Re: Re: ‘Dutch Billys’

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Platten Hall was certainly a fascinating house and if the house was originally gable-fronted, prior to the removal of the top storey in the mid-19th century, that would link it stylistically to Pallas Anne in Co. Cork, with which it shared a rich red brickwork and crisp stone detailing. The builder of Platten Hall, Ald. Graham of Drogheda, prospered after the ejection of the Jacobite council in 1690 and is linked to several properties in the town whose redevelopment about this time clearly belonged to the gabled tradition.

There has to be a sketch, or a fuller description, of Platten Hall slumbering on a shelf somewhere. The future Mrs Delany, who spent forty years twittering relentlessly about every detail of 18th trivia, spent several weeks as a guest of her cousins, the Grahams, in Platten Hall in early 1732, but managed to record no observations on the architecture of the house. She repeated this feat as a visitor to the important, and then newly built, Hamilton house on Molesworth Street, although on that occassion she did note that the Hamilto house ‘. . looks cheerful and neat.’

Yes well, moving on, Seafield, in it’s original form, and the re-modelling of Turvey, both in north Co. Dublin, would seem to belong to this putative group of gable-fronted country houses. This group would soon be stylistically overwhelmed by a tide of country-house building in the sturdy Palladian formula of Cassells and others. It was left to a group of modest, single and multi-gabled, five-bay, houses, mostly on the perimeter of the city, to continue the curvilinear gabled tradition, in rural locations, into the late 1720s, although, as we know, the gabled tradition continued to dominate the street-architecture of the city into the late 1740s and indeed lingered on in less fashionable areas for another twenty years after that.

The recorded Dublin townhouse that most closely fits the characteristics of this early 18th century gabled, country-house, group is probably the Ward’s Hill house which Peter Walsh has long speculated may also have been originally gable fronted.

The Ward’s Hill house off Newmarket

The measured proportions of the facades of these houses, the use of stone quoins, plat bands and segmental headed windows in combination with flat headed windows and the presence, in each case, of a particularly elegant classical doorway, all suggest that the houses of this group were the product of a high level of architectural involvement.

But which of our architectural practitioners were indulging in pedimented, curvilinear, gables at this time when all the books tell us they should have been transitioning smoothly out of Anglo-Dutch classism straight into pure Palladianism?

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