Style Court

Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes 2006-2016


The Irish Country House

 [All photography by James Fennell from The Irish Country House courtesy Vendome Press 2010.]

[Library at Clandeboye shown in images one and two, above.]

It's very hard to describe The Irish Country House without saying something extremely predictable like how the book is just the thing to curl up with, steaming hot beverage in hand, on a nippy Sunday morning. So many of the rooms captured by photographer James Fennell in the thoroughly illustrated volume call to mind that very activity. Well-worn editions crammed into old shelves (or spilling over onto floors) are common to most of the houses featured.

[Books at Huntington Castle.]

One of my favorite libraries, pictured at top, was created at Clandeboye in the early 19th century, taking over the original entrance hall. (The authors take special care to explain numerous modifications done to these houses through the centuries -- something I think architecture enthusiasts will enjoy.) With former occupants including the 1st Marquess of Dufferin and Ava, who was Viceroy of India and Governor General of Canada, Clandeboye is home to global relics encompassing a mummy case, Egyptian granite sculptures and tablets, textiles, Indian sculptures and a Burmese bell. When I first caught a glimpse of the artifact-laden Imperial staircase, my mind flashed -- for a second -- to that romantic pop culture couple, Rick and Evy.

On the grounds, the 1st Marquess built Helen's Tower, a folly that was the subject of a Tennyson poem.

 [A drawing room at Clandeboye overlooking the park.]

The current Lady Dufferin (aka painter Lindy Guinness) is said to be breathing new life into Clandeboye. A patron of artists such as Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud, she herself was a pupil of Bloomsbury artist, Duncan Grant.

 [A portrait of Thomas, 2nd Earl of Longford and an open drawer of notepaper with a black border for mourning -- Tullynally.]

As mentioned in a previous post, the homes featured in The Irish Country House are unusual because they are still lived in by the descendants of the original owners. Refreshingly un-hip, the rooms are filled with layers of personal ephemera and timeless antiques. So, all of the ten documented houses have a story to tell (I didn't even mention Evelyn Waugh and the library at Tullynally). There's an honesty to the book, both in terms of the photography and the introduction that touches on Ireland's complex history.  Below are a few more images that lured me in.

[Huntington Castle.]

[At Tullynally, a view off the red drawing room shows a spiral staircase leading to one of the turrets.]

[Conservatory at Huntington Castle.]

Related past post: Mary Randolph Carter on Lives Well Spent 

 [©A Perfectly Kept House is the Sign of A Misspent Life by Mary Randolph Carter, Rizzoli New York, 2010.]

1 comment:

Emile de Bruijn said...

Must get that book!