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  • reiltinmurphy

Taylor's Castle: More

Updated: Jan 31, 2022

In “Taylor’s Castle, Wexford” I posed two questions: who was Taylor, and is it a castle. The first was fairly fully answered and its inhabitants discovered back to about 1838, and it was suggested that the house might, just might, be a small castle.

I am now going to look at the building and its situation in the landscape. Here I ask two more, somewhat similar, questions: who owned it, and what age is it. Curiously this house has no name: it is referred to now as Taylor's Castle or The Co-Op, Charles Taylor gave his address as The Castle, Wexford, earlier it is Castle House, earlier still it is Castle-Hill or Castle Hill (not to be confused with Castle Hill Street), still earlier documents refer to the house on Castle Hills. Does the lack of a name point to its antiquity?

This is the view of Taylor’s Castle from Parnell Street today, 13th April 2021. There is a beautiful wall or part of a castle in the distance and a gable of stone and brick with the remains of, possibly, six interesting windows.

The distant castle wall appears to have slit windows and buttresses.

One of the gable's top windows has been cut short by the pitch of the roof, its twin may be conjectured by the concrete patch which might secure where it once was. The middle window on our left has been carefully infilled with brick and it looks as though its lower companion was too, they look as though they may always have been blind windows. The concrete infill on the right middle and lower windows suggests that they may have been glazed. The area of brick running up through the brick infilled windows might indicate a chimney.

The house has eight large windows and the wide doorway has a fanlight and about three steps. The decoration at the top of the house echoes the top of the wall. The top window to our left is so bright that it led me to think (incorrectly, probably) that the roof had been removed, it may just be reflected sunlight. This photograph is from the Lawrence Collection and can be dated to before 1914 : for details of who lived here please see my "Taylor's Castle, Wexford". The lower, coloured, photograph shows the garden, the driveway by the wall, the formal flowerbeds by the house, and the outbuilding on our right. They both show a wall to middle window height with a decorative top connecting the front of the house to the boundary wall. There is another wall visible in the lower image connecting to the right of the house. The trees exist in both photographs but a lot of the creeper (ivy?) has been removed from the wall. Buttresses against the high wall are visible.

A pencil note in the Valuation Book of 1852 describes the setting as 'an inferior one for so large a house'.

The tall wall is on the south side of the house blocks sunlight from the garden. The back of the house is within a few feet of the terraced houses in Castle Hill Street/Kevin Barry Street. The garden is large so why not build the house further out so that it sits more fittingly in the space.

Maps tell an interesting story. This 1882 map shows Parnell Street running diagonally, the Military Barracks above. The terraced houses in Castle Hill Street / Kevin Barry Street exist. Castle House is shown on the red circle at about 9 o'clock. The circle also indicates neighbouring property in The Faythe. The wall from the house to the entrance is shown and provides two entrances - one for visitors, the other for tradesmen. The wall connecting the house to the boundary wall is shown as an extension. The steps at the front door are indicated. A double line suggests the decorative boundary wall abutting the Faythe building. The garden runs behind Parnell Street to Trinity Street.

This earlier map of 1840 shows New Street, later Parnell Street, being built. Only a few houses exist on the Castle House side of the street, none have been built on the other side. Castle Hill Street terrace exists but the buildings in The Faythe are a different shape. The wall from the house to the entrance exists marking a tradesman's entrance. The steps at the front of the house are not marked. The wall on the other side of the house also exists, but without the extension, and seems to touch the Faythe buildings. The tall decorative wall does not seem to be there. My conclusion is that the tall decorative wall was constructed after 1830 to shelter the house from the sight, sound, smells of the industry in The Faythe.

This lovely coloured map of 1840 shamelessly borrowed from Billy Colfer’s 'Wexford A Town And Its Landscape', page 105. puts the house and gardens in context with the sea.

