Monday 3 August 2020

Annes Grove Miniature Castle

 Gate to Castle Lodge Anne's Grove Estate

Annes Grove miniature castle today is an Irish Landmark Trust property in Castletownroche, Co. Cork available as a romantic, self-catering holiday rental. It was constructed to the design of Benjamin Woodward (1816-1861) who was a partner in the prestigious firm Deane & Woodward. Notable examples of their work include the Museum Building Trinity College (1853-1857) and Kilkenny Castle (alterations, 1859 - 63). 

The origins of the Annes Grove estate can be traced back to the early 17thcentury when William Grove expanded his family’s landholdings in 1628 by purchasing lands including the townland of Ballyhemmock. A house on this 420-acre estate was built by Robert Grove after marrying a Mary Ryland and was visited in the 1770s by Arthur Young (1741- 1820), the noted agriculturalist and writer. Samuel Lewis describes Anne’s Grove in 1837 as ‘the elegant seat of Lieutenant-General the Honourable Arthur Grove Annesley…a handsome mansion, recently built by the proprietor, on the verge of a precipitous cliff rising from the river Awbeg’ (Lewis, 1837 1, p.312) confirming that the present country house was constructed or reconstructed for Lieutenant-General Arthur Grove Annesley (1774-1849) following his inheritance of the estate from Mary Annesley (née Grove) (d. 1791), Countess Annesley. Previously titled Ballyhemmock after the adjoining townland, the house was allegedly renamed Annes Grove as a pun on the proprietor’s surname. Annes Grove was taken over by the Office of Public Works (OPW) in 2017 and is currently being restored. 

Property is entered via modern kitchen extension
The gate lodge adopts the appearance of a medieval castle in miniature form, the picturesque Gothic Revival theme in stark contrast to the sober Queen Anne Classicism of the nearby country house. Despite its diminutive scale, the plan form is inventive and heightens the architectural interest of the composition. A two-stage square tower contains one room on each floor, the bedroom at first floor level accessed from the parlour at ground floor level by way of a battlemented polygonal stair turret: a separate staircase rises to the battlemented wall-walk spanning a deeply-rebated gateway. 

Constructed in rough-cut limestone, sheer limestone dressings frame the door and windows: also fashioned from limestone is the Annesley coat-of-arms. The Annesley family motto Virtutis amore (Through love to virtue). Cusped window openings define the principal apartments while faux defensive ‘gun loops’ light the stair turret. Internally, the lime plastered walls are accentuated by yet more limestone dressings including a Tudor-arched chimneypiece. 

The property is entered via a later extension which contains the kitchen as original front door which leads directly to parlour is locked. The kitchen leads to the cosy parlour with its inglenook fireplace as its centrepiece today heated with a wood burning stove. Off the parlour is the bathroom and turret stairs leading to the

bedroom and a second narrower stairs to roof (closed off to visitors). The restored bedroom on the first floor of the tower features a tooled limestone chimneypiece and a vaulted ceiling. 

Vacated in the 1940s, the gate lodge had deteriorated by the end of the 20thcentury. When taken on by the Irish Landmark Trust in 1995, the gate lodge was considered to be structurally sound but in poor condition and required extensive restoration. The restoration of the lodge was directed by the late Maura Shaffrey of Shaffrey Associates Architects (1997). The roof was repaired reusing the original slate where possible. The stone work on the wall-walk was repointed as were the coping stones on the battlements, while the upper portion of the chimney stack was carefully rebuilt paying particular attention to maintaining the fine joints. The windows were also restored with lattice work reinstated and new frames installed. 

As with all gate lodges this one was built to impress visitors on their way to the estate house and impress it does. 

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