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June 6, 2009

Pearce, Sir Edward Lovett (1699-1733)

Sir Edward Lovett Pearce (1699-1733) was the leading exponent of Palladianism in Ireland along with Richard Cassels. In 1726 Pearce became the MP for Ratoath after a disputed election. His father, General Edward Pearce was first cousin to Vanburgh and Pearce came under his tutelage in 1715 after his father’s death. He spent three years travelling in France and Italy studying as an architect before returning to Ireland to practice. His most important work is the former Houses of Parliament (1728-1739) in College Green now the Bank of Ireland which was completed after his death. Although later extended by Gandon And Johnston, his design can still be seen with the central arcade of columns and pediment. The original octagonal House of Commons was burnt in 1792 and later demolished but his House of Lords survives intact. He also designed the south façade of Drumcondra House (1727) and Cashel Palace (1731) along with many other country and town houses including two at Henrietta Street for Luke Gardiner.

He is believed to have been the architect of the immense house at Summerhill, County Meath now destroyed, although Richard Cassels is accredited as the executant architect. Another important country house designed by Pearce is Bellamont Forest (1730), Cootehill, County Cavan. This Palladian mansion constructed in brick still stands and is a family home. His entire architectural output came from a seven year period before his early death. He became Surveyor General of Ireland in 1730, a post which he held until his early death in 1733.