Broad agreement there, johnglas. Most people don't seem to get the reason these blocks were painted; namely that this rear portion of the Castle never received architectural treatment. In that sense, I like it. And generally speaking international visitors love it; they recognise its tongue-in-cheek intent. The Irish don't. I'd definitely be open to change, but other solutions would be prohibitively expensive, and with no net gain other than architectural, I can't see works happening here anytime this century.
kinsella wrote:If only the castle didn't have that 3rd floor add-on.
Yes, the story of the additional storey at Dublin Castle is a curious one. It is not entirely clear why it was carried out, given it significantly degraded the architectural integrity of the Upper Yard, given it was a protracted, piecemeal project spanning nearly three decades, and that in one instance, provided redundant, uninhabitable space over one of the ceremonial rooms. Almost certainly however, the reason for the addition was the removal of the troublesome former dormer windows, some of which dated to the late 1680s and must have been a nightmare to maintain. This is the earliest known depiction of modern-day Dublin Castle, drafted by Surveyor General William Robinson in the late 1680s (of which more in due course).
Typical of the late 17th century, the Robinson Block as it is known, featured a tall chocolate box mansard punctuated by dormer windows, as seen at Dr. Steven’s Hospital and originally at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham. Note the heavy, old-fashioned modillion cornice also.
By the time the Upper Yard was complete in 1761, a low-scale quadrangle of pretty, Continental palatial scale and form had organically emerged, punctuated with grandiose chimneystacks and dormer windows at roof level. James Malton’s view of the Upper Yard from 1799 is accurate in its depiction of a coherent but disjointed square, comprised of elements dating as far back as the 1680s on the very extreme left, a range of the 1710s in the middle, and already out-moded architecture of the old heavy style
on the right, dating to the 1740s and 1750s.
Nonetheless, the Upper Yard exhibited a pleasing harmony and sense of architectural completeness at this point, with a modest unpretentious charm to boot. Here it is a little earlier in 1753, depicted by Joseph Tudor, showing the diversity in range styles.
The Bedford Tower hadn’t even been built at this point, being based on drafted drawings, hence its rather naive conjectural detailing.
Bizarrely, it was very early on, in the 1790s, that the first attic storey appeared at the Castle, located just out of shot to the left, topping out the north-eastern range corner. This occurred as part of a rebuild of this block caused by differential settlement of the building, which had been built 50 years previously straddling the medieval moat and the former Powder Tower foundations.
As can be seen, this storey quickly spread across the Cross Block (above left) and Drawing Room Block (middle) in the early 19th century, instigated by the new architect to the Board of Works Francis Johnston, followed by the other ranges in the 1810s and 1820s.
These two images below, apparently both by Brocas from c. 1820, show the Drawing Room Block has having been topped out by this point (extreme left), but the other ranges have yet to be remodeled, with dormers still evident.
The last of the ranges to be topped up feature attic storeys of high quality machine-made brick which had emerged by the 1820s. Beautiful precision lines of flush lime pointing were possible for the first time. No need for deceptive tuck pointing.
Johnston’s attic windows were deliberately mean to be subservient to the windows below; they are not square as one might expect. Clearly he wanted the attics to read as an addition – sympathetic, but independent.
The last of the attics to go up must have looked horrendous in their all-orange glow, above the russet-toned, weathered handmade brick facings below. Even today they stand out where the 18th century brick has been vigorously restored, in pink, 1980s-style.
The attic storeys were highly destructive of the original Castle design. They transformed pretty Carolean ranges into ugly, cumbersome brick barns. A late 19th century view here of a gawky Cross Block perched precariously atop the hill of the Lower Yard.