'Dutch Billys'

Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby gunter » Sun Jun 10, 2012 12:30 pm

I was afraid that might be what we'd be looking at with Sautelle, he's even managed to make the father's Georgian cathedral look like a gothic revival parish church.

On the positive side, he does indicate - in his own way - gabled terraces in the general William Street/Lombard Street area that Chearnley drew with a bit more vigour fifty years earlier.

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What else have you got in that attic of yours Simon?
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby apelles » Mon Jun 18, 2012 11:13 pm

Are these some of the previously mentioned buildings in West street, Drogheda, that are more than likely of Dutch Billy origin?

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http://www.greatirishphotos.com/2008/02/west-street-drogheda-louth-postcard.html

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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby gunter » Wed Jun 20, 2012 11:42 pm

Apelles, until about three years ago I had no idea that Drogheda retained a treasure trove of houses belonging to the gabled tradition, none of the histories of the town make any mention of it. It was almost as if the street architecture of Drogheda was thought to skip straight from the elaborate half-timber cagework tradition of the celebrated Boate House to the stoic Georgian of the Grammar School, Singleton House and the like.

Without doubling the length of the Dutch Billy thread, I don’t know if we’re going to be able to put that record straight, but, as a first step, it certainly wouldn’t do any harm to point out that only the façade of the house you’ve highlighted [no. 106 West Street] is actually a ‘Protected Structure’ and neither of the two identical former Billys at nos. 5 and 8 almost directly opposite on the south side of the street even have that minimal level of protection . . . and these - the magnolia three - are only the tip of the gabled iceberg on West Street.

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no. 106 West street

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no. 5 West street, the right hand half of Dunnes Stores

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no. 8 West Street, with its heavy parapet moulding which almost certainly replaced an original curvilinear gable

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The rear of no. 8 West street, which was built over a medieval lane running down to Dyer Street

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A view of the roofscape of the stretch of West Street from no 3 to no. 12 taken from the church parapet showing not just the former gabled houses at nos. 5 and 8, but also less obvious, two-bay, former Billys at nos. 4. 9 and 12 also. The roofs of nos 105 and 106 can be seen in the foreground

I don’t know what features the interior of these houses may retain, none of them are Protected Structures, but unfortunately I can confirm that the interior of no. 106 was recently, and comprehensively, plasterboarded out complete with a replacement stairs straight out of B+Q, all of which works take advantage of the fact that, unusually for Drogheda, only the façade of this particular house was Protected.

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the top landing of no. 106

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a beautiful pair of late Georgian curved windows are preserved on the rear elevation of no. 106, other features may survive behind the plasterboard.

Ironically, the house next door at 105 - the Victorian redbrick in Apelles pic. - enjoys full Protected Structure status even though it was only built in 1895.
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby apelles » Sun Jul 01, 2012 6:14 pm

Not sure if you like coincidence's Gunter, well anyway, I was browsing through the ghostsigns project & found this pic of 'Shop street' also in Drogheda.

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http://www.flickr.com/photos/gentlemano ... 384374875/
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby gunter » Sun Jul 01, 2012 11:22 pm

You're spot on again there Apelles.

The present site of the Wogan Interiors premises was formerly a terrage of four particularly smart Billys that we're fortunate to have quite a lot of information on.

The site was packaged for development in 1727 by Drogheda Corporation and divided into four plots of 21 foot frontage and 128 foot depth. The site appears to have previously been occupied by a Guild Hall and at least one old house adjoining the north west corner of the bridge.

The Bike shop was actually a re-gabled version of the formerly gabled house built in 1727, or shortly afterwards, by Alderman Henry Ackland. The shallower pitched roof and ornate curvilinear gable in the Bike Shop view were added to the house circa 1900 after its original cruciform roof and its replacement flat parapet, which had succeeded the original gable, had themselves been replaced.

