Re: Re: ‘Dutch Billys’
Lovely finds guys. Here’s a real beaut, in really good nick. Is it a transitional? It’s in Ranelagh, a couple of doors down from the Hill pub.
Now, as promised the excerpt from Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s short story An Account of Some Strange Disturbances in Aungier Street, it was written in the mid 19th cent.
“The house, to begin with, was a very old one. It had been, I believe, newly fronted about fifty years before; but with this exception, it had nothing modern about it. The agent who bought it and looked into the titles for my uncle, told me that it was sold, along with much other forfeited property, at Chichester House, I think, in 1702; and had belonged to Sir Thomas Hacket, who was Lord Mayor of Dublin in James II’s time. How old it was then, I can’t say; but, in all events, it had seen years and changes enough to have contracted all that mysterious and saddened air, at once exciting and depressing, which belongs to most old mansions.
There had been little done in the way of modernising details; and perhaps, it was better so; for there was something queer and bygone in the very walls and ceilings – in the shape of doors and windows – in the odd diagonal site of the chimney-pieces – in the beams and ponderous cornices – not to mention the singular solidity of all the woodwork, from the bannisters to the window-frames, which hopelessly defied disguise, and would have emphaically proclaimed their antiquity through any conceivable amount of modern finery and varnish.
An effort had, indeed, been made, to the extent of papering the drawing-rooms; but somehow, the paper looked raw and out of keeping; and the old woman, who kept a little dirt-pie of a shop in the lane, and whose daughter – a girl of two and fifty – was our solitary handmaid, coming in at sunrise, and chastely receding again as soon as she had made all ready for tea in our state apartment; – this woman, I say, remembered it, when old Judge Horrocks (who, having earned the reputation of a particularly ‘hanging judge’, ended by hanging himself, as the coroner’s jury found, under the impulse of ‘temporary insanity,’ with a child’s skipping-rope, over the massive old bannisters) resided there, entertaining good company, with fine venison and rare old port. In those halcyon days, the drawing-rooms were hung with gilded leather, and, I dare say, cut a good figure, for they were really spacious rooms.
The bedrooms were wainscoted, but the front one was not so gloomy; and in it the cosiness of antiquity quite overcame its sombre associations. But the back bedroom, with its two queerly-placed melancholy windows, staring vacantly at the foot of the bed, and with the shadowy recess to be found in most old houses in Dublin, like a large ghostly closet, which, from congeniality of temperament, had amalgamated with the bedchamber, and dissolved the partition. At night-time, this ‘alcove’ – as our ‘maid’ was want to call it – had, in my eyes, a specially sinister and suggestive character… The whole room was, I can’t tell how, repulsive to me. There was, I suppose, in its proportions and features, a latent discord – a certain mysterious and indescribable relation, which jarred indistinctly upon some secret sense of the fitting and the safe, and raised indefinable suspicions and apprehensions of the imagination.”
It strange to think Le Fanu was describing a building built 150 years or so before his time and we are now discussing them 150 years later. He mentions on the previous page that the character’s uncle owned three or four of these buildings on Aungier St. I wonder where they were or if any of them are ones discussed on this thread?
When he mentions the “dirt-pie” of a shop in the lane, I wonder if he means Golden Lane? My mother was from there, I’ve never seen any pictures, but I seem to remember my granny mentioning that their house had corner “chimbleys”. So if anyone has any pics, I’d love to see them.