Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Berwick House is impressive,
but who was ‘Lady Berwick’?

Berwick House on Whitehall Road, Churchtown … but who was Lady Berwick? (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

Patrick Comerford

On my way home from work this evening, I went out of my way to take a look at Berwick House, a tall period house on the bend in Whitehall Road, Churchtown.

This imposing building, which has been converted into apartments in recent years, looks north, as if the first part of Whitehall Road was the drive up to a splendid country residence.

Until recently, this house was the residence of the De La Salle Brothers, who ran a number of schools in the locality. But it may date back to the 18th century or even late 17th century, when there was a house on this site. The present house is probably the house named as Waxfield where John Lamprey died in 1766.

By 1836, the house was known as Hazelbrook, and is referred to by Samuel Lewis in his Topographical Directory in 1837, when he mentions the celebrated guesthouse, patronised by people who came out from Dublin, to the nearby spa and health resort.

From 1844 to 1899, the house was known as Bachelor’s Hall. It was a travellers’ rest with bed, breakfast and stabling facilities. It was later bought by a “Lady Berwick,” who turned it into a holiday house for working girls. As the headquarters of this charity it was known as Berwick Home.

Meanwhile, the name Hazelbrook was transferred to the nearby, now defunct, HB milk bottling plant, ice cream factory and dairy run by the Hughes Brothers.

In 1944, the house again became a private residence and the name was changed to Berwick House. When the De La Salle Brothers first came to Churchtown they were a small group of only three. They eventually bought Berwick House and it became the base for their educational mission in the Churchtown, Rathfarnham and Dundrum area.

The house was recently converted into apartments. A small housing scheme beside Berwick House is known as Berwick Hall, named after the adjoining Berwick House.

The Hughes Brothers’ original house, built in 1898, and called Hazelbrook House, was rebuilt in Bunratty Folk Par, Co Clare, in 2001, and the old HB dairy site is being developed as Hazelbrook Square.

The Berwick Home Charity continues to give holiday grants to girls and women over the age of 14 who have recently been unwell or disabled.

An Edward post box beside Berwick House (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

But who was Lady Berwick who gave her name to this charity and to Berwick House?

She certainly was not the wife of one of the Hill family who held the title of Baron Berwick and lived at Attingham Park, Atcham, Shropshire. William Noel-Hill, 6th Lord Berwick, died unmarried in 1882, and his nephew Richard Henry Noel-Hill, 7th Lord Berwick, died childless in 1897.

The Revd Edward Berwick (1754-1820), Vicar of Leixlip (1795-1820), Co Kildare, has been described mistakenly by some local historians as a son of the 2nd Duke of Berwick, whose mother was the widow of Patrick Sarsfield, Earl of Lucan, and whose father was an illegitimate son of King James II. However, Edward Berwick was the son of a man named Duke Berwick from Co Down.

Edward Berwick’s son, Walter Berwick (1800-1868), owned 653 acres in Co Cork, and was a well-known judge of the Quarter Sessions in Cork in the mid-19th century. He is remembered for presenting Cork city with an ornamental fountain on Grand Parade in 1859 when he moved to the bankruptcy court.

Walter Berwick was admitted to the Irish bar in 1826, served as assistant barrister for Waterford, and was well regarded by Daniel O’Connell while practising at the bar. His politics were liberal, and he was a founder member of the Saint Stephen’s Green Club in Dublin in 1840, and a founder of the Royal Irish Academy of Music in 1848.

He chaired the inquiry into the Dolly’s Brae riot in 1849, and his report led to the dismissal of Lord Roden and several other prominent Orangemen as magistrates.

In 1854, Judge Berwick bought St Edmundsbury in Lucan, where he did some farming. He was appointed a judge of the court of bankruptcy and insolvency in 1866. Judge Berwick and his wife, Mary Elizabeth, died on 20 August 1868 on the Irish Mail train in the Abergele railway disaster in north Wales. Among the many other victims was a nine-year-old girl, Louisa Symes, who was travelling in the care of the Berwicks.

Walter’s younger brother, Edward Berwick (1804-1877), was a lawyer and educationalist, who was President of Queen’s College Galway (now NUI Galway) from 1850 until 1877.

A nephew of Henry Grattan, he was given personal tuition by Dionysius Lardner (1793-1859), and studied law at Trinity College Dublin. He later lived with Lardner in Bray, Co Wicklow, and later in Gardiner Street, Dublin. He gave evidence in the celebrated Lardner divorce case. He was called to the Bar in 1832. On the foundation of Queen’s College Galway in 1845, Berwick was appointed Vice-President.

The college president, Joseph W. Kirwan, died in office in December 1849, and Berwick succeeded him in 1850. He died in office in 1877.

This family gave its name to another Berwick House in Dalkey, Co Dublin, but this house was later known as Scotch Rath. Was “Lady Beriwck” a member of this family?

I think I need to carry out a little more research.

Berwick House stands on the twist in the road on Whitehall Road (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

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.

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