300 year-old Gloster House is a magnificent Palladian mansion at the foot of the Slieve Bloom mountains, surrounded today by extensive gardens incorporating terraces, water features, woodland and lakes. The house and folly were designed by Sir Edward Lovett Pearce, the extraordinary young architect who became the predominant architect of Georgian Ireland before his premature death at 37. Today his legacy includes the Irish Houses of Parliament (the Grattan Parliament in College Green), Castletown House and much of the Palladian architecture of Georgian Dublin.
It is believed that Gloster House and Folly date from 1720’s when the owner of the estate Edward Lovett Pearce commissioned Pearce to remodel Gloster following his inheritance of the place. The folly which was intrinsic to Pearce’s design of the house and grounds is twenty feet high and consists of a triumphal arch, flanked by obelisks on substantial plinths and was described as “a structure of national importance for its architectural quality and association with one of Ireland’s greatest architects”.
It is majestically situated in sight of the dining room of the main house and frames the gardens, farmlands and woods of this beautifully landscaped estate. The estate remained in the Lloyd family until it was sold in 1958 and in 2001 new owners began an extensive conservation programme to restore the house and gardens to their former grandeur.
Following on from the 2017 publication of ‘Flights of Fancy: Folies, Families and Demesnes in Offaly’ written by Rachel McKenna, Offaly Creative Ireland team devised a programme of conversation for several follies in the county and work began on the Gloster Arch conservation.