St. Werburgh's Church

St. Werburgh's Church

Postby GrahamH » Mon Sep 21, 2009 8:41 pm

A quick note to say that the majestical St. Werburgh's Church on Werburgh Street is open to the public over the next few days, on account of filming taking place in Christ Church Cathedral, of which St. Werburgh's is a sister church. Never open outside of every second Sunday morning, a rare opportunity is on offer to encounter the delights of arguably Dublin's very best Georgian church during the week.

A church that never photographs well, nothing can ever appropriately capture the graceful dignity and overwhelming sense of history that emanates from every corner of its sultry interior as you stand within its walls. Truly one of the best places to visit in Dublin.

There are significant structural and water ingress problems affecting its fabric, so on those grounds alone it's worth popping in before it closes for the long haul.
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Re: St. Werburgh's Church

Postby pdosullivan » Tue Sep 22, 2009 5:09 pm

Great pics, thanks for the heads up
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Re: St. Werburgh's Church

Postby gunter » Tue Sep 22, 2009 8:25 pm

GrahamH wrote:. . . . . arguably Dublin's very best Georgian church . . . .


Whose idea was the gothick horror pulpit?
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Re: St. Werburgh's Church

Postby Satrastar » Tue Sep 22, 2009 8:31 pm

I think it would be wonderful if they rebuilt the entire upper portions of the Church, including the earlier domed tower
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Re: St. Werburgh's Church

Postby gunter » Tue Sep 22, 2009 9:41 pm

Agree with that Satrastar. Even if the tower and dome were a bit contentious, the case for rebuilding the upper half of the facade is incontestable, surely?

ImageImage

The facade of St. Werburgh's was so mainstream European by comparison with the output of Wren, Hawksmoor and Archer in England at this time.
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Re: St. Werburgh's Church

Postby StephenC » Wed Sep 23, 2009 8:22 am

That tower is hideous. The proportions are way out. I agree that the upper half of the facade would be wonderful to see. Sadly this is Ireland guys and this is after all an English building.
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Re: St. Werburgh's Church

Postby hutton » Wed Sep 23, 2009 1:17 pm

OMG - gunter's praising the one of the first classical buildings in the city :eek:

Still, I suppose the format of the facade may arguably be interpreted as having had Dutch Billy references when it was complete :D

gunter wrote: Even if the tower and dome were a bit contentious, the case for rebuilding the upper half of the facade is incontestable, surely?


Agree, other than the case of commercial reality.

StephenC wrote: I agree that the upper half of the facade would be wonderful to see. Sadly this is Ireland guys and this is after all an English building.


Tut, tut, incorrect -

archiseek wrote:it is believed that the main west facade was designed by Alessandro Galilei during his visit in Ireland to design Castletown House in County Kildare


More here: http://www.irish-architecture.com/buildings_ireland/dublin/southcity/werburgh_street/werburgh.html

Also worth noting, those desperate English removed the tower in the 19th C as it could have been a useful spot to plug a few crown officials in the castle's upper yard, which it over-looked.

gunter wrote:Whose idea was the gothick horror pulpit?


Answer:

archiseek wrote:The fine gothic pulpit was originally designed by Richard Johnston for the Chapel Royal in Dublin Castle.


:)
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Re: St. Werburgh's Church

Postby StephenC » Wed Sep 23, 2009 3:40 pm

Hey it was built by the English wasn't it...like every other building in Ireland prior to 1922! Except for the cottage of course which is a traditional Irish vernacular which has developed over time to form the traditional MacMansions which now grace so many of the rural pastures of the Wesht. I say we should knock this building and extend the nearby surface car park and provide some much needed parking for the city.
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Re: St. Werburgh's Church

Postby gunter » Wed Sep 23, 2009 4:48 pm

hutton wrote:. . . . one of the first classical buildings in the city :eek:


reminds me of one of the great lines from beauty and the beast:
''if it's not baroque, don't fix it''

Arguably St. Ann's on Dawson St. (before it got it's Victorian Romanesque facade), was even slightly more baroque, and yes these two new, early 18th century, churches in particular would have suited the gabled street architecture of the pre-Georgian city just fine.

