LBS have recently supplied Blue Bangor Slates for the partial re-roofing of ‘Vernon Mount’ villa located in Cork. Built c.1795 this building is regarded as one of the most original and architecturally intriguing structures in Ireland. It was reputedly the one time home of Bram Stoker writer of Dracula and it is easy to see why the building and location might have been the inspiration for some of his narrative. The building also has the somewhat chilling reputation of being one of the most haunted structures in Ireland alongside ‘Loftus Hall’ in Wexford.*
Vernon Mount is on the top 10 list of endangered buildings in Ireland, and was selected for ‘The World Monuments Fund’ in 2008.
The architecture of Vernon Mount & its association with the free masons.
Sir Henry Browne Hayes was one of several wealthy Cork merchants of the period – having made his fortune from brewing and glass making in the city. His house was designed by the architect Abraham Hargrave and the name ‘Vernon Mount’ was inspired by his admiration for the American War of Independence. Both men had strong connections to the masonic movement and the house is a monument to this.
The house itself is immaculate in both design and execution. The building has a two storey curved entrance with symmetrical convex bows on either side. Inside its sweeping cantilevered staircase leads up to an an oval atrium (or landing) flanked by 8 Corinthian style pillars. Every aspect of the design and structure appears to deliberately echo the symbolism of free masonry – even the stairs are in groups of 3,5,7 or 15 (all significant numbers). The house is known to have contained a number of exquisite paintings and sculptures by a Cork artist Nathaniel Grogan. The imagery used in his painting was again a reflection of the strong masonic connection. Sadly, given the neglected state of the house and a lack of access to the building it is not known if these works of art are still intact today.
Following the death of his wife in 1794 Henry Hayes became a bit of a celebrity for the wrong reasons. Sir Henry reportedly abducted a Quaker heiress Mary Pike in 1797, brought her to Vernon Mount and forced her to marry him at gunpoint. The Pike family put up a reward for Henry’s capture but he managed to avoid incarceration for a number of years before eventually being tried and sentenced to hang. He was not hanged however and instead was transported to a penal colony in Botany Bay Australia. Here he managed to live in relative luxury. He was eventually pardoned, and returned to Ireland in 1812. He is buried in South Main Street Cork. Mary Pike was said to have gone mad not long after her abduction, and local legend says that it is she that haunts Vernon Mount.
Work on the structure was made possible by grant aid from the Dept of Arts, Culture & the Gaeltact
LBS technical sales Philip Long
Irish Georgian Society Dublin
Cork County Council – Nicholas Mansergh
The History of Vernon Mount – Annemarie Foley
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