Somewhere peeling away the layers there is a historic building. But today is all about sun kissed mocktails. We haven’t had this good a view since wining and dining in Verige65 Boka Bay Montenegro. This afternoon we’re even spotting the castle in Redcastle. Sláinte!
Mark Bence-Jones’ tome A Guide to Irish Country Houses, 1978, unusually misses out Killeavy Castle. Its architect George Papworth (1781 to 1855) moved from London to work in Dublin. There’s an entry for another of his works, Middleton Park in Mullingar, County Westmeath: “A mansion of circa 1850 in the late Georgian style by George Papworth, built for George Augustus Boyd. Two storey six bay centre block with single storey one bay wings; entrance front with two bay central breakfront and single storey Ionic portico. Parapeted roof with modillion cornice; dies on parapets of wings. At one side of the front is a long low service range with an archway and a pedimented clocktower. Impressive stone staircase with elaborate cast iron balustrade of intertwined foliage. Sold circa 1958.”
Middleton Park is very well restored as a hotel; another of the architect’s houses is not. Kenure Park in Rush, County Dublin, is included in The Knight of Glin, David Griffin and Nicholas Robinson’s 1988 publication Vanishing Country Houses of Ireland, “A large early to mid 18th century house altered circa 1770 when the two large drawing rooms were created. These rooms had magnificent rococo ceilings and carved doorcases, that on the ground floor having a superb Doric chimneypiece. The house was altered and enlarged again in 1842 for Sir Roger Palmer Baronet, to the design of George Papworth. Papworth refaced the house and added the granite Corinthian portico. He also created the entrance hall, the library and the central top lit staircase hall. The house was sold in 1964 and became derelict before its demolition in 1978. Samples of the rococo ceiling were saved by the Office of Public Works. Only the portico remains.”
Nick Sheaff, the first Executive Director of the Irish Architectural Archive, recalls a visit to Kenure Park: “My first impression was of a mansion conceived on ducal scale in Greco Roman style. In reality it was a stucco refacing of a mid-18th-century three-storey house, skilfully realised by George Papworth in 1842 and fronted by his great Corinthian porte cochère of limestone. It had stylistic echoes of Nash’s work at Rockingham, County Roscommon, and the Morrisons’ work at Baronscourt, County Tyrone. Kenure had a remarkable interior, with two magnificent rococo ceilings of circa 1765 in the style of Robert West. The majestic top lit stairhall by George Papworth had a double-return staircase with a decorative cast-iron balustrade painted to resemble bronze, and walls marbled to suggest Sienna marble blocking as at Benjamin Dean Wyatt’s York House, St James’s in London (now Lancaster House), completed in 1840. When I visited Kenure in 1977 with Rory O’Donnell the house was derelict, open to the elements and to vandalism. It was demolished in 1978 with only the great porte cochère left standing. Kenure had contained some exceptional English furniture of the mid-18th-century, including pieces attributed to Thomas Chippendale, Pierre Langlois, and William and Richard Gomm.” A Chippendale cabinet, commissioned by Sir Roger Palmer for Castle Lackan in County Mayo, and formerly at Kenure Park, was sold at Christie’s in 2008 for £2,729,250.
