Conservation Bessmount Park

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Historical background:

What was once a conventional and restrained Georgian house built circa 1722 has been altered at least twice since that time, creating a romantic and whimsical chateau. The last major changes to Bessmount Park were made in 1868 by either William Barre or William Hague for his client, William Henderson. The house was raised by a floor and illuminated by fenestration on exposed gables crowned with pyramidal spires. A water tower was also built which features a truncated spire. A three-storey gabled addition to the former Georgian structure became part of the conservatory. Additionally, a projecting porch filled with intricate naturalistic carvings adorns the entrance, for which the Fitzpatrick brothers of Belfast are most likely responsible.

A storm struck the house in Christmas 1998, causing roof damage which only exacerbated existing deterioration. Between 2001-2004 the Irish Georgian Society awarded a total of €19,425 toward the programme of conservation works and repairs ongoing at Bessmount Park.

Brief description of project:

The projects funded in part by these monies included: replacement of the south elevation rendering and brickwork repairs; repair of rainwater goods and finishes to the central tower; and external timber work which included window conservation. This house is unique for its concentration of ornament, rendering it with striking frivolity.

Architectural description:

This fanciful house is a unique Ruskinian Gothic remodelling of a previous Georgian house. It is an asymmetrical three-storey over basement structure. The exterior walls are of rubble stone dressed with ashlar and polychromatic brickwork. The water tower is topped by a mansard roof clad with tiers of scalloped slates. A small turret with sash windows is to the southeast corner and the house is rife with other delicate architectural details, such as finials and spandrel windows.