[Extracts from the Rathlin list by C E B Brett, published by the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society in 1974.]
The oldest parts of this long, low, grey range of buildings seem to date from about 1760. There is evidence that Robert Gage, who inherited from his father in 1763, had at an earlier date built the eastern section to provide work-rooms for weavers; but the industry did not prosper for long, and in the absence of any substantial house on the island, the old cottages were incorporated into the new and larger manor-house, or at any rate the latter was built on the site of the cottages. There have been further comfortable if untidy accretions at various dates; extensive enlargements seem to have taken place in the summer of 1816, when James Morisson was paid the considerable sum of £31.9.7 1/2 for his work, which included new rooms, new sashes, architraves and mouldings, and a new staircase. The main kitchen roof timber is a ship's beam, inscribed 'Rev. Robt. Gage, April 28th 1831'. Victorian marble fire-places, and some 20th century amenities, have been added, but in spirit the house remains a solid, prosperous late Georgian gentleman's house, with thick walls and Georgian sashes.
From the front, it presents a very long southward-facing facade to Church Bay. From east to west, there comes first a fine and handsome farm-building, byre and lofts over, with a hipped roof, stoutly built; then a wide formal archway of squared limestone blocks, with brick dressings, with a datestone of 1819; then a long low range of stables and outbuildings, with 15 ventilation slits at eaves level on the seaward side, and low arched openings to the sheltered yard at the rear, and a dovecot inset in the eastern gable; then the old range of former workers' cottages, of rendered limestone rubble, two-storey, seven-bay, the ground-floor windows coupled in pairs under brick relieving arches; then comes the house proper, two taller storeys, six bays long, with tall well-proportioned Georgian-glazed windows. Finally at the western end of the facade there is an attractive formal porch - perhaps of about 1790 - of squared red sandstone quoins, a rectangular fanlight, with a circular oeil-de-boeuf window above. The door-case hood, the head of the porch wall, and the eaves all along the front of the Manor House proper, are finished with elegantly carved sandstone mouldings.
These formal cutstone details were no doubt imported, or the work of an imported mason. Two masons, John McIlroy and his son William, came over in the summer of 1820 at a wage of three shillings a day, to carry out work unspecified; John got no pay on June 3rd, 17th, or 18th, being drunk from breakfast, and was drunk for three whole days (26th, 27th and 28th July) during which young William had gone over to Ballycastle. This was no doubt pretty much the pattern according to which skilled work was carried out by imported craftsmen during the summer months. The front of the whole range has a patchwork texture, fortuitously most agreeable, where the rendering has been made good at different dates over the random stonework below; in the subsidiary buildings, here as throughout the island, roughly squared blocks of limestone predominate, but are interspersed with odd slabs of basalt, giving a pleasantly speckledy effect.
The western gable, facing the prevailing winds, looks out over a small well-sheltered walled garden, all the soil in which is said to have been specially imported by sailing-boat from Scotland; and is for the most part slated to the ground. Behind the house and its outbuildings there is a long, narrow, cobbled yard, with a froth of clover and greenery, bounded by the ivy-clad retaining wall holding up the high wooded bank which protects the house from the north winds.
Refs: PRONI T 1883/7, PRONI D 508; Gage, pp. 142, 143; Law, p. 20.
[Note: The Manor Lodge has now been taken over by the National Trust and is open as a hotel].
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