Ardavilling gate cottage and house

This is my journey of the gate houses or as I like to call them gate cottages of Ireland. I live in Shanagarry a coastal village in the South East Cork and has always wanted to capture the beauty and mystery of these old buildings that was placed at the entrances of large estates.

The first gate cottage I chose to capture on film and pen was the Ardavilling gatehouse near the village of Cloyne, Ireland.

Here are the photos taken of the building. And the pen sketch I have made of the cottage.

After taking these photos of the gate cottage I started wondering: who passed these gates…..who were they, what did they look like…what are their stories. And then the big question  what does the estate look like. Like many estates in Ireland you can’t see the “large house” as it is called.  Sometimes all you see is a peek here or a peek there, just like a pretty girl wearing fancy underwear peeking through her lace top, just enough to entice but not enough to satisfy.

So I did a bit of research on Ardavilling…. and this is my story.

Who planted these trees ….who passed through this lane of trees….who had these gates made  ……

The first registered owners were the Littons it was thought that they came from Littondale in Yorkshire and moved to Dublin in 1660.

Litton Crest

The family motto: “Prudentia Gloriam Acquiret” Prudence generates glory

Thomas Litton (1657-1741)

He married Gertrude Verdoen who was from Dutch decent. The property was  left to his son.

Thomas Litton (1718

Thomas was called to the Irish Bar in 1742. He married Hannah Leland and had 12 children who mostly died young. (Hannah Leland’s brother – John Leland was Lieut. Governor of Cork in 1778 and received the freedom of Cork in 1790)

Edward Litton (1754-1808)

Edward chose the army as a career and served in the American War of Independence. He was wounded in the battle of Bunkers Hill in 1775.  After returning he married Esther Letablere on the 23 June 1783 in St Anne’s cathedral.

Battle of Bunkers Hill

Esther Charlotte Letablere was a very important addition to the family. She was the Granddaughter and heiress to the rich family history of Rene de la Donesque who was lord of the Manor of Letablere in Lower Poitou an ancient family in France. They were a Huguenot family who left France in 1685 and at the age of 22  Rene served in the military in Holland and was involved in the Battle of Boyne after that he settled in Dublin. His son was Daniel Letablere that was Dean of Tuan. He was directly involved in the silk industry in Ireland.

John Litton (1792-1877)

The fourth son inherited Ardavilling and by further purchases  had 1,105 acres in his possession in the Co. Cloyne. He married Vescina Hamilton of co. Donegal (reverence to her on the Cloyne fountain) He gave the first water supply to the village of Cloyne. John died in Ardavilling at the age of 85 and had no male children. He left the property to his nephew

Edward Falconer Litton (1827-1890)

Edward also had a Dublin address at 67 Merrion Square. He was educated at TCD were he studied law. He was called to the bar in 1847 and made a QC in 1874. He served in Cork and Wicklow circuit.

Also elected Liberal MP of Tyrone in 1880/1  Judge of the Supreme Court in 1890.

Judge Edward Falconer Litton

He was described as having a cool, clear and calculating head an able and good Judge that could discern truth from falsehood. He was patient and courteous to everyone.

Edward was married four times:

  • in 1851 to Bridget Tuthill from whom he had 6 children
  • in 1861 to Elizabeth Clark – 6 children
  • Londoner Mary-Lee- 1 son
  • Adelaide Trottter of Galway- 1 daughter.

It is said that the Judge contemplated his cases while walking up and down this lane of trees .

Judge Litton took upon himself the task of improving the water supply which his uncle had given the town some years before.The earlier supply of water was welcome but proved to be impure. Judge Litton set out to alter this. He set up a reservoir on his property at Ardavilling and piped it to the square of the town of Cloyne were a public fountain was erected for all to use.  It was presented to the town in April 1879. Vast amounts of people gathered in the square (including many local VIP’s) Mr Litton quoted a rhyming couplet-his wish for the fountain was  “pure and pellucid may its waters flow, neither rapidly swift nor obstinately slow”.

Unfortunately the fountain has ceased to flow from 1912 when Cloyne’s water supply was updated.

Fountain in Cloyne

Inscription on the limestone fountain: “This fountain has been erected by E.F. Litton, Esq. in memory of his uncle John Litton, esq. of Ardavilling who in remembrance of his wife VESCINA LITTON conferred upon the inhabitants of Cloyne, the blessing of a pure water supply 1879″

Judge Edward Litton

It was the Judges custom to enjoy a holiday break at the Ardavilling house and it was in the course of one such, and as a result of being engaged in supervising alterations on the house that he caught a chill that developed in pneumonia.

Funeral customs of the time:

A wreath of  laurel, yew or boxwood was tied with black ribbon and hung on the front door.

Curtains will be drawn and clocks stopped at the time of death. Mirrors were covered with veiling to prevent the deceased spirit from getting trapped in the looking-glass.

