November 5

The Eagle

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Visitors to Westport House frequently ask us “what is the connection between the Eagle and Westport House?”.

The answer is that it forms a part of the Browne family crest.

Browne family crest

We can trace it as far back to Sir Anthony Browne of Cowdray Castle, Sussex, England, who was horseman to Henry VIII. His descendant, John Browne (1709 – 1776) was created Baron Mount Eagle on the 20th August 1729, Viscount Westport on 24th August 1760 and Earl of Altamont on 4th December 1771. Later, his grandson, John Denis Browne then the 3rd Earl of Altamont, received the title Marquess of Sligo for his support in favour of the Act of Union 1800.

The eagle has been a favoured and frequent design detail in both the architecture and the interiors of the house.

On approach, visitors to the House can see two Eagles on each corner of the East front and once inside, the visitor can encounter the Eagle emblem as they explore the various rooms and floors of the Georgian Manor.

https://youtu.be/4wYzyD3AYdQ
This video showcases the eagles being taken down for restoration earlier this year.

It is on the tops of the mirrors in the Long Gallery, and the Eagle is the main feature on the magnificent sideboards in the Large Dining room.

The Eagle is the main feature on the magnificent sideboards in the Large Dining room (shown on the left in this photo).

The eagle is on the phosphorus-bronze balustrades all the way up the Sicilian Marble stairs.

Ironwork detail on the Sicilian marble staircase in the front hall of Westport House by Wilkenson

 

In the Small Dining room in Westport House, we have on display an incredible illuminated genealogical account of the Brownes and their numerous connections from the 16th to 19th century. It was commissioned by Howe Peter Browne the 2nd Marquess of Sligo. The book was sumptuously bound by George Mullen of Dublin in contemporary full blue goat skin. There is ornate gilt tooling embossing on the centre of the upper cover depicting the Browne family crest. The inside covers are elaborately bound to a Cathedral Design in tanned calf and are ornately tooled in gilt and blind. In the intricately designed and very detailed account of the Browne family, the Eagle is a prominent feature throughout.
So next time you come to visit Westport House, it is worth taking the time to observe the Eagle in its various guises throughout the beautiful interiors.

An illuminated genealogical account of the Browne and its numerous connections from the 16th to 19th century – dated 1818.

 

The beautifully illustrated inside cover of the Pedigree of Howe Peter Browne – the 2nd Marquess of Sligo dated MDCCCXVIII (1818).

 

The Eagle is placed around the House in the most peculiar locations – here it is at the top of the stairs on the first floor.

 

The incredible stained-glass window on the first floor of Westport House showcases the full colour family crest. The family motto ‘Suivez Raison’ means ‘Follow Reason’ or more colloquially, ‘do the right thing’.

 

An Italian late 18th century giltwood armchair upholstered with needlework – the back has the Browne family crest and the seat has the coat of arms.

 

Even the downpipes taking water from the roof are embossed with the Eagle. They really thought of everything.

This list is not exhaustive. Please let us know in the comments below if you’ve spotted the eagle anywhere else on this estate.

Copy with thanks to Kathryn Connolly, Supervisor at Westport House.

Restoration Project

If you’re an avid reader of these blogs, you will know that we started Phase 1 of this restoration project on Westport House earlier in 2021.  It is the first phase of a restoration project that is expected to be completed in early 2022. It will see much needed conservation work carried out to the Georgian-era home to help prepare it for the larger €75m development project announced earlier this summer. 


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