Roundwood House

Roundwood House was built for Anthony Sharpe, who inherited the lands and an older house in 1735 on the death of his father, Isaac. The present house was built in about 1741 at which date the name Roundwood first appears in the registered deeds in lieu of the former name, Killanure. Anthony Sharpe took up residence in Roundwood in 1739 to lead the life of a country gentleman. It is believed that the architect was the same person who designed Summergrove House, Mountmellick.

The small front door of Roundwood, with its attractive Gibbs surround, gives the building a dolls house appearance, so that it is surprising that the small door leads into a spacious and lofty hall, two storeys high, well-lit by the Venetian window over the entrance and the staircase window at the rear. The actual form of the gallery, which occupies the upper back of the hall, is, as far as is known, unique in Ireland.

The stairs rise from the centre-rear of the hall to a landing between the ground and first floors, from which twin stairs to right and left rise to twin landings, linked at the staircase end to form a gallery with converse curving ends to its two side wings projecting over the hall. The whole gallery is enclosed by a handsome fretwork screen. While the stuccoed fringe beneath it, which continues round the hall, is decorated with a Victorian scroll design.

The old kitchen behind the old house was joined to the back of the new house enclosing one side of the yard. New furniture and furnishings were obtained from Dublin and through orders to artisans in Mountrath and Mountmellick. These have now all been dispersed because nearly a century later, Anthony's great-grandson lost the property to mortgage holders. Only the panelling of the study, the door surrounds, some stucco decoration and the fretwork gallery survive to show the taste of the interior. In 1803 Anthony's great-grandson, William, succeeded to Roundwood, then aged only one year.

Whether due to mis-management or through his own profligacy and extravagance, the estate became so encumbered with mortgages that in 1835 William and his wife were obliged to assign Roundwood to John Gray, Attorney, of Dublin to cover their debts. The Roundwood demesne then still comprised of its original 1,680 acres. One of the witnesses to the unhappy deed of 1835 was William Hamilton of Peafield, Queens County, first cousin once removed of William Sharpe. Two years later, in 1837, William Hamilton is shown as being in possession of Roundwood.

There his descendants remained until 1968 when Chetwoode Maurice Charles Hamilton sold the house with the remaining 200 acres to the Land Commission. In order to save Roundwood from disrepair and eventual ruin, the Irish Georgian Society purchased the house and its fourteen acres in 1970.

previousPrevious - Ms. Helen Roe
Next - Portarlingtonnext