Kentmere Hall

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This is Kentmere Hall.It’s 14th century tunnel-vaulted pele tower which had an extension built on the side during the 15th or 16th century. Today it’s used as a farmhouse.

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Pele towers were defensive structure to protect the local population from marauding Scots and Border Reivers.

They were small stone buildings with walls from 3 to 10 feet thick, square or oblong in shape. Most were on the outskirts of the Lake District, but a few were within its boundaries. Designed to withstand short sieges, they usually consisted of three storeys – a tunnel-vaulted ground floor which had no windows which was used as a storage area, and which could accommodate animals. (source)

Today some, like the one at Arnside, are in ruins, others, like at Sizergh and Muncaster, were extended and incoprorated into grand houses while the one at Kentmere was extended to become part of the residence of the local big wigs, the Gilpins.

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There’s a good paper about the Hall published by the Staveley and District History Society.

Today the Hall is part of a working farm. Returning along the road back towards the church and Capplerigg, we passed a large barn full of sheep – obviously a lambing shed with the ewes brought down from the fells ready to give birth. Hearing a loud high pitched bleating we peeped inside to see a new born lamb.

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(Unfortunately not a perfect picture but I hope you like it Barbara Winking smile )

Wigan Hall

Wigan Hall

Wigan Hall was actually the Rectory for Wigan Parish Church which stands at the opposite end of Hallgate. It replaced an older building that stood on the site. The Rector was quite a powerful individual in old Wigan as he was also lord of the manor – a hang over from the Feudal system – and a major land owner.

It looks Medieval or Tudor but it was actually built in in 1875 in the Arts and Crafts style. The architect was GE Street who was also responsible for the Royal Courts of Justice in London and was usually associated with the Gothic Revival style. It’s a Grade II Listed Building and described on the Historic England website.

The building was derelict for many years, but has recently been renovated to become the headquarters of The Sports Office, a software company owned by former Wigan Rugby League player and Sky Sports pundit, Phil Clarke.

A drawing of Wigan Hall, thought to be created by architects in 1873

Architects drawing (Source: Wigan Today)

Art Deco Building in Dublin

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Architecture in the centre of Dublin is mainly Georgian and Victorian and I haven’t seen many examples of early 20th Century Modernist style buildings – Art Nouveau, Art Deco and the like. Perhaps not surprising as Ireland went through difficult times during the first half of the 20th Century – Uprisings, Revolution, Civil War and economic difficulties. However, last Sunday while heading back to the car from the National Gallery I spotted a building at the bottom end of Kildare Street, near St Stephen’s Green which had some features that were clearly Art Deco inspired.

In particular the long vertical windows on the front and side of the building

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and the murals depicting idealised labourers – almost “Socialist Realist” in style

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A little research revealed that it was originally built for the Department of Industry and Commerce, being completed in 1942. and is now the headquarters of the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. It was designed by James Rupert Boyd Barrett after a competition.The Buildings of Ireland website describes the premises as “one of Dublin’s most interesting twentieth-century architectural gems.” However, for the archiseek websiteThe exterior is robust and austere with the exception of the art deco relief sculptures

The murals were designed by a female artist, Gabriel Hayes. There’s an interesting post about her work on the murals here.

Dublin Fanlights

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Georgian houses in Dublin are relatively plain with little ornamentation. Typically, the front is fairly plain brickwork, only broken up by long windows. In these houses, the main decorative feature tends to be the door and the semi-circular fan-light, which present an opportunity for some individuality.

Fanlights are, as the name implies fan-shaped windows above the front door which illuminate an otherwise dark hallway. In Georgian times, natural light, candles and oil
lamps were the only means of lighting the darker parts of houses, such as the hallways. They’re both a functional and a decorative feature and in Dublin there are many different designs.

During my latest visit to the city, due to the weather I didn’t spend much time wandering around the streets but even a short walk in the streets to the south of the Lifffey takes you past plenty of Georgian squares and streets. I spotted this rather unusual example near to the RHA Gallery.

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During a relatively short walk, I snapped a number of other examples – all different.

This is a relatively simple example

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A much bigger window with a more complex pattern

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This one is a little like a spider’s web

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This one is really fancy

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This one has a glass box built into it which would hold a lamp or candle to light the outside of the house

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As does this one – a grander version

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At the Royal Hibernian Academy

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My second visit to Ireland and we’re only part way through February. I reckon by now i should qualify for dual citizenship ! (Might be handy with all the Brexit nonsense going on in the UK).

Anyway, for this visit I decided that rather than waste a day just travelling, I’d catch an early ferry and spend half a day mooching around Dublin. It was a cold, grey, wet and windy afternoon when I arrived with heavy rain forecast for later in the afternoon, so it wasn’t a good day for “street haunting”, so I worked out a plan that didn’t involve too much tramping round the streets. I parked up in Fitzwilliam square on the south side of the city. Street parking in much of the central area is free on a Sunday (parking meters the rest of the week).

I’d decided to visit the Royal Hibernian Academy on Ely Place, near St Stephen’s Green and only 5 minutes walk from where I’d parked. Despite many visits to Dublin for the last 13 years or so I’d never visited before and, to be honest, only found out about it recently.

The RHA’s website tells us that

The Royal Hibernian Academy originated when artists from the Society of Artists in Ireland petitioned the then Viceroy, Earl Talbot, in the late 1700s for the opportunity to exhibit their works annually. A Royal Charter was finally granted in 1821, and the deeds received in 1823, giving the Academy independence from all other institutions.

and that

Today the RHA is an artist-led organisation, a 32-county body with charitable status. Its core remit is to support contemporary art and artists in Ireland through exhibition, education and advocacy. The Exhibitions programme also brings significant contemporary international art to Irish audiences.

So, it was founded when Ireland was still part of the United Kingdom, but I found it rather surprising that today when Ireland has been a Republic for close on 100 years they still hang on to the “Royal”. In fact they’re not the only body in Ireland that does this – there’s also the Royal Irish Academy (RIA), Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (RCPI), Royal Dublin Society (RDS), and the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland (RIAI). This article from the Irish Times last year (the centenary of the 1916 Rising) discusses the issue.

The RHA originally had premises in Lower Abbey Street, which was subsequently destroyed by fire during the Easter Rising of 1916 due to shelling by HMS Helga. So even more surprising that they want to be “Royal”. 

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They were homeless until the 1980’s when a new building designed by Dr. Arthur Gibney PPRHA, which opened to the public in 1985. The original design of the building was, apparently, not inspiring and it was given a major renovation, reopening in 2008.

The entrance was moved and the façade remodelled, clad with smooth white Portuguese limestone with a glass frontage on the ground floor The asymmetrical entrance hall leads into a bright two storey atrium space in the centre of the building. Natural light flooding in through the large windows. A staircase in a deep atrium with large windows leads to the upstairs galleries.

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The building has 5 gallery spaces. Three on the first floor are dedicated to curated exhibitions of Irish and international art while the Ashford Gallery on the ground floor concentrates on showing the work of artists who don’t have commercial representation in Dublin

I’d checked out the RHA website and saw that there were several exhibitions by Contemporary Irish artists taking place which looked as though they’d be interesting. In particular,

  • Daphne Wright: Emotional Archaeology (previously shown at the Arnolfini in Bristol)
  • Joy Gerrard: ‘shot crowd’
  • Amanda Jane Graham; A Tribute To The Irish Community Butte Montana 1916-1919

This post has gone on long enough so I’ll do a write up on what I saw in the next few posts.