We’ve long been fascinated by that proud white castle stuck on the end of the North Beach cottages, popping up in archive pictures like a mythical monument to a forgotten history.
Try as we might though , we couldn’t find out the why, the when, the how or the who about this long-gone building known as The Jubilee Castle.
Even hardcore history geeks such as George Jones and Ciaran Hayden could only manage a shrug of the shoulders and a burp when it came to this Harold and Kumar wet dream.
And then, of course, young Gary Paine brought out Vol 8 of those fine Pictorial History books started by his later father, Derek, and finally, there it was, in all its glory and gory detail. The Jubilee Castle.
Or, eh, Rosetta Fort, as it was also known.
And just to complicate matters further, this was also the site for a lime kiln, one of five known to have existed along our coastline. Each, naturally, was situated by a stream, with one known to have existed where Spendlove’s coffee house is today, and another – the last remaining ruins – being situated at the 2nd hole on the Charlesland Golf Course. Which is why that particular hole is dubbed Lime Kiln. And just in case you were wondering, lime is derived from limestone by heating it to between 800 and 900 degrees centigrade, the resulting quicklime being used as kick-ass fertiliser by local farmers.
Talking of kick-ass, on to that incredible Jubilee Castle. And over to young Gary…
Jubilee Castle/Rosetta Fort was build for Dublin barrister Thomas Hewson, on the former site of the lime kiln, in 1897, the year of Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee, from which it derived its name. In a May 1902 legal battle, Thomas Hewson was unsuccessful in seeking an injunction to restrain the La Touche Estate from removing stones from the beach. The Irish Times reported that ‘owing to the taking away of sand from the beach, the sea broke up actually against the walls of the castle’.
Thomas Hewson subsequently moved to Burlington House on Victoria Road, and the house was living in by his brother, Rev. Henry Hewson. According to Thom’s Directory, the change in name to Rosetta Fort occurred around 1913, but longtime Greystones residents still refer to it as Jubilee Castle.
Thanking you, Gary. Over the ensuing years, the house was lived in by various characters, including a Mrs Hungerford, who liked to take her non-walking small dog out around the town in a pram, often leaving her beloved mutt up to his neck in a baby blanket as she left him outside shops and cafes. When the building was finally washed away during a storm in 1930 – along with those North Beach cottages – it was lived in by a Mrs Young.
You can find out much more about the changing front of our North Beach, and much more, in A Pictorial History of Greystones & Its Coastal Environs 1760 to 2018, another fine book by Derek and Gary Paine, and available exclusively at Greystones Antiques, just by the station, and online here. Full-size pics here.
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