Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Shelton Abbey, Arklow, Co. Wicklow

With tastes fast moving away from the Classical style, so popular in the eighteenth century, many nineteenth-century landowners sought to erect new houses in the more fashionable neo-Gothic style. This was the case at Shelton Abbey, near Arklow, Co. Wicklow. There an existing Georgian house, dating from 1770, was remodeled in the Gothic style in 1819. Shelton Abbey had been the ancestral home of the earls of Wicklow until 1951, when it was bought by the Irish state. Still standing, and with its character largely intact, the house now functions as an open prison. The title 'earl of Wicklow' became extinct in 1978, the eight earl having died childless. 

From this angle the modification of the house from its original Georgian style to the Gothic is noticeable. The frontal exterior of the house was lavishly adorned with buttresses, tall pinnacles, Gothic windows, and a projecting arched porch. All of these additions gave the buildings its distinctive 'abbey' style, and were designed to give the appearance of a fourteenth century religious edifice. 

To the right is visible one of two wings, which were not part of the original house, but were subsequently added in the 1840s. 

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