Woodstown House is an elegant Regency villa overlooking Waterford harbour. It was built, or rather an earlier house was substantially altered, in 1823 by Robert Chapland Carew, later first Baron Carew, as a present for his wife, Jane Catherine Cliffe. The architect was George Richard Pain. A year before their wedding, Jane had attended ‘the most famous ball in history’ held by the Duchess of Richmond in Brussels on 15 June 1815, the night before the Battle of Waterloo. It is said that Jane danced with the Duke of Wellington. Born in 1798, she died in 1901 aged 103.
Woodstown remained in Carew hands until 1903 when it was sold to Edward Alphonse Winston Barron. He asked the architectural firm of Ashlin and Coleman to make proposals for alterations and additions to the house, a somewhat unusual choice as the practice was almost exclusively known for its Gothic ecclesiastical works. George Coppinger Ashlin was a son in law of Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin, the Gothic revivalist par excellence, and formed a partnership with Pugin’s son, Edward, in 1861. Pugin and Ashlin eventually became Ashlin and Coleman in 1903. The choice of architects might however be explained by the fact there was a Barron family connection to the firm. Sir Henry Page Turner Barron, Edward’s first cousin, had employed Pugin and Ashlin to work on Ferrybank Catholic Church, in Co. Waterford.
Ashlin and Coleman proposed a Classical re-rendering of the façade of Woodstown, and the additions of a gallery, a library with neo-Celtic decorations and a new billiard room. Top lit, with deep upholstered settees and a convenient lavatory, this would have been a distinctly masculine space ideally suited to the military man and bachelor which Edward Barron was.
As it happens, none of Ashlin and Coleman’s proposals for Woodstown were executed. In 1945 the house was purchased by Major Dering Cholmeley-Harrison who later owned Emo Court, Co Laois. In 1967 he let Woodstown House to Jacqueline Kennedy, widow of the assassinated US president. During her stay she described it as ‘typically Irish — 39 bedrooms and one bathroom’.