John Rocque’s Map of Dublin from 1756 always makes for fascinating viewing. The detail on the map is extraordinary and its always a wonder to look back at the 18th century city, its placenames (many now changed), street patterns (many just the same) and even the individual details of plots and properties.
This excerpt from the map (from a free online resource that allows you to zoom in to see every wonderful detail) shows the area around what we now call Pimlico.
Tripilo is the curious name given to the short street linking Pimlico and Marrowbone Lane. I have tried to get to the bottom of Tripilo on other occasions, but for now the orgins of the streetname escape me. One for historian Cathy Scuffil, I think!
St Thomas Court has an ancient lineage, right back to the orignal Abbey of St Thomas that stood on this site from medieval times. The Abbey include a ‘bawn’ and a court that oversaw the juristiction that was the liberty of St Thomas Court & Donore. In the 1530s, the Brabazon family took over the by then confiscated lands of the abbey. It is thought that the first few Brabazons lived in a house here called St Thomas Court and so its very likely the small place we see on Rocques map, with its WH (watch house) at its centre, reflects the yard of that house. From St Thomas Court runs Earl Street – named for the earls of course.
Off St Thomas Court, two now lost placenames Crilly’s Yard and Gilbert’s Alley. South of Tripilo, we find Jackson’s Alley running to St Catherine’s A H (alms house) with its garden and orchard.
Elewhere, we see the graveyard behind St Catherine’s Church. The church itself would soon be rebuilt in magnificent Georgian style by John Smyth between 1760 and 1769 to give us the building we see today. The graveyard is accessed via Little Thomas Court – or St Catherine’s Lane West as it is today – and runs into Hanbury Lane. The west door of the church itself opens to Thomas Court, and Smyth would appear to have reorientated the church to be seen primarily from Thomas Street. Off Hanbury Lane you can see a curious mound – a rubbish heap perhaps, or a dung heap. Georgian Dublin was not always glamourous!
Nearby, a well-known Dublin family the Rainsford operated a small brewery close to the old St James’s Gate into the liberty. Sir Mark Rainsford has served as Lord Mayor of Dublin in 1700. His business manufactured ‘Beer and Fine Ales’ and he was succeeded by his son – also named Mark. In 1715 the business went to Captain Paul Espinasse, but by 1750 the business was back in the Rainsford family, this time with the first Rainsford’s grandson, also called Mark Rainsford. It was he who signed over the now famous 9000 year lease to a Leixslip brewer called Arthur Guinness on 31 December 1759. At the time of Rocque’s survey, much of the land we now know as St James’s Gate Brewery was fields and included ‘the back of the pipes’, an area south of the main water supply into this part of Dublin from the nearby City Basin.
Some names are still there: Crane Street and Sugar House Lane. And a street named for Sir Mark himself. And Taylor’s Lane (the eponymous Mr Taylor now lost to time).
You can while away some time exploring Rocques Map of Dublin for yourself in glorious detail via the Havard College Website using the link.