Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

Sherwood Park & House
Co. Carlow

By Jimmy O’Toole

Sherwood Park House
Sherwood Park House
Sherwood Park
By Jimmy O’Toole quoted from his book 'The Carlow Gentry'

Baillie of Sherwood Park

A period Georgian residence built circa 1700 by Arthur Bailie,

Robert Baillie had an all-consuming passion for acceptance as a country squire. From a financial base created through a successful business, he set his sights on establishing a seat in the country, and along the way, he hoped to win the approval and respect of the upper echelons of the gentry', through a no less august body than the members of the two houses of parliament in Dublin. It was a grand plan that went seriously wrong. Baillie ended up in bankruptcy and the family moved to live in County Carlow where his youngest son, Arthur, financed the building of Sherwood Park, with a combined dowry and legacy of £450 left to his wife.

The Baillie story started in Dublin where the family had a prosperous upholstery business in Abbey Street and Capel Street. William Conolly had a fine town house in Capel Street which he occupied while the Castletown mansion was being built on the estate bought by the Conollys in 1709. As a result of their acquaintance in the city, Baillie decided, around 1718, to rent property from Conolly in Celbridge and, by 1720, Robert had completed the building of his new country home, Kildrought House. He was regarded as one of the estate's most improving tenants, and eventually became middleman on several pieces of land and houses in the area.

William Conolly was impressed with the enterprise and success of his new tenant, and when Baillic decided to ask his landlord, then Speaker of the Irish House of Commons, to support a proposal that he be given a commission for six tapestries for the new parliament building then under construction, he was confident his proposal would win Government approval. On 4th April, 1728. the commission was approved for two tapestries, depicting the Battle of the Boyne and the Siege of Derry. The quoted price of £3 each - not a great deal even in those days - was based on an understanding that Baillie would get the contract to furnish

new building. He was given four years to complete the tapestries, a commission it seems that had more to do with prestige than profits.

Bureaucracy got to work (a contradiction in terms), and two years later. Robert was still waiting for the dimensions of the two pieces. At the same time, costs were mounting because he had engaged the services of designer Johann van der Hagen, a landscape, marine and scene painter working in Dublin, and weaver John van Beaver. Eventually, the tapestries were completed and placed in position on 10th September, 1733, in the House of Lords, where they can still be seen. Financially, the project was a fiasco. Baillie did not get the contract for the furniture, and in lieu of reducing the number of tapestries from six to two, the M.P.s voted an additional payment of £200. The final balance of £136.6s.3d was not paid until September, 1735.

Within five years, Baillie was facing financial difficulties, and by 1749, after several judgements had been obtained against him, he had sold Kildrought House, and some of his land to Dublin brewer Thomas Welsh for £300. The family then moved to Carlow, where in 1751, Arthur Baillie leased 1,402 acres at Kilbride from John Palmer of St. Ultan-in-the-Fields, Middlesex, for an annual rent of £70, and on a renewable 21-year-lease. In 1753, Arthur married Williamina Katherina Finey, daughter of his next door neighbour in Celbridge, George Finey, who was Conolly's agent. When Mrs. Katherine Conolly died in 1752, she left Williamina a legacy of £150; her father died the same year leaving her £300. It was to his youngest son that the task of sorting out Robert Baillie's financial affairs fell. Robert died in 1761, and his wife Suzanna died in 1767.

On his Sherwood Park estate, The Freeman's Journal reported that Arthur Baillie was a vast improver and employed a greater number of poor folk than any other gentleman in that county. His employees proclaimed him to be a kind master and a most fair magistrate. Matters in dispute were for the most part amicably settled before the disputing parties left the yard. Williamina also got the approval of the 'Journal' - "Mrs. Baillie is a fine woman, abounding with every generous and sympathetic virtue, and is avowedly allowed to be the standard of politeness; none of that stupid insipid ceremony prevails."

Two of Robert Baillies five sons, Richard and William, pursued military careers. But it was as a result of his hobby as an engraver that Captain William Baillie won international fame. The second eldest of the family, William, born 5th June, 1723, was eighteen when he entered the Middle Temple in London to study law, but he dropped out after a short time and accepted a commission in the army, against his father's wishes. He fought as an ensign in the 13th Regiment of Foot at the Battle of Culloden; he served in Germany and in 1756, he was a captain in the 51st Regiment of Foot at the Battle of Minden. In failing health, he later sold his army commission and took the office of Commissioner of Stamps, a post from which he retired in 1795.

In an article in Carloviana in 1969, Hilary Pyle said Baillie seemed to have regarded himself as an amateur, and undertook his work through sheer enthusiasm and without any pretensions to genius. He even described his engravings on his book-plate as "amusements of Captain Will Baillie". He published over one hundred plates, including engravings depicting the works of such masters as Rembrandt. Frans Hals, and Rubens. He died at his Lisson Green home in Paddington, London, on 22nd December. 1810, at the age of eighty-eight.

A large part of the Baillie estate was sold in 1833, to George Rous K'eogh. following the death of Mrs. Jane Baillie, widow of George Baillie, who died in 1827. In the 1871 census, a John M. Bailey (presumably a descendant) was listed as owning 603 acres at Sherwood Park. Another variation on the spelling of the name was Bayly. The house and part of the land was sold about 1890 to the Webster family, who lived there until the late 1960s. After a year in the ownership of the Crowley family, Sherwood Park was sold to its present owners. Paddy and Maureen Owens.

Source: The 'Carlow Gentry'

This delightful Georgian farmhouse next to the famous Altamont Gardens is listed by Maurice Craig, the foremost authority on Ireland's architectural history, and beautifully located, with sweeping views over the countryside.


Bluebell Cottage

Bluebell cottage is also located in the area of Sherwood park just off the main Carlow to Bunclody road, south of Carlow town.  The property is situated on a quiet road with commanding views of the surrounding countryside. Nearby is the River Slaney.


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