George Papworth, typical of his era, was able to fluently design in a multiplicity of styles, from the neoclassicism of Middleton Park and Kenure Park to the Tudor Gothic medieval castellated Killeavy Castle. The latter’s setting is majestic, backing into the hillside of the Slieve Gullion and commanding a panorama across the green basin floor. The castle is now a wedding venue and forms the star in a galaxy of 140 hectares of forest, farm and formal gardens. It stands in isolated splendour rising over its battlemented apron of a terrace like a fairytale in granite. In line with best conservation practice, the ‘enabling development’ contemporary hotel and spa accommodation is kept away from the main house. No sprawling 20th century type extensions here. The Listed coach house and mill house were restored and five less important farm buildings demolished and replaced with newbuild around a courtyard roughly filling the original footprint. The mill fountain and pond form eyecatchers framed by the large single pane windows of the hotel. Owner Mick Boyle, locally born then raised in Australia, returned to his homeland and together with his wife Robin and four children took on the immense task of restoring and rejuvenating the castle and demesne. He explains,
“The environment around us inspires all that we do at Killeavy Castle Estate. Everything has a purpose. We put much thought into what we grow, buy, use and reuse. We’re restocking our woodland with native oak to restore habitat diversity. And creating forest trails to bring you closer to nature. We farm sustainably too. Traditional local breeds of Longhorn cattle and Cheviot sheep graze in our pastures. Whenever possible we use fresh ingredients foraged, grown or raised right here, in our fields, forests and extensive walled and estate gardens. We make our own jams, preserves and dried foods. We smoke, age and cure our own meat so that bounty can be savoured year round in our restaurants and farmshop. We support our community by sourcing 90 percent of what we serve and sell from within a 32 kilometre radius. Even the seaweed adorning Carlingford oysters ends up fertilising our strawberry plants. And slates have a second life as plates. We’re always finding inventive ways to meet our sustainable target goal of being carbon neutral by 2027.”
The Boyles’ architect was Patrick O’Hagan of Newry. In the planning application of 2014 (which would be approved a year later by Newry and Mourne District Council) he explained, “The Grade A castle will be repaired and fully restored adapting current conservation techniques and standards. Interventions to the Listed Building will be minimal. The works to the Listed Building will be under the direction of Chris McCollum Building Conservation Surveyor, working in conjunction with Patrick O’Hagan and Associates Architects, and other design team members. A 250 person detached marquee will be sensitively positioned to the rear of the castle, excavated into the hillside and suitably landscaped to ensure it does not detract from the setting of the Listed Building or the critical views from the Ballintemple Road.” A discreet wheelchair ramp to the entrance door is just about the only element Powell Foxall wouldn’t recognise. The entrance hall leads through to two formal reception rooms with further informal reception rooms now filling the basement. The first floor has a self contained apartment including a sitting room, dining kitchen and three bedroom suites.
Patrick O’Hagan continued, “The hotel will have its main entrance located in the Listed coach house and will be restored under the direction of the conservation surveyor working closely with the architect. The lean-to Listed structures and the old mill building will be restored and form part of the hotel accommodation. The design carefully maximises the benefits of the steeply sloping site, sloping to the east, which ensures that the new three story hotel building’s roof level is some six metres below the floor level of the castle. The flat roofs of the hotel will be appropriately landscaped to present a natural ‘forest floor’ when viewed from the castle and terrace above.”
And concluded, “The layout of the hotel provides important views to the castle, the restored walled garden and distant views of the surrounding demesne and beyond making travel in and around the hotel an experience in itself. The restaurant, lounge and kitchen areas are vertically stacked on the northern elevation but the public areas also address the internal courtyard providing a southerly aspect and natural solar gain. Views up to the castle from the restaurant and lounge areas are a critical element of the design and will ensure a unique ambience. The courtyard level bedrooms are externally accessed directly from the landscaped courtyard and internally via passenger lifts. The remaining bedrooms are designed with both courtyard and east elevation views.”
Sustainability was a theme of the construction as well as the ongoing running of the hotel. “A limited palette of materials is proposed in the new building work. The use of granite cladding and larch boarding reflects materials naturally occurring on the site. The larch boarding will be painted with a water based wood stain to emulate the great boughs of the adjacent ancient beech, lime and sycamore. The organic masonry water based paint colours will be selected to tone with the woodland setting. All construction materials will be 100 percent recyclable.” Sustainable operational features for the 45 bedroom hotel include a woodchip boiler harvesting waste timber from the demesne and collecting and reusing rainwater.
Kimmitt Dean records in The Gate Lodges of Ulster Gazetteer, 1994, “South Lodge circa 1837 architect probably George Papworth; demolished. A painting in the Armagh Museum indicates what was a contemporary and unassuming gatelodge at the end of a straight avenue on an axis with the front door of the ‘castle’.” Not content with simply restoring the castle, the Boyles commissioned Templepatrick based architects Warwick Stewart to dream up a suitably romantic replacement gatelodge. The result is a convincing neo Victorian country house in miniature faced in stone, dressed with cut granite, and dressed up with bargeboards. The gatelodge provides self contained guest accommodation of two bedrooms over a sitting room and dining kitchen.
Kevin Mulligan provides a detailed account of the castle in The Buildings of Ireland: South Ulster, 2013. Highlights include: “A delightful toy castle rising above a castellated terrace… remodelled in 1836 … In both architecture and picturesque effect the design recalls Charles Augustus Busby’s dramatic Gwrych Castle near Abergele in Wales … a lot has been achieved in a small compass: by the addition of an entrance tower, corner turrets, stringcourses, battlements, attenuated slits, flat label mouldings and mullioned windows, what was effectively a decent farmhouse has been impressively transformed … The tall narrow doorway is flanked by stepped buttresses, the door an ornate Gothic design bristling with studs and set under a Tudor arch and a machiolated bay window with three round lancets. The Foxall arms are displayed in Roman cement on the upper stage.” George Papworth’s client was Powell Foxall even though the Newry bank his family co founded, Moore McCann and Foxall, had folded two decades earlier.
And adds, “There is little dressed stonework in the design, and Papworth’s additions are distinguished from the rubble of the 18th century work by rough ashlar blocks – of limestone rather than the local granite – with wide uneven joints. On the side elevations, presumably as an economy, he concealed the old wall by replicating the newer pattern in stucco, using a composition render, as he had done at Headford (County Galway) in 1829.” Really it’s an attractive 1830s pre Gothic Revival version of Gothic.
The castle started life as an 18th century two storey over basement villa of the rectory size, with a three bay entrance front and a bow window in the centre of the rear elevation. George Papworth mostly retained the symmetry and plan, adding a square tower to each corner except for a circular tower to the rear northwest corner which rises an extra storey. A bathroom now occupies the top floor of the tallest tower. Charmingly, the Gothic carapace cracks on the rear elevation to reveal glimpses of the earlier house. Less charmingly, well for the Foxalls anyway, this was probably down to that age old issue of running low on funds. Earlier sash windows still light the bowed projection.
It’s hard to imagine the perilous state of Killeavy Castle until the Boyles came to its rescue. Imagination turns to reality in a lobby of the hotel: a gallery of photographs shows the ruins. St Luke’s Church of Ireland in the local village, Meigh, hasn’t been so lucky. At first glance it could be mistaken for another George Papworth commission, an offshoot of the castle. But Kevin Mulligan confirms that it is an 1831 design by the prolific Dublin based architect William Farrell. “A variation of the design for the churches of Clontribret and Munterconnaught. A small three bay hall with Farrell’s familiar pinaccled belfry and deep battlemented porch. The walls are roughcast with dressings of Mourne granite, nicely displayed in the solid pinnacle topped buttresses framing the entrance gable and porch. The windows are plain lancets with hoodmoulds, made impossibly slender on either side of the porch. Inside, the roof is supported on exposed cast iron trusses.”
Those trusses now compete for space with trees growing up the aisle. “The roof of the Protestant church in Meigh was only removed 15 years ago,” says Derek Johnston, landlord of Johnny Murphy’s pub and restaurant in the village. A trefoil arched plaque set in a high pedimented gravestone reads: “In loving memory of William Bell who died on 10 March 1896 aged 75 years. Margaret Bell wife of above who died 2 November 2016. Dr Margaret Boyd who died 21 August 1906. Joseph Priestly Bell who died 24 August 2013. John Alexander Bell who died 15 November 1928. Elizabeth Anne Bell who died 27 May 1951. John Alexander Bell who died 1 July 1957. George Reginald Bell who died 16 July 1957. George Reginald Bell who died 16 July 1972. Henry Wheelan Bell who died 30 October 1973. Phyllis Maureen Bell died 7 July 2000.” Their ancestor, Joseph Bell, had bought Killeavy Castle in 1881. Phyllis Maureen Bell was the last of the line to own the castle.
Charlie Brett had big concerns yet high hopes for Killeavy Castle, “It is now, alas, empty, and in poor order, the victim both of vandalism and of burglary, though many interior features appear to survive – including even some of the original wallpaper … It richly deserves its classification as one of only a handful of buildings in Category A in the county … Dare one hope that happier days may come, and that this delightful building might, in some shape, become a showpiece of the Ring of Gullion?” Happier days are here, and this delightful building has, now in shipshape, become a showpiece of the Ring of Gullion.
I’ve Always Thought You Have A Lovely Face and I Never Praise Anyone Easily
Angelika Taschen scribed 17 years ago in London Hotels and More, “Walking into The Gore is like visiting a loopy uncle’s house. The walls of the chandeliered reception are covered in gilt framed artwork. There are pictures of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, of children in buckled shoes and paintings of farm animals. It would all be overkill if it wasn’t so whimsical and delightful. The hotel’s busy restaurant, 190 Queen’s Gate, serves food sourced from UK farms. The Gore’s clientele is as eclectic as the décor. Supermodels and their rock star boyfriends hide out here when press intrusion gets too much. At the same time, you’ll find businessmen tapping away at their laptops, or you could come across an elegant woman, lashed in diamonds, mysteriously accompanied by a three tonne bodyguard. The rooms at The Gore are quirky and eccentrically furnished with an amazing collection of English and French antiques. The deluxe Venus Room has a huge antique bed, topped with raw silk swag and tails, which apparently belonged to Judy Garland.”
The Gore’s clientele is especially eclectic today. Although not a loopy uncle in sight. We’re lunching in the hotel’s 190 Bar surrounded by photos of the Rolling Stones hanging on the dark wooden panelling: they launched their album Beggars’ Banquet here in 1958. The last time we darkened the doors of The Gore was for the departure of Queen Elizabeth II. This time it is for the arrival of the Queen of Fashion. The Union Jack is flying proudly from the portico. A tricoloured reminder of Mary’s epic Union Jack Dress. Mary Martin is looking just a little rock n’ roll herself. Sometime somebody somewhere said architecture is the only art you can’t avoid. Tosh. It’s fashion. And Mary is out to make sure that’s the case. She’s all on for a bit of press intrusion. Where’s our three tonne bodyguard?
First off this month she is premièring a new collection in Brasília at the invitation of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the brilliant Brazilian President. “My new collection is all about nature. The dresses feature butterflies which are an expression of freedom, transformation, change, joy!” she explains. “I’ve used very earthy colours, gold and cream.” Hot on the (high) heels of this showcase she flies back to London for ‘A Fashion Experience with Mary Martin London and Friends’.
This momentous event in Soukra restaurant at The O2 in Greenwich celebrates her life and work as the English capital’s leading fashion artist. Mary will talk with TV presenter Brenda Emmanus and broadcaster Andrew Eborn about the stories behind her designs. Lights! Cameras! Action! The catwalk show will be highlights from her most recent collections. “Top American models are flying in specially for my show,” she relates, “to join leading European models. Angelic, Antonia, Bubu Jasmine, Hillary, Jessica, Kiki, Sue, Zavinta … It’s gonna be a truly international runway from Ukraine to the UK!”
Welsh singer and musician Noah Francis Johnson rings. He sings Everything’s Going to Be Ok down the phone so beautifully. “I am releasing my new hit record Immortal featuring Prodigal Sunn,” he says. “It’s a prayer to God; I studied as a priest.” Noah is a true polymath with a career stretching from being a professional mixed martial artist to becoming the World Freestyle Dance Champion. After supper, DJ Biggy C will get the crowd dancing. Singer songwriter Pauline Henry and poet Dr Lady Waynett Peters are just some of the other performers. “Because I’m a Christian,” Mary modestly says, “All praise is to my heavenly Father.” International star Heather Small is another of Mary’s music coterie and frequently wears her fashion art. Professional ballerina Sue Omozefe calls mid skiing on the Swiss Alps: “It’s madness on the slopes!” Photographer Adil Oliver Sharif is next on dial. All afternoon her phone buzzes with so many exciting people as to make Angelika Taschen’s description pale in comparison. Watch these spaces.
