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16 October 2014
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Larne - Drumalis House

The first written record of the name Drumalis comes from a sixteenth century calendar that lists lands adjoining and belonging to the church of the friars called Clondumalis.

Drumalis House

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Larne - Drumalis - page 2

Drumalis - a short history of a magnificent house

The absence of symmetry is a very noticeable feature which applies to the entire house. A walk around Drumalis reveals that although things may at first appear to be paired, no two things are quite the same and symmetry has been deliberately avoided. For example there are no two door handles, knockers, fireplaces or windows exactly the same. Incidentally the house once had 49 fireplaces!

Spot the difference...
Spot the difference...
a 'pair' of fireplaces in the drawing room
A 'pair' of fireplaces in the drawing room

The drawing room exhibits strong influences of mid-Victorian interior architecture and here is to be found a dramatic example of the avoidance of symmetry. There are two wonderful fireplaces in the room which at first appear to be matched but a closer look reveals that there are numerous deliberate differences between them.


In 1893 Lady Smiley decided to redesign many features in the house and engaged the services of famous Glasgow architect and interior designer, George Walton.

An example of Walton Stained Glass
An example of Walton Stained Glass

Walton was a contemporary of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and had his own workshop based decorating company and was a formative influence on the distinctive Glasgow Style. Stained glass, stencilling, furniture, fabrics and fireplaces, cutlery glassware and graphics are some of the areas of decorative work touched by his sensitive and innovative talent.

Very famous 1870s cabinet by George Walton
Very famous cabinet by George Walton
Drumalis today is by far the most complete company job surviving from Walton's early period. His work carries a very distinctive and elegant style and the Walton influence can be seen all around the house, most noticeably in the form of stained glass, fireplaces, individually designed door handles, painted and stencilled ceilings. You can see some of this work in a recent book about George Walton by Karen Moon. The cabinet shown here is in Sir Hugh's private study. It is a fine example of Walton's craft and is used as a reference in numerous books about architecture. One characteristic piece of Walton's design is the absence of drawer handles; during this period he preferred to gouge decorative handles in the wood of the drawer front instead.

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