A Brief History of Henrietta Street, Dublin, Ireland

No. 12, Henrietta Street, Dublin, Ireland by William Murphy on Wikimedia Commons.

No. 12, Henrietta Street, Dublin, Ireland by William Murphy on Wikimedia Commons.

You have to read it to believe it. I was looking for images of cool entrances and this one came up. The history sucked me in, my heart hurt for the people who had to live behind these doors. Photographs and history by William Murphy on Wikimedia Commons.

“Nos. 11 & 12 (south-side), built by Luke Gardiner as a pair between 1730 and 1733, according to the designs of Edward Lovett Pearce. No. 11 was first occupied by Rt Hon William Graham, PC, Brigadier General, while the first known occupant of No. 12 was William Stewart, 3rd Viscount Mountjoy and later 1st Earl of Blessington (Memorial of Deed 1738).”

Henrietta Street Conservation Plan, Plean Caomhantais Shráid Henrietta, An Action of the Dublin City Heritage Plan, Gníomh de chuid Phlean Oidhreachta Chathair Bhaile Átha CliathIn 1911 Dublin had the worst housing conditions of any city in the United Kingdom. Its extensive slums were not limited to the back-streets or to impoverished ghettos. By 1911 the city slums also incorporated great Georgian houses on previously fashionable streets and squares. As the wealthy moved to the suburbs over the course of the 19th century, their huge, red-brick buildings were abandoned to the rent-paying poor. Tenements in inner-city Dublin were filthy, overcrowded, disease-ridden, teeming with malnourished children and very much at odds with the elite world of colonial and middle-class Dublin.

Henrietta Street - one of Dublin's oldest Georgian streets, Edward Lovett Pearce is known to have designed at least two of the houses here.

Henrietta Street – one of Dublin’s oldest Georgian streets, Edward Lovett Pearce is known to have designed at least two of the houses here.Dublin.

“The decay of Dublin was epitomised by Henrietta Street, which had once been home to generations of lawyers, but was, by 1911, overflowing with poverty. An astonishing 835 people lived in 15 houses. At number 10 Henrietta Street, the Sisters of Charity ran a laundry with more than 50 single women inside. The other

No. 3, built after 1755, on a plot of ground which was first leased to Nathaniel Clements in1740. The house was first occupied by Owen Wynne M.P. for Sligo from c.1757. Photo by William Murphy on Wikimedia Commons.

No. 3, built after 1755, on a plot of ground which was first leased to Nathaniel Clements in1740. The house was first occupied by Owen Wynne M.P. for Sligo from c.1757. Photo by William Murphy on Wikimedia Commons.

houses on the street were filled with families. For example, there were members of nineteen different families living in Number 7. Among the 104 people who shared the house were charwomen, domestic servants, labourers, porters, messengers, painters, carpenters, pensioners, a postman, a tailor, and a whole class of schoolchildren. Out the back were a stable and a piggery.

“The street was first laid out and developed in 1729-30 by Luke Gardiner, a

No. 12 (left) and No. 11 (right). Photo by William Murphy on Wikimedia Commons.

No. 12 (left) and No. 11 (right). Photo by William Murphy on Wikimedia Commons.

banker and building developer of humble origins, whose father was perhaps a coachman. Gardiner was careful in choosing the names of the streets he developed, and Henrietta Street was named after the wife of Charles Paulet, 2nd Duke of Bolton, who had been the Irish Lord Lieutenant 1717-21, and after whom the adjacent Bolton Street is named.

“The aspect of the street was initially open to fields to the west, but with the construction of the Kings’ Inns by James Gandon in 1800, (laid out to the annoyance of Lord Mountjoy and fellow residence of Henrietta Street at an oblique angle), the street gained an awkward termination. This led to the building of a granite triumphal archway in 1820 by Francis Johnston to screen the less than attractive juxtaposition.

“Thirteen of the original fifteen houses of 18th century Henrietta Street remain. The exception is the Kings’ Inns Library, built 1825-8 by Frederick Darley on the site of Archbishop Boulter’s early 18th century house.

“The street was popularly referred to as Primate’s Hill, as one of the houses was owned by the Archbishop of Armagh, although this house, along with two others, was demolished to make way for the Law Library of King’s Inns.

“The street fell into disrepair during the 19th and 20th centuries, with the houses being used as tenements.

No. 7, built by Nathaniel Clements for himself, c.1738. Photo by William Murphy on Wikimedia Commons.

No. 7, built by Nathaniel Clements for himself, c.1738. Photo by William Murphy on Wikimedia Commons.

“According to Dublin City Council: “Henrietta Street ranks amongst the more important architectural and urban ensembles in Ireland. It is the single most intact and important architectural collection of individual houses – as a street – in the city. In the international context, the street is of unique European significance, being the single remaining intact example of an early-18th century street of houses, which was at the forefront of what was to become the Georgian style.”

“Today, Henrietta Street is isolated as a cultural phenomenon, located, as it is, in an area of streets and houses which has suffered from economic neglect for many years. I live in a modern complex on a lane off the street and for me the neglect in the area is more than depressing. When I purchased my apartment more than 15 years ago the area was not “up-market” but I told that the area would be renewed and upgraded. In reality things have become much worse because of damage done by developers as well as an unacceptable level of 24 hours per day anti-social behaviour.

“There is a development plan which is interesting to read.”

~ William Murphy
Henrietta Street

“Before the gorgeous Blessington was seen

Or dandy D’Orsay graced the splendid scene

Herculean chairmen bore the fair

To routs and masquerades, and the yellow flare

Of the link-boys’ torches burned away the gloom

Down Primates’ Hill, to some Palladian room

Where the rococo craftsmen set a foil

For Gardiner, Clements, Ponsonby and Boyle,

Spendthrift inheritors of the mean renown

Of archiepiscopal rakes like Stone.

Gone are their filigrane splendours:

Palladio’s door Unhinged; Tracton Apollo and his stuccodore

Alike in turf. In the street today

Poverty pullulates and the arts decay.

Down the proud steps, from the panelled hall,

The children scramble and the babies crawl.

Their swarm enjoy the franchise of the street

Skilled to avoid postprandial Benchers’ feet

And blind to the mellowed majesty of law

Pursue their wonted games of hole and taw.”

~ C.P.C. (I don’t know who C.P.C. is, or in what era this poem was written.)

Advertisements

7 thoughts on “A Brief History of Henrietta Street, Dublin, Ireland

    • Hi, Eddie. I’m so sorry I’m just now seeing your comment. Thank you so much for coming here and sharing that you were born on Henrietta Street. I would like to know, if you’d care to share, your history at No. 12; the struggles you may have faced and hopefully overcome and the triumphs you may have celebrated in your life. God’s blessings to you! – Lis

      Like

  1. I do not even understand how I finished up here, but I assumed
    this post was good. I don’t realize who you are but certainly you’re going to
    a well-known blogger if you aren’t already. Cheers!

    Like

  2. Thanks for the interesting post. I would however like to respectfully point out that Ireland is not part of the United Kingdom. “Dublin had the worst housing conditions of any city in the United Kingdom”

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s