Photographer's Note

Pictured here is the remains of Arch Hall, a once grand house that stands near the small town of Wilkinstown, County Meath.

The house's design is attributed to by Sir Edward Lovett Pearce and was built in the 1730's. Pearce was a hugely influential architect in Ireland at the time, and Arch Hall is the remains of a Vanbrughs castle design, quite a rarity in Ireland. Pearce heavily influenced Richard Cassells, another renowned architect of many of Irelands surviving great houses.

In its heyday, the house was an impressive sight. It was nine bays wide at the front and stood three stories over basement. At each end of the front façade were two conical tower giving its castle like appearance, in the center was a rounded bay containing the entrance door to the main hall leading off to lavish reception rooms. The exterior of the house saw great renovation in the 1800's with the windows of the upper level being remodeled with a Romanesque design and Italian sills, and conical roofs being added to the turrets at each end giving the house the appearance of a French Chateaux. It is reported that one room of the house was furnished entirely in gold, from the paint on the walls to the furniture and picture frames.

The house gained its name from the arch that stood on the grounds, now in a field nearby. Also in Vanbrugh style, the great arch was flanked by two obelisks and with a romantic rustic pinnacle.

Two Chilean pine trees were planted on either side of the arch to celebrate the birth of two boys to the Garnett family who lived here. One of the trees still survives in memory of the boy who was killed in World War 1, while the other has faded and died.

Legends say that the boys father returned to Arch Hall after travelling abroad, but went blind and soon died having stolen the eye from an Indian God in a shrine.

Today, the ruin is little more than a shell of its former self and is really only a facade, but fragments of plaster cling to the walls and a shallow dome on one tower still shows delicate egg and dart mouldings. The landscaped grounds are long gone with the lake which was once a feature filled in and the land now used for grazing animals. The remains of the house itself is today used as a pheasant coop by the current owner.

No doubt it will not be long before these barely standing remains are gone forever, like so many great Irish houses.

Thanks for looking!

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Additional Photos by Noel Byrne (Noel_Byrne) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4173 W: 26 N: 9238] (33764)
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