31 May 2016

Cambridge summer conference to look
at ‘Fathers and Mothers of the Church’

Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge … the venue for this year’s summer school organised by the Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

Patrick Comerford

The Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies has announced details of this year’s summer school in Cambridge, which is to take place in Sidney Sussex College from 29 to 31 August 2016.

Like the series of Community Days at IOCS this year, the annual conference will address the theme of “Contemporary Fathers and Mothers of the Church: Guides for Today’s World.”

The speakers at the conference will include Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, the Revd Professor Andrew Louth, the Romanian Orthodox theologian Dr Ciprian Streza, Dr Christoph Schneider of IOCS, and others.

The last day of the conference will include a visit to the Monastery of Saint John the Baptist in Tolleshunt Knights, Essex, where participants will have a tour of the Monastery, along with a lecture from Sister Magdalen.

The fees for the Conference will be about £340 (with meals) and £250 (without meals).

More details will be available soon on the IOCS website.

Searching for the remains of
Lord Charlemont’s lost estate

The Marino Institute of Education … on the site of Marino House built in the 1750s by the Earl of Charlemont (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

Patrick Comerford

It is almost 20 years since I was invited to speak about the history and identity of the Church of Ireland to a group of German church leaders, who were visiting Ireland in 1998. I spoke in the Marino Institute of Education, but the visit from the Association of Protestant Ministers of the Diaspora in the Rhineland was so short, and I was brought in and out of their meeting so hastily, that I never had the opportunity to appreciate the setting or the surroundings in Marino.

I was back in the Marino Institute yesterday [30 May 2016] for a day-long series of conversations with Archbishop Rowan Williams, and decided to walk there from the Mater Dei Institute of Education in Drumcondra.

It was a bright, sunny, summer morning, and as I arrived at the Marino Institute I was impressed by the tree-lined surroundings on Griffith Avenue, and the driveway that leads up to the impressive gates that open into the Marino Institute.

Charlemont, the name of the small housing estate nestling below these gates just off Griffith Avenue, provided a clue to the story of the site of the institute, even if the house that once stood there was demolished almost a century ago.

A watercolour of Marino House by the Irish artist Edward McFarland in 1853 shows a conservatory with flowers. This picture is included in McFarland’s album of watercolours, A Drive from Dublin to Howth Returning by Clontarf.

Another watercolour by McFarland in the same collection shows the Entrance Gate to Marino Demesne. It is the only representation of the main entrance gates in their original location, when they still opened into Charlemont’s demesne.

Cipriani’s gates at Marino are decorated with dragons and the motto from the Charlemont coat-of-arms (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

In 1755, James Caulfeild (1728-1799), 1st Earl of Charlemont, returned to Ireland after his Grand Tour of classical sites in Italy and Greece. His step-father offered him an estate in Donnycarney that stretched down to the shores of Dublin Bay at Fairview.

In creating his demesne, Lord Charlemont was strongly influenced by his experiences on the Grand Tour, from visits to antique Roman gardens to the poetry of Virgil and Horace. Perhaps the sea views reminded him of his Mediterranean tour when he renamed his estate Marino.

In 1746, at the age of 18 year, he was sent on a Grand Tour of Europe, accompanied by the Revd Edward Murphy as his tutor. During his Grand Tour, which lasted almost nine years, he travelled to Holland and Germany, and spent a year in Rome and Naples before travelling on to Greece, where he was totally fascinated by the Parthenon in Athens and made drawings of the building long before it was pillaged destroyed by Lord Elgin.

He visited Turkey and Egypt too before returning to Rome in 1750, where he met many famous people, including the Scottish architect Sir William Chambers (1723-1796), the sculptors Simon Vierpyl and Joseph Wilton and the artist and decorator Giovanni Battista Cipriani (1727-1785) from Florence. He spent vast sums of money collecting paintings, sculptures and books and shipping them back to Ireland.

He returned to Ireland in 1755, and went on to build Marino House, the Casino in Marino, which is Dublin’s finest surviving neoclassical building, and Charlemont House in Dublin, now home to the Hugh Lane Gallery of Modern Art.

Although bestowed with titles and honours, he disregarded court favours and formed a political alliance with Henry Flood and Henry Grattan. In 1780, as Lord Charlemont, he became the commander-in-chief of the Irish Volunteers, and in 1783 he presided at the Volunteer Convention in Dublin. From then on was known as the Volunteer Earl.

The main entrance to his estate on the north fringes of Dublin was in Fairview, later the site of Saint Joseph’s National School, where an imposing Doric gateway opened on to a long driveway to the house.

The house was designed or remodelled by William Chambers and the gates were designed by Cipriani. In 1768, Chambers wrote to Charlemont, enclosing ‘Cipriani’s drawing for the dragons of the gate at Marino.’ The dragons feature on the Charlemont coat-of-arms, and the family motto, Deo Duce, Ferro Comitante (‘God as my leader, my sword my companion’) is also inscribed on the gates.

Lord Charlemont hired Matthew Peters, a renowned gardener, to landscape his Marino estate in a type of ‘idealised Italian landscape’ – open and informal, with soft undulating lines offset by carefully positioned clumps of trees. There, until he died in 1799, Lord Charlemont lived a life of elegance and luxury.

His titles and estates were inherited by his son, Francis William Caulfeild (1775-1863), 2nd Earl of Charlemont, who had been MP for Co Armagh until 1799. He died at Marino House in 1863. His four children pre-deceased him and his estate and titles passed to by his nephew, James Molyneux Caulfeild (1820-1892), the 3rd and last Earl of Charlemont.

