Lismore Castle: 'Built by King John, plumbed by Adele Astaire'
Presented by William Cavendish, Earl of Burlington
When Paddy Leigh Fermor wrote this in a letter to The Duchess of Devonshire (“Debo”), Lismore Castle in County Waterford, Ireland, had been in the Cavendish family for centuries, since it was built by King John in 1185 and purchased from Sir Walter Raleigh in 1602. Since that time Lismore has been besieged, lain derelict, rebuilt and redecorated. The 6th Duke of Devonshire was responsible for the castle’s renovations from 1812-1822 that resulted in its present Gothic Revival appearance. During the mid-19th century John Gregory Crace, the leading maker of Gothic Revival furniture, and his partner designer A.W.N. Pugin were commissioned to transform the ruined chapel into a medieval-style banqueting hall. The castle also contains some of the finest examples of domestic Pugin furniture still in private hands. The most recent renovations done by William Cavendish, Earl of Burlington, and his wife Laura bring the castle into the 21st century. In 2005 Lord Burlington converted the derelict West Wing into a state-of-the-art contemporary gallery and arts center.
Lord Burlington will give Royal Oak members an illustrated personal tour of Lismore castle, where Adele Astaire, wife of the younger son of the 9th Duke of Devonshire—and sister and former dancing partner of Fred Astaire—lived until her husband’s death in 1941. Lord Burlington will guide us through the Castle’s fluctuating 800-year history; show the remarkable Pugin interiors; trace the Cavendish family’s American connections; and explain how the castle has evolved into a much-loved family home, as well as a center for international contemporary art and education.
A part of the Royal Oak Foundation's Fall 2018 Lecture Series.