Bantry House & Garden
The gardens, as we see them today, have gone from creation (by Richard White ,2nd Earl of Bantry), through neglect (from 1930’s-1970’s) to restoration (which began in 1997).
Richard White (1800-1865) fully appreciated his good fortune to inherit a title and a fine house in an extraordinary location. He created a garden with seven terraces to complement the bay overlooked by his house, which he enlarged to accommodate the art collection he formed on his travels.
The fountain within the parterre surrounded by Wisteria sineis and Wisteria floribunda dominates the southern aspect of the house as do the hundred steps leading up to the woodland. The north terraces, with their 14 round beds, are flanked by statues and pots Richard brought from his travels. Facing East, the statue of Diana the Huntress greets the visitor.
Some of the statues are copies of sculptures by Antonio Canova, some copies of classical works. In the middle of the first terrace you will find a rare 19th century copy of the Warwick vase, made out of Coade Stone.
There are four guns overlooking the bay. The two smaller ones were made at Carrion Works in Falkirk, 1780 they are six pounders. The larger one, a twelve punter, is dated 1796 and was made Clyde Iron Works near Glasgow. The guns stamped A4RP is French. Made at the Ruelle Foundry dated 1795, and was possibly captured from the “Surveillante” at the time of the failed French invasion.
Hopes and Plans for the Future
The Terraces: Richard White designed the terraces to be grassed over,with phormiums placed intermittently. They were bound by balustrades,with pots on top of each plinth. It was an architectural statement,inspired by the gardens in Italy, but in about 1900, Richard’s plans were forgotten,and the terraces were planted with Rhododendron ponticum and luteum. Over the years many self seeded willows,myrtles and scuba took hold between the rhododendron. The vegetation grew, obscuring the house and totally changing the layout and initial plan of the garden. In March 2016 we started the clearing the first terrace, we hope to reinstate the balustrades and re-plant. No plants must be allowed to grow higher then about 4 feet. Then we will move on to the next level.
The West Stables: This building was originally built for maintenance of the carriages and horses as well as possibly outdoor staff accommodation. It fell into disrepair in the early 1900s and with the help of a Heritage Council grant in 2011 work started on restoring the structure.
The Woodland: Our plan is to restore the woods and make them more accessible. As of now,there are two walks. One leading up to the top of the Hundred Steps called “Old Ladies Walk” the other along the stream,which takes us up to the Wallled Garden.
The Walled Garden: This section of the estate was partly sold in the 1950’s and then abandoned. Consequently,it fell into disrepair and neglect and is now awaiting restoration. In it you will find remnants of greenhouses, the ruin of the potting shed, two gravity fed ponds(now defunct)and a walled orchard. Two large Ginko Biloba, a rare Lamatia Ferruginea and a Acer Pensilvania were planted in the early 1900s on the left of the gate to the orchard.