After fish goujons main course London’s best Bar Manager Sebastian Guesdon arrives with Eton Mess. He’s from Versailles so knows all about serving queens. “This dessert was originally invented when a meringue was dropped on the floor. This one was specially made and didn’t drop on the floor!” Sebastian teases. “We are relaunching Bar 190. It’s going to be even more about rock n’ roll with an Abbey Road theme. We’ll be hosting live music. And we are opening a new restaurant in our hotel in June led by Head Chef Frederick Forster. He has worked with Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons and Michel Roux Junior at Le Gavroche.”
Like Colette, we prefer passion to goodness. The great French novelist purrs in The Cat (1933), “The June evening, drenched with light, was reluctant to give way to darkness.” And, “June came with its longer days, its night skies devoid of mystery which the late glow of the sunset and the early glimmer of dawn over the east of Paris kept from being wholly dark.” She too was a lover of “The giddy horizons of Paris.”
Writer and poet Charles Baudelaire caused quite the stir in 1857 with his risqué poem collection Les Fleurs du Mal. One of the tamer pieces is The Swan. Roy Campbell translated it into English in 1952, including the line, “Old Paris is no more (cities renew, quicker than human hearts, their changing spell).” Two years later, William Aggeler also translated it. His version includes, “Paris changes! But naught in my melancholy, Has stirred! New palaces, scaffolding, blocks of stone, Old quarters, all become for me an allegory, And my dear memories are heavier than rocks.” All those Haussmannian boulevards must have seemed so sharply new.
Nancy Mitford, as always, is right. In Don’t Tell Alfred (1960), the Francophile novelist continues, “… past acres of houses exactly as Voltaire, as Balzac, must have seen them, of that colour between beige and grey so characteristic of the Île de France, with high slate roofs and lacy ironwork balconies. Though the outside of these houses have a homogeneity which makes an architectural unit of each street, a glimpse through their great decorated doorways into the courtyards reveals a wealth of difference within. Some are planned on a large and airy scale and have fine staircases and windows surmounted by smiling masks, some are so narrow and dark and mysterious, so overbuilt through the centuries with such ancient, sinister rabbit-runs leading out of them, that it is hard to imagine a citizen of the modern world inhabiting them.”
Frédéric Dassas, Senior Curator Musée du Louvre, told us at the Remembering Napoléon III Dinner in Camden Place, Chislehurst, Kent, “Walk through Paris with open eyes. We still have Paris in Europe!” We will. We do. We’re full of passion for this city. Especially riding through Paris with the wind in our hair. On the back of a motorbike, weaving through rush hour traffic, speeding down narrow streets, zooming round the uninsurable l’Arc de Triomphe roadway, this is life in the fast lane and the overtaking one too. Sporting Mary Martin London and Isabel Marant of course. Selina Hastings writes in her biography of Nancy Mitford (2002), “She found in beautiful Paris happiness of spirit …” Soon we will be deuxième étage living it up. We’re not always good but we’re always passionate.
You can’t do everything in life but you sure can lunch with style and aplomb in Montefiore Hotel downtown Tel Aviv. It’s housed in a 1920s ‘Eclectic’ style building and was the city’s first boutique hotel when it opened in 2008. A peachy presence peeking through the street fernery of Lev Ha’ir (“Heart of the City District”) gives way indoors to a monochromatic jazzy look. Architect Moshe Lovrinzki designed the original house; architect Gad Halperin restored it in 2000. Eight years later, then husband and wife team Mati and Ruti Broudo opened the 12 bedroom hotel and accompanying street level restaurant. Mati recently told The Times of Israel, “Out of all the cities I have lived in – New York, London, Paris and Rome – Tel Aviv is the most diverse and interesting walking city. It’s probably my favourite city in the world.” We almost agree. It’s our joint favourite as we’re equally loving the oldest and the newest cities in the Holy Land.
