, except where unsettlement would be obvious. The black ivory button inserted at the end of the staircase handrail commonly referred to as a ‘mortgage button’, is believed to have originated in the 17th century as a sign that a property’s mortgage had been paid. This is now said to be apocryphal, the ivory button in a
Figure 12: Black ivory button.
functional sense was simply a way to decoratively cover up the joinery, but also acted as an assurance of payment for the staircase, only being installed once it had been fully paid for.74 Consequently the staircase was paid for with urgency. It was those who lacked an assurance and had returned to England that found it harder to obtain payments. Extracts from Rose’s letters discussing bills point unsubtle fingers at Belmore, 27th September 1796: ‘my bills amount to considerably more than I thought they would, but from Shires’ letters I understand there was alterations and additives, the staircase ceiling was then intended to be plain, the basement story done in common plastering which has now been finished in the best manner – but not to tire your Lordship, I must leave the work and the bills to speak for themselves.’ 75 To soften the blow of further increasing costs, Rose adds: ‘I firmly believe the ornaments have cost me more money than I have charged. If your Lordship has the least wish for my bill to be looked over by Mr. Wyatt, I will give him a copy and he
Peter Marson, Belmore: The Lowry-Corry Families of Castle Coole, 1646-1913 (Belfast: Ulster Historical Foundation, 2007, pg. 78. 73 Gervase Jackson-Stops, A temple made tasteful, Country Life April 10, 1986. 74 Interview with National Trust house steward. 75 Lady Dorothy Lowry Corry’s transcripts, PRONI D3007/D2/19/1.
25 will give you his opinion of it. I shall only add my Lord that I wish you good health and many, many happy years to enjoy your new house’. 76 This letter was not dealt with by Belmore at all, with a reply finally sent by Lady Belmore blaming her husband’s illness for the delay. Unfortunately there is no copy of this letter remaining, but Rose replied, 8th December 1797: ‘I have just now received a letter from Lady Belmore. I am very sorry my Lord that you are so unwell as not to be able to write yourself but the letter has so alarmed me, that I cannot help answering it immediately.’ 77 In May, Belmore sells his hunting lodge and land in Westmeath for £1500 in an attempt to acquire some leeway. 78 Yet bills continued thick and fast leaving his attempts soon insufficient. Fortunately with Rose five hundred miles away in London and communication limited to mail, Belmore could delay correspondence. This included the suggestion that he send Rose a copy of his costings to ensure their consistency. Rose was more than ready to meet the tactic: ‘You need not, my lord, give yourself the trouble of sending me a copy of my calculation I made of the plasterer’s work when at Castle Coole in July 1794. I recollect the whole of the conversation that led to it and I am sure I did not mean at that time to deceive you, I have every paper I believe relating to your business, every letter I have received from your Lordship, and copies of those I wrote to you, also every letter I received from Shires, Mr Stewart and very happy indeed I am now that I have preserved them. I must own I did not expect such a letter from your Lordship as I have received from Lady Belmore and this after you had received my bill more that twelve months ago, and the business had been finished nearly two years.’ 79 Rose then reiterates the main reason for increasing costs being that Belmore had changed his mind on numerous occasions about designs and quality. The letter’s conclusion demonstrates Rose’s expired patience: ‘I cannot be kept in suspense, nothing of this kind has happened to me before and think how greatly must be my disappointment, I thought I had added you to the number of my friends.’ 80 Unfortunately Rose died before receiving the remainder of his £2,249 6s. 4.5d. total bill. 81 It was paid to his executors in September 1804, two years after the death of Belmore himself. By the end of the
Lady Dorothy Lowry Corry’s transcripts, PRONI D3007/D2/19/1. Lady Dorothy Lowry Corry’s transcripts, PRONI D3007/D2/19/1. 78 Peter Marson, Belmore: The Lowry-Corry Families of Castle Coole, 1646-1913 (Belfast: Ulster Historical Foundation, 2007, pg. 70. 79 Lady Dorothy Lowry Corry’s transcripts, PRONI D3007/D2/19/1. 80 Lady Dorothy Lowry Corry’s transcripts, PRONI D3007/D2/19/1. 81 John Martin Robinson, James Wyatt (1746-1813) Architect to George III, (Yale University Press 2012) pg. 122. 77