This image is blurred as I had to enlarge it. The map is from “Municipal Corporation Boundaries to be printed in 1837”. The Barracks is clearly visible. Castle Hill Street (now Barrack Street and Kevin Barry Street) runs as a single street from the Barracks to the Faythe. A line, suggesting the future Parnell Street, divides the house property which seems to run behind the houses in the Faythe. Castle House stands as a unit with no wall or buildings close by except the terrace in Castle Hill Street. There is no longer an entrance from the future Parnell Street: an entrance is indicated at the Faythe end of Castle Hill Street beside an S shaped building. Over the years Castle House is being hemmed-in by the nearby development. This map also shows the landscape before reclamation. Castle House garden runs to the shore, the Faythe houses overlook the sea.

This is Parnell Street in 2021. The sea is in the distance. To the left is Barrack Street. To the right, where the path narrows, is the entrance to Taylor's Castle. Where I am standing Parnell Street slopes to the sea, Barrack Street slopes down towards the Barrack entrance, Castle Hill Street/Kevin Barry Street slopes up to The Faythe, behind me Lambert Place slopes steeply downward to give a view of the hills of Wexford Town.

This gives a very rough idea of the same scene in about 1800 or earlier. The flat grassy area reaches to the first house on our right and stretches across to meet the Barrack wall off the picture to the left. I think that this area was referred to as the Bowling Green. The different levels are still discernible in the modern landscape.

Who owned "Taylor's Castle"/ Castle House? This Valuation Book of 1852 which gives us the pencil note on the right saying "situation an inferior one for so large a house", tells us that the property was owned by John E Redmond and let to Mr Mathews. John Edward Redmond (1806-1865) was involved in the development of Wexford's quays, railway, reclaimed land, shipping and building.

In "Taylor's Castle, Wexford" I tell the story of George Mathews and his wife Patience Tottenham. Patience's mother was Patience White and I suggested that her father John White might have owned Castle House. I have now proved that he lived in it thanks to several interesting documents and cemented by the name Hyacinth.

This first document (dated 1841) is a British Army Service Record. Patience Tottenham's father had died and she and her siblings are detailed here: William Fleming Tottenham born 1824, Mary Tottenham born 1826, John White Tottenham 1827, Patience 1829, and Hyacinth White Tottenham born 22nd February 1833.

This gorgeous document on the right connects Hyacinth Tottenham firmly with John White of Wexford. The document is from the British Civil Service Evidence of Age collection.

Below is the obituary for John White from the Waterford Chronicle of February 1st 1834. Note the address Castle-Hill which always refers to Castle House while an address Castle Hill Street refers to the terraced houses.

This letter from Miss Norah Margaretta Tottenham was printed in The Dublin Evening Mail of June 30th 1949. It also connects the Tottenhams with "Wexford Castle", as the house is sometimes called, and tells us that John White Tottenham, Patience's brother, was born in the house.

I am very interested in Patience who became a nun - if my story of George Mathews is correct it just might explain why there is no further record of Patience: unless convents have records?

While following the family tree of Patience White and John William Tottenham's children I noticed that the name Hyacinth appears again as one of the Rev John White Tottenham's children born in 1861, he is the chaplain mentioned in the letter above. I also noted a most unusual name - Dutton - in one of William Fleming Tottenham's children namely Dutton White Nelson Tottenham born in 1854. The name Dutton rang a bell, I had seen it before.

Dutton and Mary White own seven houses in Barrack Street according to Griffiths Valuation.

Dutton and Mary's sister Patience Tottenham (if I am construing all this correctly) owned most of Castle Hill Street. I wonder if John White may have built the terrace in Castle Hill Street/Barrack Street?

While Dutton and Hyacinth White owned property in Ballycleary, Co. Wexford.

Thanks to an extraordinary story about a Benjamin White, his two sons, their unmarried mother who lived with him in an estate called Whiteforth, Kildare, his untimely death, his nephew heir Hyacinth White who turned out the children and their mother and claimed all for himself (read all about it in The Wexford Conservative of November 30th 1842) including a house called Summerville in Ballyhealy, Wexford I have been able to suggest that our John White, Excise Supervisor, was of the White family who lived in Ballyhealy, Ballycleary, and Sioghane as that family has both of the unusual names Hyacinth and Dutton. I wonder if this family is connected with Wexford's White's Hotel?