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a view of Shop Street when the facades were still brick

Note that the adjoining house [no. 23] had the same window arrangement as the cluster of houses on West Street that we were discussing earl
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby gunter » Wed Jul 04, 2012 11:22 pm

Head of the Orange Order addresses the Seanad

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a new Muriel of King Billy replacing a UFF one in Sandy Row, Belfast

Whatever may turn out to be the true extent of any connection between the Dutch Billy tradition that we discuss on this forum and other manifestations of Orangism, every year - in the lead up to the 12th - we miss the opportunity to engage in any meaningful exploration of the cultural legacy of Orangism and instead settle into a predictable pattern of reporting the conflicts and tensions that attend its celebration in the North.

Notwithstanding the visit of the Head of the Orange Order to Dublin yesterday, there is every indication that we will miss the opportunity again this year.

Even allowing for the possibility that Mr. Drew Nelson, the Head of the Orange Order, may have dumbed down his potted history of Orangism [as reported] to reach his audience in the Seanad yesterday, there remains the suspicion that even those steeped in the heritage of Orangism, as one imagines Mr. Nelson must be, may not fully understand the cultural phenomenon that they belong to and its legacy throughout the island of Ireland.

As reported, Mr. Nelson took the opportunity to highlight the two fundamental tenets of the Orange Order in his address to the Seanad; its avowed Protestantism and, its unshakable commitment to the union with Britain. This may be a statement of fact, backed by two hundred years plus of unrelenting observance, but it is also the sectarian cocktail that raises the hackles of even the mildest among the nationally minded community with whom the membership and supporters of the Orange Order share this island.

Clearly there is absolutely nothing wrong with an organisation being avowedly Protestant, if the organisation is exclusively, or at least primarily, religious in mission. Equally, there can be no legitimate issue, in a democratic society, with an organisation dedicating itself to pursuing a political objective, such as maintaining what remains of Ireland’s political and cultural union with Britain. It is the combination of these religious and political objectives that, perhaps even more so than the appearance of bowler hats among the King Billy banners, gives the Orange Order the appearance of a body from a different era . . . . a different, sectarian riven, era.

Orangism did not start with the foundation of the Orange Order in 1795, Orangism was a hundred years old by then and it would be a lot easier for the rest of us to explore the extraordinary cultural legacy of Orangism, and maybe begin to celebrate its many cultural achievements in Ireland, if the Orange Order put down some of its baggage.
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby CologneMike » Sat Aug 11, 2012 3:47 pm

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Above is another view of those Dutch gables on Meat Market Lane junction with Sheep Street.

I came across it on the Limerick City Library website where they have uploaded journals from the Limerick Field Club from 1897-1908.

Their photographic section (here Rev. T. F. Abbott and Miss Ebrill) must have taken many images of old Limerick.

I know Limerick Museum has some but I would not be surprised if many others still exist, stored up in old attics?

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Meat Market Lane junction with Sheep Street

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Sarsfield's House – Somewhere on Sheep Street.

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Street Map 1840
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby gunter » Fri Aug 31, 2012 12:29 am

One would imagine that the terrace of three Billys at a nice corner location at the junction of Meat Market Lane and Sheep Street would jump out of the records handy enough, but no, no no no, it's the usual needle in a haystack operation.

For a start, Meat Market Lane seems to have gone under a number of different names in the 18th century, Shambles Lane, Bonifield Lane and possibly also the Main street of the Abbey.

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On this 1752 map, Sheep Street clings to the east side of the, still standing, city wall with the former lands of the dissolved St. Francis Abbey [Franciscan friary] occupying the lands outside the walled city and extending to the Abbey River.

Of the several property owners recorded in this vicinity in the 18th century the only one I can find in possession of three houses is a Henry Holland, hardware merchant. By a deed, coincidentally of 1752, Holland leased, or more likely re-leased, a property comprising three houses, two cabins and a garden plot to an Ignatius Coleman of St. Francis Abbey, chandle, the three houses being then in the possession of Coleman, Patrick Mowney and John Hurly respectively. Coleman's house, or at least the garden to the rear of his house 'adjoined the town wall'.

