Journal Volume 7 2013
Belle View (continued/1)
Below the octagon house is a very curious building of rustic masonry, or rock-work, called the Banqueting Room; it is built in the Gothic style, and in imitation, probably, of a room excavated from a solid rock; in 1822 it was much gone to ruin. The Octagon building, which was erected in 1766, is the design of Mr. Enoch Johnson; the Gothic Banqueting Room was built in 1788, after the design of Francis Sandys, Esq., an eminent architect, and a native of Ireland, who died at Belle View on the 18th of July, 1785.
To the east of the octagon house, on the very summit of the hill, is a Rustic Temple, which must have been a very pleasing object, and from which is the most extensive view in all the grounds of Belle View, for, from its elevated situation, the view is uninterrupted on every side. This little temple, being composed entirely of wood unbarked, and not being attended to, is going fast to ruin, but enough of it remains to mark out the spot as an admirable station for viewing the surrounding scenery.
We now quit that part of Mr. Latouche’s demesne, which cannot fail to excite the highest feelings of pleasure and admiration in the lover of beautiful and enchanting scenery, who feels more gratification in being under an obligation to nature than to art, and who is engaged more (as Wicklow tourists generally are) in the search and admiration of the beautiful than the useful. We come now to speak of Mr. Latouche’s house, gardens, conservatory, &c.
‘Belle View’ Gardens
This respected and amiable family are the descendants of David Digges Latouche, an officer in La Caillimote’s regiment, who fought at the battle of the Boyne in 1690.
The late David Latouche purchased the lands of Ballydonough (now Belle View) in 1753, from the Reverend Doctor Corbet, Dean of Saint Patrick’s, Dublin. The demesne originally consisted of but 300 acres of fertile land, but considerable additions have been since made to it: the house is a plain but extensive structure, the centre part of which was built in 1754, and the wings afterwards added: the expense of the whole is estimated at about 30,000l.; very extensive out-offices are attached, besides a house, devoted to the use of a number of poor female children, whom Mrs. La Touche, with that benevolence which appears almost inseparable from the very name of this most amiable family, educates, clothes and supports, until they are of a sufficient age to enter upon more important tasks in life. The system of educating the poor of Ireland is now very generally adopted, and many of the resident gentry have day-schools attached to their establishments: the benevolence which prompts this line of conduct, cannot be sufficiently admired, while, at the same time, the noble-minded and charitable persons with whom the practice originated, should not, on this account, be deprived of the deserved praise of being the originators of the charity; amongst whom the respected individual, the beauties of whose demesne are the subject of these pages, holds a conspicuous place, nor are her charities confined to the neighbourhood of Belle View and Delgany.