Re: Re: ‘Dutch Billys’

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We saw that country mansions with triple ‘Dutch’ gables had been popular in the England in the 1620s and 30s and that this typology apparently then vanished from the fashionable architectural scene by about mid century. One of the more surprising aspects of the Dutch Billy tradition here is the re-emergence of this triple Dutch gabled house type in Ireland fifty years later..

We could probably try to stitch the two traditions together using the stepping stones of related later 17th century forecourt houses like Richhill and Springhill in Ulster, or the Clancarty House on College Green, but essentially these two architectural episodes are probably better considered as separate and unconnected.

What is clear is that late in the 17th century, or very early in the 18th century, triple Dutch gables began to appear in Ireland on civic buildings [e.g. the Market House in Kinsale] and new private houses, in considerable numbers. Occasionally triple gables appear on the facades of stately country mansions, like Palace Anne [1715] in Co. Cork, or Turvey near Donabate in County Dublin, but seemingly much more frequently they appear on medium sized, semi-rural, houses like Spawell in Templeogue [c 1730] and Riversdale [c. 1726] in Kilmainham.


the market house, Kinsale, and Palace Anne, both in Co. Cork


Turvey House in Donabate and Ardee House from the Coombe in the Liberties


Riversdale [‘Shakespeare House’] in Kilmainham and Spawell House in Templeogue


a triple gabled house on the quays in Waterford, by Van der Hagen [1736]

Within the expanding urban areas of Dublin, surviving images of at least two vista-terminating [probable] triple gabled mansions, that of the Lord High Chancellor [c. 1705] on Lazy Hill [Townsend Street] facing north down Moss Street to the Liffey, and Ardee House [c. 1719] on Crooked Staff facing east down the Coombe in the Liberties, indicate that the triple gabled composition may have been regarded as an especially prestigious architectural treatment at the beginning of the ‘Dutch Billy’ period and it seems that the type subsequently filtered down from this position on the status ladder to the more modest examples cited above, before ultimately making the leap to terraced street-architecture by the late 1720s or early 1730s.


Images of the mansion on Lazers Hill [Townsend Street] from Brooking’s panorama of Dublin from the north [1728] and from Rocque’s map [1756].

A lease record dating to 1710 indicates that the Lazers Hill mansion and the adjoining streetscape were developed by a property consortium that included John Hansard, Joshua Dawson and William Hawkins. The mansion was reportedly the dwelling of the Lord High Chancellor and the property included a coach house, brew-house, several gardens including one planted with fruit trees and another featuring a ‘cold bath’ and also a ‘large summer house all wainscoted’ etc. etc.

Leaving stand-alone mansions aside for the moment, the place to explore triple gables in the streetscape would appear to be Molesworth Street and I’ll try and post up some more stuff on that front later.

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