The selling of Faithlegg House March 1st 1816

In last weeks blog we met the Bolton family of Cornelius Bolton the elder, through the visits and writings of Arthur Young.  At this time the families activities were generally of a pastoral nature.  In a few short years however they would shift to an industrial focus, which would lead to a boom time for the area, but alas like all booms, there would also be a bust, and in it, this particular developer would lose all.  

Cornelius the Elder was a progressive farmer
who died in 1779.  In succeeding his father, Cornelius the MP was to become a serious businessman.  He would also be an MP for Waterford on several occasions and would hold several other posts including Mayor and Sheriff.

In 1885 the Mail Packet station was moved to the village of Cheekpoint and it would appear this was to become a serious driver of the industrial plans.  This also coincided with government policy to diversify textile manufacture away from Dublin and substantial subsidies were provided by parliament to villages such as Balbriggen in Dublin, Prosperous  in Kildare and Cheekpoint and New Geneva in Waterford.1

Below is a brief list of the achievements of both Boltons, as I find it impossible to separate the activities of one from the other regarding the earlier developments.  This is also incomplete.  As two of the items were only added in the last few weeks.  I imagine it would take serious historical research to unearth all that the Bolton’s were involved in.

  • Ballycanavan House
  • Brooke Lodge
  • 300 Acres of woodland including the Oak woods around Faithlegg and the Glazing wood
  • Double Lime Kilns (2 at Jack Meades, 2 at Faithlegg and 1 at Cheekpoint) (that I know of)

  • Triple kiln at Ballycanavan

Triple kiln
  • Water Mill at Jack Meades

Old water mill, Jack Meades

  • Water Mill at Ballycanavan

  • Commercial Ice House at Jack Meades
  • Forge on Redmonds Hill
  • Draining of and reclaiming of Marshes including containing walls
  • Textile Industry at Cheekpoint – (Thirty stocking frames, 22 looms for linen and cotton2
  • Brick making factory
  • Rope walk in Cheekpoint

  • Daisybank house – Hotel for the mail packet

Daisybank House
  • Cheekpoint quay (replaced with the present quay circa 1870)
  • Realignment and improvement to main road to Waterford (including the mileposts)

  • Two slate quarries at the Barn Quay

  • Mining operations for cobalt
  • An interest in the plans for New Geneva project

  • Faithlegg House

Some of the above still exist.  However, others are just memories handed down
in the area or linked to placenames such as the rope walk at the Rookery and
the Village Green – most probably a blanching green where the cotton was spread
out to dry in the sun. Others such as the Mail Packet are survived by the milepost,
the house where the captain who ran it – Captain Owen, resided and his daughter
poetess Elisabeth Owen in Fairymount, or by the Hotel which was established to cater for
passengers, now Daisybank house. 
Perhaps Bolton’s lasting legacy was the
building of Faithlegg House.  It was
built in 1783 and the architect was believed to be John Roberts.  Roberts was responsible for some of the
finest buildings in Waterford at the time 
including the Bishop’s Palace, both cathedrals, City Hall,
Theatre Royal and my own favourite the Chamber of Commerce Building at the top
of Gladstone Street.  As Roberts had a country home in the Glen in Faithlegg, it would have been relatively easy
for him to oversee the work. There may be another connection, but one I only heard of, that Bolton paid for the spire on the protestant cathedral.
Although Cornelius would go on to try out
many initiatives to sustain his business ideas, none of his endeavours seems to
have paid off.  The slate quarries were
of poor quality, no Cobalt was found. The ending of the Napoleonic wars led to a slump in demand for textiles.  The 1798 uprising and the the act of Union must have also impacted. Perhaps the biggest impact was the shifting of the mail packet station downriver because of the delay in getting the ships to Cheeekpoint.

In a desperate attempt to stave off his creditors Bolton sold off parts of his operation and land, but ultimately he lost it all.  On March 1st 18163 he was forced to sell Faithlegg house
to repay part of his debts.  199 years ago this week.

