Lady Anne Dawson Temple Project
This is what the Temple may look like when finished. Soon we will have more pictures for this page to show you what is needed to have it restored to it's former Glory
THIS IS THE TOP OF THE LADY ANNE DAWSON TEMPLE . IT HAS BEEN SHEETED OVER WITH
TIMBER, READY FOR THE DOME ROOF.
2 St John Church of Ireland
3The Lady Anne Dawson Temple.
Work has been completed on the brick work of the temple a very difficult and slow tedious and time consuming work, removing bad brick and repacing with good ones.
In this picture some bricks have been removed and replaced with matching ones.
This is the start of the new dome roof ,
The dome is taking shape
The finishing timbers are been secured, and soon the weather proof coating.
JOHN R. REDMILL
DIP ARCH FRIAI
HISTORIC BUILDINGS CONSULTANT
RIAI Accredited Conservation Architect Grade 1
DAWSON TEMPLE / DARTREY MAUSOLEUM, DARTREY, Co. MONAGHAN
The Lady Anne Dawson Temple, a tribute to both LOVE and DEATH by an eighteenth century Irish gentleman, is one of the most important 18 th century buildings in Ireland for a number of reasons, and it desperately needs all the financial help possible. The Trojan efforts of the Dartrey Heritage Association in raising awareness and appreciation of the building are to be warmly applauded. The position of the building's official owner, Coillte the Forestry Commission, is both difficult and understandable – its remit is forestry, not the conservation of historic buildings – but hopefully this situation can be resolved sufficiently soon to enable the project to proceed. It is the result in the main of the loss of the original owners of the estate, the Dawson/Dartrey family, who sold it in 1946, whereupon the house was demolished for its reusable building materials. Since then the estate has been a body without a head, and the surviving buildings have suffered accordingly, the Temple /Mausoleum more than most.
So why is it considered to be so important? It was the result of the work of three men about 1770 in commemorating the young Lady Anne Fermor, wife of Thomas Dawson, who had died aged only 36 in March 1769. She was the youngest daughter of the grand and wealthy Earl of Pomfret who lived at Easton Neston, the wonderful Baroque house in Northamptonshire, England. Dawson, himself a wealthy banker presumably with many connections in London, decided to commemorate her by commissioning the construction of a miniature PANTHEON of top of the hill and that would be seen across the park and lake from their house, Dawsons Grove, and which would also house a memorial sculpture to her. As such it is a tiny version of the Pantheon in Rome, one of the most influential classical buildings to those studying the Ancient Classics at the time. This large circular domed structure, entered through a portico, is lit only by a large open occulus in the centre of its dome, and Dawson obviously wanted the same; on clear nights the moonlight would shine down through the occulus onto the sculpture of him, their son and an angel, grouped dramatically around the huge urn supposedly containing Lady Anne's ashes, with breathtaking effect, and would remind him of his young wife – despite the fact that he remarried only just after a year of being a widower!
Possibly through a family connection that has not yet been fully established, he seems to have given the commission to a young English architect, James Wyatt [1746-1813], who was just starting his career in London, having returned from Rome in 1768 to work for his older brother Samuel. His very first building was an assembly room in Oxford Street, central London, also called the Pantheon [long since demolished], which was an instant success when it opened to the public in 1772. Dawson must have approached Wyatt soon after Lady Anne died, and so the Dawson Temple is probably the architect's next building, although the exact date is not yet known. The building was created to contain just one object – the magnificent memorial sculpture that still survives, although cruelly vandalised. This was designed by Joseph Wilton [1722-1803], one of the finest sculptors in the British Isles, who had been appointed 'Sculptor to His Majesty' by King George the third in 1764. The design drawing is still in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Wilton carved it for a fee of 1000 guineas, a huge amount of money, at his workshop in London, from where it was sent to Dublin in August 1774, and taken to the temple. Dawson clearly wanted, and paid for, the best designers possible when commemorating his wife. But she was not buried there, but was laid to rest in St. John's Church near the house – but her rest was not for long as, in 1798, as a result of Dawson's worries about the Wexford Rebellion, her remains, with those of their children, were exhumed and taken to Stokes Poges Church in Buckinghamshire [actually quite close to the present Heathrow Airport]. Her sister was married to the owner of that estate, who was the son of William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, and Dawson, by then Viscount Cremorne, had married as his second wife Philadelphia Freame, grand-daughter of the same William Penn. When Dawson died in 1813, 43 years to the day after Lady Anne, he was buried at Stoke Church, as was Philadelphia in 1826. It is presumed that all three lie together under the handsome tomb there, hopefully in perpetual harmony.
Very little is known about the subsequent history of the Temple. Probably unloved and abandoned during the lifetimes of Dawson's two successors, it seems to have been restored probably in the 1840s by his great great nephew, Richard, first Earl of Dartrey, as part of his building works then, principally the rebuilding and enlargement of Dawsons Grove as Dartrey House or Castle. Perhaps the dome had collapsed by then; anyway, a shallow slated pyramid roof was put on the temple and its red-brick walls were plastered. Maybe it was used as a summerhouse to enjoy during excursions around the park. Lady Edith Windham, daughter and heir of the 2 nd Earl of Dartrey, sold the estate just after World War 2, and the house was demolished.
By 1960 the pyramid roof had gone, and the building and sculpture were open to the elements. The Irish Georgian Society funded some repairs, but since then further severe vandalism has caused even more damage. The building has now been exposed to the Irish weather for at least 45 years, and the decay is progressing. However, it is not too late to save either it or Wilton's powerful sculpture. A conservation report assessing the condition of the building and the likely repairs, and a report about the sculpture, were produced during the latter part of 2005; both have been most generously paid for by John Coote. The report also examined the various options for the re-roofing of the Temple – replace the dome, replace the pyramid, or put on a modern roof of some kind. Plans for the reconstruction of the dome, together with the repairs to the interior and the sculpture, are now in hand, and applications for grant aid have been made to Monaghan County Council and the Heritage Council, amongst others. A new use for the building has not yet been established, but perhaps something in conjunction with Coillte's forestry works could be possible, such as a visitor centre for those enjoying the estate. But whatever that may be, it is absolutely vital for Ireland's cultural and architectural heritage that Thomas Dawson's expensive, elegant and most touching remembrance of his young wife should be repaired and cared for, for the benefit of future generations of Cavan and Monaghan residents, and Irish people everywhere.
JOHN R. REDMILL FRIAI ARCHITECT 10 NORTH GREAT GEORGE'S STREET DUBLIN 1
tel: DUBLIN [00 353 1] 8788115 e-mail: barred@indigo,ie fax: DUBLIN [00 353 1] 8788119