The Original Wells House
The first house at Wells was built in the second half of the 1600s by a man named John Warren (1620 – 1693). Warren had been a soldier in Cromwell’s army in Ireland in the late 1640s and was granted as payment 6,000 acres of land in County Wexford. He renamed it Wells presumably due to the numerous springs in the surrounding fields.
The Doyne Poets
Philip Doyne (1733 – 1765), The Right and Honourable Robert Doynes’ son studied at Trinity College in Dublin and was well known in the Dublin literary scene as a poet and translator. When he died at the age of 32, several poems were written in his memory and published in the Dublin newspaper; The Freeman’s Journal.
Much later, Marjory Browne, wife of Charles Hastings Doyne also took to writing and had poems and children’s stories published, some of which can be seen at Wells today.
In the late 1700s and early 1800s this part of County Wexford was a tillage farming area producing some oats, but mainly barley for export and malting in the nearby malt-houses of Castlebridge and Enniscorthy. In 1776 most farms also had a few sheep although the local breed was later disparaged as “long-legged, narrow-backed, large headed, large-boned and as wild as a deer.”
Robert Doyne (1782 – 1850) himself became an enthusiastic sheep breeder and set up a flock of the new ‘Southdown’ breed and the original flock was still in existence over 100 years later. Robert’s grandson Charles Mervyn (1839 – 1924) later became a vice-president of the Southdown Sheep Association.
The Lending Library
The Doyne’s tenants were encouraged to learn about modern farming practices; in the library at Wells there are still several books on agriculture from this time, some of which are marked ‘Wells Agricultural Lending Library’ and were lent out by Robert Doyne to the tenants.
The Ploughing Match 1819
When Robert Doyne (1782 – 1850) moved back to Wells in 1811 and began farming he used the most modern methods. He joined the Farming Society of Ireland (founded 1803) with the aim of improving agriculture in Ireland, bringing in modern machinery and livestock breeds and educating farmers in modern farming methods.
At the first ploughing match in 1819 two of Robert Doynes’ tenants, Patrick Devereux and James Rath, so impressed the judges that even though they were not from within the district, were awarded prizes.
Daniel Robertson: From an English Prison to County Wexford
Daniel Robertson (1770 – 1849) originally worked as an architect in England, designing buildings in London and Oxford. He was declared bankrupt several times and was consequently imprisoned for debt. In the early 1830s he came to Ireland and worked on many country houses in the south-east of Ireland. Among the many houses he worked on in County Wexford were; Johnstown Castle, Wilton Castle and Castleboro in the Enniscorthy area.
Robertson was involved in the rebuilding of Wells for over 14 years, drawing his first plan in 1832 and his last in 1846 and planned every detail from the drawings of individual carvings to the window sills and picture frames.
Wells House had a staff of 12 servants living in the house at the beginning of the 1900s. Mrs Pearce the housekeeper and Ida Chambers were both from England and Mrs Stone the cook, whom our restaurant is named after was born in County Wicklow.
The servant’s domain was the basement; there were two servant halls where they all ate, the flagstone kitchen and a labyrinth of other rooms essential to the running of the house. The house also had bell pulls installed throughout which when rung, signalled to the servants which room they need attend.
Lady Francis’ Daffodils
Lady Francis was the wife of Charles Mervyn Doyne (1839 – 1924) and on moving to Wells bred hundreds of varieties of daffodils with gardener James Mitchell. In addition to winning awards for the beautiful flowers they also sold them to the markets in Dublin City. Much later, in 2013 Sabine Rosler planted many of the same varieties along the avenue of Wells in her honour.
Gerhard Rosler (1911 – 2006) was an entrepreneur and in the ruins of the Second World War he set up a business with two sewing machines, making shirts. He used now redundant black-out material to make the main body of the shirts and saved the better materials for the collar and cuffs that could not be hidden under a dinner jacket. Gerhard then met his wife Gisela who was a dress designer and in 1965 they bought Wells and moved to Ireland with their family.
Gerhard and Gisela put a lot of time and love into the restoration of Wells, starting with the roof, installing central heating, treating dry rot, replacing floorboards and the restoration of the stables. When you visit Wells now and walk along Mogue’s walk you will see a hand-made bench made by their son Uli Rosler, facing a splendid view of the house; Gerhards favourite view of Wells.