The Mansion House, the official residence of the Lord Mayor of Dublin City, has been in continuous recorded occupation since 1715. As a national monument it is historically and architecturally significant as a rare example of the early 18th century Queen Anne style architecture in Dublin.
The early 18th century staircase off the main entrance hall is particularly beautiful. This staircase may have been moved from within the house or relocated from elsewhere, or otherwise altered. This was not uncommon as in the 18th century, transport being difficult and slow, meant that existing fine objects of significant craftsmanship were often reused.
The staircase in The Mansion House is one of only two yew main staircases known of in the Republic of Ireland and of three in the island of Ireland: Birr Castle Co. Offaly, The Mansion House Dublin and Springhill Co. Derry (A National Trust Property).
The yew staircase to be found in Birr Castle is said to date from the 1680s which has a closed string staircase. The Mansion House staircase is later but is the earliest Irish example known of a yew open string staircase (where one can see the steps in profile) .
City Architects in Dublin City Council have overseen the refurbishment of this staircase. The first phase of these works have been recently completed by McKeon Upholstery and Adams & Daughter which included 25 layers of paint being removed from the staircase to uncover the beauty of the fine timber and carving below, now clearly on view for the first time in centuries.
Image: Fine timber
The work is being carried out in phases as the house is lived in by the Lord Mayor as a family home as well as being the Lord Mayor’s office. This enables detailed historical research to be carried out between phases of restoration.
A good example of the unexpected arising during the course of the works, would be the uncovering of intact pine stair treads, when the thick paint was removed. This was a revelation. It would have been expected that the steps would be very worn and pitted, however the layers of thick white paint filler found (which had been expected to find used for repairs which had been found in the paint analysis), proved to be the base of a Victorian Scumble (a fake wood grain effect), once very popular in Ireland.
The result is a beautiful stairs with both balustrade and steps glowing with natural colour.
Image: Completed works