26 18th Century Belmore’s debt had risen to £90,000, reflecting his fundamental miscalculation that the build could be paid for by his income. On the £28,180 original estimate this may have been possible, but the uncalculated implications consequential of site location, had, in the end more than doubled the figure. It may be fair to suggest that Belmore’s over-ambition cut his life short with stress undoubtedly catalysing his disease. He died in February 1802 at the age of 62, leaving his son with debts of around £100,000, and a national political influence which had evaporated with the abolition of the Irish parliament in Dublin. 82 Two years before his death, Lord Belmore opposed the Act of Union, not only to protect his own interests from extinction, but because the Irish Parliament was the safest bulwark of his class and creed and the best way to protect the protestant ascendancy. 83 The act however was passed and the Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland formed, leaving prospects for an anti-Unionist family with no English title or property and few English connections, far from bright. 84 The Belmores had lost all political influence and the anticipated resulting financial rewards. 85 Perhaps it was his 72,715 acres of land across five counties in Ireland or the fact that his house was considered ‘one of the peaks of James Wyatt’s classical achievement’,86 but in the face of a series of adversities, the 2nd Earl’s determination to improve his situation continued. After work on the house finished on the tail of 1796, the joiners turned their attention to making the furniture Wyatt had designed. 87 An extract from the building records in February 1797 recalls, ‘In the third week Peacock, Berry, Sayers, Clerk and Mcgirr worked at the bookcase’. This continued for over a year. In February 1798, ‘tripods are made for the hall’ and in March ‘a screen is made for Lady Belmore’. Unfortunately the production of furniture by eight joiners over almost two years was dwarfed by the huge scale of the 6ft module proportioned house, which reflected the deep-seated love of over-building in 18th century Ireland. 88 As a result the 2nd Earl seems to have had three main ambitions in life: to amend his family’s economic situation, to rebuild his political career and to humanise Castle Coole with furnishings, consequentially ‘turning a temple for the gods into a palace fit for princes’ 89
Oliver Garnett, Castle Coole (Warrington: the National Trust, 2008), p. 35. The Belmore papers, the act of union and its aftermath, PRONI D/3007. 84 The Belmore papers, Post-Union politics, PRONI D/3007. 85 John Cornforth, Castle Coole, co. Fermanagh, A property of the National Trust and the home of the earl and countess of Belmore, Country Life December 17, 1992. 86 John Cornforth, Castle Coole, co. Fermanagh, A property of the National Trust and the home of the earl and countess of Belmore, Country Life December 17, 1992. 87 Gervase Jackson-Stops, A temple made tasteful, Country Life April 10, 1986. 88 John Cornforth, Castle Coole, co. Fermanagh, A property of the National Trust and the home of the earl and countess of Belmore, Country Life December 17, 1992. 89 Gervase Jackson-Stops, A temple made tasteful, Country Life April 10, 1986. 83
Figure 13: The saloon through to entrance hall, showing Roseâ€™s plaster work, Scagliola pillars, oak floor boards and furniture supplied by Preston.
Latter years In 1951 Castle Coole house, along with a portion of the estate were sold to the National Trust following a series of death duties which could not be paid. In the 149 years since the death of the 1st Earl, £26,367 had been spent on the house interior with the Preston brothers’ upholstery firm in Dublin; giving Wyatt’s reserved interiors splendour worthy of the Prince Regent’s Carlton house 90. The estate had passed through the hands of seven earls and had provided employment for up to twenty-four indoor servants at any one time, with close to one hundred in the surrounding estate and many well-treated tenants working the land. The longest serving employees were given pensions on retirement, for example, ‘Matthew Murphy, pension £11.0.0 a year’. 91 The estate hosted the home pitch for its own cricket team and published its own newspaper, the Castle Coole Review. Despite operating successfully for a sustained period of time, in the end, like so many other great country houses it has become a museum preserving a distant past. Was its downfall due to the influence of the Act of Union, changes in society after 1850, the amounting death duties or was the design simply not functional in site and stature?