A body was “watched” over for 3 to 4 days to allow relatives to come from far. Family photos were turned face down to prevent them being possessed by the spirit of the dead.

The Judges wish was to be buried in Cloyne although the rest of his family was buried in Mt. Jerome cemetery in Dublin.

The day of the funeral was wet and sleety but it did not stop it from being the biggest concentration of rich and poor in the town of Cloyne.

The coffin was made of massive oak prepared by Mr Smyth, was borne in a hearse of John Moore of Midleton from Ardavilling House to the Cathedral in Cloyne. All premises were closed and blinds were drown.

The service was held by the Dean of Cloyne.

Gravestone inscription

Gravestone inscription :

through the Grave and Gate of death we pass to our Glorious Resurrection,  Sacred to the Memory of Edward Falconer Litton of Ardavilling, Cloyne. Land Commissioner and Judge of the Supreme Court. Who departed his life on the 27th Nov 1890 aged 62″ 

Edward de L’Establere Litton (1864-1902)

The Judges 4th son became the next owner of Ardavilling house he qualified as a Barrister and settled into his fathers practice. In 1894 he married Ida Gordon of Dublin and died on his 37th birthday from internal haemorrhage.

Grave inscription:

In Loving Memory of Edward de L’Establere Litton of Ardavilling  Cloyne died 27th June 1902 aged 37 also his son Edward Falconer Litton died 21st January 1937

Edward F. Litton (1896-1937)

Sold Ardavilling house

Now back to the present….after research the Litton family history I had to see the house! I asked, is it big and brash…old and dark……When was it built…?  the Littons have owned the property since the 1600’s. There are no pictures on-line to satisfy my curiosity just so frustrating…

I had no choice but to drive down that road to see the Ardavilling house.  It was as if I had a connection to this house and this family. Many of the people I meet  say: “You can’t just drive in there and ask them to take photos, others say  of course you can go”..

The longer it took me to pluck up the courage the more difficult it became. So one very rainy, misty day I got in the car and….

There it was….. …..I could see the out line of the house in the distance as I turn the corner in the road. I just  have to get closer, I can feel the excitement and anticipation level rising.

What am I going to say if I get out…but I just can’t turn back there is a attraction between myself and this house… just  have to get closer.  At last I stop in front of the Ardavilling house………here it is………

The Ardavilling house was built between 1850 and 1860. Therefor in the Victorian period when there was an interest and  revival of the Gothic architecture. This house has a very ecclesiastical feel.

The Victorians drew from history, geometry and personal inspiration to create their designs. Medieval styles where reinvented this style harked back to medieval castles and cathedrals. Houses were also very much a statement of  taste and education.

Here is the front door: Pointed arch carved limestone door surrounded with recessed archivolts, trefoil arched spandrel and square-headed door. The door is probably the most impressive part of the building. I added the hands as I was wondering who could have been responsible for the highly skilled stone masonry.

The front door opens to an interior porch.

Steeply pitched slate roof and look at the fish scale patterned slates.

With decorative timber bargeboards.

Corner buttresses in cut limestone.

Flat roofed limestone bay windows. Narrow windows with a highly decorative front.

There are also extensive outbuilding and there are many traces that the garden was decorated in the Victorian style.



I have to mention the people who I have met on  this Ardavilling-Country House and gatecottage journey:

While doing research on the Littons I came across a Facebook discussion that Mike Litton (Edward Michael Francis Litton) had with a family member and the mention made that he was direct descendant of Judge Edward Litton. I came in contact with him , his mother (Edwina) and family and learned their story:  George John Letablere Litton was the British Consult to China were he fell in love with So Hopi ,a Chinese woman and had two sons. One of   his sons George moved to Manila, Philippines and started a business and family there.

As well as meeting Brendan Sisk, Cloyne. He helped me with research, advice and knowledge of the Cloyne area.

Contacts can be reashed at my Facebook link at the right of the page.

Research material used: The Gravestone Inscriptions of the Cathedral cemetery of Cloyne, Co Cork, Richard Henchion

Is that then good-bye to Ardavilling and the Litton family that lived inside those walls.

Thank you for making the journey with me

And were too next …..

About Annemarie Foley

I'm a house-historian that researches and documents the history of a house and the people that lived there. I bring together a snapshot of the story behind the house. This information is used by a variety of people from Historians to Architects, Estate agents, Ancestors or those generally concerned about the heritage of the property.

4 Responses to “Ardavilling gate cottage and house”

  1. Loving your Blogs Annemarie ! I live in Cloyne and am always wondering about this place and that. Let me know if you ever do a tour of the area. I have an interest in funerary architecture as well so if you know anything along those lines please post them up !

  2. Edwina Litton Ortigas Reply February 7, 2015 at 11:00 pm

    Great article!!!

  3. I just heard that Ardavilling House burned last night leaving only the walls standing. Very sad but at least no deaths.

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