Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Amateur architect? In the Office of Public Works drawings collection there is a set of eight drawings for a handsome Italianate court house at Castlerea, Co. Roscommon, on paper watermarked 1843. The drawings are signed 'Godfrey Wills' followed by two illegible initials which could be 'C.E.'.(1) Whether Wills signed the drawings as architect or in some other capacity is not clear. A loan of £400 towards building the court house was received from the Board of Works in 1845.(2)

The Willses were landed gentry in Co. Roscommon, and Godfrey was a family name. As a result of his marriage to a niece and co-heiress of Henry, Lord Mountsandford (d.1851) of Castlerea House,(3) William Robert Wills of Willsgrove, Co. Roscommon, a deputy lieutenant of the county in 1847, had taken up residence in Castlerea House. A Godfrey Wills, who was a magistrate for the county, was also living at Castlerea House in 1847.(4) 

According to Malcolmson, a century earlier another Godfrey Wills had written to WILLIAM SMYTH ' WILLIAM SMYTH ' about a project to build a courthouse, market house and gaol in Roscommon town...[which]  establishes that he was indeed some sort of architect'.(5)



(1) NA, OPW drawings collection, old ref. B.7.6.
(2) NA, OPW drawings collection, OPW5HC/4.
(3) LGI (1904), 537.
(4) Pettigrew & Oulton's Directory (1847), 259,260.
(5) A.P.W. Malcomson, Nathaniel Clements 1705-77. Politics, fashion and architecture in mid-eighteenth-century Ireland (Dublin: Four Couirts Press, 2015), 192.

1 work entries listed in chronological order for WILLS, GODFREY

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Date: 1845ca
Nature: New Italianate cousrt house, 2-storey-, 5-bay, with Egyptian doors to end bays. Loan of £400 granted by Board of Public Works, 1845.
Refs: 8 signed, undated drawings (on paper waternarked 1843) in NA, OPW drawings collection, OPW5HC/4.; 14th Annual Report of Commissioners of Public Works (Ireland) (1846), 25