Roxborough Castle

Roxborough Castle

Postby kinsella » Thu Aug 07, 2008 11:23 pm

This is a first time post by a long term voyeur of this site. By way of introduction I thought it best to post a new thread on my own locale, in particular Roxborough Castle. This magnificent edifice used to stand on the banks of the River Blackwater between the settlements of Moy and Charlemont straddling the border between Tyrone and Armagh. It was owned by successive members of the Caulfield family who held the titles Viscount and then Earls of Charlemont. The most famous of these was James Caulfield, first Earl Charlemont, who, as you know, built Charlemont House in present day Parnell Square and the famous 'Casino at Marino' in Dublin. Lord Charlemont is also credited with commissioning the village of Moy on his estate. It is reputed to follow the demensions and layout of the piazza of Bosco Marengo, in Lombardy, Italy. The first Earl adored Italianate architecture, and the designs of Charlemont House and in the Casino are an homage to the stlyes and influences he encountered on his nine year Grand Tour of Europe from 1746-1755.

Anyway, back to my own area. In 1840 the house was built to designs by William Murray and in 1859 the architect William Barre was engaged to design plans for the conversion of the former Roxborough House into "a noble castle for the Earl of Charlemont". Barre managed to build a very imposing castle, in the manner of a French Chateau of the style of Louis XII. Roxborough Castle is regarded as Barre's masterpiece, the crowning of a brilliant but brief career (he died aged only 37 in 1876). Barre rebuilt the east and west wings and re-roofed the whole structure. The new wings were roofed by the construction of tower like mansards, or curb roofs and the overall effect was a hybrid of the Classic and Gothic.

Unfortunately, Roxborough Castle suffered the same fate as many of the other Ireland's large houses. Owing to the combination of the political situation in the early 20th century and the financial ineptitude of the family it fell into ruin and was professionally dismantled in the summer of 1920.

Below are some images of the house:
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Re: Roxborough Castle

Postby gunter » Fri Aug 08, 2008 12:01 am

When you say 'professionally dismantled', do you mean blown up by the IRA?

Were bits reassembled elsewhere?

I like the idea of a 'nine year Grand Tour'. This sound like a sedan chair kinda guy.
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Re: Roxborough Castle

Postby kinsella » Fri Aug 08, 2008 1:13 am

It was professionally dismantled and the stone was recycled. The neo-Gothic tower at the front of St. Johns church, in Moy, is built from the masonry as is one other church that I know of in the area.

The estate also contained a large fort which indeed was set alight by the IRA and destroyed - the gatehouse to the fort is all that remains of this. It had a drawbridge which is now gone as is the ditch that it spanned. Inside the gatehouse much of the stonework is intact but in all the structure has been allowed to slide in to ruin. The only structure on the estate that survived the wrecking ball was the folly tower - which still stands. The fort itself resembled one of those hunting lodges built in the castle style in Elizabethan or Jacobean England; with symmetrical bows and clusters of chimneys rising like turrets from its four corners.


P.S. Apologies for the sizes of the images.
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Re: Roxborough Castle

Postby AI » Fri Aug 08, 2008 8:29 am

Looks amazing

Does anything remain on the estate?

Just the kind of place I would love to document:- http://www.AbandonedIreland.com
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Re: Roxborough Castle

Postby gunter » Tue Aug 12, 2008 1:12 pm

There would be some issues of taste, as there would be with most Victorian piles, but that conservatory is quite refined. Surely that was re-assembled on another site?
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Re: Roxborough Castle

Postby ctesiphon » Tue Aug 12, 2008 1:18 pm

The conservatory looks very Richard Turner-ish, doesn't it?

Two other things strike me:
I don't think I've ever seen interlocking pediments as shown on the ground floor; and
those chimneys. Wow.
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Re: Roxborough Castle

Postby Paul Clerkin » Tue Aug 12, 2008 1:28 pm

I come from not far from this and never heard of it before. Magnificent pile - quite unlike other Irish big houses. The conservatory is amazing.

