Abandoned ireland


Woodstock House,

Co. Kilkenny.

Documenting our Heritage

Co. Kilkenny


In 1745 Sir William Fownes employed Francis Bindon, one of the most prominent architects of the time, to design Woodstock House. Construction was finished in 1747.

Woodstock house was a three storey house, six bays at the front with a central niche and statue above the entrance doorway. In 1804 single storey wings of five bays were added on each side of the central block. The garden front was of five bays and much plainer than the entrance front.

In the 1770s Sarah Ponsonby lived at Woodstock, with her cousins Sir William Fownes and Lady Betty Fownes. Sir William Fownes, apparently tried to force himself on Ms Ponsonby on various occasions. In April 1778, Sarah Ponsonby's friend Eleanor Butler who was being kept 'in disgrace' at Borris, Co. Carlow escaped and was let into Woodstock through a window. Eleanor Butler hid herself in Sarah's room before being discovered. Shortly afterwards the two lesbian friends left for Wales where they became know as the 'Ladies of Llangollen'.

Sarah Fownes, the daughter and heiress of Sir William Fownes, married William Tighe and in 1778 on the death of her parents, they inherited the Woodstock Estate. Four years later William Tighe died suddenly at a young age. Sarah transferred her estate to her eldest son William Tighe in the early 1790s. William died on 12th March 1816 in London after a long illness. He was succeeded at Woodstock by the elder of the two sons William Frederick Fownes Tighe. William Frederick Fownes Tighe married Lady Louisa Lennox in April 1825.

Lady Louisa Lennox was remarkable in that she was the only woman beside the Queen of England who had the power to pardon criminals - even at the foot of the gallows. She apparently exercised this right twice a year with great care and wisdom. In one case Lady Louisa banished a criminal from Ireland. Her steward had confessed to the crimes of stealing the Richmond black diamond and the Duke of Richmond's watch. His only punishment was that he was ordered to leave the country.

Until her death in 1900, Lady Louisa Lennox and her husband developed Woodstock Gardens with their head gardeners Pierce Butler and Charles McDonald. A fine arboretum was planted with specimen trees from Asia and South America, many of these trees are recognised today as champions due to their size.

In 1921 Woodstock House was occupied by the Black and Tans causing much local resentment, and then later by troops of the Free State Army. The troops were withdrawn from the house on 1st July 1922. The very next day, the house which had been left unguarded was burnt to the ground by the IRA.

All that remains is a derelict empty shell.

Woodstock House Gardens have been restored by Kilkenny County Council and are open to the public.

Please note: Woodstock House structure is not open to public access.