Killua Castle, Clonmellon, Co.Westmeath
Killua Castle is a detached, multi-bay three-storey over basement castellated Gothic revival castle on a complex plan, built c.1780. Owned by the Chapman family, the castle was originally constructed as a regular seven-bay three-storey over basement Georgian house with a full-height three-bay canted bay window to centre of entrance façade (northwest) and three-bay bow to centre of rear façade (southeast).
It was enlarged on a number of occasions between c.1820 and c.1860 with the addition of various towers on square and polygonal plans, various two-storey extensions to the northeastern end and by the addition of battlements to the parapets to create a Gothic castle on irregular plan. The castle was last habitable in the 1930’s, gutted c.1950, but is currently restored and rebuilt as a private residence.
The original part of the building was constructed of rubble limestone with a lime render. The later portions are constructed of snecked limestone with ashlar trim. Roof is now gone (possibly flat roofed) but was hidden by battlemented parapets with ashlar crenellations and machicolations. Window openings are generally square-headed with cut stone sills and hoodmouldings, some with intricate stone tracery. The Great Hall is newly constructed consisting of European green oak timber, traditional Gothic style hand made wood carvings on a limestone wall finish and magnificent Hammerbeam roof.
A number of round-headed openings are to be found on the ground floor and three-light mullioned windows flank the main entrance to northwest façade. Main entrance to centre of canted bay on northwest facade with pointed-arch headed moulded stone surrounds and hoodmoulding, originally with round-headed fanlight and studded timber double-doors.
A tunnel to northeast linked the castle to the walled gardens. Located in the centre of extensive parkland demesne with walled garden to northeast and variety of follies, lodges and an ice-house to grounds.
The works included: major overhaul of the basement, underfloor heating on all floors, new windows, all timber works including doors, skirting, a new hammerbeam roof in the main banquet hall, all new lime plastering internally, new mechanical and electrical, new cobble basement, majestic medieval gardens, new wrought iron railings, and a foot bridge. We also restored the deer park and the lake which two houses overlook.
This hugely ambitious restoration project resulted in a wonderful piece of history being brought back to life by Powderly Construction, and was a worthy shortlist entry for the Irish Georgian Society Conservation Award.
A Hammerbeam Roof is a decorative, open timber roof truss typical of English Gothic architecture and has been called “…the most spectacular endeavour of the English Medieval carpenter.” They are traditionally timber framed, using short beams projecting from the wall on which the rafters land, essentially a tie beam which has the middle cut out. These short beams are called hammer-beams and give this truss its name. A hammerbeam roof can have a single, double or false hammerbeam truss.