Main Record - County Westmeath
|The Gothic Arch, County Westmeath
|Date||1750 - 1770|
|Categories of Special Interest||ARCHITECTURAL ARTISTIC HISTORICAL TECHNICAL|
|In Use As||folly|
|Additional Use||summerhouse|| |
Freestanding rusticated Gothic folly/arch located within the grounds of Belvedere House (15402615), built c.1760, comprising a three-bay two-stage tower, on square-plan, having a central oriel opening to first floor above carriage arch and a crenellated parapet over. Constructed of rubble limestone with water-eroded limestone detailing/elements. Round-headed carriage arch to the centre of ground floor flanked by large loop hole-shaped openings to either side (east and west). Pointed-arched openings flank the central oriel window at the first floor level. Located to the north of Belvedere House (15402615) on the eastern shore of Lough Ennell and to the south of Mullingar.
This deliberately romantic and complex feature forms part of an important collection of Gothic follies at Belvedere House (15402615), which together represent one of the most important collections of its type in Ireland. The design for the 'Gothic Arch' is attributed to Thomas Wright of Durham, who published numerous designs for follies and grottos in his book 'Universal Architecture', first published in 1755. It is thought that the designs for this particular folly were based on a plan from this book but that only the central section of this 'plan' was ever built at Belvedere. This structure is both fantastic and grotesque, and it is very different in style and purpose to the more famous 'Jealous Wall' (15402614) to the south. The 'Gothic Arch' has a more symmetrical layout than its neighbour to the south whilst the oriel window above the central carriage arch is a very distinctive feature. The 'Gothic Arch' is sited on a high point in the demesne parkland setting and serves as a two-dimensional focal point in the landscape to the north of the main house. Together with the 'Gothic Octagon' (15402613) and the 'Jealous Wall' (15402614) to the south, the 'Gothic Arch' forms part a unique collection of garden follies of national importance.
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