A Manor fit for a King.

Untitled_Panorama1 (640x385)

Out of all the sites I have visited over the course of the past few years, these ruins must be the most hideous and depressing. Sigginstown or Jigginstown House as it is now know is currently a National Monument in State care? Although to look at it, you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise. Jigginstown House can be found on the old Newbridge road just outside the town of Naas. In its day it made architectural history as it was the very first large scale red brick building in Ireland. It was built back in the 1630’s by Thomas Wentworth the Earl of Stafford, for use as a summer residence and for the possible use by Charles the first during Royal visits. Between 1632 and 1639 he also served as the Lord Deputy of Ireland where he enforced what many say was an authoritarian rule. Whilst the building of Jigginstown castle is believed to have been the work of Rev. Johnson, rector of Dromlease, another person has also been credited with its construction. In his ‘Excursions through Ireland’, Cromwell credits a John Allen with the job. The most likely reason for the conflicting accounts may perhaps be the fact that Allen whom was well known for his taste in architecture was responsible for the planning phase of the building, whilst Johnson carried out the actual construction. Although Wentworth estimated a cost of £6’000 for Jigginstown, the Stafford papers of 1665 record a much higher figure, with the princely sum £20’000.

Jigginstown House-73 (426x640)

Jigginstown House-66 (640x426)

The fact of the matter is that Wentworth never got to see his summer residence completed and the King never stayed there, which leaves some speculation as to whether the building was ever completed. By the time of the Civil Survey in 1654 Jigginstown was said to be in ruins. After being recalled to England to serve as advisor to the King and whilst attempting to strengthen his position, he made many enemies in the House of Commons which led to accusations of treason from his time in Ireland. He was impeached and sent to the Tower of London. Now whilst the records show that Wentworth’s alleged acts of treason where bogus, the King most likely signed the death warrant under severe political pressure,  as his parliament where causing him numerous issues in relation to dealing with problems in Scotland. Regardless, Wentworth met his fate on the 12th May 1641 at Tower Hill. Following the news of his execution a rebellion broke out in Ireland which led to further tensions between the King and his parliament. Any hope the King had of Wentworth’s execution averting such a crisis soon disappeared and many of Wentworth’s Irish enemies found that his death had put their estates, and even their lives, at risk. Eight years later it was Charles I, turn to face the executioners block. His last words were claimed to be, that God had permitted his execution as punishment for his consenting to Wentworth’s death.

Jigginstown House-62 (640x426)

Jigginstown House-60 (640x426)

The building itself must have been magnificent back in its day and was described as measuring 448ft in length and consisting of fine vaulted cellars and a number of tall rooms on the ground floor, reached by an outside stairs, with further accommodation in the attic space. The main entrance of the building was a hall door which would have led out on to a balustrade platform. A Double Brick house with free stone about the Windows and some column’s and pavements made of Marble. The floors in the middle parts of the House have since collapsed. To the front of the building there was a rivulet (a small stream) running through the garden. The house was flanked by two slightly projecting wings. A winged staircase near the east end of the north wall provided access to the main entrance. The basement walls consist of mortared stone, lit by mullioned windows and roofed with brick vaulting while the main floor is constructed from brick and lit by large, timber framed windows. A central spine-wall supported pitched roofs to each side. Massive brick chimney stacks rise up from the stone bases in the basement, and have wide fireplaces lined with very small red bricks. During an archaeological excavation of the site, an up cast bank was found, near the south side of the building. This bank provided a terrace overlooking the former large sunken garden and it was here that the remains of a limekiln was found, built into the bank. This was most likely used to provide the lime needed for the internal plaster.

Jigginstown House-54 (640x426)

Jigginstown House-49 (640x426)

Ironically, it was at Jigginstown that James Butler, the 1st Duke of Ormonde signed the Cessation with the Confederates in 1643. Ormonde had formerly worked as head of government of Ireland under Stafford and had done quite well for himself. After the Restoration, Ormonde went on to move some of the marble door-cases and chimney-pieces from Jigginstown to Kilkenny Castle or Dunmore House. Jigginstown passed into ownership of the Fitzwilliam family and over many years almost disappeared into the undergrowth. The Fitzwilliam’s handed Jigginstown over to the Irish state in the late 1960s and eventually all the undergrowth was cleared away from the structure by a group of volunteers. The house was in danger of deteriorating beyond repair which would have been a great loss to the local heritage.

