A few weeks back I paid a flying visit to the site Baptistgrange the site of a medieval monastic grange or farm located a short distance from the village of Lisronagh, in Co Tipperary. Baptistgrange is often referred to as Achadfada or Achfada in historical sources.
The grange was owned by the Augustinian monastery of St John the Baptist, Dublin (Power 1938, 6; Gwynn and Hadcock 1988, 216). Food and other raw materials were produced here in Tipperary for consumption in at the main monastery at St John’s in Dublin.
As with most places in south Tipperary the grange enjoys a great view of wonderful Slievenaman.
I didn’t get much time to walk around the site. The remains of a deserted village are located to the northwest of the grange church while a the site of a castle is located to the west . The Civil Survey (1654-6) refers to this castle as ‘an old broken stump of a Castle with an old broken Bawne’ (Simington 1931, vol.1, 193).
Following the dissolution the grange was leased out and in 1541 it leased to the countess of Ormond (Simington 1931, vol.1, 193). By the 16th century Baptistgrange was described as having a
‘fortilage or castle, with a hall, etc. 51 acres and 12 cottages, leased in 1541 to the countess of Ormond at £4’ (Gwynn and Hadcock 1988, 216).
The grange church still survives and it situated at the centre of a historic graveyard.
The church is covered in dense vegetation so it was impossible to inspect closely. Only part of the west gable is visible but as the west end of the church is very close to a field boundary it was difficult to photograph.
According to Power the church was divided between the nave and chancel with ‘a triple chancel arch’ which had collapsed by 1930’s.
At either side of the former altar, in north and south side walls respectively, is the usual lighting ope. An unusual detail at this place is a projecting slab evidently a credence or a statue plinth; this is set in the east gable…corbels project from the side walls near their western end; these, instead of putlocks, supported wooden gallery beams… (Power 1938, 60).
The presence of a triple chancel arch is very rare in Ireland and it is such a pity that the Baptistgrange arch is no longer intact. Power (1938, 60) goes on to say
By triple arch here is not meant as an arch of three receding orders as in so many Hiberno-Romanesque example, but an arcade, or series of three arches, which run right across the church interior to form division into nave and chancel. Only two other examples of this arrangement are known to the writer, scil: in the Cathedral of Clonmacnoise and in the ruined church of Templeoan, Co Cork, respectively. Doubtless there are other Irish examples unrecorded.
Gwynn, A., & Hadcock, R.N., 1970. Medieval religious houses of Ireland. Dublin. Irish Academic Press.
Power, P. 1938 ‘Some old churches of Decies’, JRSAI, Vol.68, 55-68.
Simington, R.C., 1931. The Civil survey, AD 1654-1656. Vol I: county of Tipperary: eastern and southern baronies. Dublin. Irish Manuscripts Commission.