Townley Hall, Co. Louth, Ireland.

Untitled (2013-03-01 13:49:00)

Image Copyright of Country Life

I first heard about about Townley Hall when I was reading Irish Houses & Gardens: From the Archives of “Country Life” and I was struck by this fantastic photograph taken in 1948 of the staircase hall and vowed to see it one day.

When I did mange to get there, my camera wasn’t working very well and the hall was filled with scaffolding, but the staircase was just as breathtaking as the Country Life picture and instantly became one of my favorites.

The house was built in the 1790’s for Blaney Townley-Balfour. It was designed by Francis Johnston. The staircase and landings are Portland Stone and the stone mason was John Glover from Drogheda.

The staircase hall is 30′ in diameter and the flight sweeps up to the first floor with a small half landing. The soffit is swept, which gives the most beautiful clean lines. The first floor landing reaches all the way back round the circle giving access to the upper rooms.





The plan of the house is a perfect square, with the circular stair hall placed in the middle. To get into the rooms on the first floor you have to step out the the circle, back into “square land”.



The landing stones are 4.5″ thick and vary tremendously in width. Lead spots where the joints were poured are visible on the upper surface.




The balustrades are brass – something that I believe is an Irish thing. They have obviously been well loved and polished over the years, it is a shame that the polish has run on the stone in places.




The author of the original article that accompanied the picture (Hussey) wrote:

“I would dare say there is nothing lovelier than this rotunda in the Georgian architecture of the British Isles” and I’m inclined to agree.

Additional reference: “The Evolution of Townley Hall” by Frank Mitchell, Bulletin of the Irish Georgian Society Vol. XXX 1987