Woodstock House was built in 1745-47 for Sir William Fownes by the architect Francis Bindon. It has a rusticated front façade and is unusual in being built around a small central court. The decorative emphasis of the house was focused upon the front facade. In 1804-06 flanking wings were added to designs by William Robertson. The service yards either side were added at the same time. Both the main house and the wings were built of stone with brick lining inside. The basement vaulting was, unusually, also of brick. Only parts of the east and west walls of the centre block and parts of the wings had no internal brick lining. Like many early 18th century Irish country houses, the decorative emphasis of the building was focused upon the front façade. The five bay garden frontage is much plainer though a very decorative iron staircase was added in the 1850’s by Richard Turner, the famous iron master.
The Victorian gardens, which contain elements of international importance, were laid out with the house as a central focus. The restoration of the gardens which is being carried out by Kilkenny County Council, has highlighted, both the significance of the house in relation to the gardens and the precarious condition which the structure is currently in.
With public access to the restored gardens, the area around the house has been fenced off for safety.
It is proposed that the conservation works to Woodstock House, to be carried out on a phased basis, will provide for its stabilisation and preservation as a ruin. Ultimately it is recommended that there should be public access to the interior of the building to enable a full appreciation of the gardens. This access may be limited and controlled, depending upon the extent of conservation/restoration works carried out. In principle, the phases of conservation building works are as follows:
Phase One: Emergency works to make structure safe to work on. This involves:
1. Digital/photographic survey of front and garden facades to provide dimensional photographic record and measured elevations. This will be carried out prior to any dismantling works.
2. Careful dismantling of loose fabric of the front (collapsed ) façade to a level where the remaining wall is stable and safe.
3. The removed fabric will be stored on pallets in the grounds and where safely possible, dressed stones will be numbered prior to removal. Loose material already on the ground will be retrieved, labelled and stored on pallets.
4. Wall tops to be weathered with a hydraulic lime mortar flaunching.
Phase Two: Removal of loose rubble at ground/basement internal level, to provide safe ground for erecting scaffold.
Carrying out consolidation and stabilisation works to masonry walls including rebuilding of certain sections to include removed wall and reinstatement of cross walls etc. Also removal of vegetation and making good brickwork/stonework around; brickwork repairs including re-pointing, mortar repairs and replacement where necessary.