I wouldn't be confident yet that this is a record of the three Meat Market Lane Billys, but the anual rent of £16 that Holland charged suggests that Coleman was leasing three substantial enough houses and the three Billys would fit that description.

The site is now completely absorbed by a major apartment development constructed in 2003-4 and this end of Meat Market Lane no longer exists

There was an archaeological investigation in advance of the development, carried out by a local practice; Aegis Archaeology. What are the chances that the floor plans of these three important and distincrtive houses were recovered in the archaeological investigation enroute to the medieval goodies underneath?

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pictures from excavations.ie showing the site and the excavated city wall

No, I don't think so either.
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby gunter » Tue Sep 04, 2012 12:04 am

I'm cooling on the Henry Holland connection, this looks more promising:

Limerick City Museum hold a collection of maps relating to the estate of Edward Hoare, which were surveyed and drawn by John Appleyard in 1747.

No. 8 in that collection appears to be the plot of ground at the junction of Bonifield Lane [Meat Market Lane] and Sheep Street on which the three Billys recorded in the 1899 photographs stood. Appleyards survey, which he takes the trouble to tell us includes 'dimensions and boundaries of the said premises . . . exactly taken & marked on the above map' is dated 1 August 1747.

These documents are available on the museum web site, although the resolution isn't great.

The interesting thing is that the Appleyard survey depicts a large square site mostly occupied by a 'large new shambles' which had a gate onto Bonifield Lane. There were three stables fronting Sheep Street at the northern end of the site, but of the three Billys, only the corner house, described as 'one large house' had been built by this time, the occupant being a John Casy, carpenter, who rented the house from David Bindon Esq. [likely to be the David Bindon, who was M.P. For Ennis and brother of the the amateur architect Francis Bindon].

This would mean that the other two Billys date to after August 1747.

That will come as interesting news to them that thought that the Billy tradition all died out in the 1730s!

This doesn't tell us who built the houses, but at least we have a couple of candidates now, the carpenter John Casy and the Bindon brothers.

Francis Bindon of course has rock solid Georgian credentials, but, on the other hand, he is associated with the John's Square development in Limerick of 1751, which might be all dull-as-dishwater Cassellsesque to the front, but which we know featured a couple of delicate little Dutch gables on at least one of the rear elevations.
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby Paul Clerkin » Mon Oct 01, 2012 3:22 pm

$(KGrHqF,!hcE1iIvgPizBNdtcL5+2Q~~_32.jpg
$(KGrHqF,!hcE1iIvgPizBNdtcL5+2Q~~_32.jpg (15.01 KiB) Viewed 8696 times


Small view of the original Leslie house at Glaslough, before Lanyon, Lynn and Lanyon
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby gunter » Wed Nov 14, 2012 12:53 am

Glaslough appears to be a strange case whatever way you look at it. Mark Bence-Jones, who is normally a fund on information on country houses, gives us nothing on the early history of Castle Leslie [Glaslough].

That little [Maynooth Studies] history, records that Sir Thomas Ridgeway constructed a square castle on the site in the wake of the Ulster Plantation and the house then grew up around that, possibly constructed by Bishop John Leslie in the 1660s. The estate then passed in 1671 to John’s eldest son, also John Leslie, who was Dean or Dromore and who died in 1721. John’s brother, Charles, was a controversial character, being both an Anglican clergyman and also a supporter of the Stuart cause and this created some discomfiture for the Leslies during the reign of William & Mary and subsequently. Charles was an energetic pamphleteer against all non-Anglican sects including Quakers, Jews, Deists and Roman Catholics. He must have cut a strange figure at the Stuart Court in exile, steeped as it was in all the trappings of Popery, when he found refuge there in 1710 after his pamphleteering activities finally crossed a line the authorities couldn't ignor.

