Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Visit to the Historic Roscrea Area

Members were warmly welcomed at Gloster House by Tom and Mary Alexander.  Tom gave us a talk about the history of the house before leading us on a fascinating tour.  It was thought to have been constructed in the early 1700s when it became the seat of the Lloyd family who remained in ownership until 1958.  The house was acquired by the Salesian nuns who held it until 1991 after which it fell into disrepair for a number of years until it was purchased by the Alexanders in 2001.

The Alexander family are to be complimented on their wonderful restoration work which they have carried out since 2001.  So much caught the eye including the double height entrance hall, the elaborate plaster panelling, the re-instatement of the second staircase and the vaulted corridors on the first floor.  Tom pointed out the arch flanked by two obelisks in the grounds of the house considered to be the work of Sir Edward Lovett Pearce, a relation of the Lloyd family.

Our next visit was to Marcus and Irene Sweeney at Fancroft Mill and Gardens. We were greeted with refreshments on our arrival.  Marcus then gave us a fascinating lecture followed by a tour of the building and a demonstration of the mill's production capability.  The Pim family who were quaker millers commenced the construction of the mill in the 1780s.  At various stages in its history sections were added.  Milling ceased by the mid 1940s though the building was used as a grain storage facility until the early 1900s.

Marcus and Irene commenced the extensive conservation in 2006.  A set of new mill stones were installed in 2010 and the mill is now capable of producing brown flour, white flour and semolina.  In addition a generator contributes to the domestic heating system of their own house which stands next to the mill.

Irene took us on a tour of the wonderful gardens at Fancroft which were created in the 1990s by the previous owner, Angela Jupe.  The gardens cover 1.5 hectares and include herbaceous borders, woodland, fruit paddocks and a kitchen garden as well as garden summer houses.

Members headed off to the Cistercian Abbey of Mount St Joseph for a hearty lunch.  The property was originally known as the Mount Heaton Demesne and had been at one stage the home of Richard Heaton, an English Clergyman and botanist.  Arthur J. Moore, MP, of Mooresfort House purchased the house for the order in 1878.  He was a devout and committed Catholic landlord who became a Papal Count.

Following lunch we were taken on a very interesting tour of the church and library.

Our last visit of the day was to Damer House which was built for the Damer family in the early 1700s inside the walled courtyard of a thirteenth century Butler castle.  The house was originally intended to be their family residence but they only lived in it for a brief period.  In the 1960s the building fell into disrepair and was scheduled for demolition.  The Old Roscrea Society and the Irish Georgian Society fought vehemently to save it and were fortunately successful.  Members enjoyed a most interesting tour of the house and castle.


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  2. I am interested to know where the Somers family lived in the 1880s. James Louis Somers was a doctor as was his father Joseph. I wonder if anyone can help me with this?