Monday, 17 February 2020

Dromore Castle


The ancestors of this noble family were originally of Lower Brittany, in France; and the first of the family upon record in Ireland is

EDMUND PERY, a son of William Pery, Bailiff of Exeter, 1578, who settled in Limerick.

This Edmund died in 1655, leaving by Susannah his wife, only daughter and heir of Stephen Sexton, Mayor of Limerick, a son and successor,

EDMUND PERY, of Stackpole Court, County Clare, a colonel in the army, who died in 1721, leaving issue,
SEXTON, his heir;
STACKPOLE, succeeded his brother;
four daughters.
Colonel Pery was succeeded by his elder son,

SEXTON PERY, of Stackpole Court, who died in 1780, and was succeeded by his brother,

THE REV STACKPOLE PERY, who wedded, in 1716, Jane, daughter and heir of the Ven William Twigg, Archdeacon of Limerick (by Diana, daughter and heir of Sir Drury Wray Bt, by Albinia, daughter and co-heir of Edward, Viscount Wimbledon, third son of 1st Earl of Exeter), and had, with other issue,
EDMUND SEXTON, 1st Viscount Pery;
WILLIAM CECIL, succeeded his brother;
Diana; Dymphna; Lucy; Jane.
The elder son,

EDMUND SEXTON PERY (1719-1806), MP for Limerick City, 1761-76, who having filled the office of Speaker of the House of Commons in Ireland from 1771 until 1785, received upon his retirement the unanimous thanks of the House, and at the express solicitation of that branch of the legislature, was elevated to the peerage, in 1785, in the dignity of VISCOUNT PERY, of Newtown Pery, Limerick.

His lordship married firstly, in 1756, Patricia, youngest daughter of John Martin; and secondly, in 1762, Elizabeth, daughter of John, 1st Baron Knapton, and had issue,
Diana, m to Thomas, Earl of Ranfurly;
Frances, m to Nicholson Calvert MP.
His lordship died in 1806, when, leaving no male issue, his honours expired and the family estates devolved upon his brother,

THE RT REV WILLIAM CECIL PERY (1721-94), consecrated Lord Bishop of Killaloe, 1781, and translated to the bishopric of Limerick, 1784.

The Bishop was elevated to the peerage, in 1790, in the dignity of Baron Glentworth, of Mallow, County Cork.

He wedded firstly, in 1755, Jane, eldest daughter of John Walcott, of Croagh, and had issue,
EDMUND HENRY, his successor;
Eleanor, m to Sir Vere Hunt Bt.
He espoused secondly, in 1792, Dorothea, daughter of Richard Maunsell, of Limerick, and widow of General Crump, but had no further issue.

His lordship was succeeded by his only son,

EDMUND HENRY, 2nd Baron (1758-1844), who was created, in 1800, Viscount Limerick. 

His lordship was advanced to the dignity of an earldom, in 1803, as EARL OF LIMERICK (2nd creation), and enrolled amongst the peers of the United Kingdom at large, as Baron Foxford.

DROMORE CASTLE, near Pallaskenry, County Limerick, was designed ca 1867-70 by E W Godwin for the 3rd Earl of Limerick.

Built as a keep in a Gothic-Revival style, the building is archaeologically convincing both in its design and its display of distinctively Irish Gothic features, such as the round tower and stepped battlements.

Godwin studied and measured several Irish Gothic castles before producing his plans for Dromore.

He also designed much of the interior including the wall paintings, fireplaces, ceiling decoration, sculpture, tiles, stained and painted glass, brass work and ironwork, as well as furniture, to whom the commission for furniture went to William Watts of Grafton Street.

Henry Stacey Marks commenced the wall paintings; however, work was abandoned due to severe damp.

To combat this, Godwin designed a brick lining with a cavity of about two inches from the stonework, in addition the internal walls and vaults, with the exception of the main entrance vault, were also of brick.

Following the death of the 3rd Earl, the 4th Earl used the castle very little and had it boarded up in the early 1900s.

Dromore Castle was sold by the 4th Earl in 1939 to the McMahon family, who occupied it until 1960.

An attempt was then made to find a buyer for it; and when this proved unsuccessful, the castle was dismantled.

However, the ruin remains a striking feature in the landscape and is visible for miles due to its prominent elevated position.

