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Barons Court, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland; designs for alterations and additions for 1st Marquess of Abercorn, 1789-1795 (24)

1789
John James Hamilton (1756-1818) succeeded to the Scottish earldom in 1789 and advanced to the British marquessate in the following year. He employed Soane on extensive repairs and decoration to No.48 Park Street, London (1784), the remodelling of Bentley Priory, Middlesex, 1788-99, 1805 (q.v.) and alterations to No.25 (was 26) Grosvenor Square, London (1799).

Barons Court (sometimes expressed as Baronscourt) was built in 1779-82 by the Scots architect George Steuart (c. 1730-1806) in his usual severe style and re-modelled by Soane less than a decade later. Soane's proposals were described by James Hamilton, Lord Abercorn's agent, as 'He just reverses the house; what was the back side is to be the entrance and the front part the rere. The drawing room, parlour and as far back of the hall as to the pillars is to be thrown into one great gallery ... (quoted from letter T2541/1A3/1/5, Abercorn papers, Public Record Office Northern Ireland by H. Dixon, op.cit., p.3). Soane carried out his intentions but on 14 December 1796 a fire broke out that destroyed the core of the building and only the offices with their quadrant wings remained. Under Robert Woodgate, the building was repaired and subsequently a further reconstruction was undertaken by William and Richard Morrison, 1835-43.

A.T.Bolton (curator, 1917-45) made careful (pen on linen) copies of five of Soane's drawings for Baronscourt: 'Plan of the Principal floor at Baronscourt house (Bolton 91/6/7 - SM 29/2/9, drawing 7), 'Plan of the Chamber Floor of Barons Court House' (Bolton 91/6/8 - SM 29/2/10 drawing 8), 'Elevation South' (Bolton 91/6/9 - SM29/2/17, drawing 2), 'Elevation North' and 'Screen to the Court' (Bolton 91/6/10 - SM 29/2/11 verso, drawing 6) 'Elevation of East Front' and of west front (Bolton 91/6/11 - SM 29/2/19, drawing 4).

Literature. J. Soane, Sketches in architecture ..., 1793 (pl.36-37); D.Stroud, Sir John Soane architect, 2nd ed. 1996, p.59 et seq; P.Dean, Sir John Soane and the country estate, 1999, p.182; Irish Architectural Archive, (online) Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720-1840 (Woodgate)

Jill Lever
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