23 March 2012

An old house on an ancient site on the banks of the Dodder

Templeogue House ... stands on a site dating back to the Knights Templar (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

Patrick Comerford

On my way home from work this evening, I stopped to have a look at Templeogue House, now known as Saint Michael’s House. The house has a history that dates back perhaps 800 years ago, and has been the home of knights and writers, judges and politicians, and even an aristocrat who was willing to threaten the life and health of Dublin City to protect his family’s interests.

In the mid-13th century, the River Dodder was diverted into an open channel through the grounds of the present Templeogue House, forming the Dublin City Watercourse. The Knights Templar are said to have built a castle or house later on the site of Templeogue House, and this Templar house or castle was later replaced by or incorporated into Templeogue Castle.

Although there is no clear evidence of the 13th-century city watercourse, archaeologists have found early watercourses that predate the building of Templeogue Castle ca 1550. By the mid-16th century, the castle was home to the Talbot family. Richard Talbot, who died here in 1577, controlled the watercourse that ran close to his house and was Second Justice of the Common Bench.

By 1615, Templeogue Church, Teach Mealóg, the Church of Saint Meal Óg, was in ruins. Forty years later, when Theobald Harold was the steward of Templeogue in 1655, there was a castle in good repair, a mill, a house out of repair; some cottages and Templeogue had a population of 40 people.

Henry Talbot was ordered to be transplanted to Connacht. In the Cromwellian era, but the Talbot family recovered Templeogue Castle after the Caroline restoration. His son, Colonel James Talbot, leased Templeogue House to Sir Thomas Domvile in 1686 for £3,000.

Talbot was a Jacobite officer in the Irish army of James II, and Templeogue Castle is one of several mansions in which King James is said to have slept on the night after his defeat at the Battle of the Bone in 1690. Talbot was outlawed by the Williamites and when he died in action the following year at the Battle of Aughrim, Domville gained full possession of Templeogue Castle.

Templeogue House incorporates a tower and other parts of the fabric of the earlier Templeogue Castle (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

Domville built a brick house, incorporating fabric of the earlier castle, including a tower and an undercroft. When he died in 1721, the house and lands passed to his son, Sir Compton Domvile, who rebuilt the house and laid out the gardens in 1730s. Archaeologists believe the new house involved renovating the castle rather than building a completely new house, and he built an 18th-century brick-lined outhouse behind the tower.

His extensive improvements to the grounds included dramatic ornamental water gardens with ponds and cascades. This involved diverting the old City Watercourse, and a new millpond and millrace were created to the south of the house, replacing an earlier mill shown on the Down Survey.

Sir Compton Domville became the subject of controversy in when he obtained a pardon for his nephew, Henry Barry, Lord Santry, who was convicted of the murder of a servant at Palmerston Fair in 1738. Compton threatened to cut the city water supply at the watercourse in Templeogue unless Lord Santry was reprieved.

The reprieved but disgraced Lord Santry was finally forced to leave Ireland, and the Domville family inherited the Santry estate on the northside of Dublin. Sir Compton Domville lived at Templeogue House from 1751 until his death in 1768.

His nephew, Charles Pocklington inherited his property and took the name of Domville. He lived at Templeogue until 1780. But by then the house was in a bad state of repair and he left it and moved to Santry House, taking with him many ornamental features from Templeogue House, including the circular temple.

Although Santy became the family’s principal residence, the Domvilles continued to hold on to Templeogue House, and in the 19th century the house was still said to have a great courtyard, impregnably high walls and gate piers 20 feet high, each topped with globes of granite, an old Dutch waterfall, terraced walks, gigantic grottoes, extensive gardens, and avenues of trees.

The house was then owned by Sir Compton Pocklington Domville of Templeogue House and Santry House, who had an estate of over 6,000 acres in Co Dublin. He was a son-in-law of Bishop Charles Lindsay of Kildare, and in 1815 was given the tile of baronet. When he stood as the Conservative candidate in the Westminster by-election for Co Dublin in 1823, he was defeated 994-49 by Colonel Henry White, who had the support of Daniel O’Connell and the Catholic interest.

In 1842, he leased Templeogue House to the writer Charles James Lever, who had become the editor of the Dublin University Magazine that year. Lever lived here for about two years and wrote some of his novels in the tower of the house. The literary notables entertained here included William Thackeray.

His biographer says Lever “held aloof from general society in Dublin ... Genial men whom he brought to his house made it most enjoyable. Men of wit and letters were by degrees recruited, generally summoned by such welcome missives as ‘Come and dine to meet the Magazine’.” But in the winter of 1844, Lever left Dublin to live in Italy, and he died at Trieste in 1872 at the age of 62.

Templeogue House was bought in 1919 by Bernard Daly who sold it in 1945 to Henry White, a gown manufacturer. The Maynooth Mission to China (Columban Fathers) bought the house in 1958 and sold it to Crampton housing in 1972. It is now known as Saint Michael’s House.

It is not clear whether any parts of the original castle survive in the fabric of the present building is still unclear, but archaeologists believe significant parts of the castle remain, and that they probably include the front part of the present building, lower and upper ground floors and upper floor, the undercroft and an early layer of cobbling forming the undercroft floor, and the tower to the north-east of the house.

