Monday, July 4, 2011

WH Crawford: Patron of Art and Science

In scientia veritas, in arte honestas.
In science truth, in art honour.

The gates at the Crawford Art Gallery, Cork give an nice indication of the connected history of art and science in Cork and elsewhere.

The collection the gallery contains began to be formed in 1819 and the former Custom House of Cork became home to the collection in 1825 when the Royal Cork Institution took control of the building. The RCI was a forerunner of University College Cork. The building was extended in 1884 (when these gates were erected) and again in 2000.

William Horatio Crawford (1812-1888) was a great benefactor of the construction of the gallery extension in the 19th Century. Crawford's father had founded the Beamish and Crawford Brewery in Cork, now no longer a working brewery.

William Crawford of Lakelands (Crawford Gallery Collection)
The family home was at Lakelands near Blackrock- a site now largely occupied by the Mahon Point Shopping Centre.

Crawford was an eminent gardener and horticulturalist, collecting and growing plants at Lakelands from around the world. He had at Lakelands a 'perfect arboreatum...richly planted...with rare shrubs and trees'.

In 1810, West described Lakeland as " one of the most neat and handsome (house and estate) that opulence could desire. The plan, elevation and everything about it, forms a complete picture, being build upon a rising ground, commands a most extensive view at every point, and exquisite rows of beech interspersed with a variety of ever green, descends to the brink of the lake, from which this seat took its name of ... Lakeland. It was lately the residence of Benjamin Bonffield, esq. a gentleman of considerable literary ability... and this elequent mansion is now occupied by William Crawford, esq." (West, 1810).

Crawford's plants included Himalayan and Andean species, magnolias, rhododendrons and cordylines. The Himalayan Magnolia campbellii flowered for the first time in the British Isles at Lakelands.
He was best known for his Brownea species, many of which were bequeathed to Kew and the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin.

Brownea crawfordii was a hybrid of B. grandiceps and B. macrophylla which Crawford produced at Lakelands. It was donated to Kew on his death (from heart disease) and named in his honour.

Little of Lakelands remain except the ruins of a few out buildings and some magnificent monkey puzzle trees which mark the site of the house itself. Other gardens also recieved bequests from the Crawford estate, including Queen's College Cork (now University College Cork).

That wasn't the only thing Crawford left to the College. William Horatio Crawford provided much of the funding for the construction of the Crawford Observatory at UCC in 1878. Still the only observatory on any university campus in Ireland, it was designed by one of the finest scientific instrument makers of the 19th Century, the Dubliner Howard Grubb. The Duke of Devonshire of Lismore Castle in Waterford also provided funding for the observatory.

Crawford also provided significant funding towards the erection of  greenhouses at the Botany Department at UCC.


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