It’s a pity that more information on the pre-1860s Glaslough House hasn’t emerged yet, the religious/political conflicts in the Leslie family would make an investigation of its architectural expression a particularly fascinating case study.

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that Glaslough House image again
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a photo of Turvey House, North County Dublin, before its demolition in 1972

All we can tell from that one image is that there are some distinct similarities with Turvey, not only in the fact that it was built around an earlier tower house, but also in that there are obvious grounds for believing that Turvey was also triple gabled. A further parallel can be found in the fact that successive owners of Turvey were also beset with troubles relating to their religious allegiance.
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby Paul Clerkin » Thu Nov 15, 2012 5:02 am

And then there's Richhill, in Co. Armagh

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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby Paul Clerkin » Thu Nov 15, 2012 5:05 am

Actually I came across something else in the last few days whih reminded me of the Glaslough image... need to remember where, but it wasn't that far away.
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby aj » Thu Nov 15, 2012 6:03 pm

Paul Clerkin wrote:And then there's Richhill, in Co. Armagh

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A place i know well that and its famous gates... and the ongoing fight between the owners of Richill Castle and the Northern Ireland Office.

Also quite close in Portdown was Carrick Blacker House, since demolished which despite being Queen Anne, kept the dutch gables for good measure.
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby Paul Clerkin » Thu Nov 15, 2012 6:41 pm

Carrick Blacker House was what I was thinking off, I think, or maybe it was something else.... hmmm seen too many pictures of places in Armagh this week
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby gunter » Fri Nov 16, 2012 12:33 am

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Carrickblacker House
I'm not sure that Carrickblacker House was ever in the same category as Richhill and the house was so heavily Victorianized that it's difficult to say whether the gable feature on the front facade was any earlier than 19th century in origin. It is unlikely that the N.I. Dept. of Environment would have permitted its demolition as recently, as 1988, if the structure retained any substantial late 17th century fabric. Nevertheless Carrickblacker is still an interesting case and worth investigating.

Richhill is an extremely inportant house that was originally one of a group of similar structures that also included Waringstown House, in neighbouring Co. Down. These houses demonstrate that the 'Dutch' gable - as an architectural feature - had been transmitted to Ireland by English settler families by the 1660s, but the curvilinear gable was to appear only rarely in urban locations at this time and the trend was then away from gable fronts and towards an architecture of projecting eaves with carved console brackets and small discreet dormers.

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another view of Richhill House, Co. Armagh
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a detail of one of the side dormers at Waringstown House, which has the same profile as Richhill and was built shortly afterwards in about 1667. The front facade of Waringstown was altered and extended less than fifty years after it was first built and the gabled features we presume it had were removed at this time

The story of the Dutch Billy is the story of how [and why] the the curvilinear 'Dutch' gable made a dramatic return to popularity in the 1690s and sustained that popularity, particularly in the realm of street-architecture, for the next several decades.
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby StephenC » Tue Nov 27, 2012 12:37 am

This may well have been posted here before...I thought it was a great find

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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby Boooooog » Sun Dec 02, 2012 6:32 pm

Here's one from before Devo bought it.

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Jesus, the last time I saw Mill St it was held together with a pigeon-shit and feather render. Wonder what the inside is like?

On the subject of three bays, saw this lovely one in Carlingford.

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Not far from the above is Ghan House, 1720's ish, more on it later, but it contains lovely shouldered door cases, dog legs and mouldings. I know nothing about plasterwork but they look pretty early.

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Nice panels behind the bannister too. Speaking of which any ideas on how old the panelling in the Long Hall is?
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby Boooooog » Sat Dec 08, 2012 2:14 pm

Yikes! Obviously I should have said triple gabled, not three bay regarding that Carlingford House.
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby gunter » Sun Dec 09, 2012 2:23 am

There was also a category of three storey house, that turns up mostly in provincial centres, which had a facade that reduced from five bay to three on the top floor, but which was probably not originally gabled. Below are examples from Dyer Street in Drogheda and just over the bridge in Leixlip. I think these houses are related to the triple gabled house type, but in houses of this type the outer windows on the top storey are invariably centred over the space between the windows below in a way that didn't happen too often in the case of altered gabled houses where the priority was to match the attic storey windows to the centre of the gable locations above, regardless of the fenestration spacing below.

