The Great Hall Reception
Your illustrious welcome to Adare Manor
The Great Hall Reception is a fitting first taste of the breath-taking grandeur that visitors will experience when they walk through the doors of Adare Manor. Here our dedicated guest relations team wait to greet our guests and welcome them home at the beginning of every visit. This is a space where guests can gather around the hearth and share stories of adventures around the estate and further afield. It is also a tribute to the many brilliant creative minds behind the design and building of Adare Manor.
This part of the manor house features designs by legendary 19th century architect and designer Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin, whose genius for the Gothic Revival style left a trail of beauty across the British Isles and Ireland. Countless magnificent churches, colleges, schools, and private houses bear his unmistakable signature, perhaps most notably the interiors of the new Palace at Westminster. Pugin was hired by the 3rd Earl of Dunraven as he strived to fulfill his father’s vision, and though progress was slow, the results of the collaboration are magnificent.
The spectacular scale of this room is the first thing you notice: soaring ceilings, vaulted arches, and enormous windows. This ecclesiastical style celebrates the Dunraven family’s love for grand cathedrals and the architect’s prodigious talent for such monumental spaces. Even at this size, however, there is an unmistakable air of warmth and welcome in the room, something that was as important to its first inhabitants as it is to us today. Lady Caroline said of The Great Hall that it was: “…peculiarly adapted to every purpose for which it may be required. It has been frequently used with equal appropriateness as a dining-room, concert room, ballroom; for private theatricals, tableaux vivants, and other amusements. At the same time, when only one person is seated at the ample fireplace, where on medieval fire-dogs huge logs of wood are blazing, the coup de’oeil is so perfect, and the whole aspect of the room so comfortable, that one could not wish it in any way changed or diminished, notwithstanding its great size.”
That black marble fireplace still acts as the centrepiece and heart of The Great Hall Reception, carved with intricate heraldic designs and crowned with an ecclesiastic Old Master painting. Inviting armchairs and ottomans clustered around the hearth and velvet, mohair and silk soft furnishings add a cosy touch to the backdrop of marble and limestone, and bespoke hand-knotted silk and wool Tibetan rugs, so fine that only three inches can be woven in a day, sit boldly on the original parquet floor.
In the Dunraven family’s day, perhaps the most beloved feature of The Great Hall was the astounding pipe organ, designed by the famous Dublin Organ builder, William Telford. It took four years to be completed and occupied an elevated position over two small arches opposite the main entrance. It was well-enjoyed by accomplished musicians in the Dunraven family, particularly by the 3rd Earl’s wife, Augusta. When The Great Hall was redecorated a generation later in 1947, the organ was removed and never reinstalled. A new façade has been created to replicate where the original organ would have been, and now conceals a discreet lift, which provides easy access from The Great Hall Reception to the upper levels of the manor house.
One of the stranger highlights of The Great Hall is a large carved stone figure, dressed in 19th century coat, knee breeches and brogues, crouching with his right hand on his knee and his left under his jaw, with a slight grimace as if suffering from toothache. While his identity is still a mystery, it’s thought he may have a structural function as his feet are set on a ribbed corbel under the Minstrels’ Gallery, although the 3rd Earl of Dunraven appears to have disagreed. He asked his mother “to use your influence and get that frightful stone (figure with toothache) taken away from the Hall, it spoils the whole room and besides it is totally useless”. We must respectfully beg to differ with the 3rd Earl, as this figure is now a firm visitor favourite and an irreplaceable member of the Adare Manor family.