Sir John Soane Museum Foundation

Soane Travels


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Great Houses and Demesnes of Ireland:
Belfast to Dublin

[ Demesne - A lord's chief manor place ]

TRIP 1: September 28 to October 6, 2010
TRIP 2: October 9 to 16, 2010

Sponsored by Sir John Soane's Museum Foundation
Arranged by
Classical Excursions

TRIP 1: 28 September to 6 October 2010 – SOLD OUT

Itinerary & Trip Info: color with photos as of 6/4/10
Reservation Form

TRIP 2: 9 to 16 October 2010

Itinerary & Trip Info: color with photos as of 6/4/10
Reservation Forms

Sir John Soane traveled twice to Ireland, first in July 1780 and then in May 1791, and both trips included stays in Dublin, Belfast and elsewhere.  Thus, we are pleased to again be traveling in the footsteps of Sir John Soane - as we have done several times over the years in Italy and England.

In the north, there are direct and indirect connections with Soane regarding two great country houses on the tour.  Clandeboye, 1801-04, was designed by Robert Woodgate, who was apprenticed to Soane in 1788.  Soane working on plans for the remodeling of Barons Court in 1791, sent Woodgate to Ireland to oversee the project.  Woodgate was to stay on to open his own practice in Dublin, a short-lived endeavor, for he was to die in 1805.  One can see similarities in the designs of the two houses with the stylistic influence of Soane prevalent at Clandeboye.  Also in 1809, Soane drew up plans for the Royal Belfast Academical Institution, a non-denominational grammar school for boys and completed in 1810, and which can still to be seen in College Square East - while we won't be doing a formal visit, we are hoping to drive by the school.  More will be written on Soane and Ireland in the coming months.

During the 18th Century, Ireland was ruled as the Kingdom of Ireland by Kings of England and of Ireland.  It was in 1801 that it became officially the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.  Needless to say, architectural influences and architects traveled back and forth between the kingdoms.  Originally inspired by the architecture of Inigo Jones, who was the first to establish the Palladian style in 17th century England, followed by other early 18th century architects like Lord Burlington and William Kent, Ireland at the same time developed its own dramatic Palladian movement.  Starting with the new façade for the country house, Castletown, designed by Allessandro Galilei in 1719, he provided details that reflected Palladio's villas in the Veneto, such as colonnaded connections that linked the main building to end pavilions.  The leading architect of Palladian country houses in Ireland was Sir Edward Lovett Pearce, who provided interior details at Castletown and the design for Bellamont Forest, c. 1730, both of which we will be visiting.   Pearce, born in County Meath, developed a style that combined baroque inventiveness, movement and boldness with the somberness of the English Palladian style.  These and other outstanding country houses will be viewed during the tour that Soane Foundation is pleased to offer.

One of the unique highlights of our trips, is that we will the guests of Lord and Lady Dunleath, as the tour will include a two-night stay at their ancestral home Ballywalter Park, designed by renowned architect Charles Lanion. Other accommodations on the trips include the four-star Killyhevlin hotel in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland and the five-star luxury hotel, The Merrion, located in the heart of Dublin.


Both trips are planned to visit the identical spots or as close to identical as possible

A  two- night stay* at the privately owned Ballywalter Park, hosted by Lord Dunleath. Built in 1846 for Andrew Mullholland (whose son became the first Lord Dunleath) and designed by the prominent Belfast architect, Sir Charles Lanyon, the house is the best-preserved example of the Italianate palazzo style in Ireland.    (NOTE: with Trip 2 - we also plan to use a nearby seaside hotel, however all meals served at Ballywalter will include all travelers.)

Mountstewart, Newtownards, County Down:  Originally built in 1804 and later extended, the first architect was George Dance, the teacher of Sir John Soane.  Filled with magnificent antiques, the Regency-styled house contains 22 chairs used at the Congress of Vienna (1815) and given to Mt. Stewart's owner, Lord Castlereagh, British Foreign Secretary and member of the Londonderry family.  The house also holds one of the finest paintings by George Stubbs of the celebrated racehorse, Hambletonian.   Mt. Stewart's gardens cover 80 acres and are considered the most complete in Ireland, thriving in the area's subtropical microclimate.  Overlooking Strangford Lough is the exquisite small banqueting pavilion inspired by the Temple of the Winds in Athens.

Florence Court, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh:  An important Irish Georgian mansion, it was named after Lady Florence Cole, the wife of Sir John Cole, the owner who probably had built around 1730 the finally proportioned center block of the house.  A later generation in the 1760s added flanking arcaded wings with end pavilions.  The vigorous treatment of the exterior is repeated in the interior.  Lavish Rococo plaster decoration is featured which was painstakingly restored after a fire in 1955.  The Venetian Room, staircase and dining room have the most elaborate plasterwork.  The house is filled with 18th-century Irish furniture.