In 1876, this Lord Charlemont, put Marino House and estate up for sale. A notice in The Times on 8 May 1876, advising that the estate was to be sold, described the demesne in great detail. It said the “gardens are very tastefully laid out, and in the highest heart and condition, well stocked with fruit trees of good and new varieties. The houses consist of conservatories, greenhouses, vineries, peach houses, forcing and stove houses, of modern construction, all heated on the best principles...”

The Irish Christian Brothers bought Marino House, on the former Charlemont demesne, and made it their home. The last Earl of Charlemont died some years later in 1892 in Biarritz and was buried in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh.

A photograph from the late 19th century in the Lawrence Collection shows Marino House with a member of the Irish Christian Brothers standing outside. At the time, the Christian Brothers were using this former residence of Lord Charlemont as their quarters, until a new house named Saint Mary’s was built nearby in 1904.

By 1911, a map shows the remains of the Charlemont estate included Marino House, the gate lodges, the Casino, and the ruins of the Gothic Room. New additions included Saint Mary’s College, the O’Brien Institute, and Saint Joseph’s Christian Brothers School

Marino House before it was demolished (Photograph: Archiseek)

However, Marino House would be demolished within the next decade or so. By the 1920s, the Christian Brothers owned a significant portion of the old estate, including all the land between Saint Mary’s Monastery, now the Marino Institute of Education, and Saint Joseph’s in Fairview. Brother Killian Fitzgerald, who at that time was on the teaching staff at Saint Joseph’s, recalled that ‘even up to the [1920s] …, Marino could still be admired for its beautiful woods and its exquisite demesne.’

The population of Dublin was growing rapidly, and there was a pressing need for new housing. In 1924 a parcel of land belonging to the Christian Brothers’ parcel was acquired by a Dublin Corporation housing order for the Marino and Croydon Park Housing Scheme.

Over the next two years, 1,283 houses were built on those 89 acres of land. In the process, Lord Charlemont’s old house was demolished, although his Casino still stands as an enduring monument to this Renaissance man.

Lord Charlemont’s achievement in creating an earthly paradise at Marino was seen by him as his gift to posterity. Sadly, by the mid-20th century, almost all vestiges of this marvel had been lost, and in turn the memory of such a landscape at Marino was almost erased.

The urns designed by Cipriani for Marino House stand on the roof of the Marino Institute to this day, on either side of a statue of the Virgin Mary. Cipriani’s gates have been saved and moved and now stand at the entrance to the Marino Institute of Education.

The urns of Marino House still stand on the roof of the Marino Institute (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

Three poems written by Philip Larkin
in Lichfield (2): ‘Christmas 1940’

‘High on arched field I stand / Alone …’ … The Gazebo on Borrowcrop Hill, Lichfield (Photograph: Kate Gomez)

Patrick Comerford

Over these few mornings, I am reading the three poems written by Philip Larkin (1922-1985) in Lichfield in 1940, while his family was living at No 33 Cherry Orchard after the Coventry Blitz.

Peter Young, the former Town Clerk of Lichfield who retired last August after 28 years in office, has spoken on a number of occasions – to Lichfield Discovered (2014), to Lichfield Speakers’ Corner Group (2012), and to Lichfield Civic Society (2008) – about Philip Larkin and his associations with Lichfield.

Peter has repeated how Larkin once said of Lichfield: “God this place is dull.” But the three poems he wrote in Lichfield are anything but dull, although they were never published in his own lifetime.

Philip Larkin was born in Coventry, the only son and younger child of Sydney and Eva Larkin. Sydney Larkin (1884-1948) was from Lichfield and his family’s long-standing associations with Lichfield date back to 1757. Some Larkin families lived at both No 21 and No 49 Tamworth Street, Lichfield, and the family graves are in Saint Michael’s Churchyard.

Following the Coventry blitz, Sydney and Eva Larkin moved with their family to No 33 Cherry Orchard, Lichfield, and while he was in Lichfield, Philip Larkin regularly walked into the centre of Lichfield to drink in the George.

During that time in Lichfield, Larkin wrote three poems: ‘Christmas 1940,’ ‘Ghosts’ and ‘Out in the lane I pause,’ which I was reading yesterday.

In his lectures, Peter Young has suggested that Larkin may have referred to the Gazebo on Borrowcrop Hill in ‘Christmas 1940.’ During his ‘Lichfield Discovered’ talk in 2014, he said the arched field of ‘Christmas 1940’ refers to Borrowcop Hill.

Kate Gomez of Lichfield Discovered has pointed out that the name ‘Borrowcop’ suggests and recounts vague reports of Erasmus Darwin recovering bits of burnt bone there, although the Heritage Environment Report says ‘more recent excavations have so far failed to recover any evidence for human activity.’

No 49 Tamworth Street, Lichfield … once a home of the Larkin family (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

Larkin wrote this poem in Lichfield on 19 December 1940, and included it in a letter to his school friend James Ballard Sutton (1921-1997) the following day. He tells Jim Sutton: ‘I scribbled this in a coma at about 11.45 p.m. last night. The only thing is that its impulse is not purely negative – except for the last 2 lines, where I break off into mumblings of dotage.’

This poem was never published during Larkin’s own lifetime. It was first published in 1992 in Selected Letters of Philip Larkin, 1940-1985, edited by Anthony Thwaite (p. 8). It was included in 2005 by AT Tolley in Philip Larkin: Early Poems and Juvenalia (p 135), and more recently it is included by Archie Burnett in Philip Larkin: The Complete Poems (p 171).

Christmas 1940

‘High on arched field I stand
Alone: the night is full of stars:
Enormous over tree and farm
The night extends,
And looks down equally to all on earth.

‘So I return their look; and laugh
To see as them my living stars
Flung from east to west across
A windless gulf?

– So much to say that I have never said,
Or ever could.’


Yesterday:Out in the lane I pause