Friday 23 February 2018

Historic castle set to undergo major upgrade

The garden at Lambay Island Castle
The garden at Lambay Island Castle

JEROME REILLY

It's an almost secret idyll where visits are by invitation only but Lambay Island with its teeming birdlife and dramatic sea cliffs is to undergo major work to make it habitable for the 21st Century

Lambay, the largest island off the east coast, has only a couple of bathrooms in the 12-bedroom castle designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.

The Lambay Estate Company who manage the island on behalf of the Revelstoke Trust, with their connections to the Baring banking family, have unveiled ambitious plans which will include alterations to the castle remodelled by Sir Edwin at the beginning of the last century

The island, which extends to some 240 hectares, is an important breeding ground for sea birds, including puffins, razorbills, kittiwakes and manx shearwaters.

Most of the work, which is subject to planning permission being granted by Fingal Co Council, involves new and additional bathrooms and toilet facilities, as well as upgrading electricity and heating.

Matthew Jebb, director of the National Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin, and a trustee of Lambay, said: "We are just making the castle and the buildings more habitable. There is just one bathroom for every five or six bedrooms. In Edwardian times that was fine – but these days..."

"This is the first time there will be any kind of intervention to the work done by Lutyens all those years ago. We have a team of three architects working on the project.

"We had a long discussion with the National Parks and Wildlife Service in relation to replacing the wind turbine. We have agreed to put in a new turbine, which has a far higher efficiency rate but is the same size," he said.

"It's chiefly for family use. Alex, [the seventh Baron Revelstoke] is the current caretaker/manager of it."

He added: "It's the last Lutyens house still in the hands of the original owner family, which means that all the furniture dating back to 1910 is still in it, so it is a remarkable historical gem."

Sir Edwin made an older fortified building into a romantic castle for the Hon Cecil Baring, who afterwards became the third Lord Revelstoke. Revelstoke bought the island in 1904 as a place to enjoy with his young wife, Maude Louise Lorillard.

The sixth Baron Revelstoke, James Baring, died last year. He was a noted aerobatics pilot and early internet investor. In the late Fifties, he established Regent Sounds, a successful recording studio in Soho regularly used by pop artists including the Rolling Stones, Jimmy Hendrix and The Beatles. His son Alex succeeded him to the hereditary title.

Irish Independent

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