In recent years the Gallery at Adare Manor has been the impressive setting for many weddings and events but, on reopening in 2017, the Gallery will be reimagined to serve as the unique surroundings for our guests to enjoy a leisurely breakfast in the morning and a sumptuous Afternoon Tea from midday. Considering its great size, it’s hard to envisage that this expansive room was once a living room for the Dunraven family …
The original idea for the Gallery came from the 2nd Earl of Dunraven and his wife Countess Caroline, who had a taste for cathedrals with long naves, soaring arches and picturesque glass, and for country houses and castles containing stately room done up in the ‘ancient’ style with lavish displays of armour, sculpture and family portraits.
The construction of the Gallery commenced in the summer of 1829. Edwin, the eldest son then studying at Eton, followed the developments at home with abiding enthusiasm. ‘I am glad to hear’, he wrote to his mother, ‘that plans are being made out, I like them very much; and I think they will be very handsome; for papa and you have such good taste and judgement, that you would not do any thing that was not so. What a splendid room the Gallery will be.’
The Gallery as built was 132ft 6in long, 21ft wide, and 21ft 6in high. It would have been one of the largest domestic rooms of its age in Ireland. The Dunravens were immensely proud of it, although its sheer size intimidated the 2nd Earl: ‘the Gallery looks almost like a Cathedral I do not know how we shall ever fill it’. Their quest to fill and beautify the space took many years to complete. During a tour of the Low Counties between 1834 and 1835, the couple visited the church of St. Paul in Antwerp, where they ‘purchased some beautiful carvings for the Gallery at Adare’. These included the misericords and the 15th-century doorway placed at the western end of the Gallery.
Following its completion, visitors continued to be suitably impressed by the magnificent room. Sir Barnard Barber remarked that he had seen most of the fine houses in England and declared that he had seen no room to equal the Gallery.
With excerpts from A Taste of Adare Manor.
On the left, the Gallery at Adare Manor in 1865 and, on the right, a rendering of how the Gallery will look on reopening in 2017.