Charles Allen Du Val

His life and works

John Arthur Wall Du Val Born 1773

John Arthur Wall Du Val
Born: 1773
John Wall Du Val
Ann Atkinson
John William Wall Du Val 1765-1765
Sarah Ann Wall Du Val born 1766
Julius Caesar Wall Du Val 1768-1772
Charles Allen Andrews Wall Du Val born 1770
William Augustus Wall Du Val born 1775
Juliana Wall Du Val born 1777
Edward Octavius Caesar Wall Du Val born 1779
Julius Caesar Wall Du Val 1781-1782
Elizabeth Mary Wall Du Val born 1784
Edward J C Wall Du Val born 1787

John Arthur Wall Du Val was born in 1773, the son of John Wall Du Val and his wife nee Ann Atkinson. He lived at Spa Mount, Drumcondra, near Dublin, and died unmarried (1). He was an uncle of Charles Allen Du Val and was a dancing master running an Academy in Dublin.

He discovered a mineral spring in the grounds of his house, and began developing a Spa there from 1820, which he named "Harrowgate Spa", as the composition of the water was similar to that in the famous Yorkshire town. On 5 February 1820 Professor Higgins "of the Dublin Society" certified that one gallon of the water contained five minerals and "Oily, or bituminous matter". About a third of the solid matter was what we would now call calcium carbonate, nearly a quarter sodium sulphate, with smaller quantities of magnesium chloride, calcium sulphate and ferrous carbonate. That was "Besides 11 cubic inches of Sulphurated Hydrogen Gas". He continued that "From an Analysis which I have seen some years ago of Harrowgate, this approaches it in point of ingredients." And he added that his analysis was made in January and that "This Mineral Water must be much stronger in Spring, Summer and Autumn" (2). An advertisement of the new Spa appeared in the local press on 24 May 1820, and it opened five days later (3).

In June 1820 a John Crampton of Gardiner's Place published his opinion that judging from the analysis, the water was applicable to "many states of Indisposition". So many indeed that "the list would be too extended for the compass of such a communication as this." However, hedging his bets, he recommended lacing it with Epsom salts "where the Water does not prove sufficiently active". J. Mollan of Jervis Street believed "there are complaints which might be beneffited by its use: ... bilious affections ... confined bowels ... piles ... some of the diseases of the kidneys and bladder ... cutaneous diseases ... hysterical affections and some of the other diseases of females ...". But thankfully concluding that "I cannot enlarge on the subject." (4)

In August 1820 the Spa was "most brilliantly Illuminated " from six till ten in the evening. From then onwards events seem to have taken place mostly at Drumcondra rather than at the Rotunda in Dublin city. "The Proprietor, not wishing to interfere with the Rotunda Gardens, respectively informs the Public that the Gala Evenings will in future be on MONDAYS and WEDNESDAYS. The Grounds will be open on other Evenings as usual." (5)

A Grand Gala was held in the grounds at Drumcondra in September 1820, during which "Madam Hengler" again (but finally) gave a display of fireworks (6).

For the re-opening of the Spa on 10 April 1821 it was advertised that "As many improvements for the accommodation of the Public have taken place since last season. It is requested that Ladies and Gentlemen will not bring their dogs." (7). But not all animals were barred. On 9 August 1821 it was announced that the Spa was "Open from Six in the Morning, till Nine at Night. There are saddled Donkeys for Ladies, who may chuse to ride." (8).

John Du Val probably died in the late 1820s. His Will is dated 1827 (9). The Spa and its attractions did not survive the gradual expansion of Dublin northwards. By 1860 they were but a memory:

"Clonturk House in Drumcondra was once home to Duval, a famous dancing master. Duval discovered a spa well in the grounds of the house and he decided to establish a sanatorium there for the exploitation of "hypochondriacs and dyspeptics". He also attempted to turn the estate and gardens into a pleasure garden modelled on the famous Vauxhall Gardens in London and he set up various types of amusements, including swings, hobbyhorses and firework displays." (10)

Industrialisation of the area followed:

"During the opening years of the 19th century Drumcondra continued to be a place of popular resort. In 1812 a famous aeronaut made an ascent from Belvedere; and in 1869 [should be 1820] a dancing master called Duval tried to exploit a well for its alleged medicinal qualities, and make the grounds of a house near the church into a second Vauxhall. But the amenity of the Ballybough neighbourhood was encroached upon in the eighteenth century by the erection of iron works, which were succeeded by glass works, and it was entirely dissipated in the nineteenth century by the erection of vitriol works." (11)


(1) Du Val Family Scroll in the possession of a descendant of his father John Wall Du Val.
(2) Freeman's Journal and Daily Commercial Advertiser 2 June 1820.
(3) Freeman's Journal and Daily Commercial Advertiser 24 May 1820.
(4) Freeman's Journal and Daily Commercial Advertiser 6 June 1820.
(5) Freeman's Journal and Daily Commercial Advertiser 25 August 1820.
(6) Freeman's Journal and Daily Commercial Advertiser 11 September 1820.
(7) Freeman's Journal and Daily Commercial Advertiser 10 April 1821.
(8) Freeman's Journal and Daily Commercial Advertiser 9 August 1821.
(9) Deputy Keeper's Thirtieth Report : Dublin Will and Grant Book Index 1270-1858 : Index to the Act or Grant Books and Original Wills page 314. His address is there given as Spamount, Drumcondra, County Dublin, and he is described as being a gentleman. The probate copy of his Will would not have survived the destruction of the Four Courts in 1922.
(10) Sauntering in the Suburbs in the Dublin Builder November 1860, quoted in an article by Frank Hopkins in The Herald (Dublin) 7 March 2011. Evidently Spa Mount had been re-named Clonturk House by 1860.
(11) History of Clonturk : In Georgian Times in Building Dublin's Neighbourhoods on the Internet