Thursday, 21 March 2013

Chez Gandon

In 1790 James Gandon (architect of The Four Courts and King's Inn) was commissioned to design a house for the Earl of Portarlington. It is one of Gandon's few domestic buildings. The earl died in the 1798 rebellion while his house was still under construction. His heir employed new architects to complete the work and while they remained faithful to his original plans for the structure, Gandon had little involvement in the building's completion. 47 years later when the earl passed, the building was habitable but still incomplete. It wasn't until the 1860s that the third Earl of the house brought it to its current architectural state. 

At the outbreak of World War 1 in 1914, the family of the Earls of Portarlington were failing to adapt to the changing times in Ireland and left for England. In 1920 Emo Court and its 20 square miles of land was sold to the Irish Land Commission. The house remained unoccupied until the 1930s when it was purchased by the Jesuits. It was used as a seminary for the next 40 years. 

Many changes were made by the Jesuits to the interior during their time there. When its final owner, Major Cholmeley Dering Cholmeley-Harrison, bought the house from the Jesuits he set about the costly restoration of the house to its former glory. He employed London architect Sir Albert Richardson to overlook the renovation. The central rotunda hall beneath the impressive dome had been turned into a chapel. The exquisitely ornate parquetry floor had been removed but was thankfully found in an outhouse on the grounds. Nude figures on marbles fireplaces had been deemed inappropriate for the previous occupants but were also found on the grounds and replaced.

Cholmeley-Harrison resided in the house until his passing at the age of 99 in 2008. Before presenting the house to Mary Robinson in 1994 who accepted it on behalf of the people of Ireland, he used to open the house to the public at the weekends. The Office of Public Works now owns the house. Although lack of funding means that much of the house remains in disrepair, the grounds and the rooms which are on display are in excellent condition.

Every inch of the house and grounds is oozing with character - from the grandeur of its Georgian furnishings and interiors, to the Jesuits' old quarters on the top floor and the abandoned basement with its dramatic vaulted ceiling (home to a large family of protected bats). It is crying out to be a film set or even better (hint hint) the venue for an architecture students' ball. 

white oversized silk blazer - Topshop Boutique
palazzo pants - Zara
silk crop top - American Apparel
gold cuff rings - asos
rose gold midi rings - Sportsgirl
rose gold watch - Fossil
tan peep toes - Forever 21

black blazer - Topshop
jogger pants - Topshop
lace bra - sparkle and fade
paisley scarf - vintage
ring - antique, Oxford
glasses - Prada 
gold capped crocodile heels - Topshop

shift dress and coat - Ib Jorgensen's 1968 collection
platform Chelsea boots - asos
gold watch - NIXON
cuff rings - asos

PS A big thank you to our beautiful friend Michelle Hanley for joining us as lady of the manor for the day!


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