He moved to Waterford and it was in the city that he died in 1829.  He is buried alongside his father and other members of the family in Old Faithlegg Church

Bolton’s plot and extended family, old Faithlegg Church

1  Ed Aalen FHA, Whelan K & Stout M.  Atlas of the Irish Rural Landscape. 2003.  Cork University Press p 189

2   Ed Fewer TN, I was a Day in Waterford 2001.  Ballylough Books.  pp 49-53 (excerpt from Julian Walton)

3 “Links and Landmarks being a calendar for the year 1900 recording curious and remarkable events in the history of Waterford city from the earliest times to the present day ” compiled by M. J. Hurley
courtesy of Micheal O Sullivan Waterford History Group, without whom I would not have known this specific detail and who I would like to thank for the title.

Various people will have helped me with information for this piece who I can no longer recollect, but most recently Gerry Boland gave me some info on the Faithlegg Kilns which I was not aware of.

Faithlegg’s Deerpark

Over Christmas I came across an illustrated map that suggested the Deerpark in Faithlegg is dating from the time of the Norman manor, specifically from the 14-15th Century.  I have to say I was surprised at this and in the last few weeks I have been up there more and more, and thinking about the implications.  The source for this was the Atlas of Irish Rural Landscape.  And it lists Deerparks from around the country, of which Waterford can claim only a handful, see map below.

The Atlas of the Irish Rural Landscape, p 198

Now the Atlas has no further details and also could be wrong.  I had always believed it was part of the Demesne constructed by Cornelius Bolton Jnr in 1783 at the time that Faithlegg House was constructed.  At that time extensive planting and development occurred in the parish, noted for example by Arthur Young in his ” A Tour in Ireland” and who I have mentioned before and indeed, will again.

OSI map

Deerparks were a feature added over many centuries in Ireland, but started initially with the Normans.  They were primarily a source of food, along with other features around the manor like rabbit warrens, dovecotes and fish ponds.  The Deerparks were generally sited in an outlying position on the manor, but no further than a mile away.  They were mostly earthen embankments with an internal fosse topped with a timber paling fence but stone was used where it was available – the situation in the area of Faithlegg (or possibly the walls were built at a later stage by the Boltons?).  Although some used them for supplying animals for the sport of hunting, it was generally for food, and apparently the keeper could supply venison to those favoured by the lord of the manor on presentation of permission slips.  Venison was a meat for special occasions and their was prestige attached to its eating.

The sites were no more that a few acres and were generally on poorer land, with grass, scrub and some trees.  The Normans introduced fallow deer to Ireland, in particular for the parks, as they could endure indifferent land and were good breeders.  In time the deerparks could be turned to pasture for dairy, beef herds or horsebreeding, and many disappeared in the creation of landscape parks in the Eighteenth century – which indeed was the style under which Faithlegg House was created.

one of the better stretches of the wall, bedecked with moss and lichens

Entrance pillar on the Old Road
South west corner on Old Road

This new information suggests that the Deerpark name, and the remaining walls could possibly be as old as Faithlegg Church, making them the oldest built structures existing in the area.  This begs a question, what can we as a community could do to investigate the provenance of the site and highlight and preserve such a potentially important historic feature.

example of the size of falling trees and damage caused

The Deerpark is now owned by Coillte, the state forestry organisation. Last year 4 acres were put on the market but the sale did not go through and the land has since been replanted.  But the Deerpark and Minaun is now vastly changed and under threat.  Previous planting is now collapsing which is placing significant strain on the walls.  Trees and other vegetation growing adjacent to the walls are also encroaching and undermining the walls

The North West corner, the fosse now provides a walkway
Another issue is that the name of the Deerpark seems to be falling out of favour with Coillte.  Some years back a sign was erected that called the area Faithlegg Woods.  The sign has now been replaced but the name remains.  Perhaps a map of the beautiful walks in the area could be provided, with the historic placenames of Deerpark, Minaun and Glazing Woods highlighted.  This would be a positive step, but in light of the age and significance of the site, perhaps much more could be done to interpret and preserve this important heritage site.

Ed; Aalen FHA et al.  Atlas of the Irish Rural Landscape. 2003.  Cork University Press, Cork