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I think these houses relate to the gabled tradition in that if the triple gabled house type hadn't existed, it's unlikely that the reduction in windows on the top floor of a five bay house of this type, in Georgian times, would have been deemed acceptable.
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby gunter » Mon Dec 10, 2012 1:04 am

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This is a tasty triple gabled house called Barnham Court in West Sussex that illustrates the point about the attic storey fenestration being dependant on the gable positioning and how this often meant that the outer windows had to drift in respect of the five bay fenestration below.

Note how the tricky challenge of dealing with the rain water outlets from the valleys between gables was resolved by concealing a channel above the strong projecting string course below the attic storey, a devise that also deflected attention away from the imperfections in the window spacing.

Barnham Court is an immaculately preserved Grade 1 listed building, as you'd imagine, but unfortunately more contemporary images of the front are partially obcured now by trees. English Heritate date the house to circa 1640 and the brickwork has been linked to that at the Dutch House at Kew, built in 1631. These dates are a good eighty to ninty years earlier than Irish examples of triple gabled houses and for this reason it is unlikely that there is any direct link between the two traditions, although a handful of under-studied English examples may approach a bit nearer to 1700.
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby gunter » Thu Dec 13, 2012 1:45 am

Here's another view of that triple gabled house at Barnham Court, west Sussex, with its clever rain water disposal system tucked away around the corner from the front facade.

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That prominant projecting, indented, cornice, here executed in brickwork, reappears in timber as the classic eaves detail to a dormered roof in the next phase of English domestic architecture, a tradition that we shared for a good twenty years before we unexpectedly took up the curvilinear gable and ran with it for the bulk of the next fifty years. Both traditions were ultimately killed off by the questionable charms of the flat parapet.

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Above is a view [circa 1760], by Thomas Sandby, of Beaufort Buildings, a residential development built on the site of Buaufort House just south of the Strand in London in the 1680s. Several of the houses may have been remodelled in the interim and some dormers certainly look enlarged, but the general streetscape with its repeating pattern of projecting eaves and ranks of dormers is probably substantially original and gives a good idea what a post-gabled [London] and a pre-gabled [Dublin] streetscape looked like.
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby simon.d » Fri Jan 25, 2013 2:51 pm

gunter wrote:
Orangism did not start with the foundation of the Orange Order in 1795, Orangism was a hundred years old by then and it would be a lot easier for the rest of us to explore the extraordinary cultural legacy of Orangism, and maybe begin to celebrate its many cultural achievements in Ireland, if the Orange Order put down some of its baggage.


Are we sure that "Dutch" billies are part of this Orange tradition.. My perception on the matter is that this building style was near pan-european in the 18th century, and it's just the Dutch happened to retain the style to the modern day, while the trend fell out of fashion almost everywhere else in the 19th century.
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby gunter » Wed Jan 30, 2013 1:29 am

simon.d wrote:
Are we sure that ' Dutch' Billies are part of the Orange tradition?


Actually Simon, there would be no consensus at all that the Dutch Billy is part of the Orange tradition, and most people seem inclined to dismiss the notion as nothing more than a simplistic interpretation of a whimsical nickname whose provenance has not been established. If it does emerge that the Dutch Billy was an early expression of ‘Orangism’, one of the surprising things will be that the Orange tradition itself is completely unaware of the fact.
None of which means it wasn’t so.

Niall McCullough had a typically elegant formula for addressing the appearance of Dutch gables in late 17th and early 18th century illustrations of the city, in Dublin, an Urban History including those of Francis Place; ‘Place shows curvilinear ones – more obviously redolent of a Dutch phase of influence, and perhaps by then imbued with a political cachet in loyal Dublin.’

