3 Stewart's Place, Holywood, Co Down

Restored with Priory in background
View towards the Priory

The earliest building in Holywood is the Priory (about a hundred yards from this house), which dates from about 1190, but there was little else to the village till it became a popular holiday resort for Belfast merchants in the early 19th century. No.3 Stewart's Place is typical of this stage of the development of the town, being one of a pair of three-storey stucco houses with rounded corners at the head of a narrow street on the seaward side of the High Street. The street is named after Hugh Stewart, the first post-master of Holywood, and the houses were probably both built about 1840 by William Lowry. Originally no.3 had smaller houses on its Stewart's Place gable, and linked to a good terrace on High Street, but both have been demolished. It is still of importance however for its contribution to the setting of the Priory and contemporary houses on the other side of High Street, as well as setting off its 'twin'.

Typically for its early Victorian date, the house is externally plain, but has margin-paned windows and a doorcase with sidelights and fanlight. Internally however, it has generously-proportioned rooms with ornamental cornices and ceiling roses, chunky Victorian fireplaces, panel doors, and an elegant curving staircase with wreathed newel. Having lain vacant for a number of years it had been vandalised, and the Housing Executive applied for listed building consent to demolish it, but Hearth offered to buy it. Consideration was given to the possibility of converting it to flats, but this would have meant loss of the staircase, and it was decided to restore it as a single house.

Wherever possible, existing timbers were reused, but new balustrades, handrail and many replacement window shutters were required, while much of the ornamental plasterwork also had to be replaced. Structural repairs were necessary at the rear of the property, and an old three-storey return (the ground and second floors of which belonged to no.3 and the first floor to the demolished neighbour on High Street) was demolished and replaced with a single-storey one. The house was re-roofed and the stucco renewed; and the railings were extended to enclose some vacant land left after demolition of the neighbouring terrace.

Hearth Revolving Fund
Architects: Hearth
Structural Engineer: Kirk McClure & Morton
Main Contractor: Hugh J O'Boyle, Downpatrick

Restored: 1992-93
Accommodation: One four-bedroom house (Sold)

Assisted by loans and grants from: N I Housing Executive, Historic Buildings Branch DoE, Architectural Heritage Fund and own capital

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