Castle Coole, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh:  Considered the finest Neo-classical country house in Ireland, it nearly bankrupted its owner, Armar Lowry-Corry, Earl of Belmore, in his attempt in the 1790s to outdo his brother-in-law and neighbor, the Earl of Enniskillen, at Florence Court. The quality of the Portland stone masonry is exceptional, with the design on all four sides of equal perfection.  It continues inside, with harmonious unity and balance in the joinery and plasterwork.  The final plans were executed by the English architect, James Wyatt.  The plasterer was Joseph Rose, who had been hired by Robert Adam to work at Syon House and Harewood House in England.  Another glory of Castle Coole is that almost all of the Regency furniture is original and still in place.

Visit at historic and privately owned Crom Castle. Not far from the lough shore ruins of the plantation castle, the present castle stands on elevated parkland. Built for the Third Earl of Erne in the 1830s it was designed by the English architect Edward Blore who was responsible for sections of Buckingham Palace. With its turrets and crenellated towers stretching far into the sky above, this neo-Tudor mansion is both magnificent and enigmatic. The outward strength of the building is further softened by the beauty of its surroundings - an idyllic setting most definitely influenced by the watercolourist and garden-designer William Sawrey Gilpin who worked closely with Blore on the project. Lunch or afternoon tea with the owners Lord and Lady Erne.

A private visit and lunch at Barons Court, hosted by His Grace, Duke of Abercorn. The house was started in 1779 by the architect George Steuart (who also designed Attingham Hall in Shropshire 1783). Later architects involved in redesigning and completing Barons Court were John Soane and Richard and William Morrison. The result was a powerful seven-bay house with a rotunda located in the heart of the building. The main pediment contains the family coat of arms. The interiors range from the classical coffered rotunda encircled by a ring of Ionic columns to a typical Morrisonian library redecorated by the prominent English decorator, David Hicks.

Headfort House, Kells Ireland was designed in 1771-1776 by the Irish architect George Semple. The State Room  interiors were later refashioned by Robert Adam in the severe, and unadorned Neo-classical style. The main building is now owned by the Headfort School, with one wing remaining in use as a private residence. Now designated as one of the  World Monument Fund's most endangered sites, it is undergoing stabilization and repairs.

A visit to Castletown in County Kildare, Irelands first Palladian house to be erected with proper classical proportions and designed by a professional architect- Alessandro Galiliei (1691-1737). This house is said to have inspired the White House.

A tour of the incredible Palladion jewel Russborough House. Built in 1741 by Joseph Leeson. A No other Palladian house in Ireland equals it either for its architecture or its spectacular setting.

Casino at Marino, the pleasure pavilion designed by Sir William Chambers and considered to be one of the most perfect buildings in Europe.

A private tour of Desmond Guiness's home on the outskirts of Dublin. This was one of the original Pale towers of Dublin.

A private tour and meal at Desiree Shorts Georgian Town House in Dublin. Ms. Short is a renowned porcelain restorer and has a lovely collection of rare porcelain. Her residence has lovely Irish furniture and ornate 18th century plaster work.

~  This is just a partial listing of places and properties to be visited. ~

* Trip includes a two-night stay in a private residence, a two-night stay in a four star county hotel and
a three-night/or four-night stay at a five star hotel in central Dublin, The Merrion.

* Due to our exclusive accommodations in the privately owned country house the number of participants is strictly limited.

Early registration is therefore suggested. Please contact Lani Sternerup of Classical Excursions to register. 413-528-3359 or



Royal Belfast Academical Institution – 1810

Grey Abbey – Co. Down  

Clandeboye House - Co. Down

Mount Stewart - Co. Down, 18th century

Castle Ward - Co. Down

Ardress House - Co. Armagh, 1770’s

Barons Court - Co. Tyrone. 1779-1782

Castle Coole - Co. Fermanagh, 1790-1996

Florence Court - Co. Fermanagh, mid-18th century

Crom Castle - Co. Fermanagh, 1832-1838 >

Bellamont Forest - Co. Cavan, 1729

Headfort House - Co. Meath, 1760
PDF from World Monuments Fund
the house is now Headfort School

Russborough House - Co. Wicklow, 1741

Castletown - Co. Kilkenny, 1767-1771

Casino at Marino - Co. Dublin, 1762

Leixlip Castle – Co. Kildare


Ballywalter Park – first two nights >

Merrion Hotel in Dublin

Lough Erne Resort located near Enniskillen - two-night stay

Arriving a night or two early into Belfast, you might want to consider The Fitzwilliam Hotel Belfast, member of Preferred Hotels


Trip 1 – from Dublin to London Heathrow on Wednesday, 6 October – we suggest Aer Lingus #164 - Dublin to London Heathrow (DUB>LHR) departing 12:10pm arriving 1:25pm
- Link to general web site

Trip 2 – heading from London to Belfast on Saturday, 9 October – we suggest BMI #82 – Heathrow to Belfast (LHR>BFS) departing 8:50am, arriving 10:10am.
- Link to general web site


Irish Antiques Dealers Association Fair (Trip 1 only)

Irish Georgian Society

Irish Museums Association


For additional information on tour specifics, please contact
Classical Excursions,  PO Box 1676, Lenox, MA 01240
Telephone: 413-528-3359, Fax 413-243-4157 |

Or for additional information, please contact:
Sir John Soane=s Museum Foundation, 1040 First Avenue, No. 311, New York NY 10022
Telephone: 212-223-2012, Fax 860-435-8019

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