Dromore Castle remains an important part of the social and architectural heritage of County Limerick being one of the most archaeologically correct Gothic-Revival castles that was built at that time.

First published in August, 2013.   Glentworth arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Sunday, 16 February 2020

The Motor Home

Those of you who have been following my narrative for the last twelve years shall be aware of my fondness for the fantastic world of Bertie Wooster and his valet Jeeves.

This morning I find myself in Wooster Mode.

How would s small de luxe motor home, fitted out with the Hypnos mattress, electricity generator for all mod cons, the plain Wilton carpeting, shower unit, wardrobe for the essential Belmont attire, and so on fit the bill?

By Jove the world would be my oyster.

Perhaps I exaggerate somewhat, though you get the gist of it.

We have had the intrepid Portillo in his trains, and could we potentially have Timothy Belmont in his motor home?

I speculate that the running costs would be in the region of £1,500 to £2,000, allowing for annual insurance, MOT test, servicing, road tax, fuel costs, site fees and so on.

The journey from Belfast or Larne to Cairryan would be another factor for continental trips.

The Carlton, Belfast

I have received an old marketing brochure for the Carlton Café and Restaurant, Belfast.

The Carlton was located at 25 Donegall Place until about 1954.

I'm grateful to David Thompson, of McConnell's chartered surveyors and properties, for this information.

25 Donegall Place is, I believe, the oldest remaining Georgian building on this street.

It was built in 1790-91 by Roger Mulholland as part of a terrace of three houses.

Donegall Place frontage

The premises extended back as far as Fountain Street, where there was once another entrance (the premises today are known as Carlton House).

Throughout the 20th century, 25-27 Donegall Place was used as a café and a retail shop.

The stained-glass canopy, which was added for the Carlton, had been removed by at least the 1950s when Saxone Shoes acquired the site and installed a modern shopfront.

They (subsequently renamed Freeman, Hardy & Willis) continued to operate from the premises until at least 1976.

In 1993 the building had been taken over by Trueform.

The Carlton closed its premises in Donegall Place about 1954 and relocated to 11 Wellington Place.

The directors in 1974 were as follows: Henry Toner; David Andrews; Dawson Moreland; Samuel Meharg; James S Andrews; Thomas Baker.

main restaurant

The main restaurant in Donegall Place boasted alternate panels of mirror plate and rose-coloured silk, surrounded by mauve decorations between substantial pilasters.

At the rear, a large soda fountain was installed which dispensed "iced beverages, ices and iced fruits."

The restaurant was approached through the shop.

The Locksley Hall restaurant was located behind the restaurant.

This room had Romanesque mahogany pilasters with gold-bound panels of Oriental, atmospheric, prismatic colouring, producing a cheerful "Plein Air" feeling.

The ceiling was painted in delicate tints of pale sage green and antique ivory.

It extended to over 2,800 square feet and could be subdivided.

There was an entrance from Fountain Street.

The Oak Room

The Oak Room was described thus:-
a regal apartment of comfort and elegance, panelled in natural oak, elaborately carved with all the correctness of detail and charm of execution of the LOUIS XV period; and relieved by smaller panels of rich tapestry of antique colour and design.
On two sides of the room, large mirrors were inserted in the oak walls.

An Oriental carpet graced the floor.

On the first floor from the shop was The Ladies' Room, "a beautiful apartment overlooking Donegall Place."

It was decorated in subdued tones of blue and gold, and "most exquisitely furnished."

The Smoke Room was on the second floor, "a most comfortable and restful apartment, overlooking Donegall Place."

It was beautified in the Jacobean style and contained "all the comforts of a luxurious divan."

The Balcony

The Balcony was available for dining or afternoon tea.

The Grand Ballroom was beside the Balcony:
Passing the celebrated Herbert Mortimer Orchestra, we mount a few steps and enter the GRAND BALLROOM, a veritable salon, both in purity of style and correctness of detail, reminiscent of that famous period of refinement and elegance - Louis Quinze.
The Grand Ballroom

The colour scheme was ivory white, with delicate shades of shell pink and pastel blue, enhanced by an oak parquetry floor.

This ballroom had a floorspace of 3,200 square feet and seated 300 or up to 400 for dancing.

