20 Aug 2022

Unique villa in the

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Uppercourt has a fascinating history and for almost a thousand years has been home to the clergy, religious, military, students, and now is open for guests.

The house of Uppercourt Manor stands on the site of the bishop’s palace built at Achadh Úr in 1225. In 1553 a Protestant bishop, John Bale, was the last bishop to live there. In 1653 one of Cromwell’s soldiers, Captain Sir George Askew, being owed £200, was given Uppercourt in settlement of the debt and the Shee family were forced to leave. The present house was built by Sir William Morris around 1790. The Eyre family came in 1879 and stayed until 1918 when the Maher brothers bought it. The Mill Hill Fathers bought it in 1932 and it became a secondary school. In 1989 it was sold and used for the storage and restoration of antique furniture. In 2004, Paddy Fitzgerald sold the property to Dr Paul O’Byrne.

One of the more famous residens, and the man who really shaped Uppercourt was Sir William Ryves de Montmorenecy, a baronet. William (1763-1829) died in Bath, in England but during his time in Uppercourt it is known he put his stamp on the building - litterally by comissioning the only engraving in the house.

He had inherited the house from his mother, and had a fascination with all things French, using his Norman name. The most likely initial architect of Uppercourt is unknown, but it has been suggested that John Roberts from Waterford may have had a role to play - he designed the building which now houses Waterfoford Chamber of Commerce.When Sir William died, Uppercourt was acquired by Count John Lewis Eyre.

The Count had spend most of life in Rome serving the papacy, and three of his sons became priests in the Vatican so Uppercourt eventually was inherited by his youngest son, William Henry.The Counts unknown architect extended the initial house. Itlaian plasteresres were imported , staying in Freshford,as the interior became transformed. One Italian, it is believed fell in love with his landlady - and she subsequently had her ceiling supremely decorated.T he next major work began in 1875, with Thomas Eyre commissioning JJ McCarthy. A cost of £10,000 was the budger, and a new upper floor and rood were superimposed on the main block.

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