St Anne’s Park is a 270 acre public park that previously formed part of a 500 acre estate developed by the Guinness family. The estate originally consisted of a large mansion with landscaped and woodland gardens. The mansion was lost to a fire in 1943 but the follies and garden buildings, dating from 1838, have survived.
Twelve follies were built by the Guinness family.
A folly is a decorative garden building. Follies were built to resemble bridges, temples, towers and more and reflected the tastes of wealthy 19th century aristocrats returning from their Grand Tours of Europe. Visiting the ruins of the continent, Italy in particular, they desired to replicate the romantic settings upon their return home.
The first folly to be built was the Annie Lee Bridge, near the chestnut walk, which commemorated the birth of Benjamin Lee Guinness’s daughter in 1837. The rest followed during the 1850’s and 1860’s. Most of the follies follow the course of the Naniken River which runs through the park, the rest can be found along an oak-lined avenue.
Every time I photograph the follies the images have a overpowering green tint so I decided to use a filter to remove some of the green.
A folly is a decorative building built in a garden. Follies are built to resemble bridges, towers, temples, hermitages and more and reflect the tastes of wealthy 19th Century wealthy people returning from grand tours of Europe.
This visit I did not manage to photograph all of the follies but I will revisit later this month or in July.
St Anne’s Park has 12 garden follies.
St. Anne’s Well (Medieval) Roman Tower ‘Tomb of Julii’ Annie Lee Bridge Herculanean Temple Yew Circle (Yew Circle and Fountain) Ornamental bridge / hermit’s cave (Bridge & Hermitage) Rustic Hermits Cave and Footbridge (Rustic Grotto – Cave) Arch (Rustic archway & bridge) Four-sided arched gateway axial to rear of former house (Rustic Grotto – Archways) Rockwork feature Boat House Shell House / Dogs Graveyard
The follies were built by the Guinness family. The first folly to be built was Annie Lee Bridge, which commemorated the birth of Benjamin Lee Guinness’s daughter in 1837. The rest followed during the 1850’s and 60’s.
Most of the follies follow the course of the Naniken River which runs through the park, the rest can be found along an oak-lined avenue.
The condition of the follies deteriorated over the years. In 2016 Dublin City Council started conservation works to preserve the follies for generations to come. The works involved stopping decay, cleaning, clearing vegetation, removing graffiti and protecting the structures from future vandalism. Some of the follies also received new railings.
During the course of the works some interesting discoveries were made. The first was at St. Anne’s Well, the medieval well which gives the park its name. The well is on the Record of Monuments and Places and is a protected structure. The structure around the well was also built by the Guinness family. While clearing the ground by the well, an old limestone path was discovered.
The second was a tiled floor in the Herculanean Temple. The square tiles have been hand-painted to create the impression of small mosaic tiles, featuring Grecian motifs, in contrast to the Temple’s Roman design.