To Burnaby with love
The Burnaby estate in Greystones, Co Wicklow, was named after soldier and adventurer Fred Burnaby but the developer behind it was his wife
Elizabeth Hawkins-Whitshed is not an instantly recognisable name; it is her husband Fred Burnaby’s name that lives on in the Burnaby estate, in Greystones, Co Wicklow.
A new book Greystones – its buildings and history sheds light on the development of the estate by Hawkins-Whitshed who, as a property developer, planned and laid it out after Burnaby, the first of her three husbands, died.
The illustrated book gives an account of the development of the seaside town from Victorian times, noting the impact of the La Touche family of Bank of Ireland and Marlay Park fame, through the arrival of the railway in 1856 which was the catalyst for much building.
A pen picture of Hawkins-Whitshed by Rosemary Raughter of the Greystones Archaeological and Historical Society steals the show.
In the 1860s the Hawkins-Whitshed family lived in Harcourt Street, Dublin, from where they could take a train from the new Harcourt Street station to Greystones (then Delgany station).
The station was about half a mile from their holiday home, Killincarrick House, which is now Greystones Golf Club.
The family moved to another Killincarrick House, which later became the Woodlands Hotel. This house burnt and was demolished about 20 years ago.
Burnaby, a London socialite, soldier and adventurer, married Hawkins-Whitshed in London in 1879 when she was 19. He died in 1885 in battle in Sudan.
By that stage Hawkins-Whitshed had made a career of her own, mountaineering and taking photographs in the Alps.
In 1889 the Wicklow People reported that the owners of the Burnaby estate were opening up some of their land for a golf course. And before the end of the century, roads had been laid out and construction had begun on what Hawkins-Whitshed referred to as “my building estate”.
Houses were built in the then fashionable “domestic revival style” with Arts and Crafts touches and many of the roads names were associated with her family, such as St Vincent Road after her father, Somerby Road after the town in Leicestershire where the family had connections, and Erskine Avenue after another family member.
The houses were first popular as holiday homes for the Dublin professional classes. Former president Eamon de Valera’s family had a home there, Michael Collins visited friends there, the Huet family (well known in Dublin’s motor trade) lived there, as did the Williams family of Tullamore whiskey fame, and the Carrolls tobacco family.
After the second World War a number of former British army officers settled there. Cheaper costs of living in Ireland and limited military pensions may have been a factor.
By the early 1960s names still on the roll of residents included a Maj Denne-Bolton, Col Hyde and Lord Winchester.
Having developed the estate Hawkins Whitshed moved on, though her name remains in places such as Hawkins Lane and Whitshed Road. She died in London in 1934.
* Greystones – its buildings and history is for sale in shops in Greystones for €10.