Jigginstown House-44 (426x640)

Jigginstown House-37 (640x426)

However, a programme of conservation work was carried out by the OPW (office of public works) at the house between 2003 and 2008 which included archaeological excavations, building surveys and some conservation work on the ruin. The work appears to have been suspended since 2008 whilst alleged emergency work was taking place at the cash cow that is the Connolly Folly Monument at Castletown House in Celbridge. I have no doubt that if the same care and effort that is put into Castletown house was afforded to Jigginstown, we would have another fine amenity to enjoy. The consolidation of the south-west corner was due to commence as part of the 2012 programme of work. But as of today, sadly not a stitch of work has been carried out on the building. It remains a crumbling mess, surrounded by corrugated fencing. A far cry from how it once stood in its former glory. The images I took where all shot through gaps in the fencing. I guess I could have used certain skills to get past it but to be honest on this occasion I did not feel comfortable exploring this particular site. Much of the remaining walls look to have buttresses holding them in place and I fear that my intrusion might disrupt the delicate balance that is holding the old place together. Let’s hope that something is done about this fine piece of architectural heritage is lost forever. And then I can go back and explore those hidden vaulted cellars.

Jigginstown House-32 (640x426)

Jigginstown House-3 (640x426)

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About edmooneyphotography

Photographer, Blogger, Ruinhunter, with an unhealthy obsession for history, mythology and the arcane.
This entry was posted in Castles, Photography and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

58 Responses to A Manor fit for a King.

  1. It is too bad the Irish government neglects the place. So many countries around the world would LOVE to have the kind of physical history you guys have. You know what you should do, Ed? Start a small travel business that takes visitors from around the world to the ruins you have visited. I am sure there would be a lot of interest from Japanese tourists and such.

    It could be a great side business because you could book the tours in advance and adjust you work schedule accordingly…

    • It sure is Daniel, they are far to busy obeying their NWO puppet masters and lining their own pockets whilst the country goes down the tube.
      To be honest I have considered the idea, it would take a bit of work to set up to do it right. And a big wad of cash. But my main concern with making money from something that is close to my heart is that it might ruin the enjoyment of what I do. Money does have a certain corruptable quality to it.
      That said, I would be only to happy to show people around certain sites if asked 🙂

      • I have no idea if a NWO exists, and if it is run by banks, corporations or such. But at the end of the day the same crime is happening… the neglect of Ireland’s beauty and history. And I agree… money should not ruin the beauty you have created…

  2. “In its day it made architectural history as it was the very first large scale red brick building in Ireland.”
    You say this and then not show us a colour picture of it, how mean. 😉

    Did you notice the bull-form that looks out from the hole in the 5th picture? (At least that’s what it looks like to me) 😀

    Other than that do I second Daniel’s opinion. Small tours of ruin hunting would certainly sell well and the whole deal with not taking care of the building is just awful.

    • So sorry Ann, I find that these places look much better in B&W. I do have some colour images from a few years ago. Ill put em up on the facebook page later today for you.
      Your quite right about 5, the shadows do look like a bull, Im always doing that with clouds, you would be suprised how many dragons are flying around up there 🙂
      As for Daniels idea, I would hate for money to take over something that I love so much, but I am always available to show people around of give advice when needed 🙂

  3. jfwknifton says:

    I agree with Ed. All of his pictures are much more effective in B/W, much more striking. Do feel free, by the way, to ask the present day Earl of Stafford, or even Her Majesty Herself to cough up for the repairs. Mind you, you would have to take the risk that they came back there for the occasional holiday.