Trying to find other images of it
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Re: Roxborough Castle

Postby kinsella » Tue Aug 12, 2008 4:37 pm

Some more detailed information for you from another source:

Roxborough Castle was a plain 5 bay block of 3 storeys over a high basement was enlarged and remodelled from 1842 onwards by 2nd Earl; his architect being William Murray. Wings were added of 1 bay and 2 storeys over a basement, running the full length of the original block; these were in Murray's rather restrained Italianate style; the original block being given triangular window pediments and similar features so as to match them. The entrance was moved round to the side of of one of these wings, which became the new entrance front; of 3 bays with a low portico.

At the other side of the house, a large office court was built; a feature of which was a row of 4 little octagons with pyramidal roofs, described in the plan as 'larders'. The entrance door under the portico opened into a hall at basement level, from which a flight of steps led to a vestibule in the main block of the house, with the staircase opening off it at one side. The space saved by moving the entrance to the wing enabled a new large drawing room to be formed in the original block; but the proportions of the other two principal rooms, the dining room and library, remained unchanged.

Some time in the C19 the rooms were adorned with chimneypieces and doors brought from Charlemont House in Dublin. Ca 1864, soon after the third earl inherited, the house was radically transformed by the young 'eclectic' architect William J Barre. Murray's wings were rebuilt on a much larger scale so that they became 3 storeys high and projected on either side of the original block. The ends of the wings were treated as corner towers or pavilions and given high Mansard roofs in the French chateau manner, crowned with decorative ironwork; but in a typically Victorian way, one of these roofs was made slightly different from the other 3.

The skyline was further enlivened with pointed and pinnacled dormers, tall chimneystacks with segmental caps, and a row of steep little pediments like saw teeth along the roof cornice. There were similar but larger pediments over the downstairs windows, some of them interlocking and with tympana containing carved heads representing members of the Charlemont family, their ancestors and several of the leading political personages of the day.

Barre's exterior ornamentation of his new wings defies description; his biographer, writing 1868, a year after his untimely death, describes it as 'the very extensive use of Classic and Gothic detail indiscrminately, an immediate connection with each other'. All this ornament was confined to the wings, the original block remaining much as Murray had left it; except for the addition of a porch, not centrally placed, on one of its fronts; the entrance having been moved here from the wing.

The whole effect was spectacular, if somewhat reminiscent of the Grand Hotel at a fashionable Victorian resort.

P.S.
Is it possible for the system controller to manipulate the images to a smaller size?
Having to adjust the screen can be annoying - sorry for that.
If it isn't I could try and get the images again, with possibly more this time, and rescan them myself.
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Re: Roxborough Castle

Postby Paul Clerkin » Tue Aug 12, 2008 5:04 pm

Interesting re the conservatory

Motorists passing through the village of Moy can stop in Charlemont at the junction to Portadown and see the cast-iron gate and screen set up in the 19th century to provide the grand entrance to the Castle. The richly modelled metalwork is thought by some to have been the work of the firm of the celebrated Dublin iron-founder Richard Turner, best known for his conservatories in Dublin, Belfast and Kew Gardens. 200 yards further along towards Armagh, right on the corner, one can still see the gates and ruins of the gate house to the Fort.

According to wikipedia (yeah, I know) Turner was responsible for the conservatory
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Re: Roxborough Castle

Postby ctesiphon » Tue Aug 12, 2008 9:37 pm

I based my guess on Ballyfin in Co. Laois, which is another one probably by Turner.

Image

I sometimes suspect that Turner has become to glasshouses what Michael Stapleton is to plasterwork and William Caldbeck to courthouses- as someone once said to me, if Stapleton really did all his attributed plasterwork he never would have slept a wink.

Smaller photos:

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Image

Image
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Re: Roxborough Castle

Postby kinsella » Wed Aug 13, 2008 12:10 am

Just to correct you there Paul, the gates and the ruins of the gatehouse to the Fort are at the corner of the junction to Portadown in Charlemont, not the entrance to the castle. The large cast-iron gates which provide the entrance to the Castle are some 300 yards away in Moy. Just to clarify to people, Moy is a large village on the west bank of the river Blackwater, in County Tyrone. Charlemont, Moy's sister village, is on the east bank of the river, in County Armagh. The river is obviously the border between the two counties, and the bridge which joins the two villages is called Charlemont bridge - built by William Dargan.