Figure 14: The Castle Coole Cricket team in the 1890’s, the contrast in attire distinguishes clearly between upper class and working class.
Perhaps it was a combination of all four; but to decipher which had the greatest influence it is necessary to reflect on Belmore’s objectives. It is clear that Belmore’s primary intent was the image his house would provide, ‘it was to be the home of a great Irish political family; not merely a place to live in, a showpiece to proclaim position in Irish society and influence in the Irish House of
Gervase Jackson-Stops, A temple made tasteful, Country Life April 10, 1986. The Castle Coole review 1805/1806, Details from 1805 staff at Castle Coole.
29 Commons.’ 92 Consequently the design favoured form over function, highlighted in the words of La Tocnaye, ‘comfort has been almost entirely sacrificed to beauty’ 93. When looking at the ground floor plan, the proportion of space occupied by the ‘36 x 24ft’ 94 show rooms highlighted in beige, compared to those the family mainly inhabited, highlighted in maroon, is striking. These rooms almost appear an afterthought to the grand centre piece. One might argue that on the ground floor it was understandable, with most attention given to rooms intended for entertaining political friends. Nevertheless, when we travel up through the floors, space allocated to the family’s living quarters remains meagre.
Figure 15: Ground floor plan, with show rooms highlighted in beige and family living quarters highlighted in maroon.
The lobby, as shown (overleaf), is considered ‘spatially the most exciting feature of the building’ 95, a double height space lit by one of three circular skylights and surrounded at the upper level by Doric columns behind which attic bedrooms can be accessed. Given their size and position in the house these would seem to the unaware observer to be the lodging provided for servants, this however is not the case. With the huge lobby and two principle rooms on either side taking up most of the first storey, there was no other option but to make the attic rooms accommodation for the family and less distinguished guests, a decision which obviously did not bode well with La Tocnaye when he came to stay. That image was again the main intention on the upper floors, is reinforced when looking at the lobby and adjacent state bedroom in more detail. The lobby was only intended to be a space for 92
John Martin Robinson, James Wyatt (1746-1813) Architect to George III, (Yale University Press 2012) pg. 121. Gervase Jackson-Stops, A temple made tasteful, Country Life April 10, 1986. 94 John Martin Robinson, James Wyatt (1746-1813) Architect to George III, (Yale University Press 2012) pg. 122. 95 John Martin Robinson, James Wyatt (1746-1813) Architect to George III, (Yale University Press 2012) pg. 122. 93
30 moving through, a route distinguished female guests would take from the grand staircase through to the bow room. Yet Wyatt’s attention to detail is spectacular, his design for one of four stoves is shown, two of these were false and in place solely to maintain the room’s balance and symmetry. In reality the well-lit warm space was used by the children to play in, a fact that must reinforce the suggestion that the rooms they were intended to occupy were insufficient.
Figure 16: Wyatt’s stove design (left) and the resulting stove (right).
Figure 17: The lobby with stoves shown.
The state bedroom, pictured, was reserved as the accommodation for the most illustrious visitors. Furnished in the 1810’s, in anticipation of King George IV’s visit to Ireland, the room included Preston’s ornately carved Spanish mahogany bed, window curtains of rich fire coloured silk and red flock wallpaper made by J. & P. Boylan of Dublin in 1812. 96 As the image conveys, it was decorated with no expense spared. Unfortunately on King George’s tour of Ireland, he first went to Slane Castle where he met Lady Cunningham, they fell in love and she became his mistress. Much to the disgust of the Belmores, he never showed up. For the family and servants who had spent a year preparing for his arrival this must have been heart breaking, especially considering the positive impact his visit would have had on their social position. The room now displays two sets of Hogarth prints, one showing Marriage a la Mode and the other; A Rakes Progress. These two famous satires on mid-18th-century society were presumably hung to mock the King in his absence. The room has record of only one guest, the Archbishop of Armagh in 1896. Perhaps it would have been more use at the service of a family member rather than acting as a redundant status symbol. 97
Oliver Garnett, Castle Coole (Warrington: the National Trust, 2008), pg. 38. Interview with National Trust house steward.
