County Wicklow

Entrance hall at Russborough, Photo: Stephen Farrell

RUSSBOROUGH in County Wicklow is among the finest country houses of the eighteenth century in Britain and Ireland. Built for the Leeson family, later earls of Milltown, the house is a treasure trove of craftsmanship in plaster, wood and marble. Designed by Richard Castle and executed in the mid 1740s the work was carried out by ‘artificers from most parts of Europe’. As such the house is the optimum case study for the superlative standards of craftsmanship habitually demanded by Richard Castle. The CRAFTVALUE team was provided with extensive access to the interior by the curatorial team and is working to identify the sources of ornament and materials used throughout the building. We want to discover more about the source of the fine marble, stone and timber used at Russborough, about the design of its floors and fittings and about the European craftsmen who were active here in the 1740s. In June 2020 Christine Casey was appointed TCD’s representative trustee on the Alfred Beit Foundation, which is responsible for the care and management of Russborough.

Ceiling of the Library at Russborough, Photo: Andrew Tierney

Thumbnail photos ©CRAFTVALUE

Further Reading:

Maurice Craig, The architecture of Ireland from the earliest times to 1880, Dublin & London, 1982

C.P. Curran, Dublin Decorative Plasterwork of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, London, 1967.

The Knight of Glin, ‘Richard Castle, architect, his biography and works’ in Bulletin of the Irish Georgian Society, 7, no. 1 (Jan – Mar 1964), 32-38

The Knight of Glin, ‘Francis Bindon’, Bulletin of the Irish Georgian Society,10, Nos. 2 & 3 (Apr-Sep 1967) 11

William Laffan and Kevin Mulligan, Russborough: a great house, its families and collections, Alfred Beit Foundation, 2014

Samuel Lewis, A Topographical dictionary of Ireland, vol.I. London, 1837

J.P. Neale, Views of the Seats of Noblemen and Gentlemen in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland (2nd series, III, 1826), no. 61

Carlo Palumbo-Fossati, Gli Stuccatori Ticinesi Lafranchini in Inghilterra e in Irlanda nel Secolo XVIII, Lugano, 1982

Thomas Sadleir, ‘Richard Castle, Architect’, JRSAI 41 (1911) 243

G. N. Wright, A guide to the County of Wicklow, London, 1822

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