Sunday, January 17, 2016

Powerscourt House and Gardens

executive summary by Darmansjah

Powerscourt  located in Enniskerry, County Wicklow, Ireland, is a large country estate which is noted for its house and landscaped gardens, today occupying 19 hectares (47 acres). The house, originally a 13th-century castle, was extensively altered during the 18th century by German architect Richard Cassels, starting in 1731 and finishing in 1741. A fire in 1974 left the house lying as a shell until it was renovated in 1996.

Today the estate is owned and run by the Slazenger family. It is a popular tourist attraction, and includes a golf course, an Avoca Handweavers restaurant, and a Ritz-Carlton hotel.

The original owner of the 13th-century castle was a man by the name of La Poer, which was eventually anglicised to "Power." The castle's position was of strategic military importance because the castle's owner could control access to the nearby Dargle, Glencree and Glencullen rivers.

The three-story house had at least 68 rooms. The entrance hall, where family heirlooms were displayed, was 18 metres (60 ft) long and 12 metres (40 ft) wide. The main reception rooms were on the first floor rather than on the ground floor, the more typical location. A mile-long avenue of beech trees leads to the house.

Powerscourt House was extensively altered during the 18th century by German architect Richard Cassels, starting in 1731 and finishing in 1741.

On a commanding hilltop position, Richard Cassels deviated slightly from his usual sombre style, giving the house something of what John Vanbrugh would have called the 'castle air.' This is most noticeable in the structure's severe palladian facade bookended by two circular domed towers.

King George IV was the guest of Richard Wingfield, fifth Viscount Powerscourt in August 1821. In the 1830s, the house was the venue for a number of conferences on unfulfilled Bible prophecies, which were attended by men such as John Nelson Darby and Edward Irving. These conferences were held under the auspices of Theodosia Wingfield Powerscourt, then the dowager Lady Powerscourt. Her letters and papers were republished in 2004, including summaries of the Powerscourt prophetic conferences.

Tara's Palace Museum of Childhood relocated from Malahide Castle near Dublin to Powerscourt House in June 2011. The museum features dollhouses, miniatures, dolls, historic toys and Tara's Palace, one of the greatest dollhouses in the world, on a par with the Fairy Castle at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, Illinois and Queen Mary's Dolls' House at Windsor Castle.

Powerscourt Waterfall and its surrounding valley are also owned by the Powerscourt estate, although the two pieces of land are no longer directly connected. At 121 metres, it is the highest waterfall in Ireland. In 1858, the seventh Viscount Powerscourt established a deer park around the waterfall, resulting in the successful introduction of the Japanese Sika to Ireland.

Regular bus service from Powerscourt to the waterfall was discontinued in 2005, though during the high summer season, intermittent bus services are still available. The waterfall is seven kilometres from Enniskerry, and walkable. While the distance is not prohibitive, walking can be dangerous, as the road is narrow, and lacks a shoulder for long stretches.

A separate entrance fee is required for access to the waterfall, ranging from €3.50 (children) to €5.50 (adults).

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