Last year I wrote about the Gate Lodges of Ulster and selected a few that I had come across during my brief, but very enjoyable, stay in the Six Counties. I was due to stay in a further Gate Lodge in Northern Ireland this year but a last minute call from the Irish Landmark Office lead to a change of accommodation, and even country.
Gate lodge, or gatelodge, seems me to be an Irish term for what we, over here, would just call a Lodge. In amongst the majority of what I could only call dross (although there was one excellent shelf of local (in the sense of Northern Irish) books [see photos below]) in the Library at The Barbican, an Irish Landmark Trust property on the coast of Antrim in Northern Ireland, I found a most interesting book. “The Gate Lodges of Ulster : a gazetteer” by J A K Dean; Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, 1994. The book came about as a result of research carried out by Dean 30 years earlier. Another look at the topic during the early 1990s revealed much demolition and decay had occurred and a comprehensive renewal of study lead to the publication of the gazetteer. I’m wondering whether a similar study has been carried out in the South – a much greater project. Gate lodges had much to teach about developing awareness and ambitions of their patrons, and the changing skills of builders and architects. There’s a huge variety- from vernacular tradition to architectural sophistication yet they had a single simple purpose – to house the gatekeeper and his family. The Gazetteer is a fascinating study of individual gate lodges. Here I’ve abstracted details from the book and added my photos.
Gate Lodge at Castle Coole – Weir’s Bridge Lodge
Built c1880 i.e. after the Weir’s Bridge was built to carry the Enniskillen-Florence Court-Belcoo line of the Sligo, Leitrim and Northern Counties Railway. It’s a fine building in the Lombardie style [sic]. Built from the highest quality ashlar sandstone with immaculately carved detailing. Single-storey on a T-plan. It has a raised stepped platform to form a “porte-cochere” with semi-circular headed arches.
Gate Lodges – Castle Coole Twin Lodges
These were even recorded as being dilapidated in 1834. They not even mentioned on OS maps until 1857. Now they’re presented as Georgian Gothick. Built so close together a family carriage could hardly pass through. The chimney stacks have now been lost. Armar Lowry-Corry (1st earl of Belmore) the builder died in 1802 and his son Somerset had an energetic building programme for 40 years. He built up a lasting relationship with architect Sir Richard Morrison.
Single gate Lodge at Castle Coole
Gate Lodge at Crom
The main entrance lodge at Crom was built in 1838 by Edward Blore, architect. Blore was responsible for many other buildings on the Crom Estate. It’s an irregular Tudor picturesque cottage on one and a half storeys. Dean’s book also contains interior plans. It has two main gables and pretty serrated bargeboards plus finialed hipknobs. On Wikipedia I found that a Hip-knob, in architecture, is the finial on the hip of a roof, between the barge-boards of a gable. The small gabled hall/porch has the only remaining lattice panes.
Gate Lodge at Springhill
The Gate Lodge at the National Trust property Springhill in County Londonderry is now the secondhand bookshop. It stands at the original main entrance (which is now now the exit) and was built not long after George Lenox-Conyngham succeeded to the property in 1788. It is the sole survivor of a pair of Georgian Gothick porters’ lodges. Their gables faced each other across the avenue entrance. It is a simple rectangular two roomed structure, has steeply pitched gables with a wide door opening and a minuscule lancet opening above to light a bed loft.
The Well Read Bookshop
The Glenarm Barbican
Built in 1824, the Barbican’s architect was William Vitruvius Morrison. Dean writes : “Beloved of photographers and Victorian illustrators for its dramatic architecture and romantic setting. Approached across a two-arched bridge spanning the Glenarm River the Barbican is a three-storey castellated gatehouse. An ancient sandstone coat of arms was inserted.” This had originally graced the front of the castle when it had been built by the first earl in 1636, while the other side of The Barbican was also given a commemorative plaque: THIS GATEWAY WAS BUILT AND THE CASTLE RESTORED BY EDMUND M’DONNELL, ESQUIRE, AND HIS WIFE ANNE KATHERINE, IN HER OWN RIGHT COUNTESS OF ANTRIM AND VISCOUNTESS DUNLUCE A.D. 1825. Attached to one side is the two-storey porter’s accommodation – one up and one down.
