Gloster House

Gloster House is situated on the Roscrea-Birr road about 8-9 kilometers outside Roscrea. The Medhop family had originally been granted lands at Gloster under Royal patent by King Charles I. Few mentions of this family are made in history compared to their successors, the Lloyds. The Llyods first came to Gloster when Trevor Lloyd, a captain in King Charles I, married Miss Margaret Medhop in 1639.

She was the heiress to lands in Offaly and Tipperary and Trevor Lloyd acquired the lands from her. Further lands were assigned to Trevor Lloyd after the Restoration in 1666, in addition to the possibility of lands also having been assigned during the intervening Cromwellian era. The present day house was built between 1700 and 1720 but it is thought that a house existed on the site previously. The house was further enlarged and embellished in the 1720’s and 1730’s by the architect Sir Edward Lovett-Pearce. Throughout the late 18th and 19th centuries various Lloyds were elected to Westminster and also to the Irish Parliament before the Act of Union in 1800. The grounds of the estate were quite extensive and in 1871 the Lloyds held 4,536 acres of land, though nowadays only 120 acres are still part of the estate. The gardens are impressive with many man-made ponds and shrubberies. All the fountains work on gravity, with no mechanical or electrical parts.

An interesting feature of the gardens is this triumphal arch flanked by two obelisks. It is not known whether this folly (architectural term for a purely decorative structure) was built to commemorate some event. It was thought to be built by Sir Edward Lovett-Pearce, the same man who redesigned the house in the early 1700’s. The house perfectly survived the War of Independence, unlike the Leap Castle and Timoney Park, and was eventually sold by Major E.T.T Lloyd in 1958 to a group of Salesian Nuns. They transformed the house into a boarding school for girls and holiday home for ladies. They built on large extensions in the rear of the house to keep as much of the house unspoiled as possible. In 1990 the school was closed and the ground sold to two separate organisations and was eventually sold to the current owners in 2001, who have been restoring the house after 11 years of non-use. Also the North-West wing is being rebuilt after it was demolished when the nuns had ownership of the estate.