The house, c. 1940s
|Alternative names||Aldboro House|
|Address||27-28 Portland Row|
|Town or city||Dublin|
|Named for||Edward Stratford, 2nd Earl of Aldborough|
|Completed||1798(building bears the year 1796)|
|Design and construction|
Aldborough House (sometimes Aldboro House) is a landmark Georgian building in Dublin, Ireland. Built as a private residence by 1795, the original structure included a chapel (since lost) and a theatre wing. The house was used for periods as a school, barracks and post office depot, before becoming vacant in the early 21st century. While vacant, the building was subject to vandalism and a fire, and as of mid-2017 was listed by An Taisce - The National Trust for Ireland as in poor condition.
The house was commissioned by Edward Stratford, 2nd Earl of Aldborough, and the bulk of the structure completed by 1795. Though the foundation had been laid down in 1792, the house was still not fully completed by 1798. Edward Stratford died in 1801, and the house remained uninhabited between 1802 and 1813. In 1813, Professor Gregor von Feinaigle leased the building and opened it as a school. To support its use for education, the house was extended to include large classrooms and a facilities, and the theatre was maintained for performance use. Prof Von Feiangle died in 1819 and by 1830 the school had closed.
From the late 19th century it was used as the stores department of the Post Office. The Commissioners of Public Works made alterations to support this purpose in the late 1890s. This change is referenced in James Joyce's Ulysses (1918-1922), in which the house is described as "[now] an office or something". The house remained in the ownership of the Department for Posts and Telegraphs (later Telecom Éireann) throughout the 20th century.
Telecom Éireann was replaced by Eircom in 1999, and the Aldborough House site was put up for sale at that time. A number of prospective buyers were identified, with the site passing through the hands of the Irish Music Rights Organisation before being sold to a development company in 2005. The house remained uninhabited and undeveloped for some years after the sale, and was subject to vandalism. Following the theft of lead from the roof, water damage required emergency repair works - funded part by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and part by Dublin City Council. In 2013, a suspected arson attack caused further damage.
A private theatre wing of the house, known as the "Lord Amiens Theatre", was constructed between 1792 and 1795 and based on designs by Edward Stratford. It is the only Georgian private theatre which survives outside of a royal palace, and, according to campaigners, is the "oldest purpose-built theatre in the country". Though much of the interior was altered during the 20th century, and the original 18th century stage was destroyed in the 1980s, the exterior remains unchanged since the 18th century.
As of early 2017, the future of the building remained in question, and An Taisce listed the structure as being in "very poor" condition and at "critical" risk level. In September 2017, the building owners, Reliance Investments, received planning permission for an extensive office development on the site, including restoration of the main building and construction of new office wings. This included permission for the demolition of several out-buildings and the theatre wing. Some aspects of the development plans were subject to opposition and submissions from local groups, representatives of An Taisce, the Department of Arts and Heritage, and the Irish Georgian Society. This included opposition to the planned demolition of "The Lord Amiens Theatre".
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- "Go - ahead for Aldborough regeneration". Irish Independent. 20 September 2017. Retrieved 20 September 2017.
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- "Last Georgian mansion built in Dublin to be regenerated despite opposition". TheJournal.ie. 19 September 2017. Retrieved 21 September 2017.
- "Ireland's Oldest Theatre To Be Demolished Despite Opposition". The Irish Post. 30 Jun 2018.
- "Don't let curtain fall on Lord Amiens Theatre, campaigners plea". The Times. 3 July 2018. Retrieved 3 July 2018.