It had a separate entrance from Fountain Street.

As a matter of interest, the Carlton operated a bakery in Donegall Avenue.

25 Donegall Place is today a branch of Oasis.

First published in February, 2016.

Saturday, 15 February 2020

Tullylagan Manor


SIR JAMES GRIER (c1604-66), Knight, of Capenoch, Dumfriesshire, and Rock Hall, Alnwick, Northumberland, fifth son of Sir William Grier, succeeded his brother, John, in Capenoch.

This gentleman married Mary, daughter of the Rev John Browne, of Glencairn, first minister after the Reformation, and widow of Thomas Grier, of Bargarg Tower, Dumfriesshire.

His eldest son, 

HENRY GRIER (c1625-c1675), of Rock Hall, and afterwards of Redford, near Grange, County Tyrone, came to Ulster in 1653.

He married, in 1652, Mary Turner, of Northumberland, and had issue,
Mr Grier, who joined the Society of Friends (Quakers) ca 1660, was succeeded by his eldest son,

JAMES GREER (1653-1718), of Liscorran, County Armagh, who wedded, in 1678, Eleanor, daughter and co-heir of John Rea, of Liscorran, and had issue,
Henry, ancestor of the GREERS of Grange, Co Tyrone;
JOHN, ancestor of the GREERS of Tullylagan and Seapark, of whom we treat;
James, of Liscorran;
The second son,

JOHN GREER (1688-1741), of Grace Hill, County Armagh, and Tullyanaghan, near Lurgan, espoused, in 1717, Mary, daughter of Jeramiah Hanks, of Birr, and widow of John Chambers, of Dublin, and had several children, of whom the second son,

THOMAS GREER (1724-1803), of Rhone Hill, Dungannon, County Tyrone, became, on the extinction of the male line of his elder brother John, the head of the second house of Ulster Greers.

He married, in 1746, Sarah, daughter of Thomas Greer, of Redford, his second cousin, and died at Rhone Hill, leaving issue,
THOMAS, his heir;
Robert (1766-1808), died unmarried in USA;
Eleanor; Mary; Jane; Sarah; Ann.
The elder son,

THOMAS GREER (1761-1870), of Rhone Hill, wedded, in 1787, Elizabeth, only child of William Jackson, and had issue,
Thomas, of Tullylagan;
William Jackson, of Rhone Hill, father of
John Robert;
Alfred, of Dripsey House, Co Cork;
Sarah; Mary Jackson; Elizabeth; Caroline; Louisa Jane; Priscilla Sophia.
The eldest son,

THOMAS GREER JP (1791-1870), of Tullylagan, married, in 1826, Wilhelmina, daughter of Arthur Ussher JP, of Camphire, County Waterford, and had issue,
FREDERICK, his heir;
Martha Usher; Elizabeth Jackson; Wilhelmina Sophia Priscilla.
The eldest son,

FREDERICK GREER JP (1829-1908), of Tullylagan, late Royal Navy, wedded, in 1874,  Cecilia, eldest daughter of Sir Nathaniel Alexander Staples Bt, of Lissan, County Tyrone, by Elizabeth Lindsay his wife, only child of James Head and Cecilia his wife, third daughter of the Hon Robert Lindsay, of Balcarres, and had issue,
THOMAS, of Tullylagan;
Nathaniel Alexander Staples;
Elizabeth Lindsay; Mary Ussher.
The eldest son,

THOMAS GREER JP (1875-1949), of Tullylagan, espoused, in 1907, Constance Clara Annie, daughter of Edward Cochrane Palmer, of Beckfield House, Queen's County, and had issue,

FREDERICK WILLIAM USHER GREER, of Tullylagan, born in 1915, who died unmarried.

TULLYLAGAN MANOR, (formerly New Hamburgh), near Cookstown, County Tyrone, was built ca 1830.

It consists of two storeys over a basement, which was subsequently excavated to become a ground floor.

The house has a three-bay front; a two-bay projecting porch; an eaved roof on bracket cornice.

There is a side wing, originally one storey over a basement.

Frederick Greer inherited Tullylagan following the decease of his father, Thomas, in 1870, though he leased the estate to his cousin, Thomas MacGregor Greer ca 1898.

