1815 - 1820
GARDENS (ST. JOHN'S PAR.)
Detached nine-bay two-storey almshouse, founded 1818, on a H-shaped plan comprising seven-bay two-storey main block with three-bay two-storey pedimented breakfront, and single-bay (two-bay deep) two-storey projecting flanking end bays having five-bay two-storey side elevations (incorporating two-bay two-storey returns to north-east) with single-bay two-storey pedimented breakfronts. Refenestrated, c.1925. Renovated, pre-1992. Now in use as outbuilding. Hipped slate roofs on a H-shaped plan (gabled to breakfronts) with clay ridge tiles, cut-limestone chimney stacks, and cast-iron rainwater goods on squared rubble limestone eaves. Random rubble limestone walls (possibly originally rendered) part repointed, pre-1992, with dressed limestone quoins to corners, inscribed cut-limestone plaque (dated 1542), and cut-limestone surrounds to pediments having cut-limestone panel to tympanum to main block in round recess having cut-stone surround. Square-headed window openings (blind to central bays to breakfront to main block; in full-height segmental-headed recesses to projecting end bays and to breakfronts to side elevations) with cut-limestone sills, squared limestone voussoirs, and replacement timber casement windows, c.1925, retaining some six-over-six timber sash windows. Square-headed door openings with two cut-limestone steps, limestone ashlar Greek Revival Doric doorcases having fluted engaged columns supporting dentilated entablature, frieze, modillioned cornice, blocking course, and timber panelled double doors. Set back from road in own grounds with unkempt grounds to site.
Built to designs attributed to William Robertson (1770-1850) a well-appointed Classically-proportioned substantial almshouse established for "decayed servants" exhibits attributes indicating the prevailing moral standards of the period including an elegant symmetrical plan whereby a wing each was allocated to male and female residents. Austerely detailed the architectural design value of the composition is enlivened by the judicious application of Classically-inspired dressings including finely-executed Greek Revival doorcases displaying high quality stone masonry. The survival of the original form and massing maintaining much of the integrity of the composition the replacement fittings to most of the window openings have not benefited the external expression of the almshouse: similarly sections of ribbon pointing have degraded the appearance of some of the stone work. Representing the continuation of a long-standing presence on site having superseded an eighteenth-century infantry barracks in the grounds a mid sixteenth-century fragment indicates an even earlier, possibly medieval origin of the site: indeed the almshouse was constructed using fabric salvaged from the nave (1290; demolished, 1780) of the adjacent Saint John's Priory complex. Forming a vital element of the architectural heritage of Kilkenny the almshouse remains of additional importance for the connections with Joseph Evans (d. 1818).