Victoria/Ayesha/Manderley: a ‘House and Home’ blog

Victoria Castle, c. 1915


Victoria Castle is situated on a rocky outcrop overlooking Killiney Bay, Co. Dublin, ‘as commanding and beautiful’ a site, according to the Dublin Penny Journal of 1841, ‘as could possibly be imagined’. Probably designed by architect Sandham Symes for Robert Warren, a property speculator who had made his fortune by selling parcels of land to the then emerging railway, it sits alongside Warren’s other developments of Mount Eagle and Killiney Castle.

Failed speculation prompted the sale of Victoria Castle, and most of Warren’s other interests in Killiney, in 1870. Humphrey Lloyd, Provost of Trinity College, acquired the house at the cost of £5,000, becoming the first of a succession of owners over the next fifty years.

Ralph Henry Byrne, W.H. Byrne and Son, Elevation of Entrance Court Façade, Victoria Castle, 1927


In the mid-1920s an unexplained and calamitous fire gutted the house. A watercoloured dyeline elevation in the Irish Architectural Archive is evidence of the building’s restoration in 1927-8, a project undertaken by its new owner, the wealthy Sir Thomas Talbot Power of the whiskey dynasty. He availed of the architectural services of Ralph Byrne of W. H. Byrne and Son, a prolific office best known for its extensive ecclesiastical portfolio. The cost of the restoration amounted to £5,540 and the works were completed in six months by contractor G. and T. Crampton. A comparison of this elevation of the courtyard façade with photographs of the castle prior to 1928 shows that while Byrne retained much of the character of Syme’s castellated Dalkey-granite pile, he simplified its appearance and modified its tower.

Poster for 1925 film adaptation of ‘She’


After the restoration, the house acquired a new name, Ayesha Castle, after H. Rider Haggard’s sorceress, the original ‘She-who-must-be-obeyed’, who rises from the flames in his popular 1887 novel She. It remains in private ownership, and was renamed Manderley in 1997.

Aisling Dunne,