Friday, 22 May 2015
ms-havachat's out'n'about - Dublin: House No 29
Thanks to shows like Upstairs Downstairs (showing my age now), and Downtown Abbey, we are very familiar with life of a bygone era.
Number 29 Lower Fitzwilliam Street in Dublin is a fine example of a Georgian home 1700-1820. You can take a self guided tour or, as we did yesterday, be taken on a trip down memory lane by one of the curators. Sadly, no photo's are allowed, so I've had to use stock images.
Number 29 recreates very well the humble home of a widow, Mrs Olivia Beatty and her children. Your visit starts with a very well produced short film, narrated by Mrs Beatty who has a great sense of humour!
There are many Georgian terraces in Dublin, most are offices these days. The facades are well maintained, and one can only hope the interiors have been maintained over the years as best possible.
Our tour started in the dining room. The table was set with it's Waterford Crystal glasses, silverware and crockery. We learnt that crockery was heavily taxed, so predominately white china was imported as it attracted a lesser tax, then was painted by local artisans.
What this photo does not show are the really interesting pieces we saw ...... the beautifully carved oak barrel that kept the plates and food warm. There's a chamber at the base of the barrel for peat to be heated, and grooves along the interior wall allowing the plates to slide in and out easily.
There was the chamber pot, which was used by the men after dinner (not sure where the ladies went) when the ladies retired to the sitting room upstairs. Our guide suggested that maybe the chamber pot was in the corner of the room with a partition separating it from guests. Can't imagine men would go to the loo infront of other diners!?
Just outside the room, near the front door we were told about the Whiskey Bar. Every good Georgian home has one. It's a gold bar attached to the wall which has two uses. The first is for coats as there's no coat stand, and the other is to assist the master of the house when he comes home after a night out and needs to steady himself. The servants would hear him come home, and go to help him with his coat and hat, and if unsteady help him upstairs.
The petticoat sideboard was beautiful and practical, even today. Married ladies were not allowed to show any petticoat, while single ladies of marrying age were allowed to show a few inches. The petticoat mirror at the base of the sideboard allowed the ladies to check their hems one final time before leaving the house.
The 'Blue Room' was where the family would retire at night for entertainment. The room is set up with a card table, writing desk and fire place.
Each room of the house has a bell pull, and each room's bell made a different sound in the basement so the maid/s knew where they were needed.
It's a shame there aren't more photos to show you, or that I couldn't take any as there's so much more to this wonderful home to share.
Guess you'll just have to include it on your itinerary next time you are in Dublin.
You'll need no more than an hour or so here. It's a walkable distance from St Stephens' Green and there are plenty of places for a coffee or meal before/after your visit.
Hope you enjoy stepping back in time as much as we did.