Rear of the Barbican
The Barbican Bookshelf
Funnily enough, I know which one I prefer to be in! The Gatelodge, of course. I’ve reproduced here the descriptions from a leaflet I found here at the Lodge :
“This tiny pavilion is located in the gorgeous Blackwater Valley within a mile of Cappoquin and near the Knockmealdown Mountains. It was built in around 1849 by the Chearnley family who owned the Salterbridge estate since the mid 18th century until the early 20th century. The Lodge, though obviously in habitation in the thirties when the Glanville family lived there, became derelict after the 1950s. Its function, like all gatelodges, was to indicate to the passer-by the good standing and taste of the original owner, and to showcase some of the features of the architect’s work, reinterpreted from the Big House.
Among The Lodge’s interesting features is an octagonal garden room, from which the two main rooms, bedroom and sitting room, lead. The kitchen and bathroom are to the rear. The sense of balance and symmetry has been retained, and although when finding a modern use for such buildings, a bathroom and kitchen must inevitably be added, the rear extension has been carefully matched to the proportions of the existing rooms.
The Irish Landmark Trust officially launched the property to visitors on 15th January 2002.
It is a building of fine ashlar stonework and of charming classical proportions. When the Irish Landmark Trust took it on as a restoration project in 1999 the building was roofless, windowless, overgrown and a section of the back wall had collapsed. A considerable amount of repair to the stone was required – its long exposure to the weather and, in places, original bedding of the stone, had resulted in loss of some of the decorative surface of the ashlar blocks.
The restoration works involved the retention and repair of most of the original stone. Fallen facing sections from the surrounding overgrowth were salvaged and reinstated. Three pieces of new stone were required in total and this stone was obtained from small loose blocks in the disused quarry at Lismore Castle – a possible source of the original.
The symmetrical layout of the original lodge was retained with a small extension formed to the rear. The fine proportions of the building have been retained. The extension has been finished externally with a lined lime render. Internal walls and ceilings throughout are finished with lime plasters and paints and, with a fine quality of natural light in all rooms, this provides a healthy and pleasing atmosphere throughout.
The carefully crafted work of the masons, joiners, plasterers and other tradespeople involved has brought this formerly ruinous and vulnerable building back to health and restored it to use again.
Interior Design Notes
The Lodge is simply furnished in an elegant Victorian style using a muted palette throughout and historic colours in a raw pigment limewash. The principal rooms are furnished in a vernacular style using mahogany pieces.
The original entrance hall, now designated “The Garden Room” is apple green, with a round table.
The bedroom is painted off-white and has an early Victorian mahogany double bed with barley twist ends and a traditional handwoven carpet in crimson. The wardrobe, chest of drawers and lockers are plain early Victorian. The shutters have been reinstated in the windows with Holland blinds added.
The sitting room is pale yellow with a handwoven carpet in gold and ochre. There is a Regency two-seater sofa and two comfortable chairs. A writing desk stands at the window and a bookshelf completes the furnishings.
The bathroom is plainly finished in white; and there are timber floors throughout except for the flagged hall.
The kitchen is fitted with an oak table and traditional sugan chairs, a traditional dresser, timber counter tops and a Belfast sink. The fittings are blue-green.”
To visit I walked over a mile up the drive to the Big House – Salterbridge House. It’s open this month on a very ad hoc basis.
The owners weren’t home and I was shown around by the housekeeper. No photography was allowed but my overall feeling was a big house, not very cosy, but light and airy. Modern day furniture, of course, always looks too small and insignificant in big houses. Its saving grace was a beautiful walnut table in the entrance hall created from a tree from the estate. The book themes are political, historical and military with some modern novels.
The Drive to the House
There was a house on the site, built by Richard Musgrave, since about 1750. Through his daughter it was owned by the Chearnley family until 1947. In 1940 it was occupied by the army for a few years and in 1947 it was sold to the present owner’s parents. The house was substantially rebuilt during the 19th century – architect unknown.
From the garden notes there’s a Cork Oak and four Irish yews. On a grassy area is a “Woodhenge” created by sculptress Rebecca Johnson from a branch of one of the garden’s yew trees.
And can you believe it on an evening in May :