1817 – Gracefield Lodge, Ballylynan, Co. Laois

Architect: John Nash / Daniel Robertson

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An early 19th century cottage ornée, originally designed by Nash but built by Robertson to a cut down version of the design.

From: J.P. Neale, Views of the seats of Noblemen and Gentlemen in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, Second Series, vol.V, London, 1825
“GRACEFIELD LODGE is situated about five miles north-west of the town of Athy, and between seven and eight due north of Carlow . The original design of this picturesque and commodious residence was furnished by Mr. Nash of London, and, in 1817, the present structure was erected by Mr. Robertson of Kilkenny. With respect to external architecture, the design has been much admired for that pleasing effect which a varied outline in buildings of this description seldom fails to create. The frequent breaks, and strong projections in the walls, the cutstone lables surmounting the windows, and the general, though harmonized , irregularity of the whole, produce an appearance strikingly animated and cheerful. Its interior arrangements exhibit every necessary convenience. The principal story contains an outer and inner Hall and two Staircases, a Drawing-room , a Library, a Dining-room , and a Conservatory, all of which lie en suite, and may severally be approached likewise from the Hall. It is to be regretted, that the site selected for this building, evinces so little judgment, while the good taste of the architect is so conspicuous. At the foot of the first hill to the south, an admirable situation presents itself, which was unfortunately overlooked.

The present House is distant about seventy perches from the former mansion, every vestige of which is now removed, and the spot covered with plantation or grass. It is stated in the statistical Survey of the Queen’s County by Sir Charles Coote , Bart., that “ the house at Gracefield and its improvements are very old fashioned, though the land is the best in the barony.” The architectural part of this remark having been replied to , it remains only necessary to observe with respect to the grounds, that they also have recently undergone an extensive and decisive change under the superintendence of Mr. Sutherland , whose sound judgment, fine taste, and practical skill, is universally acknow ledged. Many formal rows of trees have been broken, numerous fences levelled , and the ground occupied by artificial pieces of water, restored to its natural state . Vistas have been also opened for the eye to penetrate the thick masses of wood, and young plantations are seen on every side. In removing some of the vast banks or divisions that intersected the demesne, several pieces of early English coin , and other antique relics were obtained ; but the extensive foundation walls and ground adjoining the ruined church and monastery of Rathaspuck, which stands on Sir William Grace’s estate, has been long considered a productive mine for discoveries of this description.”

Lewis’s Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837.
“…at a short distance are the luxuriant woods of Gracefield Lodge, the seat of the ancient family of Grace, whose old mansion has been taken down and replaced by an elegant villa in the later English style, from a design by Mr. Nash, completed in 1817; the grounds have been tastefully embellished, and the approach from the Kilkenny side presents some beautiful and interesting mountain scenery.”

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