Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Architect, of London and Dublin. Robert Woodgate is described as 'Robert Woodgate of the Parish of St Margaret Westminster[,] Carpenter' in the articles of agreement between himself and JOHN SOANE  JOHN SOANE signed on 30 June 1788 whereby he undertook to serve as Soane's apprentice for three years. Soane, on his part, would teach Woodgate 'the business of an Architect in all its branches', paying him £25 in the first year, £30 in the second, and 18s per week in the third year.(1) Woodgate continued to work for Soane after the expiry of the three years, and in October 1791 was sent by him to Baronscourt, Co. Tyrone, to supervise the building of a new house for the Marquess of Abercorn.(2) The Marquess's agent James Hamilton described Woodgate in a letter of 11 May 1793 as 'a lad of much address, seldom embarrassed and full of resources'.(3) By the spring of 1794 Woodgate must have decided to leave Soane's employment and pursue an independent career as an architect in Ireland. On 5 April 1794 Soane responded with evident regret to the news of this decision: 'I really wish you well & am clearly of opinion, that your Ideas are much more likely to be realised (which I really hope they will be) in England than in Ireland; I think in Ireland the Situation must be more precarious & that you will act more as a Builder & Contractor…If after what I have said you see your way clearly in Ireland, for God's sake determine to continue, at all times you may freely command me. I can be of use being with great truth Your sincere Wellwisher John Soane'.(4)

The patronage of the Marquess of Abercorn must have provided Woodgate with a sound basis on which to build his Irish career. His involvement with Baronscourt was prolonged as the result of a disastrous fire which broke out in the newly-built house in December 1796, destroying the main block. It was Woodgate who saved the wings by giving orders to stack wet sods against the doors which connected them to the main block.(5) During the following year he supervised the dismantling of the burnt-out shell, and in 1798 set about alterations to what remained.(6) At the same time he was working for the Marquess of Abercorn on plans for a 'New Town' at Strabane, Co. Tyrone.(7)

By 1799 Woodgate had moved to 53 Exchequer Street, Dublin. Dublin. He wrote to Soane from this address on 18 November 1799 enclosing a 'Sketch of the first House I ever Built as a small tribute due for your former kindness to me'. The house in question was Blayney Castle, Co. Monaghan, which was being built for Lord Blayney. 'I am doing very well,' he wrote, 'have form'd a Good & Extensive connection & have plenty of business. I am engaged to Build Next Summer a Banking House for Mssrs Finlay & Co. in Dublin - to begin a New House £8000 value for Mr Stewart, Tyrone - & £4000 in addition to the House of the Honble Thos. Knox - I am making out a Plan for the Jail at Limerick & have been spoke to by the Provost of the College to execute the remaining part of the Sir Willm. Chambers's plan (a Tower & Spire) that finishes the Centre of the Side of a Square.' Soane had recently been approached by the Directors of the Bank of Ireland to supply plans for a new bank building in Westmoreland Street, and Woodgate asked him whether he would nominate him as clerk of works for its execution.(8)

While only some of the projects listed by Woodgate in 1799 came to fruition, a more dependable source of income was assured him in January 1802 with his appointment as architect to the Board of Works in succession to to VINCENT WALDR VINCENT WALDR É.(9) He had been in the post for little more than three years when he died in 1805.(10) In 1806 his widow petitioned the Government for payment for work done by him on the Fourt Courts in succession to JAMES GANDON. JAMES GANDON. (11) His pupils and assistants included DOMINICK MADDEN DOMINICK MADDEN . After his death FRANCIS JOHNSTON  FRANCIS JOHNSTON was appointed architect to the Board of Works in his place.

Address: 53 Exchequer Street, Dublin, <=1799(12)-1805.(13)

See WORKS.



