Newbridge is a Georgian Villa built to the design of James Gibbs in 1747 for the then Archbishop of Dublin, Charles Cobbe (1686-1765). It remained home to the Cobbe Family until 1985 when it was purchased by Dublin County Council now Fingal County County.
Newbridge is renowned across the world for its unique collection of Irish furniture, the Cobbe Collection of Old Master portraits and landscapes as well as family pictures, all of which can be seen on the tour. There is over 300 years of family history and all of the accompanying stories and anecdotes to be enjoyed too.
Our tour guides will bring you through three centuries of Irish History, from the opulence of a Georgian House, to a Victorian family home, through to rural life in the 20th Century and the world of an Irish Country House today.
The Cobbe Family
Situated in 365 acres of complete Georgian Parkland, Newbridge House has been home to the Cobbe family for over 270 years.
In 1717 Charles Cobbe (1686-1765) came to Ireland, the first member of the family to do so. He accompanied Charles Paulet, 2nd Duke of Bolton, the then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland as his private secretary and chaplain. Cobbe, whose ancestors had been resident at Swarraton in Hampshire since the 15th century, was born and educated at Winchester before joining the clergy. In Ireland, his ecclesiastical career rose successively and as Bishop of Kildare and Dean of Christchurch Cobbe was next in line to the Archbishopric of Dublin, a position to which he was enthroned in 1743.
Having begun to purchase lands on the Donabate peninsula in 1736, by aid of his handsome income as Archbishop, Cobbe commissioned James Gibbs, to design a plan for the rebuilding of Newbridge House. The old stuart house on site was replaced by the handsome Summer Villa which stands today. Begun in 1742, the building lasted five years and was overseen by the Irish architect George Semple.
The Archbishop’s second son, Thomas was given the house as a part of his marriage settlement to Lady Elizabeth Beresford, the daughter of the 1st Earl of Tyrone, in 1755. By extending, redecorating and refurbishing the house the couple left a significant mark on Newbridge which is still visible today.
300 years of family history, from their arrival in Ireland in 1717 to the present day.
Charles Cobbe, the son of Thomas and Lady Betty married Anne Power Trench of Garbally, Co. Galway in 1778, by that time however he had run up considerable debts, forcing the family to sell their townhouse on Palace Row.
In 1810 Newbridge was inherited by Charles Cobbe. Having served under Arthur Wellesley, (later the Duke of Wellington) in India, Charles married the heiress Frances Conway and settled in Newbridge were they raised their five children. The family injected new vigour into life at Newbridge, concerned with the welfare and the living conditions of their tenants. Charles occupied Newbridge for 47 years until his death when it passed to his son, Charles (1811-1886).
In 1905 Thomas Maberley Cobbe married the fashionable and elegant heiress, Eleanor Colville Frankland. Thomas and Eleanor moved to Newbridge at the beginning of the 20th Century where they lived entertaining their guests, managing the estate, developing its equestrian standing and raising their family. Keeping Newbridge as the family home and country house it was designed to be. In 1933, Newbridge was inherited by their son Tommy, when he died in 1984 it passed to his two nephews and his niece.
In 1985 the family sold the premises and entered into a rare agreement with Dublin County Council (now Fingal County Council) whereby the family would leave its original furniture in situ, in order to retain the top floor as a holiday home, while the demesne would be cared for by the Council. This agreement is not known to exist anywhere else in the Republic of Ireland.
❖ It is hardly to be measured, I think, how much of the best and tenderest family feelings amongst us are due to the old house, wherein all associations are centered, wherein each member of the race feels pride, where the pictures of our forefathers hang side by side on the walls, and their dust rests together in the vault hard by. – Frances Power Cobbe, “A Day at the Dead Sea”
The Cabinet of Curiosities or Ark is the Cobbe family museum which dates back to the 1760’s. It was started by Thomas and Lady Betty who had a taste for the exotica, collecting shells and coral. The original display cases, which were relocated to the UK many years ago, are probably the earliest complete museum furniture to survive in Britain and Ireland. The display cases in Newbridge House are replicas of these originals. Ostrich eggs from 1756, fossils, Chinese exhibits, taxidermy and Captain Cook memorabilia are among the chattels on display in the museum and are all original to the period.
The Red Drawing Room houses a selection of paintings from the Cobbe Collection. Master paintings including Italian Portraits and Dutch landscapes. From this collection sprang two previously unidentified portraits. One of which has since been established as the most authentic portrait of Shakespeare taken from life. Its convincing evidence, has had it since adopted as the face of Shakespeare now recognisable worldwide.❖The house stand broadly-built and strong, not high or frowning; its Portland-stone colour warm against the green of Irish woods and grass
– Frances Power Cobbe, “Life of Frances Power Cobbe”