Re: Re: ‘Dutch Billys’

Home Forums Ireland ‘Dutch Billys’ Re: Re: ‘Dutch Billys’


@ctesiphon wrote:

The other thing that occurred to me, re a precedent- the only similar house I can think of with a flat parapet and chamfered corners is Dr Johnson’s place in London. Not very similar, admittedly, but if not that, then what?

I have a decent picture of that somewhere.

We do have to be careful here, there are other factors at play in the contrast between the Dutch gabled Dublin, of say 1740, and flat parapeted London of the same period.

There were something like four successive Building Control Acts, passed in London, post 1666, which certainly had the effect of utterly changing house building practice there. These Acts had limited or no effect here! This fact must be kept in mind as, potentially, a hugely distorting factor.

It is possible that Irish ‘Dutch Billy’ building practice, might not have been all that different from the direction that English building practice would have taken, had these, ostensibly fire prevention measures, not radically altered the picture in London.

I don’t actually believe this, but I just thought I’d say it anyway, for balance 🙂

What seems to be generally accepted is that this series of late 17th century London Building Control Acts had at least as much to do with attempting to assert a new uniform design order on the urban streetscape of London, as they had to do with making the streetscape less combustable. In imposing building control conditions like: ”eaves to the street shall be of uniform height”, under the guise of fire safety measures, the authorities in London were creating rules that effectively out-lawed gabled houses!

In contrast to some serious baroque tendancies in English monumental architecture at this time, under these successive building regulations, the architecture of ordinary London streetscapes began to adopt a very restrained order in what was almost a collective civic contract to be dull, . . . and this was before Cambell, Burlington and their circle began to create the Palladian movement to root out baroque from the upper levels of architectural society, around 1715.

Happily, none of this legislation was re-enacted in Dublin, presumably because a devastating fire wasn’t the trauma that was most recently in peoples’ minds here and also, quite possibly, because there was no way anyone was going to be able to put a lid on rampant individuality in Irish urban design at this time, not for another thirty years at least.

This is a print of Hanover Square which was begun in 1715, to illustrate the contrast between London streetscape design and Dublin streetscape design of the same period.

A print of Hanover Square in London, laid out in 1715 . . . and a glimpse of the gabled streetscape of College Street, of a similar date, drawn from the front of Trinity.

I think I said earlier that there were no ‘Billys’ in the background of Hogarth prints. It turns out there is one, in his ‘Carpenter’s Yard’ painting of about 1727, but it’s not in an urban context and anyway you have to set that against maybe a hundred non-Billys in his other pictures!

@Canus wrote:

This is the City Council setting a flagship example on one of its own buildings.

Canus, the documentation submitted with the Manor Street application states that the applicants are the ‘Community Resource Centre’ and that they were granted a 99 year lease by Dublin City Council in 1997, so I suppose DCC wouldn’t have the responsibility under that heading, just under the heading of Planning and Building Control Authority and as the Authority under ‘Protected Structure’ legislation.

Latest News