Saunderscourt Gate Lodges, Crossabeg, Co.Wexford
Saunderscourt owes its name to Colonel Robert Saunders, to whom Oliver Cromwell granted lands comprising approx. 3,750 acres in 1669. The house at Saunderscourt was begun in the late 17th century and was described as “a fine courtly building of considerable extent” with a “rich and handsome façade”. The estate passed into the hands of the Gore family in the year 1730 with the marriage of the sole heiress of Richard Saunders to Arthur Gore, later first Earl of Arran of the Aran Islands, Co. Galway. After the death of the second Earl of Arran c.1809 Saunderscourt estate was abandoned for some length of time before it was finally sold by the third Earl to Arthur Giles, Esq. in 1860. The house passed next to John F. Kane, Esq. who sold it to Crosby Harvey of Kyle in 1889. Captain Harvey demolished the house c.1891, presumably to save on rates.
Among the surviving buildings on the estate is a very fine late 18th century triumphal arch linking two gate lodges. The first edition ordnance survey indicates the building standing in a clearing and approached from the main north south road. From here one could proceed through the arch towards the house or continue to the north east to other parts of the demesne.
It is thought that the gate lodge went out of use at the time of the second Earl of Arran’s death c.1809, quickly falling into a state of disrepair. A.Atkinson notes the imposing character of this grand entranceway in his description of the then abandoned Saundercourt estate in “The Irish Tourist” c.1815:
“I proceeded toward Saunderscourt, the once respectable residence of the late Earl of Arran…
I arrived within view of the splendid arch and lodges, which on an elevated position above the public road, form a grand outpost to this concern…
I felt my heart impelled by a sentiment of sympathy…by the neglected and ruinous aspect of Saunderscourt, no longer the seat of nobility, nor of that munificence and national hospitality for which it was once so remarkable”.
The building comprises a tall classic archway flanked by a pair of single storey over basement pavilions to which the archway is connected by four curved flanking walls with niches. The archway is finely constructed, with two orders of architectural treatment: engaged Tuscan columns to the front and rear support a triangular pediment, while a semicircular arch with moulded architrave is supported on Tuscan piers, all executed in limestone. The arch itself is of brick, faced with stone and with some plaster detailing to the sheltered surfaces. The pavilions are small two-bay pyramidal roofed structures, with basements concealed when viewed from the east. They have slated hipped roofs, limestone surrounds to the openings and brick and rendered walls. The connecting curved brick walls are of comparable height to the pavilions and have curved niches with limestone surrounds. They connect to the pavilions with a single return bay, square to the pavilion.
WORKS COMPLETED TO DATE:
The site has been cleared and all vegetation and roots removed from between the stones of the triumphal arch. This entailed dismantling upper courses of stones to gain access to the roots of invasive plants. The stonework of the triumphal arch has been stabilised and repaired including cutting new stones from Carlow limestone to replace those that were missing. A new lead-covered roof was constructed for the arch as a replacement for the missing roof.
Timber repairs have been made to the roofs of both pavilions as necessary and both buildings have been re-slated. Wallplates in the vicinity of the hips were decayed and have therefore been replaced. The chimneys have also been repaired and re-grouted.
New french drains have been installed to the perimeter of the building to control the groundwater: these comprise deep trenches cut into the heavy marl clay, filled with gravel and drained by porous pipes: these discharge to a soakpit located downhill of the gate lodge.
New gutters have been fitted to the pavilions, these discharge into new downpipes which in turn discharge into new gulleys and drains, which terminate in a soakpit. The rainwater from the higher roof of the triumphal arch is collected and is taken through a pvc system to gulleys and a soakpit.
The main structural concern relating to the movement of the front wall of the west pavilion relative to the rest of the structure has been addressed. Crack stitching has been carried out using concrete straps at intervals over the height of the major vertical crack in the pavilion.