Re: Re: ‘Dutch Billys’

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There has long been an assumption that the construction of ‘Dutch Billys’ petered out in Dublin around the 1740s once the standard Georgian house type, with it’s uncompromisingly flat parapet, had become established, but there are conflicting messages in the documentary evidence.

On the one hand there are various brief references from the 1770s and 80s to ‘old houses’, definitively ‘Dutch Billys’ which we know from other sources, had only been built in the 1740s, suggesting that, by then, the style of house itself was unmistakebly from a previous era, and then, on the other hand, there is the evidence of the likes of the Moore Street terrace.

This terrace, including the 1916 associated recently designated ‘National Monument’ houses at 15, 16 & 17, in plan, section and rear elevation, is standard ‘Dutch Billy’. Even the loss of front gable pediment and the re-fronting in late 19th century brickwork could be regarded as consistant with the characteristic fate of the ‘Billy’. The remarkable thing about the terrace is that it doesn’t appear to have been built until some time after 1756! Rocque’s map clearly shows a vacant lot, labelled ‘The Old Brick Field’, on this stretch of Moore Street.

The evidence of the Moore Street houses leads to the inescapable conclusion that the gabled tradition flourished into a sixth, or possibly even a seventh, decade. For this terrace of, brand new, gabled houses to have been built a decade or so after, and in close proximity to, the development of Gardiner’s high status Sackville Mall, is a huge testament to the depth and rigour of the gabled tradition in 18th century Dublin.

Unlike the Hendrick St. houses, there is nothing to suggest that the Moore St. terrace was, in any way, a hybrid, or transitional development, the only typological model that these houses fit comfortably is the standard ‘Dutch Billy’ model. Gardiner’s influence and the impact of Richard Cassells may have taken the aristocracy class down the English Palladian road, but ordinary Dubliners obviously liked their ‘Billys’.

Survey drawings submitted with the O’Connell Street application. The rear elevation drawing illustrates the characteristic narrow return projection on the opposite side to the stairwell. The floor plans of nos. 16 & 17 have a characteristic massive central chimney stack formed by a cluster of corner fireplaces.

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