A combination of Dutch influence with a loyal cachet is probably as far as most people will go with the Orange factor, but this may be because of a certain distaste for the idea, or maybe a disinclination to believe that such an explanation could possibly be credible, or just the belief that there is sufficient explanation for the sources of the Billy tradition elsewhere.

To my mind, there are four potential sources for the Billy tradition:

1. Immigration, especially of builders and tradesmen familiar with similar gabled house traditions in provincial England, but also occasionally in Holland and elsewhere.

2. ‘The persistence of antique forms’, i-e continuity from known indigenous [ - or previously imported - ] gabled traditions of medieval origin, flowering, as it did elsewhere, into a curvilinear gabled phase.

3. Transfer by trade or other commercial or cultural links [including dissemination by pattern book] with places where the curvilinear gabled tradition was strong, i-e Holland, the Baltic, northern France and provincial England.

4. The Orange celebratory factor.

The question is; what weight is to be attached to each source?

In my opinion, there is a definite case for no. 1 being an important factor, given the fact that the bulk of the builders, developers and tradesmen that we have records for are English, with a high proportion being evidently first or second generation immigrants, i-e prime candidates for being in a position to transfer a building tradition.

The problem with this explanation is the absence of a clearly defined parent tradition; many areas of Britain can offer one or two elements that made up the Billy tradition, but nowhere seems to have the full package in sufficient strength to be a completely convincing source location.

Personally, I’d rate this factor as probably not more than 25% of the explanation.

No. 2 is a compelling factor for only a comparatively small number of known examples and some of these could equally be vernacular simplifications of full blown Billys, rather than the other way round. The bigger problem with the continuity argument is the fact that, across the whole spectrum of Dublin street-architecture, from the speculative terrace to the high status town house, the gabled continuity was clearly interrupted by a phase of development in the 1670s and ‘80s that did not feature gable frontages and which, as far as we can tell, was indistinguishable from contemporary building practice in the fashionable areas of London - and built by the people that we talked about at no. 1 above.

10% of the explanation, at best.

Frankly, no. 3 is unlikely to be a particularly significant factor, much as it might be an attractive idea to see ourselves retrospectively in a European context.
simon.d wrote: My perception on the matter is that this building style was near pan-European in the 18th century

Yes, 'pan-European' . . . . except London and the fashionable urban centres of England, on which Dublin society styled itself in every other aspect of its material culture, [see anything published by Toby Bernard].

Expecting architectural pollination of the order required to explain an entire building tradition as distinctive and as geographically contained as the Dutch Billy is asking a lot of trade or cultural links that don’t appear to have been either, especially remarkable, or in any way peculiar to Ireland.

Again, 10% of the explanation at best.

Which brings us to No. 4 and back to that contentious ‘Orange’ explanation.

To me, the compelling factors here are:

[a] The time line, is a near perfect fit;

Before 1690, the handful of examples we have of curvilinear gables can each be seen as a special case and their distribution is consistent with new money flirting with stylistic experimentation, not the emergence of a new tradition. After 1690, the situation reverses, the curvilinear gable becomes ubiquitous in new urban construction, establishing a new tradition, while new money starts experimenting with typologies beyond the gabled tradition, e.g. Joshua Dawson’s Mansion House, or Speaker Connolly’s Vitruvian Castletown.

[b] The distinctiveness of the geographical spread;

Just as the Williamite conflict enveloped, and was confined to, the island of Ireland, so the Dutch Billy tradition was distinctively Irish in distribution and while Dublin was evidently the cradle of the tradition and always had the greatest concentration, it is clear that the tradition quickly spread to most of the other urban centres of Ireland, each of which had been transformed, in one way or another, by the conflict.

[c] Popularity across the full social spectrum;

The Billy tradition displays an unusual degree of common purpose across the social spectrum as though a shared peril overcome had given rise to a shared method of expressing relief/joy at the outcome. From the very small house of the shopkeeper or artisan craftsman to the great house of the brewery magnet or the city alderman, the architecture was essentially the same, distinguished only by scale, expenditure on detail, or, in some cases, a multiplicity of gables.