The Boutique Hotel Awards are the first and only organisation exclusively dedicated to recognising unique excellence in boutique hotels. All entrants are personally evaluated by independent and experienced judges.
There was only one international category winner in Britain last year: Sun Street Hotel in London was awarded World’s Best City Hotel. The judging panel recorded, “Head Chef Stuart Kivi-Cauldwell’s salmon comes from the oldest smokehouse in London, his wagyu from chocolate fed cows in Ireland, and his catch of the day from the best boat that’s just come in.”
Stuart has created a modern British cuisine menu complemented by an extensive wine list. Dinner highlights include chalk stream trout and black truffle and burrata tortellini. Food and drink are served in the Orangery and adjoining 40 cover restaurant opening onto the courtyard as well as a suite of reception rooms facing Sun Street. There’s also the welcome glass of Marlin Spike blended aged rum served in the entrance hall.
Designers Bowler James Brindley have used a rich palette of period hues – aubergine, olive and teal – accompanied by lively wallpapers as a backdrop to luxuriously comfortable interiors. And the best velvet cushions and lozenge-shaped poufs in town. Vincent Cartwright Vickers’ birds from The Google Book and water and earth zodiac signs are just some of the decorative themes. There are 41 bedrooms including seven suites. Every bedroom has a king size bed with Oxford pillows, an Illy coffee machine, Penhaligon’s Quercus range bathroom goodies, and twice daily maid service.
General Manager Jake Greenall, formerly of Beaverbrook, a luxury country house hotel in Surrey, says, “Sun Street is a hotel with a heartbeat, a place where guests are treated like part of the family, not just a room number. It’s a home away from home for our guests, with the added benefits that a luxury five star hotel can bring.”
The hotel fills six Georgian brick terraced houses designed by George Dance the Younger at the turn of the 19th century and is part of the development One Crown Place. This revival of a full urban block includes the hotel, The Flying Horse pub, Wilson Street Chapel, a new office building and two multi-use prismatic towers (28 and 33 storeys respectively) designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox.
George Dance the Younger succeeded his father as supervisor of planning and building in the City of London upon George Dance the Elder’s death in 1768. He excelled at a streamlined neoclassicism; his most famous pupil Sir John Soane would be even more radical in his interpretative and idiosyncratic use of the classical orders. The Flying Horse pub is slightly newer that the abutting terrace: it was built in 1812 and remodelled 53 years later. The ground floor pub is a large squarish space with dark panelled walls.
A plaque on the façade of Wilson Street Chapel states, “Erected Anno Domini MDCCCLXXXIX,” and confirms Jesse Chessum and Sons as builders and Hodson and Whitehead as architects. A sign next to the plaque reads, “We preach not ourselves but Christ Jesus the Lord, II Corinthians 4:5.”
There’s nothing standard about an evening in The Standard. Even the bogs aren’t standard: one wall’s fully windowed and disco music blasts from the ceiling. So it makes sense there’s no such thing as a standard wedding in The Standard. If anything, knotting the nuptials reaches a dizzyingly high new standard. Penthouse level. Wine, dine, wed and off to bed all under the same glorious non standard roof.
Over to Oli, “We looked in Somerset, we looked in Norfolk, but it just felt like we had roots here in Deal and we knew the area. It’s so close to London too. Also Deal is just such a cool place. It’s thriving and this property is just unbelievably beautiful so that made our minds up for us. The garden is enclosed by incredible woodland so it feels very remote and peaceful. Updown Farmhouse is unusual but it’s going to be a lovely place to be in, eat and to stay.”
“Welcome to the Hôtel du Petit Moulin! We would like to thank you for your confidence and for choosing our hotel during your visit in Paris. Le Marais is full of history, wonderful shops, galleries, museums and restaurants. In fact, the building in which the hotel is set was originally the first Parisian bakery. This is where Victor Hugo would come to buy his baguette! Today, the original shop frontage remains, reminding guests of its former past as a ‘boulangerie’, protected under French Heritage. Make y