Killruddery House & Gardens

Do you enjoy touring magnificent houses? I sure do. During the lovely sunny weekend just gone, I got together with my friend Sarah aka The Creative Yoke, who suggested a visit to one of her favourite spots near her home: Killruddery House & Gardens. She knows me well and, by the end of the day, it had also become a firm favourite of mine.

The House that Will | Killruddery House & Gardens

Kilruddery, on the outskirts of Bray, Co. Wicklow, has been home to sixteen generations of the Brabazon family, Earls of Meath, since 1618. Unlike many Anglo-Irish homes, Killruddery is still a family home to the current earl's son, Lord Ardee, and his family.

The sense of a family home is very prevalent at Killruddery. Here, there are no "Do Not Touch" signs or velvet ropes around furniture. Instead the prevailing feeling is very open and welcoming, and indeed the family can often be seen mingling with visitors in the gardens. 

The Gardens

Killruddery stands on an 800-acre estate that includes the Little Sugar Loaf hill. The gardens are renowned for the fact that they retain their original 17th-century design, created by French landscape architect, Bonet. Bonet was trained by André Le Nôtre, creator of the gardens at the Palace of Versailles, and his influence is particularly evident in the twin ponds, or miroirs d’eaux, at Killruddery. The gardens also feature a sunken garden, parterre, a circular pond enclosed by tall beech hedges, and an avenue of Ilex trees that appear to stretch to infinity.

The House that Will | Killruddery House & Gardens

The House that Will | Killruddery House & Gardens

The House that Will | Killruddery House & Gardens

The

The House that Will | Killruddery House & Gardens

The House that Will | Killruddery House & Gardens

The House that Will | Killruddery House & Gardens

The Tea Rooms

The tea rooms are housed in what was once part of a Victorian dairy. The pretty octagonal building was designed by local architect, George Hodson. The menu includes a selection of sandwiches and cakes made from ingredients sourced on the estate or grown locally (although those with special dietary requirements should note that options are limited). 

The House that Will | Killruddery House & Gardens

The House that Will | Killruddery House & Gardens

The House that Will | Killruddery House & Gardens

The Water Clock Tower

The clock tower in the forecourt is unique in that it houses a water clock. It was designed and built by Normand, the 13th earl, in 1909. The pendulum is powered by a stream of water that flows from the Little Sugar Loaf. Having fallen derelict for some decades, the clock was fully restored in 2013.

The House that Will | Killruddery House & Gardens

The House

At the heart of Killruddery House is a 17th-century structure, although most of what is visible today belongs to an 1820 remodelling project in the style of the Elizabethan Revival by architect Richard Morrison and his son, William. Unfortunately, a large portion of the house succumbed to dry rot in the middle of the last century, and the previous earl was obliged to knock one-third of the building, including the entrance. A new facade was constructed in the 1950s out of Wicklow granite and pebbledash.

The House that Will | Killruddery House & Gardens

The House that Will | Killruddery House & Gardens

The House that Will | Killruddery House & Gardens

The House that Will | Killruddery House & Gardens

The Inner Hall

Having entered the house through the 1950s reconstruction, opening the door to the Inner Hall creates quite an impression! The double-height room is adorned with generations of family portraits and is topped with a domed ceiling featuring a martlet bird from the Brabazon coat of arms. The grand staircase is flanked by a pair of wyverns, a two-legged dragon-like creature that also appears on the family's coat of arms. The large pendulum clock was made by the same man responsible for the water clock tower, and is constructed from salvaged materials that include a bicycle chain, a dumb waiter, and a bedpan! The gallery above contains a stained glass window commemorating the Battle of Hastings and depicting Jacques le Brabazon, an ancestor of the Earls of Meath who was in the service of William the Conqueror in 1066. 

The House that Will | Killruddery House & Gardens

The House that Will | Killruddery House & Gardens

The House that Will | Killruddery House & Gardens

The House that Will | Killruddery House & Gardens

The House that Will | Killruddery House & Gardens

The Library

The library, which is housed in the oldest part of the house, was badly damaged in an arson attack in 1993, so much of the decor in this room is relatively new. 

The House that Will | Killruddery House & Gardens

The House that Will | Killruddery House & Gardens

The House that Will | Killruddery House & Gardens

The Drawing Room

The Drawing Room is magnificent, and features a fine plasterwork ceiling, a patterned hardwood floor made from Irish oak and ebony, and a custom-made carpet featuring the colours and design elements of the Brabazon family crest. Panels of the original salmon-coloured silk wall lining still survive.

The House that Will | Killruddery House & Gardens

The House that Will | Killruddery House & Gardens

The

The House that Will | Killruddery House & Gardens

The House that Will | Killruddery House & Gardens

The House that Will | Killruddery House & Gardens

The House that Will | Killruddery House & Gardens

The House that Will | Killruddery House & Gardens

The Dining Room

When the house was downsized in the 1950s, this dining room was created out of what was originally the Ladies' Drawing Room. The floral fabric wall lining is recent, although remnants of the original have been retained and are available to view upon request. The trophy in the centre of the sideboard contains a set of Waterford Crystal commissioned to commemorate an Americas Cup win. The portrait to the right of the fireplace is of Lady Harriot, the 11th countess, and is one of a series commissioned by a German nobleman of the ten prettiest women in Europe. The china was a wedding gift to the 12th countess from the Empress of Austria.

The House that Will | Killruddery House & Gardens

The House that Will | Killruddery House & Gardens

The House that Will | Killruddery House & Gardens

The House that Will | Killruddery House & Gardens

The House that Will | Killruddery House & Gardens

The Orangery

The house tour saves the best for last: the orangery. It was commissioned by Harriot Brabazon, wife of the 11th Earl of Meath, and was designed and built by William Burns in 1852. Inspired by the Crystal Palace in London, the original roof was replaced in the year 2000. The classical statues on display were collected by the 11th earl on his Grand Tour of Italy, and the marble floor features a Celtic cross motif that highlights the room's cruciform shape. It is said that the countess sold her tiara to pay for the construction of the orangery, and the design of the moulding along the roof is taken from that tiara.

The House that Will | Killruddery House & Gardens

The House that Will | Killruddery House & Gardens

The House that Will | Killruddery House & Gardens

The House that Will | Killruddery House & Gardens

The House that Will | Killruddery House & Gardens

The House that Will | Killruddery House & Gardens

The House that Will | Killruddery House & Gardens

The House that Will | Killruddery House & Gardens

The House that Will | Killruddery House & Gardens

The House that Will | Killruddery House & Gardens

The House that Will | Killruddery House & Gardens

 The House that Will | Killruddery House & Gardens

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Visiting Killruddery

The lovely sunny weather at the weekend definitely showed Killruddery at its best, but the heat unfortunately prevented me from touring more of the gardens. However, that means I have an excuse (as if I needed one!) to return. The opening hours vary seasonally, so do check the website prior to planning your visit. And for more information, see my friend Sarah's blog post about Killruddery here

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