Saturday, 21 April 2012

Strawberry Hill in Kildare and Leighlin - Staplestown

You may have considered, having looked at the first few posts of this series, that Strawberry Hill Gothick in Kildare and Leighlin is confined to the Sanctuary wall. If so, well spotted. The delicate and elaborate tracery required for the Gothick was ill-adapted to the means of the Irish country parish. Another example of this confinement of the Gothick is the Parish Church of St. Benignus, Staplestown, Co. Kildare. In Staplestown, the confinement of the Gothick goes even further. In the examples in this series so far, the fabric of the Church has been in a more virile Gothic but here, as you can see from the stained glass, and the clear glass, windows, the basic form of the Church (and basic is the word) is a rounded roman classical style. I've been accused of ignoring crude eclecticism in this series. I intend to continue to overlook it, except to say that I don't think the effect is altogether unpleasing, once you can overlook modern reordering.

Strangely, Bishop Comerford makes no mention of this Church in Vol. 2 of his Collections relating to the Dioceses of Kildare and Leighlin, although it would have been in the Parish of Clane at the time. However, the Church is reputedly c. 1790, which would make it one of the oldest Churches still in use in the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin. Certainly, it is depicted on an 1838 Ordinance Survey map.

The Kildare County Council Village Design Statement describes it thus: "Detached five-bay Catholic Church, built c.1840. Remaining historic fabric includes cut-stone bellcote, cast-iron rainwater goods stone window sills, timber sash windows with fanlight heads. The full-height interior open roof and Hindu Gothic style plasterwork reredos to altar with marble altar fittings and cast-iron gateway and railings are also notable.

"Saint Benignus's Catholic Church is a fine, church that is composed on a simple plan with simple elevations. The church retains much of its original aspect and many original features and materials remain in situ."

Mind you the fate of Kildare's physical heritage is just as safe in the hands of the folks who invented "Hindu Gothic" as it is in the hands of the folks who brought us the no less accurate "re-ordering in line with the directives of Vatican II"!!!


CharlieQ said...

Sorry convenor but those windows aren't a "more masculine gothic". They've got round heads. Bring back Doc Hannon!

Doc Hannon said...

Hey CharlieQ,

Good to see you back. I think you can cut Convenor a bit of slack on this one. I'm just judging from the pictures here but it has all the appearance of the typical country church in those parts and yes, the windows are round-headed, and yes, that's classical not gothic, but the point is valid enough that the 'foppish' strawberry hill in the sanctuaries is often in strong contrast to the heavy simplicity of the shell building containing it. It's a bon mot, even if it's not the mot juste.

VCrowe said...

I take the point CQ but I think its true to say that the simple beauty of churches is being eradicated across the country.