Townley Hall is a Georgian country house which stands in parkland at Tullyallen some 5 km west of Drogheda, County Louth in the Republic of Ireland. It was designed by Irish architect Francis Johnston for the Townley Balfour family and built between 1794 and 1798.
Built in 1799, Townley Hall is regarded as a masterpiece in the classical style of Francis Johnston, the foremost Irish architect of his day. It sits in quiet seclusion of private grounds, approached by a long wooded avenue. Commissioned as a private home for the Townley Balfour family, it was designed to impress on the visitor not only the wealth and sophistication of a substantial landlord, but the craftsmanship available in the local area. Having undergone only minor alterations in over two centuries, this house is one of Ireland’s hidden architectural gems.
The house is 27 metres (90 feet) square, built in local stone with simple neoclassical lines, broken only by a Doric portico. The interior is dominated by a spiral staircase in a domed rotunda. The building replaced a previous house which once stood some 100 metres (300 feet) to the north of the present building
Other Buildings on the site designed by Johnston
1. Entrance gates
2. Gate lodge
3. Kitchens (attached to back of the rectangular house).
4. Dove cote (Formerly located in kitchen yard, drawings available for inspection in IAA)
5. Walled garden.
7. farmyard houses.
The Townley estate had belonged to the Townley family since Cromwellian times. Blayney Townley, MP had inherited the wealth of his nephew, William Balfour, in 1739 and added Balfour to his surname. The Townley estate passed to his grandson, also Blayney Townley Balfour, later the MP for Belturbet, who in 1794 commissioned Francis Johnston to design the present house. Mrs Townley Balfour, wife of the grandson of Blayney jnr, died childless in 1955 and the property passed to her cousin David Crichton. He sold the house and 350 hectares (850 acres) of land in 1957 to Trinity College, Dublin for used as an agricultural school. In 1969 the college sold 200 hectares (500 acres) of farmland to the Land Commission and 150 hectares (350 acres) of woodland to the Forestry Department.
In 1967 Professor Frank Mitchell of Trinity College bought the house with some 25 hectares (60 acres) of surrounding land and ran it as a study centre for several years.
The house is now owned by the School of Philosophy and Economic Science, a registered charity based in Ballsbridge Dublin, who use it as a residential study centre.
The house and grounds are private and access is strictly by appointment.