Image
a view of the curvy rear of St. Ann's with it's baroque-like form and helmet roof. A nice coat of yellow ochre paint and you could pass this off as Bavarian!

Wikipedia has St. Werburgh as a sixth century English female saint, so I guess Stephen's English jibe stands up:)
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Re: St. Werburgh's Church

Postby Paul Clerkin » Wed Sep 23, 2009 5:06 pm

I always wondered about that image of the church with tower, the tower just seems wildly out of scale. Scaling it up on a photo of the remaining facade would make it enormous.
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Re: St. Werburgh's Church

Postby johnglas » Wed Sep 23, 2009 6:31 pm

StephenC: Before 1922 'the English' (technically 'the British' since it included in theory the Scots and the Irish) did control the government, but they neither 'built' (in a general sense) nor paid for the buildings. You need to lose the cringe and wash your historical mouth out with soap and water (metaphorically of course).
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Re: St. Werburgh's Church

Postby gunter » Wed Sep 23, 2009 7:27 pm

The idea of rebuilding the tower isn't new, here's a picture of some RSAI members (some of them possibly, under sixty, junior members) canvassing the views of the queue outside Burdock's with the question:
[INDENT]should we go with (a) the early 18th century power dome, or (b) the later 18th century spiky spire.[/INDENT]

Image
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Re: St. Werburgh's Church

Postby fergalr » Wed Sep 23, 2009 7:41 pm

Glow-in-the-dark rotating Jesus, anyone?
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Re: St. Werburgh's Church

Postby Boyler » Wed Sep 23, 2009 9:48 pm

Aren't they the old images of St. Werburgh's AND St. Anne's?
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Re: St. Werburgh's Church

Postby hutton » Thu Sep 24, 2009 2:49 am

gunter wrote:Image


How on earth did that get let built there - red brick on the left.... practically buttresses the church, blocking the central window and injuring the setting :(
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Re: St. Werburgh's Church

Postby fergalr » Thu Sep 24, 2009 11:08 am

hutton wrote:How on earth did that get let built there - red brick on the left.... practically buttresses the church, blocking the central window and injuring the setting :(


The European Commission needed officeraum.
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Re: St. Werburgh's Church

Postby GregF » Thu Sep 24, 2009 2:29 pm

What a fine Protestant Church. So good to see it intact. A little undiscovered jewel hiding away.
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Re: St. Werburgh's Church

Postby Global Citizen » Thu Sep 24, 2009 3:13 pm

StephenC wrote:That tower is hideous. The proportions are way out. I agree that the upper half of the facade would be wonderful to see. Sadly this is Ireland guys and this is after all an English building.


At least if St. Werburgh's church was located in England, the buildings on each side of it (and the one at the rear of St. Anne's) would never have received planning permission.
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Re: St. Werburgh's Church

Postby StephenC » Thu Sep 24, 2009 3:17 pm

Hey my comments were all tongue in cheek! I was having a particularly sarcastic day.
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Re: St. Werburgh's Church

Postby gunter » Thu Sep 24, 2009 3:37 pm

Boyler wrote:Aren't they the old images of St. Werburgh's AND St. Anne's?


According to Craig, Werburgh's was rebuilt after fire damage in 1768, possibly to the design of John Smyth, incorporating the tower and spire seen in right hand view. This was the spire that was taken down around 1810 due to Castle concerns about snipping.

This is the corresponding view of the facade of St. Ann's from the other side of Brooking's map of 1728.

Image

Again according to Craig, the upper half of this baroque facade to St.Anne's was never completed and I think that it is in this (Werburgh's like) state that St. Ann's appears in Shaw's Directory of 1850, before the also half finished Romanesque facade was slapped on later in the 19th century.

GregF wrote:What a fine Protestant Church. So good to see it intact. A little undiscovered jewel hiding away.


I think the miserable modern red brick building encroaching on the rear view of St. Ann's is some type of parish centre attached to the church. I have a recollection of filtering through the church to visit a cake sale in a building to the rear that must have been this.

Cake sales, as we know, are an essential part of the Irish Protestant identity.:)
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Re: St. Werburgh's Church

Postby Global Citizen » Thu Sep 24, 2009 3:44 pm

StephenC wrote:Hey my comments were...........