Figure 18: The state bedroom.
Conclusion Everything about Castle Coole suggests that appearances came first. From the dysfunctional interior which, with eight false doors to preserve balance and symmetry was difficult to navigate, to the 45m 98 subterranean passage that took servants in and out of the house underground. As a family home it was inefficient, cold and unfriendly, especially when compared to the rival Cole family’s residence at Florence Court, which sacrificed some grandeur for comfort, yet remains ‘one of the most important Georgian houses in Ireland’. 99 It appears as though a lack of functionality was Castle Coole’s main downfall. Had the design been more modest and the location less rural, perhaps Belmore could have lessened his debts, leaving the family in a better position to continue running it, regardless of the events which ultimately sealed its fate. To what extent this would have been for the better is consequently the next question. If looking at the house as a home, then in all probability this would have enabled Castle Coole to accommodate a family for longer. However, from an architectural point of view, the combination of a rich man striving for power and an architect in the latter stages of his career, with an open brief and a pocket 98 99
John Martin Robinson, James Wyatt (1746-1813) Architect to George III, (Yale University Press 2012) pg. 124. Adrian Tinniswood, County Fermanagh, Castle Coole, Florence Court, the Crom Estate (Centurion Press Ltd, 1998), pg.
32 full of money has resulted in an undeniably magnificent house, to which any alteration would have been to its detriment. Castle Coole is considered the finest country house in Ireland, and in many eyes, Wyatt’s masterpiece. Not only does it stand testament to the architectural potential of the 18th Century, but is a continuing attraction to many thousands of visitors coming from all over the world to experience its ‘icy splendour’. 100 Castle Coole was certainly a façade, the face of a plan which would streamline the 1st Earl of Belmore to success. Although with time, like the Portland Stone exterior, cracks began to appear. The attempt to gain position and power was ultimately foiled, but what remained was a fantastic example of NeoClassical architecture, and a house for which Belmore and Wyatt deserve praise.
Figure 19: The 1st Earl of Belmore.
Gervase Jackson-Stops, A temple made tasteful, Country Life April 10, 1986.
Books Atkinson, A. 1833. Ireland in the Nineteenth Century. Harvard College. Barnard, T. 2004. Making the Grand Figure: Lives and Possessions in Ireland, 1641-1770. Yale University Press. Colvin, H. 1954. Biographical Dictionary of English Architects, 1660-1840. John Murray Publishers Ltd. Craig, M. 1989. The Architecture of Ireland: from the earliest times to 1800. B. T. Batsford Ltd. Garnett, O. 2008. Castle Coole, Co. Fermanagh, The National Trust. Swindon: Acorn Press. Guinness, D. 1971. Irish Houses and Castles. London: Thames and Hudson. Marson, P. 2007. Belmore: The Lowry-Corry Families of Castle Coole, 1646-1913. Belfast: Ulster Historical Foundation. McParland, E. 1981. Guidebook to Castle Coole co. Fermanagh. Hertfordshire: The Stellar Press. Murray, T. 1901. Murray Collection Catalogue. University of Cambridge, Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. O'Neill, B. 2002. Irish Castles and Historic Houses. London: Caxton Editions. Robinson, J. 2012. James Wyatt, 1746-1813, Architect to George III. Yale University Press. Tinniswood, A. 1998. County Fermanagh, Castle Coole, Florence Court, the Crom Estate. Centurion Press Ltd. Tinniswood, A. 1997. A resource book for teachers. W & G Baird Limited.
