21 December 2015
On my way home from work one evening last week, I stopped to admire and photograph another fine house that is part of the architectural heritage of the Dundrum and Churchtown area.
It is easy to pass by without noticing Mountainview House on Beaumont Avenue, and I can find no mention of the house in local histories or in architectural websites. But this a fine, imposing Georgian period residence on c.0.24 acre (0.097 ha) and the house has an interesting history.
In the early 19th century, the village of Dundrum and the surrounding area attracted the “fashionable unwell” from Dublin. Writing in The Beauties of Ireland in 1826, JN Brewer noted that Dundrum “is in a sheltered declivity, sheltered from the harshwinds. The village is the fashionable resort of invalids for the purpose of drinking goats’ whey.”
This probably explains the name of Goatstown to the east of Dundrum, now a residential area around the Goat Grill, at the junction of Goatstown Road and Taney Road. There has been a pub since the early 18th century, and in the 19th century it was popular to travel to Dundrum and Goatstown as goat’s milk was considered to be excellent for people suffering from tuberculosis.
In the early 19th century, Edward Weston Allen (1765-1848) and his wife Eleanor (Barrington) moved from their house at 22 Upper Bridge Street, in central Dublin, where he was a linen draper, to Mountainview House in Dundrum, which they had acquired as their country seat. They also had a large house at No 201 Harold’s Cross Road, where their son the abolitionist Richard Allen was born.
Edward Allen’s direct descendant, Clive Allen of Buinclody, Co Wexford, tells the story of Edward and his family in The Allens, Family and Friends, ten generations of Quaker ancestry (Dublin: Linden, 2007). Clive notes how Jane Tolerton, a granddaughter of Edward Weston Allen, later recalled the delightful setting of Mountainview House:
“Bridge St. was a pleasant enough place to go to, but it paled in the delights of Mountain View, the Allen’s country house near Dundrum. It had a large old garden bounded on side by a laurel hedge. Near the entrance there had been a pond, now filled up, but there were tales of Edward and Willie Allen having navigated a washtub round it.”
Eleanor (‘Ellen’) Barrington Allen (1772-1819) was descended from an old Co Wexford Quaker family and she and Edward Weston Allen were married in Dublin in 1798, at the height of the 1798 Rising. It is said that as they walked through the streets after their wedding “the soldiers stood aside to let the procession pass.”
Edward and Ellen first lived in Saint James’s Street Dublin, and later moved to Upper Bridge Street, where he ran a wholesale drapery and linen business. During the summer months they lived in their house in Harold’s Cross.
In 1811, Edward Allen was one of the founders of the Dublin Institution, based in Sackville Street (now O’Connell Street), Dublin. But, despite his involvement in many city charities, Edward Allen lost his membership in the Society of Friends in 1813 because of his persistent refusal over many years to attend Quaker meetings on Sunday mornings.
Ellen and Edward had a large family of 15 children, and she died in 1819, two years after her last child was born. Their children included Richard Allen (1803-1886) the abolitionist and anti-slavery campaigner, who founded the Hibernian Antislavery Association with James Haughton and Richard Davis Webb in 1837.
Edward Weston Allen lived a long life and died at Mountainview on 23 April 1848, in his 83rd year. Jane Toleron wrote:
“Mother and I hastened to the house of grief, and with hushed footsteps went up to the room where the aged patriarch was lying in his last sleep, his long silver hair combed down on each side of his face and resting on a pillow. All was peace, the sun of spring streaming in like a consolation.”
Although he had ceased attending Quaker meetings and had left the Society of Friends, Edward Weston Allen was buried in the Quaker Burial Ground in Cork Street, Dublin.
The Freeman’s Journal, in a news report on his death, noted his engagement with philanthropic causes in Dublin and his involvement with the Cork Street Fever Hospital.
When Mountainview House went on the market recently, the selling agents said it was “ideal for extension or redevelopment potential. Mountainview House is currently in use as a commercial building but could quite easily be returned to residential subject to planning permission.”
In addition to the main house, the sale included a collection of out-buildings, both single and two storey, built to the west of the main house. They range in age and building types and provide storage and workshop facilities. The rear of the property is south west facing benefiting from natural sunlight all day long.
The selling agents said the living accommodation was remodelled within the front half of the house, “which could possibly be extended again subject to planning.”
The present accommodation includes two reception rooms downstairs, a kitchen/sun room, guest WC, and two rooms upstairs. The agents said: “This property would be ideal for someone looking for a large unique family home with plenty of scope to extend in the heart of Churchtown.
There are two entrances to Mountainview House and the property from Beaumont Avenue. The house is close to many amenities, including Dundrum Town Centre, Churchtown village, Nutgrove Shopping Centre, a wide choice of schools, the Luas stations at Windy Arbour and Dundrum, and the M50.
For other postings on the architectural heritage of South Dublin see:
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.
Laurelmere Lodge, Marlay Park.
Mountain View House, Beaumont Avenue, Churchtown.
Newbrook House, Taylor’s Lane, Rathfarnham.
Old Bawn House, Tallaght.
Sally Park, Fihouse.
Scholarstown House, Knocklyon.
Silveracre House, off Sarah Curran Avenue, Rathfarnham.
Synge House, Newtwon Villas, Churchtown, and No 4 Orwell Park, Rathgar.
Washington House, Butterfield Avenue, Rathfarnham.
Westbourne House, off Rathfarnham Road.
In our journey towards Christmas, we are in the fourth and final week of Advent today [21 December 2015], with just four days to go to Christmas Day. I was writing yesterday of how the fourth and final candle on the Advent Wreath this week represents the Virgin Mary.
During the season of Advent this year, I am working my way through my own Advent Calendar. Each morning, I am inviting you to join me for a few, brief moments in reflecting on the meaning of Advent through the words and meditations of the great German theologian and martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945).
In his Advent sermon in London on 17 December 1933, Bonhoeffer says the Canticle Magnificat, the Song of the Virgin Mary, “is the oldest Advent hymn.” He goes on to say:
“It is the most passionate, the wildest, and one might almost say the most revolutionary Advent hymn that has ever been sung. This is not the gentle, tender, dreamy Mary as we often see her portrayed in paintings. The Mary who is speaking here is passionate, carried away, proud, enthusiastic. There is none of the sweet, wistful, or even playful tone of many of our Christmas carols, but instead a hard, strong, relentless hymn about the toppling of the thrones and the humiliation of the lords of this world, about the power of God and the powerlessness of humankind. This is the sound of the prophetic women of the Old Testament – Deborah, Judith, Miriam – coming to life in the mouth of Mary. Mary, who was seized by the Holy Spirit, who humbly and obediently lets it be done unto her as the Spirit commands her, who lets the Spirit blows where it will [John 3: 8] – she speaks by the power of this Spirit, about God’s coming into the world, about the Advent of Jesus Christ.”
Readings (Church of Ireland lectionary): Psalm 116: 11-17; II Samuel 7: 1-17; Titus 2: 11 – 3: 8a.
The Collect of the Day:
God our redeemer,
who prepared the blessed Virgin Mary
to be the mother of your Son:
Grant that, as she looked for his coming as our saviour,
so we may be ready to greet him
when he comes again as our judge;
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
The Advent Collect:
Give us grace to cast away the works of darkness
and to put on the armour of light
now in the time of this mortal life
in which your Son Jesus Christ came to us in great humility;
that on the last day
when he shall come again in his glorious majesty
to judge the living and the dead,
we may rise to the life immortal;
through him who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.