Thomas MacGregor Greer, the only son of Thomas Greer, MP for Carrickfergus, was responsible for much of the development of the estate thereafter.

Mr Greer was a talented man who had many diverse interests.
Thomas MacGregor Greer of Seapark near Belfast came, after his marriage to Dorinda Florence Lowry in 1892, to Tullylagan Manor, near Cookstown, which he leased from Thomas Usher Greer. He had two daughters. 
Sylvia married Major Alexander (Pomeroy); Betty married Colonel Percival, Commander at Singapore during the 2nd World War. 
The Greers returned to Seapark after the 1st World War, where Mrs Greer died in February 1930. 
In 1931, Thomas married Miss Leonie Caroline Handcock (Dublin) returning to Tullylagan. Thomas owned one of the first motor cars in this part of Tyrone. He sponsored the work of Harry Ferguson (of Ford Ferguson fame) who often stayed at Tullylagan. 
The ancient church of Desertcreat in the 1930s was beautified by an Oak Reredos, Pulpit, communion table and rails, all of which had been carved by Thomas, also two oak Jacobean chairs and a silver salver. 
Later he donated a reading desk and a lectern made from Austrian Oak. He was Church Warden for 25 years, Parochial nominator, a member of the Diocesan and General Synod, Hon. Treasurer and Secretary and read the lessons throughout the year. 
He had a keen interest in Tullylagan prize pipe band, presenting them with kilts in MacGregor tartan. 
In 1941 the parish of Desertcreat and people of the district were greatly saddened by the death of its most generous benefactor and paid tribute to the great interest that he had taken in the welfare of Church and district during his lifetime.
Mr Greer considered the Manor House inadequately proportioned for a country residence, so rather than risk spoiling the architecture by adding to the house, he decided to excavate the basement.

This was a substantial task at the time, depending heavily on manual labour, with the soil removed from the basement, the house became three-storey.

In the farmyard he installed carpentry facilities and here many fine examples of chairs, tables and other items were produced.

Thomas MacGregor Greer remained in Tullylagan until his death in 1941.

The house is now privately owned.

Other former residence ~ Curglasson, Stewartstown, County Tyrone.

First published in January, 2012.

Friday, 14 February 2020

Chapel of the Resurrection

The chapel with Belfast Castle in the background

THE CHAPEL OF THE RESURRECTION, 21, Innisfayle Park, Belfast, was constructed in 1865-69 in the Gothic-Revival style as a mortuary chapel for the 3rd Marquess of Donegall, whose seat was Belfast Castle.

This charming little chapel predates Belfast Castle, which was constructed in 1868-70.

The late Sir Charles Brett remarked that the 3rd Marquess found his previous dwelling of Ormeau House an ‘ill-constructed residence’, and Lord Donegall himself wrote that his estate was "under a disadvantage for want of a more suitable family residence.’

Despite being in constant debt, Lord Donegall decided to construct a new mansion at lands he still owned in the deer park to the north of Belfast.

The Donegall family chapel, designed by Lanyon, Lynn & Lanyon, was built as a mortuary chapel that served as a memorial to the 3rd Marquess's son Frederick Richard, Earl of Belfast, who had died prematurely in 1853.

The chapel was not only a memorial to their son, but was also to be used as a burial place for members of the Chichester family (who had heretofore been interred at Carrickfergus).

The Chapel of the Resurrection was consecrated on the 20th December, 1869, by the Rt Rev Dr Robert Knox, Lord Bishop of Down, Connor and Dromore.

The Natural Stone Database records that the chapel was constructed with locally-quarried Scrabo sandstone, with Portland limestone used as a secondary material.

The interior of the chapel originally possessed a white marble monument to Lord Belfast which depicted him on his deathbed (sculpted by Patrick McDowell).

Following the completion of the site, the remains of Lord Belfast were moved to the Chapel of the Resurrection and interred in its vault.

It is said that the chapel was converted into a private chapel for the use of the owners and occupants of the Castle in 1891.

The conversion of the building included the decoration of the interior and the addition of an altar, reading-desk, organ and stained-glass windows.

The refurbishment of the interior was carried out by Cox & Sons, London, and Buckley's of Youghal, County Cork.

The church organ was built by Wordsworth of Leeds.