A series of archaeological investigations took place at Templeogue House from 1996 to 2006, and significant parts of the first-floor timber floor have been dated to the 1630s or early 1640s. A badly preserved ceiling behind the ornate 1730s plaster ceiling of the room to the west of the lower ground floor may date from the 17th century.

During the excavations in the undercroft in 1996, an important collection of artefacts was recovered, including glass and pottery vessels from the 17th to the 19th century, the majority from the early 18th century. They include glass bottles, imported ceramic bottles, and some unusual wine-glass fragments. The table glass, from the 1670s or 1680s, was of exceptional quality and may be among the largest and most diverse collection of late 17th-century table glass that has yet been excavated anywhere.

Meanwhile, the Domville family continued to live in Santry House until the 1940s, when they moved to England.

Meanwhile, in 1912, the only surviving daughter of Sir William Compton Domvile, 3rd Baronet, Mary Adelaide Domville, married Hucheson Poë, who was given a new title that year. He was also a Senator of the Irish Free State in 1922-1924.

Their only son, Hugo Compton Domvile Poë, was declared of unsound mind in 1929. When his father died in 1934, he inherited the title, and when his mother died he became eligible to inherit the Domville estates in Dublin, on condition that he adopt the surname and arms of Domvile. As there were doubts about whether this could be done for a person of unsound mind, a private act of the Oireachtas was passed in 1936 to change his name to Hugo Compton Domvile Poë Domvile and his arms to a quartering of the Poë and Domvile arms.

This last title became extinct when Sir Hugo died in 1959, and so came to an end the line of the Domvilles of Templeogue.

For other postings on the architectural heritage of South Dublin see:

Berwick Hall.
The Bottle Tower, Churchtown.
Brookvale House, Rathfarnham.
Camberley House, Churchtown.
Dartry House, Orwell Park, Rathfarnham.
Ely Arch, Rathfarnham.
Ely House, Nutgrove Avenue, Rathfarnham.
Fernhurst, 14 Orwell Road, Rathgar.
Fortfield House, Hyde Park, Terenure.
No 201 Harold’s Cross Road, the birthplace of Richard Allen.
Homestead, Sandyford Road, Dundrum.
Kilvare House, also known as Cheeverstown House, Templeogue Road.
Knocklyon Castle.
Laurelmere Lodge, Marlay Park.
Marlay Park.
Mountain View House, Beaumont Avenue, Churchtown.
Newbrook House, Taylor’s Lane, Rathfarnham.
Old Bawn House, Tallaght.
Rathfarnham Castle.
Sally Park, Fihouse.
Scholarstown House, Knocklyon.
Silveracre House, off Sarah Curran Avenue, Rathfarnham.
Synge House, Newtwon Villas, Churchtown, and No 4 Orwell Park, Rathgar.
Templeogue House.
Washington House, Butterfield Avenue, Rathfarnham.
Westbourne House, off Rathfarnham Road.


Anonymous said...

Very interesting. I'm from Templeogue, in Willington. Is there any story on Willington House? I know it was owned by a Henry O'Connor in 1914, then a man named Kennedy.

It was built about 1760, but by who? Where does "willington" come from?

Cheers, Martan

margaretemarie said...

Thanks for sharing this information. It seems that this Mr. Bernhard Daly who bought the house in 1919 was the owner of Tullamore Distillery - or at least one of the main shareholders. He was also a keen Polo player, and there is a picture at the National Library of Ireland called "Polo, Capt. Bernhard Daly and Mrs Wilfred Fitzgerald, Templeogue House". There might have been some exiting parties going on here back then, with plenty of drams to drink....

Hibernogirl said...

I think this is now the HQ of the contract bridge club of Ireland. I was interested to see the name Bernard Daly being mentioned as I chased down this line in family research in to the Daly name.

Piapium said...

I love your historical accounts, i live on Stocking Lane,Rathfarnham, Dublin 16 just wondering have you any interesting historical facts about this lane and in particular Prospect House built in 1810 and it is reputed that Robert Emmet hid there on occasion while on the run.

Con Denvir

John Stack said...


I am researching the Ellis Landlord family of Abbeyfeale Hill. A remarkable family - they were much more than landlords, though that is their legacy around Abbeyfeale - my O'Sullivan ancestors were tenants.
The death of Mrs Thomas Ellis at Templelogue-house, a daughter of Monsell of Tervoe, and relict of Thomas Ellis (1774-1832, Master of Chancery, MP for the City of Dublin (1820-1826) and 2nd Ellis landlord of Abbeyfeale), was reported in the Limerick Chronicle of 16th October 1833.
It is one more tantalising piece of a jig-saw I will assemble once I complete my own family history. The mansion on Abbeyfeale Hill was completed c. 1853 and remained in tact until 3rd\4th August 1922 when the Abbeyfeale IRA burned it down before the advancing pro treaty forces, but not before "taking the good furniture out !"

Your blog is a treasure trove,


John Stack

Unknown said...

In response to your questions about Willington House. I'm not able to help you much but my great grandfather was the owner, John Kennedy, a farmer. My late mother and her siblings were brought up there. I'd love to have any information you might have.
Neil Maguire

Anonymous said...

My great grandmother owned kimmage manor and my grand uncle was the owner of the original cheeverstown house if you ever do a history of either, please contact me as I can give you a lot of the true history of both and have in my possession paper records for kimmage manor especially.

Brendan Jennings
Owner of Arbutus Landscaping