From the grand entrance to the castle, the house was approached along an avenue that snaked around a large ornamental lake (later, and lamentably, filled in by Dungannon Urban Council in 1950's, wich used it as a rubbish dump!)

Just a few bits of information for you:

An important factor in the development of Moy was the establishment and growth of the monthly fair which was begun in 1761. Thus began an institution which was to mark the first Friday of each month for nearly two centuries. Livestock trading and horse dealing became synonymous with Moy. Germans, Italians and Greeks came to Moy to buy horses fortheir armies. It specialised in high-spirited Arabians, and supplied many of the horses used in the Charge of the Light Brigade during the Crimean War. Though that isn't much of a boast - a bit like when you hear people from Belfast saying we built the Titanic or DeLorean cars.

The village and area beyond Charlemont, taking the road to Portadown at the junction mentioned above, is called Collegeland. The reason it has this name is because the rents gathered from these lands went to Trinity College in Dublin.

As a separatist, in 1775 Lord Charlemont was instrumental in bringing Henry Grattan into the Irish Parliament. The first Earl nominated Grattan to sit in the Irish House of Commons for the Borough of Charlemont.

Most of the Charlemont family is buried in the family crypt in the Protestant Cathedral in Armagh. The cathedral also has, and I'm not sure if many people are aware of this, the body of Brian Boru interred in one of the outer side walls. It is only marked by a small plaque - strange and pretty disgraceful.

Lastly, the first successful Caesarian section in Ireland and, as I understand it - in the world, was performed in Charlemont.

Apologies for digressing from architecture - please bear with me.

One could shed a tear at the loss of art and assets that would have enriched the cultural institutions of this country. The first Earl of Charlemont had put together a notable collection of books - described at the time as '... the finest library that Ireland is ever likely to see, and one of the finest ever brought together on this side of the Atlantic.' It is known that he returned from Italy with two Caravaggio's, amongst others. What became of these and the library I don't know - sold off and broken up most likely. They probably suffered a similiar fate to the collections below when the family and estate neared their end in the late 19th century.

Below is a copy of the estate's sale by auction notice - what a shame!
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Re: Roxborough Castle

Postby Paul Clerkin » Wed Aug 13, 2008 2:29 am

kinsella wrote:J
Most of the Charlemont family is buried in the family crypt in the Protestant Cathedral in Armagh. The cathedral also has, and I'm not sure if many people are aware of this, the body of Brian Boru interred in one of the outer side walls. It is only marked by a small plaque - strange and pretty disgraceful.


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http://ireland.archiseek.com/buildings_ireland/armagh/armagh/cofi_cathedral.html
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Re: Roxborough Castle

Postby kinsella » Wed Aug 13, 2008 11:48 pm

Sorry about that, I thought that Brian Boru was indeed buried in the wall of the cathedral. I haven't been there in a long time. Nevertheless, for such an important figure in Irish history to have his final resting place marked by such a small and unnoticable plaque is very strange. Most people don't even know he's there.
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Re: Roxborough Castle

Postby johnglas » Thu Aug 14, 2008 11:12 am

Try the connection of the Church of Ireland in Armagh with Irish Unionism - it would hardly do to emphasise the grave of a native Irish leader breaking the power of a 'foreign' invader (though history is rarely as simple as that).
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Re: Roxborough Castle

Postby KerryBog2 » Mon Aug 18, 2008 6:15 pm

johnglas wrote:..............history is rarely as simple as that).


Puts me in mind of one the Da used to recount :
Extolling the importance of posting and supervising sentries, a well-known senior officer at the Military College in the Curragh once finished a lecture by saying "And, gentlemen, if Brian Boru took proper care in posting his sentries he would be alive today!"
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