Inside Howth Castle
The contents of the house have been accumulated over centuries. They include the Great Sword of Howth, allegedly wielded by Almeric in 1177 but more convincingly dated to the early fifteenth century, paintings, furniture, fine china, photographs and books. In 1909 when the last Earl of Howth died the house was inherited by his nephew, Julian Gaisford who brought with him his family’s collections.
The paintings include portraits of people by Watts, Lavery, Hudson and Grant and of horses by Ferneley. There is one of the few portraits of Jonathan Swift, an old family friend, depicted by Francis Bindon with Woods naked and holding onto his patent for halfpennies grovelling at his feet.
The furniture and contents are true to the house. Many were bought by the St. Lawrence’s specifically for it. Their collection which includes some fine Irish eighteenth century pieces was augmented when the Gaisfords inherited. The contents of their house, Offington, just outside Worthing, most of which had previously been at Iford Manor, on the Frome above Bath, all found their way to Howth. At no time have any important pieces been sold. That gives the collection tremendous integrity.