Lismore Castle is in the town of Lismore in County Waterford. It was in a decorating magazine years ago. I tore out the pages, so I don’t know what magazine. I just wanted to drive by and see it on the way to Swiss Cottage. It is beautiful and I spent longer than I had expected.
These are the magazine pages.
Lismore Castle was built by Prince John, the one in the Robin Hood stories, in 1185.
Sir Walter Raleigh leased and later owned Lismore Castle. In 1602, when he was in prison for High Treason, Sir Walter Raleigh sold the castle to Richard Boyle, who later was made 1st Earl of Cork.
Richard Boyle was an adventurer. In 1588, he came to England with only twenty-seven pounds and leveraged it into a huge fortune. Boyle purchased Lismore Castle from down-on-his-luck Sir Walter Raleigh and transformed it out of all recognition. He added gabled ends, the Gothic wall, the gatehouse and other features. He decorated the interior with impressive plasterwork ceilings, tapestries and more.
“The medieval castle high above the River Blackwater had been largely rebuilt by the Earl of Cork in the early seventeenth-century and became abandoned and derelict in the eighteenth century. In 1811-1812 and 1849-1858 it was restored on an increasingly magnificent scale by the sixth Duke of Devonshire. The main living apartments were rebuilt in 1811-1812 to the design of William Atkinson. In 1849 J. G. Crace was commissioned to restore the ruined chapel as a banqueting hall and he brought in Pugin as a collaborator on its elaborate decoration… Pugin also designed chimney pieces and furniture for other rooms in the castle; and after his death in 1851 Crace supplied a great deal more furniture in the Pugin manner. Over the next seven years the skyline of the castle was transformed by the elaborately castellated additions and rebuildings made to the design of Paxton and Stokes; of these the Carlisle tower, which was to have been 170-feet high, and the grandest of the many towers, was never completed owing to the Dukes death in 1858. The interiors, after all the drama of the skyline, are remarkably unassuming, for in the context of the immense Devonshire properties Lismore was basically a glorified lodge for holidays.”
Lismore Castle was a sumptuous home for generations of Boyles, until the Cromwellian wars. In 1645, Lismore and Lismore Castle were sacked. Richard Boyle, 2nd Earl of Cork did some restoration, but Lismore Castle was, for a time, no longer the home of the Boyle family.
In 1753, Lady Charlotte Boyle, daughter and heiress of the 4th Earl of Cork, married William Cavendish, 4th Duke of Devonshire. William Cavendish was later Prime Minister of Great Britain & Ireland. Their son, 5th Duke of Devonshire, made more improvements, including the bridge.
The graceful single span bridge over the River Blackwater bridge was commissioned in 1775 by the 5th Duke of Devonshire as part of improvements at Lismore.
This is what it looked like in 1795 from the other side of River Blackwater. You can see the bridge.
Then his son, the 6th Duke of Devonshire went wild!
The 6th Duke, the Bachelor Duke, added the story-book castle touches that made me fall in love with Lismore Castle. He hired architect William Atkinson and they began to rebuild everything in Gothic style. In 1850, the Duke hired Sir Joseph Paxton, the designer of The Crystal Palace. The sky-line you see now is nearly all Paxton’s work.
The next generations made very few alterations to Lismore Castle.
Lismore Castle currently belongs to the 12th Duke. His son and heir, Lord Burlington lives there. It is also home to Lismore Castle Arts, a contemporary art gallery. The gardens are open to the public.
Melissa Wyndham’s Lismore Castle Portfolio
In 2006 the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire redecorated their castle with the help of designer Melissa Wyndham and furniture expert Jonathan Bourne.
You can see photos of the interior of Lismore Castle on her web portfolio.
The article Lismore’s Next Chapter in Architectural Digest interviews Melissa Wyndham and shows more rooms.
She explains what she did. She used reproduction Pugin design for the wallcovering. Sometimes she just rearranged the existing furniture.
Melissa Wyndham died September 17 2015.
You can see more photos on Pinterest.
Lismore Castle Trivia
Fred Astaire’s sister and former dance partner, Adele Astaire married Lord Charles Cavendish, 9th Duke of Devonshire. They lived at Lismore Castle. When Lord Cavendish died Adele remarried. The castle remained with the Cavendish family, but Adele continued to live in the castle until her death in 1981.
Robert Boyle, the scientist who gave his name to Boyle’s law