DATELINE; MARCH 7th, 1923. BREAKING NEWS – Wilton Castle burned down

WILTON CASTLE today! The renovated building on the left and the ruined shell on the right. (Pic;

Special retrospective report by Dan Walsh

Wilton Castle, the beautiful residence of Capt. Philip C. Alcock, which is situated about three miles from Enniscorthy near Bree, was burned to the ground last night (March 5th 1923) after about 30 men bearing tins of petrol reduced the building to ashes.

It was the fourth mansion in the Enniscorthy district to fall at the hands of incendiaries as Civil War raged throughout the country. Others included Bellevue, Coolbawn and Castleboro.

Wilton Castle had been unoccupied for about 13 months before the burning. Capt. Alcock, his wife and family, had removed to Ludlow, in Shropshire, due to the unsettled situation in the country and their Irish home was left in the hands of a caretaker, James Stynes, who occupied rooms in portion of the castle.

Shortly after 9pm on Monday (March 5th 1923) the caretaker was visiting the steward’s residence when the steward, George Windsor, answered a knock and was confronted by a number of armed men who demanded the keys to the castle. “We have come to burn down the place, we are sorry,” said one of the leaders.

Soon the crashing of glass was heard in the ground floor. Soon the magnificent edifice was consumed by flames leaping to great heights in the night air. Every room was ablaze and there was a wind blowing. Attempts to save the castle were hopeless.

In a short time, the roof fell in, floors collapsed, and nothing remained of the once stately mansion, but smoke begrimed roofless walls, broken windows and a smouldering heap of debris.

CAPT. PHILIP ALCOCK (1861-1946) the last of the family to reside at Wilton Castle. They first came in 1695 and called it Wilton.

Capt. Alcock and his wife never again returned to Wilton Castle. Their daughter, Mary Galloway, who lived in Waterford, visited the castle site on many occasions and she told this reporter when we met many years ago while researching for a book; “Capt. Alcock, for years afterwards considered returning to Wilton and rebuilding the castle but his idea never materialised.

Malicious claims for £100,000 pounds were lodged for the loss of property, but Ms. Galloway claimed that her father only received about one tenth of that figure.

Alcock was compensated to the tune of £10,000 pounds. During the hearing Wilton Castle was described as “a very fine house in excellent condition” with excellent mantlepieces, two Chippendale bookcases, seven reception rooms and 17 bedrooms.” The estate comprised of 2,000 acres.

The Irish Land Commission divided the land amongst local farmers, while the woodland, including Bree Hill and Park Wood were taken over by the Department of Forestry.

SOURCES; Bree, The Story of a County Wexford Parish (1980) and 100 Wexford Country Houses; an illustrated history by Dan Walsh (1996, reprinted 2001).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: