ME00935 - SLANECASTLE DEMESNE - Ecclesiastical site

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Located on the E-facing slope of the Hill of Slane and c. 20m N of the church (ME019-060002-). In 1512 Sir Christopher Fleming and his wife, Elizabeth Stuckly, established a College of canons at Slane. It was endowed with 100 acres and the rent of 20 houses for four priests, four clerks and four choristers (Westropp 1901, 409-10; Cogan 1862, 1, 284-6). Cogan suggests (ibid. 284-5) that the priests were the Franciscans from St Erc’s Hermitage (ME019-026----). The building was designed as a small cloister, with an existing tower house (ME019-060010-) at its SE angle. At the Suppression in 1540 it seems to have become the property of the parish. The buildings have probably been derelict since then, and they were certainly defunct by the early seventeenth century when in 1622 Usher described the walls as still standing and attached to the parsonage (ibid. 286), by which is probably meant the tower house. The college was tacked onto the tower house, which is at the SE angle of the complex, and it was probably constructed in two phases, the E and N ranges being first. The E range (int. dims 15.25m N-S; 6.5m E-W) was largely rebuilt when it was conserved in the twentieth century but it has a passage (Wth 1.95m), now reduced to the basal courses, through it towards its N end, which created rooms to the N (Wth 4.03m N-S) and S (Wth 7.1m N-S) but also accessing the cloister (dims 13m E-W; 10.65m N-S) directly. The gatehouse (ME019-060009-) is aligned with this passage but c. 7m outside it to the E and a wooden wall or hedge might have enclosed the area between them, although the gatehouse might have been built with the tower house as an entrance to a small bawn. A bullaun stone, cut down to a square (dims c. 0.4m x 0.4m) with a single basin, is now secured onto the S wall of the passage. The room to the S of the passage had single large windows, now destroyed, in both the E and W walls and this room rose to a double height of other College rooms. North of the passage there were two storeys connected by a newel stairs in a projecting tower at the NE angle, and there was a garderobe in the N wall at the first floor. At the centre of the N range facing the cloister were the four priests’ apartments in a single building (int. dims 12.95m E-W; 4.25m N-S) that was divided into two by a wooden partition on each of its two floors, creating four self-contained apartments. The S wall is almost entirely missing but two doorways were close together at the centre on the ground floor, and each of the apartments was provided with its own fireplace and garderobe. Each apartment also has as a round-headed single light with external square hood-moulding in dressed limestone in the N wall and probably a similar one in the S wall. The entrances to the garderobe tower are at the centre of the N wall, those on the ground floor being lintelled and those at the first floor having elliptical heads. The two apartments on the upper floor were accessed from a balcony suspended over the cloister which was itself accessed from the mural stairs inserted into the N wall of the tower house. The W end of the N range and the N end of the W range do not survive, but the latter was a single chamber that probably served as a storeroom, with one doorway, now blocked, in its E wall to the cloister. The S range (int. dims 15.9m E-W; 4.35m N-S) has two floors but it is on a slightly different alignment to the tower house which it abuts. It has an ornate elliptical-headed doorway (Wth 0.98m; H 2.05m) at its E end against the W wall of the tower house, and there are garderobes at each floor at the NW angle. On the ground floor this chamber was divided into at least three rooms by steps rising westwards and what must have been wooden partitions. At the ground floor there are fireplaces in the N wall of the central and E rooms, and these rooms have direct access to the cloister through pointed doorways. At the first floor there were four elliptical-headed windows, two of which survive in the S wall, which is the only surviving wall. Each window has four panels and highly decorated labels. Over the doorway in the S range is an armorial plaque (H 0.6m; Wth 0.5m) in Dundry depicting the arms of France and England quartered, which was the royal arms adopted by Edward III (R. 1327-1377). The red dragon was added as a supporter by the Tudors, and a Dundry stone (Wth 0.3-0.6m; H 0.45m) set into the inner face of the W wall of the S range with part of a dragon is probably part of the original display of the Royal arms. Another armorial plaque (H 0.6m; Wth 0.4m) is set into the inner face of the W wall of the cloister and has a small shield or buckler with the Fleming arms placed at an angle beneath a small helmet that has a mortar on its crest (Trench 1976, 42), which might have formed another supporter for the Royal arms. See the attached: _1 Plan from Bradley and King (1985) after Westropp (1901) _2 Aerial from S _3 Aerial from SW _4 from E _5 from SE _6 The Royal crest Compiled by: Michael Moore Date of upload: 29 March 2012 Amended: 27 January 2021

Description Source: National Monuments Service, Department of Arts, Heritage Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.

Monument Details

53.7175, -6.54285

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