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Photographer: Stuart Martin

Lambay Castle

Gazetteer No. G0149

Date 1905-12

Address Rush, County Dublin Ireland


The castle and gardens at Lambay are surrounded by a huge circular rampart wall that has a diameter of 700 feet. It is possible to walk along half of the wall and cross the timber bridge over the axial entrance gate. Inside this sheltering wall Lutyens paired the old house building with its stepped gables and carefully added a partially sunken range of buildings around a quadrangle. All the buildings are made of the local blue green porphyry stone that is shot with feldspar crystals with the mullions and other dressings of a grey limestone from the Skerries. All the roofs are united in their use of grey pantiles. The castle interior has fine stone stairs and fireplaces with remarkable stone relief geometric designs. The gardens were planted by Miss Jekyll. (Amery et al., 1981, cat no.158)

The rehabilitation and considerable enlargement of a derelict sixteenth-century fort on Lambay Island, off the coast of County Dublin, consciously preserved the primitive quality of the house and site. While Lutyens reconstructed the north-east front of the castle, the additional rooms was contained in a new kitchen court, disengaged diagonally from the main block and suppressed under a large roof. Further, the new building was cut into the sloping site and only connected to the castle on the ground floor by a passage below the east court. The two buildings are constructed of similar materials, rubble walls built of local porphyry with dressings of blue-grey limestone under grey-pantile roofs. The house and its gardens, farm buildings and plantations are united into one ‘castle’ by a circular rampart wall. (Inskip, 1982, p.83)

Now captivated by the island, the Barings determined to undertake more ambitious changes to the castle. They invited Sir Edwin Lutyens, renowned architect of the Arts & Crafts movement, to visit in August 1905.

Lutyens was utterly delighted by Lambay and the couple, and the visit sparked a warm friendship between the three of them that would last throughout their lives. Lutyens extended the Castle masterfully and by 1910 it was a beautiful refuge for Cecil and Maude, surrounded by an impressive circular wall, which Lutyens nicknamed “The Ramparts Against Uncharity”

Cecil and Maude had 12 blissful years together with their little family on Lambay but alas, in 1922, a still young Maude died of cancer, leaving Cecil with two daughters, Daphne and Calypso, and their little son Rupert. Her body was brought back from London to the island for burial. Lutyens, who was then busy with war memorials and the government buildings of New Delhi, designed a large monument for her grave, set in against the rampart walls and facing towards the Castle. The mausoleum is today one of the most pleasant and peaceful spots on the island…

Cecil died in 1934, but not before commissioning a final piece from Lutyens for his two daughters and their many children. The Whitehouse (or Babylon, as Lutyens dubbed it) was built in 1932-33, completing the shoreline quadrangle made up by the Coastguard Cottages, Real Tennis Court and Bothy….

Lutyens remained a regular visitor after the completion of the Castle and over the next 20 years, his work spanned a truly unique landscape in which he overlooked no detail. Under his direction, the shoreline was transformed with alterations to the existing 19th Century boathouse and the addition of a Real Tennis court with unique arches overlooking the beach. The court, built in 1922, is one of just two remaining outdoor Real Tennis courts in the world and in the 1993 and 1994 (the year of Rupert’s death) the London Queens Club champions came to play on Lambay; a montage of photos with a note from Rupert Baring can be seen hanging on the wall in the London-based tennis club.

The adjacent coastguard cottages were also restored and, in 1916, the Catholic chapel (1830s) in the field beyond was rebuilt with a rugged Doric portico in homage to Cecil’s love of the Classics. Lutyens also conceived the shallow terracing of the slope above the harbour to create a tantalising dogleg in the approach to the castle from the quay. His final addition, completed in 1933 just shortly before Cecil’s death, is the Whitehouse. Dubbed “Baby-lon” by Ned Lutyens, this beautiful guesthouse was designed for Rupert’s sisters Daphne and Calypso, both of whom had large families. The house has two symmetrical wings, with a shared central living space and main kitchen. This too, was crowned with the signature grey pan-tile roofing used on the other buildings.

The result is a remarkable range of architectural styles that have been seamlessly united by their whitewash treatment and the use of distinctive grey-coloured Dutch pantiles for the roofing. Lambay is regarded by some as Lutyens’ finest example of domestic architecture and it remains an extraordinary tribute to his talent and genius.​ It is also the only remaining example of his work that still holds all the original furniture, much of which Lutyens designed especially for the rooms, making it a truly remarkable sight. (Lambay Island, n.d.)


Amery, C., Richardson, M. and Stamp, G. (1981) Lutyens, the Work of the English Architect Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944): Hayward Gallery London, 18 November 1981-31 January 1982. London: Arts Council of Great Britain.

Inskip, P. (1986) Edwin Lutyens: Architectural Monographs 6. 2nd edn. London: Academy Editions.

Lambay Island. History. [Online] Available from:

Also Cited In

Weaver, L. (1913) Houses and Gardens by E L Lutyens. London: Country Life.

Aslet, C. (1982) The Last Country Houses. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Butler, A., 1950. The architecture of Sir Edwin Lutyens: the Lutyens memorial series. Vol 1: Country Houses, Country Life: London and Scibners: New York.

HUSSEY, C., 1929. COUNTRY HOMES GARDENS OLD & NEW: LAMBAY ISLAND–I. A RESIDENCE OF LORD REVELSTOKE. Country Life (Archive : 1901 – 2005), 66(1696), pp. 86-94.

HUSSEY, C., 1929. COUNTRY HOMES GARDENS OLD & NEW: LAMBAY–II. Country Life (Archive : 1901 – 2005), 66(1697), pp. 120-126.

MODERN DOMESTIC ARCHITECTURE: THE WORK OF MR. E. L. LUTYENS. 1912. Country Life (Archive : 1901 – 2005), 31(800), pp. av, avi, aix.

LAMBAY.. ..CASTLE. 1912. Country Life (Archive : 1901 – 2005), 31(800), pp. aix, ax, axiii.

L, W., 1912. COUNTRY HOMES GARDENS OLD & NEW: LAMBAY, IRELAND, THE SEAT OF.. THE HON. CECIL BARING. Country Life (Archive : 1901 – 2005), 31(800), pp. 650-658.

Listing Grade

Record of Monuments and Places: DU009-001005

Listing Reference


Hon Cecil Baring, 3rd, Lord Revelstoke