Wasn't having a dig at you.
Just making a subtle comparison between our planning regulations and those across the puddle.
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Re: St. Werburgh's Church

Postby johnglas » Thu Sep 24, 2009 11:34 pm

StephenC: ditto; hope you're feeling better now!
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Re: St. Werburgh's Church

Postby GrahamH » Mon Sep 28, 2009 11:28 pm

Ah good to see the thread has taken on a life of its own on a typically eccentric matter :)

On poor old St. Werburgh's, the facade was almost certainly designed by Thomas Burgh, who signed payments for its construction.

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Not only was he working simultaneously on the Castle right next door, his trademark segmental headed doorcases are a prominent feature, while the segmented pediments to the windows were used to the interior of his Library at Trinity. He may have had a helping hand with the upper levels alright.

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Image

The crumbling stone front is the largest-scale example of an early sandstone façade left in Dublin – once commonplace in early 18th century Dublin. It gives us an idea as to the likely state Burgh’s Trinity Library would be now be in, had its upper sandstone elevation survived the Victorian remodeling. Not that it wasn’t poorly built in the first place, with the façade described in 1813 as being comprised of: “blocks so small that a single column consists of over thirty different pieces”.

Correct. About 32 is typical.

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The crisp pediment and pilaster capitals are clearly replacements of a later date – possibly the 1880s.

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While the pilaster bases almost appear to be composed of painted render.

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A later paint and light render coating was removed from the entire facade roundabout 2000.

It appears the nutty octagonal tower was built, as Brooking shows it in context in his city panorama in addition to the famous vignette. But it didn’t last long. After the fire of the 1750s, when it appears the upper part of the façade was also removed/collapsed, a square tower was built, as can be seen here in a Tudor print of the Castle’s Upper Yard of c. 1753 (the Bedford Tower didn’t even exist at this point, being gawkily conjectural).

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The spire was added in the 1760s, as can be seen here in Malton’s later view of the Upper Yard.

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There tends to be confusion about when the tower vanished. It was a two-part process. The upper spire was removed following the 1803 rebellion, in tandem with the building of the mighty defensive walls surrounding the Castle on Castle Street and the Forty Steps (which also appear to have come into existence at this point). The tower itself only disappeared after years of campaigning, in the 1830s, in spite of Francis Johnston – helpful fellow that he was, to use one of hutton’s choice phrases – offering to make the tower safe, after the Castle had managed to round up no less than seven architects (some things never change) to declare it ‘structurally unsound’.

The Presbytery is a charming transitional, Regency style building uncommon in Dublin, sadly unused I believe.

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Re: St. Werburgh's Church

Postby GrahamH » Mon Sep 28, 2009 11:30 pm

Again, another Calp barn dressed in finery.

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Nice lock on the side gate made by the Dublin firm of J & C McLoughlin.

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As for St. Ann’s on Dawson Street, as mentioned earlier, Shaw’s Pictorial Directory of 1850 depicted it looking much the same as St. Werburgh’s.

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Rocque shows us a very nice setting, but as expected, no footprint of a tower - only the pilasters.

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St. Ann’s is a church that irritates in terms of incompleteness. There’s no excuse (aside from, ahem, matters financial) for its compromised state, minus its tower. Surely an enlightened financier in one of the nearby residential squares could sponsor its completion?

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What a statement the tower and spire would make, declaring the prestigious Dawson estate to the wider city in time-honoured urban parish tradition. Here’s Thomas N. Deane’s intended design.

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Re: St. Werburgh's Church

Postby johnglas » Tue Sep 29, 2009 2:41 pm

GrahamH: fascinating ramble, as ever, through the building history - I have always felt that that the removal of the paint-and-render on the facade was done with a heavy hand and that the resulting exposed and weathered sandstone does not show up what is left in the best possible light. What's the 'solution' (assuming you need one)? A more sensitive paint-and-render, or leave it as it is? Love the tale about the seven architects agreeing (for a fee?) that the patient was indeed in a terminal state.
I agree about St Ann's, although I suspect we'll wait a long time for the completion. I believe the parish schools on the Molesworth St corner were quite something and their loss (for an unbelievably bland replacement) was an act of simple vandalism.
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