Castletown House, Ireland

Castletown House, Ireland

Castletown House was built in the early 1720’s for William Conolly, the Speaker of the Irish House of Commons. It is Palladian in style and is noted as being the finest and earliest house of that design period in Ireland.

Lady Louisa, wife of Tom Conolly, was attributed to finishing the interior decoration of Castletown in the mid to late 18th century. Castletown was home to the Conolly family up until 1965 when it was sold along with its collections and land.

Now in the care of the Office of Public Works (OPW), Castletown House has undergone a series of restoration works across the house and grounds to ensure visitors continue to discover its beauty.

Castletown on loom at Humphries Weaving

The Red Drawing Room

The Red Drawing Room at Castletown House was redecorated in the 1870’s by the great, great Nephew of Lady Louisa and Tom Conolly. Humphries Weaving were approached in 2014 to restore the original narrow width 19th century silks within the room. The decision was taken to conserve the wall hangings whilst simultaneously commission new fabric for the curtains and upholstery. The conservation work, expertly undertaken by May Berkouwer Textile Conservation and Ksynia Marko , reinstated the wall hangings and ensure their preservation  for the coming years.

Under the project management of Dr Dorothea Depner (OPW), Humphries Weaving were commissioned to first redraw the incredibly complex Red Drawing Room damask, which in total took over 150 hours of design time. The intricate pattern houses 14 separate weave structures, in contrast to the two normally seen in a damask construction. This meant that each structure was drawn and drafted individually in order to create the final result.

This project brought about a particular challenge with the colouring to be reproduced. The weft in white was fairly straight forward; however the red was to be debated further. Should we dye to match the original tucked away, or should we match to the walls being conserved? It was important that the two fabrics sat in harmony within the room. The conclusion of the debate was to move forward with an exact match to the original silk.

The fabric was woven in late 2017 and installed in the room in 2018; it was used not only for three pairs of window curtains but also to reupholster some of Lady Louisa’s Chippendale chairs. It is known that the same silk on the walls was used for the upholstery of these chairs.

Project reference: 3042