Following the death of the 3rd Marquess in 1883, Belfast Castle and its estate passed to his son-in-law, Anthony Ashley-Cooper (styled Lord Ashley), later 8th Earl of Shaftesbury, who had married the Lady Harriet Chichester in 1857.

The Shaftesbury family continued to own Belfast Castle until 1934, when the 9th Earl of Shaftesbury granted the building and the 200 acre estate to Belfast Corporation.

The Shaftesburys are thought to have continued using the chapel for private and semi-private services thereafter, even though they had no need of it, as they could worship in an Oratory located inside the Castle itself; but during the 1st World War services in the chapel were discontinued, except very occasionally.

Having been utilised as a private dwelling for only 65 years, Belfast Castle was granted to Belfast Corporation on 1st February 1935.

Lord Shaftesbury retained the chapel until 1938, when it was transferred to the Church of Ireland.

Brian Barton remarks that the chapel effectively became the responsibility of St Peter’s parish church from that year.

The first public service was held at the Chapel of the Resurrection on the 18th September, 1938.

The building suffered minor damage during the Belfast Blitz, and repairs were subsequently carried out to the damaged roof and windows.

The chapel continued to be used regularly for services between 1938 and the 1960s; due to the decline in church attendance, however, the change in the make-up of the local population and the vandalism of the building (following the development of post-war housing around it in the 1950s and 1960s), regular services were abandoned in 1965.

The last service was held on the 27th august, 1972.

The congregation of St Peter’s endeavoured to maintain the chapel, but by 1974 recurrent acts of vandalism had forced the Select Vestry to remove all furnishings from the building and to sell the organ to a rural church.

By the 1980s the church had fallen into an advanced state of disrepair and was curtailed behind a barbed-wire fence.

In 1982 the vaults beneath the chapel were vandalised and the remaining tombs (the remains of the Chichester family) desecrated by vandals.

Sadly the chapel has continued to lie vacant since the 1970s.

In 2007-08 holding repairs were carried out to the chapel, which included repairs to its roof, the restoration of its roof trusses and the cleaning of its stonework.

The restoration aimed to make the chapel safe and restrict further acts of vandalism; all openings and doors were blocked up.

Some of the original furnishings of the chapel survive at St Peter’s parish church, Antrim Road, Belfast.

In a side chapel of St Peter's (opened in 2000; named the Chapel of the Resurrection) are a number of artefacts from the derelict chapel, including its reredos, the altar, a number of statues, the credence table and the original lectern.

The chapel has a heavily-pitched, natural slate roof, with masonry cross finial to gabled façade and metal cross finial to apse.

Rock-faced masonry walls have cut-stone dressings, including string-courses and stepped buttresses.

Pointed arch window openings to nave have tracery, forming a bipartite arrangement.

There is a rose window at the gabled façade, and trefoil-arch openings to belfry.

A pointed arched door opening is set within a cusped and sprocketed, gabled surround.

The chapel's interior was of great beauty and charm.

Two effigies or statues of Lord Belfast, one of which was a life-size representation in pure white marble of him on his death-bed, his mother holding his right hand; the other, a plaster statue of the young nobleman.

Both are now in Belfast City Hall.

First published in February, 2014.  See the Mausolea & Monuments Trust.

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Ashbrook House

The ancient and eminent family of ESSE, ASHE, or D'ESSECOURT, which came over with WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR, appears by certified extracts, under the seal of Ulster King of Arms, to have held large estates in the county of Devon, so early as the 11th century; and the line is deducible through more than eighteen generations.
THOMAS ASHE (1529-82), second son of Nicholas Ashe, of Clyst Fornyson in Devon, was the first of the family to settle in Ireland.

Having married and had issue, he was succeeded by his eldest son,

GENERAL SIR THOMAS ASHE (1567-1626), of St John's Abbey, near Trim, County Meath, and Dromshill, County Cavan.

This gentleman received the honour of knighthood at Dublin Castle, in 1603, from Sir George Carey, the Lord Deputy, in recognition of his services to the crown in helping to put down the rebellion in that kingdom.

Sir Thomas was subsequently granted land in County Cavan.

He was rewarded even more handsomely a few years later for his support in the fight against the rebellious Irish earls, and was granted land in County Londonderry.