Belmore archive documents Lowry Corry, D. Transcripts and compiled information. PRONI D/3007/D2/19/1. Lowry Corry, D & Paterson T. 1952. Exchange of letters between T.G.F Paterson and Lady Dorothy Lowry Corry. PRONI D/3007/D2/19/1. Rose, J. Letters to the 1st Earl of Belmore discussing bills. PRONI D/3007/D/2/17/1 & 3 and D/3007/D/18/2. Stewart, A. 1778-1798. Weekly building accounts. PRONI D/3007/D2/2/1-11. Stewart, A. Letters to the 1st Earl of Belmore. PRONI D/3007/D/2/10. The Belmore papers. The act of union and its aftermath, PRONI D/3007. The Belmore papers. Post-Union politics, PRONI D/3007. The Castle Coole review 1805/1806. Details from 1805 staff at Castle Coole.
Journals Bournemouth, Dorset & Poole minerals core strategy. 2012. Background paper 11: Portland Stone. Cornforth, J. 1992. Heaton Hall, Lancashire. (Dec 10th) Country Life magazine.
34 Cornforth, J. 1992. Castle Coole, co. Fermanagh, A property of the National Trust and the home of the earl and countess of Belmore. (Dec 17th) Country Life magazine. Hussey, C. 1936. Castle Coole County Fermanagh – the seat of the Earl of Belmore. (Dec 19th) Country Life magazine. Jackson-Stops, G. 1986. A temple made tasteful, a Regency upholsterer at Castle Coole. (Apr 10th) Country Life magazine. Malcolmson, A.1992. Belmore Papers: Introduction. Country Life magazine.
Newspapers Collection of Dublin Newspapers. The Dublin Gazette. PRONI MIC/457.
Websites The Royal Academy website, http://www.avictorian.com/royalacademy.html The Royal Institute of British Architects how we built Britain series, www.architecture.com/HowWeBuiltBritain/HistoricalPeriods/GeorgianWestAndIreland/GeorgianIreland/Castle CooleCountyFermanagh.aspx Information about mahogany, http://pegsandtails.wordpress.com/2010/02/21/mahogany/ Royal Navy website, information on impressment, http://www.royalnavalmuseum.org/info_sheet_impressment.htm
Self-recorded information National Trust house steward interview, August 2012
Images Figure1: Author’s photograph. Figure 2: Author’s photograph. Figure 3: National Portrait Gallery website. http://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/portrait/mw42807/JamesWyatt. Figure 4: Peter Marson, Belmore: The Lowry-Corry Families of Castle Coole, 1646-1913 (Belfast: Ulster Historical Foundation, 2007, pg. 55.
35 Figure 5: An Architectural Pilgrimage. http://glasspilgrim.blogspot.co.uk/2010/10/castle-coole.html Figure 6: Edited map. http://www.freeworldmaps.net/europe/united-kingdom/map.html Figure 7: Country Life picture library, Chris Hill. Figure 8: The National Trust, Andreas von Einsiedel. Figure 9: National Trust tour website, http://www.virtualvisitnorthernireland.com/gallery.aspx?dataid=50334&title=Houses_and_Heritage Figure 10: Alexander Stewart, Weekly building accounts 1778-1798, PRONID/3007/D2/2/1-11. Figure 11: The National Trust, Bryan Rutledge. Figure 12: Authorâ€™s photograph. Figure 13: National Trust collections web page, http://nttreasurehunt.wordpress.com/2011/09/08/mixing-greekand-chinese-regency-style-at-castle-coole/ Figure 14: Adrian Tinniswood, A resource book for teachers (W & G Baird Limited, 1997), pg. 31. Figure 15: New Vitruvius Britannicus II. Figure 16: John Martin Robinson, James Wyatt (1746-1813) Architect to George III, (Yale University Press 2012) pg. 161. Figure 17: John Martin Robinson, James Wyatt (1746-1813) Architect to George III, (Yale University Press 2012) pg. 16 Figure 18: The National Trust, Andreas von Einsiedel. Figure 19: The National Trust, Bryan Rutledge. Figure 20: Fermanagh attractions website, http://www.thevalleyhotel.com/attractions/local-attractions/6/castlecoole-house/
Figure 20: Castle Coole entrance front.