[d] Evidence of a Williamite cult;

Orangism didn’t drop out of a clear blue sky in 1795, the practice of celebrating King William clearly began almost immediately following William’s triumphant entry into the city where the King’s birthday and the date of the Battle of the Boyne quickly eclipsing all previous protestant festivities commemorating the 1641 rebellion. Even Swift was moved to compose an ode in gushing praise of the deliverer. In England, William’s star may have slowly faded as the country seemed to be embroiled in perpetual continental war and people remembered that he was Dutch, but in Ireland, despite some mean spirited new restrictions on the wool trade, there were few obstacles on the path to idolization. Commentators were struck by the contrast. Writing in 1751 [three monarchs later], the ever reliable Mrs. Delany, still grumpy from a cold she had contracted while attending the 4th Nov. celebration of King William’s birthday on College Green, observed that ‘King William’s . . . memory is idolized here almost to superstition.’

Did an idolization of the deliverer and a desire to put an indelible stamp on the city, combine with other factors to create the Dutch Billy tradition?

I think it probably did.
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby gunter » Wed Feb 13, 2013 5:19 pm

The significance of the remains of Riversdale House had been flagged repeatedly in representations to Dublin City council over the years, yet the last visible remains of the house were swept away recently during the course of adjacent flood defence works to the Camac River in Kilmainham.

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The façade of Riversdale house, Kilmainham, prior to demolition in the 1960s

Riversdale House was an extremely rare example of a high status house from the 18th century gabled tradition [probably originally including Dutch Billy gables] constructed entirely in stone rather than brick. The house was constructed about 1725 by a Dublin lawyer called John Fitzpatrick who sold it shortly afterwards to a legal colleague, Simon Bradstreet. The Bradstreets resplendently resided in the mansion throughout the 18th century, adding to their holding and tending the formal gardens that stretched out in front of the house up to a splendid wrought iron gateway fronting the highway at Old Kilmainham.

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O.S. map showing Riversdale House [outlined in red] set at the rear of formal gardens.

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The entrance gate on Old Kilmainham disappeared early in the 20th century and was reportedly shipped off to Malahide, where I haven’t yet been able to find it

At what point the uber refined entrance door of the house acquired its signature statue of Shakespeare is still unclear, but the great house, long since converted into a tenement with a plain 19th century roof, was substantially demolished in the mid-1960s.

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The entrance door of Riversdale House with the statue of Shakespeare above it.

What remained until recent weeks was the lower half of the west gable wall, which formed the property boundary and the party wall with a slightly later house called Millbrook House which had been constructed on the adjoining site entered from Lady Lane. Importantly, the remaining section of gable wall included the south-west corner with the front façade of which the first 1170mm survived including the jam of the westernmost window. This visible window jam belonged to the first floor not the ground floor as the ground level had been built up at the time of the demolition, probably using the rubble of the house for this purpose.

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The remains of the west gable wall of Riversdale House before its recent demolition with Kilmainham Mills in the distance beyond to the west

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The replacement wall looking east

Had the will been there, an excavation of what should be the guts of a full ground floor, together with the evidence of construction detail that a close examination of the remaining gable wall could have provided, would have formed the basis for a reconstruction of the old house as part of a wider redevelopment of the site. For a discussion of reconstructing lost buildings, see thread of that title.

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A sketch section of one of the reconstruction proposals in the ‘90s that didn’t come off

The current Dublin City Development Plan states:
FC037
‘It is an objective of Dublin City Council to carry out a survey and study of the remains of the ‘gabled tradition’ of buildings and assist in the conservation, recording and in some cases the restoration of representative examples of these houses so as to prevent this legacy being lost’


Empty words to put in an empty space.
gunter
Old Master
 
Posts: 1905
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2008 10:33 pm
Location: Dublin

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