Re: Re: ‘Dutch Billys’

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Before we get stuck into ‘The Eighteenth Century Dublin Town House’, just a couple more points on those, five-bay, modest country houses on the outskirts of Dublin.

Baldonnell House on the left . . . . . . . and the façade of the Granary in Navan on the right

The gable front on Baldonnell House may not be authentic, but that configuration of a pedimented curvilinear gable as a centre piece of a broad, otherwise ‘Georgian’, façade, did occur in the early-to-mid 18th century building record [as we saw before at the Granary in Navan] and it may even have been quite widespread before a change in taste resulted in it being cropped off, or trimmed back to look more like a classical pediment.

A house in the same category was ‘Whitehall’ in Rathfarnham which, according to Ball, was built about 1742 by a Major Hall who also built the nearby conical barn that still survives. A 1900s photograph in Weston St. John Joyce’s ‘The Neighbourhood of Dublin’ shows the barn with the rear of the house, complete with a cruciform roof, just visible behind.

the rear of the house can be seen to the left of the conical barn with another smaller outbuilding, also with a cruciform roof, in between.

This is the print of the front of Whitehall dating to 1795 and reproduced in Ball’s ‘History of County Dublin’, this time with the barn just visible in the trees to the left.

Just visible behind the tree on the right you can make out how the curvilinear gable steps down to a lower flat parapet, or simple eaves, on either side. The curvilinear gable does look improbably wide and flattened in this print and, in contrast, the entrance door looks improbably tall.

A seemingly more accurate 20th century drawing shows the house again although at this time the gable has been reduced to a simple triangle. In this later drawing, the gable windows are shown clustered tightly together which would have given the original curvilinear gable a much more compact profile and one that would have been much more in line with the proportions that we’re used to, as at Baldonnell and Navan above.

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