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Wills Brook House first appeared on the first edition Six Inch map of 1843. The name of the house was written as two words, Wills Brook. It has become one word in recent times.
In the early 1900s, the house was occupied by a magistrate, Major J. and Hon. Mrs Barry, until about 1920, and then the house was vacant until 1926, when there was a new occupant, Mr John D. Wardell. John Denison Wardell had married Kate Meredith in the UK in 1883, and their son, also John, was given Meredith as a middle name.
John D. died aged 80 in 1929, and Kate shortly thereafter. They are buried in the family vault in Mount Jerome. The house at Wills Brook was then occupied by their son, Capt. John Meredith Wardell.
This John had served in the army of the UK, of which Ireland was then a part, and was promoted to Second Lieutenant when he served in the South Staffordshire Regiment in 1908, and also in the South Irish Horse in 1909.
He is recorded in the 1911 census at an address in 2 Fitzwilliam Place, Dublin, and gave his occupation at that time as a Tea Merchant, and aged 25.
He subsequently re-joined the army, this time the Royal Irish Regiment, and after the end of the 1914-18 war, he retired with the rank of Captain, at the time of the dissolution of that regiment on the formation of the Irish state in 1922.
The family owned Baker Wardell Tea and Coffee Merchants, with a business address at a purpose built premises at 76 Thomas Street, which is now the Dublin Volunteer Centre. Their warehouse was at 140 and 141 Francis Street, now demolished, save for the attractive frontage which has been preserved. The company was regarded as being the property of Quakers, although the census records their religion as being Church of Ireland.
Captain John and his wife died childless, and the house became vacant by the late 70s, until it was acquired by the Eastern Health Board, who began the work of fitting it out for use as a residential alcohol treatment unit. Research showing that out-patient treatment was just as effective as in-patient treatment for the condition meant that the project was abandoned, and the house was left to be used for cider parties and the inevitable destruction by vandalism and bonfires.
In the 1980s, it became unsafe after a major fire, and was demolished.
The company became Wardell Roberts, and the Wardell family directors retired by about 2003, and it was taken over by Valeo Foods in 2015, the owners of Findlaters, Robert Roberts Coffee, and Kelkin Foods and many other well-known brands.
by Enda Lee