Above we can see that Dorothea White lives in a property belonging to Dutton White in Ballycleary: John Lowe White was married to a Dorothea Boxwell. Our John White is not John Lowe White but might be a brother. The date of the Griffiths Valuations seems to be between about 1845 and 1853.

On a different note: - Can anyone tell me from this 1855 details of sale if George Mathews was selling only new furniture which he may have recently bought to furnish the house or if it might be earlier contents perhaps from his grandfather-in-law John White's time in Castle House.

I notice George Mathews had new furniture from Murphy & Meyler of Anne's Street. This advert is from 1852.

To return to the inhabitants of Castle House - we know that John White died there in 1834 and that James and Anne Cavenagh lived there for ten years from 1838. In 1837 James and Mary Carr gave Castlehill as their address. James was a Captain on Redmond's ship and was building four houses in the then New Street on land belonging to Redmond and was living in number 43 by 1842. Please see my "Parnell Street South" for the Carr's story.

In “Taylor’s Castle, Wexford” I mention The Wexford Independent of July 13th 1839 which has an account of the ‘Wexford Assizes: Ridge v Redmond’ which is about the Castle Hills, the existing land, and the reclaimed land.

The newspaper tells us that John White sold his property to Mr. E. Redmond in 1832. I had incorrectly given this date as 1810 in “Taylor’s Castle, Wexford”.

Apologies for the bad quality of the image below but it holds a crucial clue to the age of Castle House. It is from the Tithe Applotment Book of 1823-1837 and shows that John E "Redmd" owns a property on Castle Hill which is 5 acres, 2 roods and 10 perches. Interestingly Castle Hill Street is listed, then Castle Hill, then The Faythe suggesting the entrance at The Faythe which we saw in the map above.

This extract from the newspaper lists owners of the Castle and Castle Hill properties. In 1674 Christian Bor had the lands, then Mr E Jones who got from Bor's son-in-law George Haughton 'the house and lands', then in 1774 Richard Neville had it, then Mr Meadows and eventually Mr White who bought it after Mr Meadows died: these families are detailed in "Taylor’s Castle, Wexford”.

Hore's History of Wexford volume V helps to complete the picture. I could not have managed this part of the research without the meticulous (and very patient) assistance of Dr. Richard Gem who read Hore and the newspaper and many other documents and was able to say "It is clearly of great interest that Redmond’s holding was of 5a-2r-10p. At the inquisition into the property of Philip Hore Sr held in 1631 following his death, he “was found to be seised [among other property] of ... a certain parcel of common land called the Hills, or the Castle Hills, lying to the south of the great Castle of the king in Wexford, containing five acres. I[t] [i]s held of the king in free and common soccage.” This is quoted by Hore, History of Wexford, V, p. 244. In a footnote Hore commented that the parcel of land referred to “includes the land between the present Barrack and New Streets, and the Castle hill and house in St Michael’s of Fea”. So if the 5 acres are the same ones in 1631 and 1837 it would establish an important connection. The evidence I looked at some months back found that Philip Hore Jr had his land confiscated in 1654; but then in 1665 ‘a plott of ground on the castle hills in Wexford’ was restored to him by Charles II, together with lands in Drinagh, Jacketstown and elsewhere".

It therefore looks likely that Castle House existed on its approximately five acres as far back as 1631. Was it in a "situation an inferior one for so large a house"? I think not. The house is placed on the crest of the Hill overlooking the sea to the east, and the hills surrounding Wexford to the west. The huge Castle sat to the north where the Barracks is now, the church and graveyard of "St. Michael's of Fea” and The Faythe itself to the south. A beautiful setting! Only an archaeological investigation can take this story further back but I think we can be fairly sure that the house existed in some form, probably on its present location, when the Castle itself still stood.

In "Taylor’s Castle, Wexford” I began with asking who Taylor was. Here is the grave, in St. Ibar's Cemetary, Crosstown, of Charles and Mary Taylor. Perhaps the greatest memorial to the Taylors is that the home which they called The Castle is remembered as Taylor's Castle.

To see “Taylor’s Castle, Wexford”, “Parnell Street North”, and “Parnell Street South” go to Arty-biography above and click on Other.

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