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Historic Building Details

HB Ref No:
HB22/13/001 A

Extent of Listing:
House and outbuildings

Date of Construction:
1740 - 1759

Address :
Castle Dobbs 74 Tongue Loanen Carrickfergus Co.Antrim BT38 9BU


Survey 2:

Date of Listing:
25/02/1976 00:00:00

Date of De-listing:

Current Use:
Country House

Former Use
Country House

Conservation Area:

Industrial Archaeology:





OS Map No:

IG Ref:
J4444 9077

Owner Category


Exterior Description And Setting

Detached symmetrical three-bay two-storey-over-basement Palladian country house, built c.1730, located to the east side of Tongue Loanen Road, Carrickfergus. Rectangular-on-plan aligned east-west with single-storey (over basement) perpendicular flanking wings are linked to main block by courtyard quadrants. The roof is hipped and slated with rolled lead ridge and hips; leaded parapet (blocking course) supported on moulded cornice; four ruled-and-lined rendered chimneys with square terracotta pots. Walling is ruled-and-lined rendered with chamfered vermiculated rusticated stepped quoins, (plain raised stepped quoins to second floor and rear elevation); string courses (modillioned eaves cornice to wings continues as string course to central block,) smooth rendered plinth. Windows are timber sliding sashes; (exposed boxes to north elevation) with masonry cills. (Various window surround details, described at each section.) Principal (south) elevation is seven windows wide with central projecting bay (three windows wide,) with triangular pediment. Basement level is entirely rusticated; ruled and lined render above string course. Seven windows to each floor, 6/3 sliding sashes at basement; 2/1 sliding sashes at first floor with consoled cornices and moulded architraves; 6/6 at second floor with keyblock. West gable is abutted by single-storey (over basement) wing, (aligned north-south.) Exposed section is blank with projecting block to left, also blank. Rear symmetrical elevation is seven windows wide with central triangular pedimented projecting bay (three windows wide.) Piano nobile is accessed by a grand symmetrical entrance stair with carved stone balustrading and piers; supported on two Greek Ionic columns flanked by plain pilasters, forming a portico to the basement level entrance below. Basement entrance contains double-leaf timber panelled entrance door surmounted by cornice on consoled brackets and flanked by double round-headed windows; two plainly detailed 6/3 sliding sashes to each side of entrance stair. Piano nobile has timber glazed entrance doors recessed within fluted pilasters surmounted by entablature and triangular pediment. Three windows to each side (central window within projecting bay.) Seven windows at first floor; all with plain surrounds and keyblock. Main block is flanked by alcoved connecting blocks adjoining the main block to east and west wings; both have two oval lunette windows to each floor. East gable is abutted by single-storey (over basement) wing, (aligned north-south.) Exposed section has projecting block to right; detailed as main block with Serliana window to east elevation. West wing is detailed as main block with vermiculated rusticated quoins and plain banded rustication to basement. South elevation has three windows at each floor. West elevation has seven windows to each floor; recessed section to right has stair leading to piano nobile (detailed as north elevation;) door surmounted by leaded corner canopy; access to basement level through timber panelled door below stair. North gable is blank. East elevation has central timber panelled door with plain raised stepped quoins; two plainly detailed windows to each side; five windows at first floor with moulded lugged architraves. East wing detailed as west wing; ruled-and-lined rendered throughout; south elevation as west wing; west elevation has five windows to each floor; 4/4 sliding sashes at basement; 2/4 sliding sashes at first floor; all with exposed boxes. North elevation is blank. West elevation is detailed as west elevation of west wing (without stair to piano nobile;) abutted to right by two-storey random rubble outbuilding with pitched slated roof. Series of two-storey outbuildings form courtyard to east side of house. Roofs are pitched and slated. Walls are random rubble with brick surround details and detailed brick eaves course. Timber casement windows and timber sheeted door openings. Set within mature wooded parkland with views over Belfast Lough to south and formal landscaped garden to north. Accessed by gravel driveway from the north gate lodge (HB22/13/001B.) Roof covering Natural slate Walling Ruled-and-lined rendered with chamfered vermiculated rusticated stepped quoins. Windows Timber sliding sashes Rainwater goods Cast-iron (majority of rainwater goods are concealed)