    • LOL, they are more than welcome once they pay their way. To be honest nothing really changed with the alleged formation of the Free state, ok the monarchy were no longer the official rulers, but the same feckers are still pulling the strings and controlling what happens.
      So if queen lizzie wants to fork out her ill earned cash to repair a few monuments, who am I to object 🙂

  4. unironedman says:

    Jigginstown has always been a sad landmark on the approach to Naas alright. As a largely brick-built building, I wonder if there is anything that can be done realistically to save it at this stage? The only way to keep the remaining structure intact would be to re-roof it. I suspect it’s gone beyond repair, but no-one from the OPW would be willing to concede that. And when it comes to sharing the scant conservation Euro that is doled out to Irish built heritage, I guess there may be better contenders. And yes, I don’t know WTF they were doing at the Folly, but they made a right hames of it.

    • A right mess they made, you see Castletown house is a big money spinner for them. Tourists with no clue, going along with the dribble they are fed.
      Such a shame, but it means that we get to enjoy all the other great places in peace 🙂

  5. beetleypete says:

    One of the problems of turning something that you love to do out of interest into a business, is that it becomes work, so far less enjoyable. So I can understand why you haven’t made that step, Ed.
    These B+W shots are very much the signature of your site, and suit the ancient buildings you feature. I am sure that we have all seen a red brick building, so can imagine it in colour well enough.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • Thank you Pete, much appreciated 🙂

    • I feel the need to answer to this as many people commented in regards to my comment:

      It was a silly joke.
      Ed wrote about the building being the oldest red brick building of Ireland and yet all the pictures are B&W and you therefore can’t tell the colour.
      That’s the only reason I “complained”.
      Ed’s pics are great and they capture the essence of this (and all the other) building(s) way better than any colour picture ever could, but in this case I thought it would be a funny addition because of the commend regarding its colour – even if we all know what it looks like…
      Nothing more, nothing less.

  6. oglach says:

    I love ruins, but not when they’re “ruined ruins”, if you take my meaning. This was a fascinating if sad bit of history accompanied by the usual brilliant photos. And you’re right not to chase after money doing what you love. (It’ll ruin it for ya!) 🙂

  7. blosslyn says:

    Its a shame they just can’t consolidate it to make it safe and then just leave it as ruins, but so people can visit and enjoy the history before it just crumbles away, so sad. Great photos Ed 🙂

  8. blosslyn says:

    Unfortunately quite so and another wonderful building crumbles away, its amazing that they are allowed to get away with, makes the blood boil, soon it will be too late.

  9. That is a total shame that they have not bothered with the building for all of that time and simply allowed it to deteriorate further. A building that could be magnificent with an amazing heritage.
    How id you get in to take all of the photos when it is obviously surrounded by a keep out fence?

  10. Ali Isaac says:

    How sad, to be once so grand and now reduced to this, not even allowed to crumble with dignity, but be propped up here and there, all parts out of sync. Its beyond help, they should let it go back to the earth where it belongs. This is the other side of the coin about Ireland that people don’t realise, how certain sites are developed onto money-spinner, the rest are ignored and allowed to rot in private ownership. No one wants them, not the landowners, not the state, and the public don’t ever get to know they even exist. The Irish are known for being proud of their heritage, but sadly, they don’t know the half of it. I wonder would they care if they did? How can w e look to the future if we can’t even take care of the past? Reminds me of the holy well which had been allowed to go toxic. Why is it allowed to happen?

    • Well this one in particular is owned by the state, so there really is no excuse. Most people I think are too wrapped up in the mundane too notice and/or care. Wells being poisoned are a dime a dozen with farmers causing most of the destruction. All we can do is raise awareness and educate the younger generations or the cycle will repeat itself till we have nothing left

  11. oh my what a sad story especially for poor Wentworth and what a sad state of ruin. I wish I could have seen it in it’s day. Is there any artistic rendering of the old house? Like you I hope they are able to restore it. Thanks for another piece of history Ed.

  12. noelleg44 says:

    Money and influence talk. Sounds like someone is pulling strings to have this site NOT on the priority list – I am always suspicious!

    • My thoughts exactly, Naas was once known as Nás na Ríogh or meeting place of the Kings. Its an important town with some stunning heritage dating back to pre history. Seeing stuff like this makes me angry and sad.
      Oh you where asking me about Parsons? Well I got some interesting Rosse connections coming up for you tomorrow 🙂

  13. I always enjoy your posts, and especially like that you shoot in black and white. It gives your historic choices a presence that color would not.

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