References



(1) Sir John Soane's Museum Archive: Private Correspondence XV.C.3.
(2) John H. Gebbie, An Introduction to the Abercorn letters (1972), 169.
(3) Gebbie, op. cit., 181.
(4) Sir John Soane's Museum Archive: Letter Book June 1793-Aug 1795.
(5) Gebbie, op. cit., 344,345.
(6) Gebbie, op.cit., 348,350.
(7) Gebbie, op. cit., 214-5; North West Ulster, 492.
(8) Sir John Soane's Museum archive: Private correspondence XV.A.2.5.
(9) Board of Works Minute Book,1, 12 Jan 1802 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44).
(10) Bank [of Ireland?] minutes, 1 Oct 1805 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44).
(11) NA/SPO 531/230/16 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44).
(12) See note 8, above.
(13) He is listed in Wilson's Dublin Directory for the years 1802-1805.


18 work entries listed in chronological order for WOODGATE, ROBERT


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Building: CO. TYRONE, BARONSCOURT
Date: 1791-96;1798
Nature: RW clerk of works for John Soane for erection of house, 1791-96; in charge of reconstruction, 1797-98, after fire of Dec 1796.
Refs: Ground floor plan, s. & d. Dec 1795, in Soane Museum, Drawer 29, Set 2; letters and accounts of RW to Marquess of Abercorn re building of house, 1791-1800, in PRONI, Abercorn MSS, D.623/A/106-7, also T2541/1A1/18-21; John H. Gebbie, An Introduction to the Abercorn letters (1972), 169,175,177,181,344,345,348,350; Alistair Rowan, The Buildings of Ireland: North West Ulster (1979), 131-2; Dorothy Stroud, Sir John Soane, Architect (1984), 64,150-151; Gillian Darley, John Soane: an accidental Romantic (1999), 103

Building: CO. DONEGAL, BROWN HALL
Date: 1794
Nature: Works at same (porch? extension of ground-floor windows? enlargement of dining room?). For John Hamilton. RW and a number of tradesmen, including plasterers, moved from Baronscourtto Brownhall, c. 1794
Refs: PRONI, Abercorn MSS, T2541/1A1/18-21; Alistair Rowan, The Buildings of Ireland: North West Ulster (1979), 151

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, COLLEGE GREEN, PARLIAMENT HOUSE
Date: 1797
Nature: Plan for heating same.
Refs: PRONI, D562/7530 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc.2008/44)

Building: CO. MONAGHAN, BLAYNEY CASTLE
Date: 1799
Nature: Described by RW as 'the first House I ever built'. In progress, 1799. For Andrew Thomas Blayney, 11th Baron Blayney (who married Mabella, eldest daughter of 1st Earl of Caledon, 1796).
Refs: Letter from RW to Soane, 18 Nov 1799, describing and enclosing plans and elevations of same, Sir John Soane's Museum archive, Private correspondence XV.A.2.5,6;  Kevin V. Mulligan, The Buildings of Ireland: South Ulster (2013), 236-40.

Building: CO. TYRONE, KILLYMOON CASTLE
Date: 1799-1801
Nature: Proposals by RW for adds. & alts. for James Stewart.
Refs: Letter from RW to Soane, 18 Nov 1799, Sir John Soane's Museum archive: Private correspondence XV.A.2.5; letter from RW, Cookstown, to Mrs Stewart, 27 Dec 1801 among Clements MSS at Killadoon, Co. Kildare (2004)

Building: CO. LIMERICK, LIMERICK, ST AUGUSTINE PLACE, CITY GAOL
Date: 1799-1802
Nature: Proposed new gaol. Clerk of works: Joseph Fone. (But not built?)
Refs: Letter from RW to Soane, 18 Nov 1799, Sir John Soane's Museum archive: Private correspondence XV.A.2.5; Board of Works minute book 1, 8 May 1802 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc.2008/44)

Building: CO. TYRONE, STRABANE, NEW TOWN
Date: 1799-1802
Nature: RW engaged in laying out 'New Town' for Marquess of Abercorn. May have designed Victoria House in New Town St.
Refs: Drawing and plan, 1799, among letters to Marquess of Abercorn from RW in PRONI, Abercorn MSS, D.623/A/107/1-49, also T2541/1A1/6-10; John H. Gebbie, An Introduction to the Abercorn letters (1972), 214-5; Alistair Rowan, The Buildings of Ireland: North West Ulster (1979), 492,495