Not Known

Historical Information

The present Palladian-style country house is said to have been built c.1730 by Arthur Dobbs, late surveyor of the Irish Works, in the manner of Sir Edward Lovett (Young p.253). According to Young, the single-storey wings were added some time later (p. 253). Changes to the house in the 1850s are thought to be the work of Charles Lanyon (Brett, p.78). Brett, however, suggests a later date of c.1750, claiming the house to be based on a plate from James Gibb’s “Book of Architecture” (1728) known to be in Dobb’s possession. He believes Castle Dobbs could be based on Plate 64, which is missing from the book (p.78). The OS Memoirs describe the house as “a spacious old-fashioned looking mansion… plantations, grounds and house are in a very neglected state.” (p. 59). It should be noted that the memoirs also state that the house was built '120 years ago', which if accurate would give the house a slightly earlier date. The building appears with additional extension to west elevation on the first edition OS map of 1832. In the 1857 and subsequent editions it is cited ‘Castle Dobbs’ although it is not until the 1902 edition that the building appears in its current form, without west additions. Valuations show the extension to have been farm buildings, pulled down between 1857 and 1859. The Townland Valuation of 1836 records a dwelling house and offices, owned and occupied by Richard Dobbs Esq. The building is valued at £ 46 14s, later revised to £53. Brett suggests that the house underwent changes in the 1850s, possibly to the designs of Charles Lanyon (p. 78). This could explain the increase in value. Griffith’s Valuation of 1859 lists a house, office, gate lodge and land, initially valued at £45, later revised to £12 5s. An accompanying note states “the old farm lot & offices have been pulled down & the new ones built…the amount in the old book to be altered”. Valuation Revisions from the 1870s record the occupier as Conway Dobbs, held ‘in fee’. The valuation is £120, revised in 1878 to £128. In 1886 the occupier changes to Montague Dobbs. In 1904 the gate lodge entry is crossed out and changed to [S] house. It is at this time that the ‘gardeners house’ is named in the description (although it appears on the 1857 map). A note reads ‘gate lodge deducted in 1904’; the lodge can be found entered separately below, occupied by William Snoddy, and valued at £3. A smaller house is also annexed from the main estate valuation at this time, occupied by Jacob Johnston, leased from M.W. Dobbs, valued at £2 10s. It is not clear which building this refers to, although it may be the smaller lodge. In 1914 the entry for ‘Castle Dobbs’ lists a house, office, steward’s house, gardener’s house and land. The building valuation is £125, and the gate lodge is recorded as occupied by Johanna Holt, and then by John Bowes in 1915. Conservation works were undertaken in the 1980s. Isherwood & Ellis of Belfast and Ballymena were responsible for taking down ceilings in the west wing for the examination of the roof structure in 1981. This was followed by major conservation work in the mid-1980s (Pierce and Coey, p.163). References: Primary Sources 1. PRONI OS/6/1/53/1 -First Edition OS Map (1831-2) 2. PRONI OS/6/1/53/2 -Second Edition OS Map (1857) 3. PRONI OS/6/1/53/3 -Third Edition OS Map (1901-2) 4. PRONI VAL/1/A/ 1/53 –Townland Valuation Map (1836) 5. PRONI VAL/1/B/119 –Townland Valuation Fieldbook (1836) 6. PRONI VAL/2B/1/16 –Griffiths Valuation Fieldbook (1859) 7. PRONI VAL/12/B/7/18 A-F –Valuation Revisions (1864-1929) 8. Day, A. and P. McWilliams, eds. “OS Memoirs of Ireland, Antrim 10 (Vol 26) 1830-1, 1833-5, 1839-30, East Antrim, Glynn, Inver, Kilroot & Templecorran.” Belfast: Institute of Irish Studies, 1990. Secondary Sources 1. Brett, C[harles] E. B. “Buildings of County Antrim.” Belfast: Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, 1996. 2. Dixon, Hugh and Alistair J. Rowan, “Notes and Reports,” Monuments and Buildings Record of Northern Ireland, Belfast, Cited in Brett, “Buildings of County Antrim.” Belfast: Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, 1996. 3. Gibbs, James. “A Book of Architecture.” London: 1728. 4. Hill, Rev. George. “An Historical Account of the Plantation in Ulster 1608-1620”. Belfast 1877, p.378 5. Pierce, Richard and Alastair Coey. “Taken for Granted: A Celebration of 10 Years of Historic Buildings Conservation.” Belfast: The Royal Society of Ulster Architects and The Historic Buildings Council, 1984. 6. Young, Robert Magill. “Belfast and the Province of Ulster in the Twentieth Century.” Pike's New Century Series, ed. W. T. Pike. Brighton : W. T. Pike, 1909.

Criteria for Listing

Architectural Interest

A. Style B. Proportion C. Ornamentation D. Plan Form I. Quality and survival of Interior J. Setting K. Group value

Historic Interest

V. Authorship W. Northern Ireland/International Interest Z. Rarity


An exceptionally attractive and well constructed Palladian country house, built c.1730, located to the east side of Tongue Loanen Road, Carrickfergus. Composed on a symmetrical Palladian plan with prominent classical features encased in later vermiculated rustication the house is a rare and grand example of the classical Palladian style and one of only a few remaining examples found in Northern Ireland still in private ownership; set within mature wooded parkland to the north of Belfast Lough the house along with other associated structures on the grounds form an estate group of great integrity. Still owned and occupied by members of the Dobbs family the house remains an impressive structure and contributes significantly to the architectural heritage of the area and the wider national context.

General Comments

This record has been renumbered as part of the estate group - previously HB22/13/001.

Date of Survey

17 December 2008