Building: CO. TYRONE, DUNGANNON, NORTHLAND PLACE, NORTHLAND HOUSE?
Date: 1799ca
Nature: RW to make an 'addition to the House of the Honble Thos Knox' costing £4000, 1799 (at Northland House or at Fairy Hill, Dungannon?) Also gate lodge?
Refs: Letter from RW to Soane, 18 Nov 1799, Sir John Soane's Museum archive: Private correspondence XV.A.2.5; Alistair Rowan, The Buildings of Ireland: North West Ulster (1979), 262

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, COLLEGE GREEN, TRINITY COLLEGE
Date: 1799ca
Nature: 'I…have been spoke to by the Provost of the College to execute the remaining part of Sir Willm. Chambers's plan (a Tower & Spire) that finishes the Center of the Side of a Square'.
Refs: Letter from RW to Soane, 18 Nov 1799, Sir John Soane's Museum archive: Private correspondence XV.A.2.5.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, JERVIS STREET?, FINLAY'S BANK
Date: 1800
Nature: 'I am engaged to Build Next Summer a Banking House for Mssrs Finlay & Co. in Dublin'.
Refs: Letter from RW to Soane, 18 Nov 1799, Sir John Soane's Museum archive: Private correspondence XV.A.2.5.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, HARDWICKE PLACE, ST GEORGE'S CHURCH (CI)
Date: 1801
Nature: Competition entrant (2 designs)
Refs: RIA pamphlet 878/6 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc.2008/44)

Building: CO. DOWN, CLANDEBOYE HOUSE
Date: 1801-04ca
Nature: Remodelling of and addition of S range to Ballyleidy House for 2nd Baron Dufferin, to form L-shaped building consisting of 7-bay S range and 9-bay E range.
Refs: Peter Rankin, 'Clandeboye House', in Clandeboye(UAHS., 1985), 18-23(illus.); Marcus Patton, Bangor: an historical gazetteer (UAHS, 1999),45,46(illus.);  Ptolemy Dean, 'Forgotten genius:  Clandeboye House, Co. Down, part I', Country Life, 203, 2 Dec 2009, 48-51.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, PHOENIX PARK, 'LINDSAY'S HOUSE'
Date: 1802
Nature: RW makes plans for same, Jan 1802.
Refs: Letter from Lord Hardwicke to Lindsay, 23 Jan 1802, in Hardwicke MSS, British Library Add. MS 35732 (source:Anthony Malcomson)

Building: CO. TYRONE, URNEY PARK
Date: 1803a
Nature: Designed by RW?;  'a straightforward small classical block, two-storey, three-bay, with corner quoins, and a four-columned Tuscan porch in stone' (Rowan).   For James Galbraith (law agent to Abercorn estates, cr. baronet, 1812)
Refs: PRONI, Clements MSS, letter from Mrs Stewart to James Stewart, 4 May 1803 I saying that RW has 'botched' Urney (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc.2008/44); Alistair Rowan, The Buildings of Ireland: North West Ulster (1979), 504

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, PHOENIX PARK, VICE-REGAL LODGE
Date: 1804
Nature: Addition of symmetrical 3-bay wings to garden front., for Board of Works.
Refs: Board of Works Minute Book 1, 21 Apr,13 Aug,19 Aug 1804 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc.2008/44);  Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 294.


Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, INNS QUAY, FOUR COURTS
Date: 1804ca
Nature: Works at same.
Refs: Memorial of his wife, 1806, asking for payment for work done as successor to Gandon on Four Courts in NA SPO 531/230/16 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc.2008/44)

Building: CO. DERRY, DERRY, INFIRMARY ROAD, COUNTY INFIRMARY
Date: 1810
Nature: 7-bay, 3-storey block, designed by RW and erected after his death under supervision of E. Edgar. Opened 1810.
Refs: J.P. Lawson, Gazetteer of Ireland (1842), 617-622; Robert Simpson, The Annals of Derry (1847), 249; Howard Colvin, A Biographical dictionary of British architects 1600-1840 (1st edn., 1954), 694 (citing A.T. Bolton, The Works of Sir John Soane, RA, Appendic C., p.xl, and APSD).

Building: CO. LIMERICK, MOUNT SHANNON
Date: ?
Nature: Visits same.
Refs: E.McP files, citing PRONI Mic 18, Reel 7