Over a period of several generations, this branch dropped the E from Ashe, and most references to them are with the surname "Ash".

Sir Thomas died without issue.

His country estate, later known as Ashbrook, was bequeathed to his kinsman, 

JOSIAS ASH, whose son,

JOHN ASH, married thrice and had some twenty-four children, a number of whom died young.

This gentleman reputedly built Ashbrook.

From him the family estate descended to his son,

GEORGE ASH (1679-1729), who married, in 1710, his cousin Mary, daughter of John Rankin, in 1710, and had issue (with a daughter, Jane), a son,

GEORGE ASH (1712-1796), of Ashbrook, who, dying without issue, bequeathed Ashbrook to his nephew by marriage,

WILLIAM HAMILTON, son of William Hamilton, by Jane his wife, daughter of George Ash.

Mr Hamilton was succeeded by his son,

WILLIAM HAMILTON, of Ashbrook, who assumed the additional surname of ASH, on succeeding to the estates of his uncle.

Mr Hamilton-Ash wedded, in 1795, Miss Elizabeth Harriet Henderson, and had issue,
George (Rev), Rector of Ballyscullion;
Anne; Jane.
Mr Hamilton-Ash died in 1821, and was succeeded by his son,

WILLIAM HAMILTON-ASH JP DL (1803-67), of Ashbrook, who married, in 1827, the Lady Elizabeth Emma Douglas, daughter of the Hon John Douglas and Lady Frances Lascelles, and sister of the Earl of Morton, and had issue,

CAROLINE HAMILTON-ASH (1830-1901), who espoused, in 1853, John Barré Beresford, son of Henry Barré Beresford, of Learmount Castle, County Londonderry, and had issue,
Marcus John Barré De La Poer;
Barbara Caroline; Louisa Gertrude Douglas; Emma Clare; Mary Elizabeth.
Mrs Beresford was succeeded by her eldest son,

WILLIAM RANDAL HAMILTON BERESFORD-ASH DL (1859-1938), of Ashbrook, Colonel, Royal Welch Fusiliers, who married, in 1886, the Lady Florence Marion Browne, daughter of Henry, 5th Marquess of Sligo.

In 1901, Mr Hamilton-Ash added the additional surname and arms of ASH.

Colonel Beresford-Ash was succeeded by his only child,

DOUGLAS BERESFORD-ASH DL (1887-1976), of Ashbrook, Major, Royal Fusiliers, High Sheriff of County Londonderry, 1950, who wedded, in 1930, the Lady Betty Helena Joanna Rous, daughter of 3rd Earl of Stradbroke, and had issue, an only child,

JOHN RANDAL BERESFORD-ASH (1938-2010), of Ashbrook, High Sheriff of County Londonderry, 1975, who married, in 1968, Agnès Marie Colette, daughter of Comte Jules Marie Guy de Lamberterie de la Chapelle Montmoreau, and had issue,
Melanie Anne Helena Charlotte b 1968;
Louisa Jane Marie Caroline b 1971;

ASHBROOK, County Londonderry, has been home to the Beresford-Ash family since 1595.

This two-storey, bow-fronted, gable-ended, 18th century house reputedly incorporates the original house.

There is unusual fenestration: Two windows on either side of the central, curved bow in the upper storey; while there is only one on either side below.

The windows on the entrance front all have rusticated surrounds; and both sides of the house are gabled and irregular.

The Honourable The Irish Society records the Ash family as one of only four 'native land owners' prior to the plantation.

Today Ashbrook is set in 30 acres of mature parkland on the outskirts of the city of Londonderry.

The oldest part of the house was built ca 1590.

The Hall

During the celebrated siege of Londonderry in 1689, Ashbrook was partially burnt by JAMES I's troops as the Ash family were besieged in the city.

In 1760, the front six rooms were added to Ashbrook.
Unfortunately the architect's records were lost in the burning of the records office in Dublin in 1917. However, the original plans still exist of all the drainage system for the estate (fields and house) from the plumbers who installed the first flushing lavatories and baths in 1911.
In the early 1940s, Ashbrook played host to the US Marines.
The then owners, Major and Lady Helena Beresford-Ash, were asked by King George VI to host General George Marshall, Averell Harriman and Harry Hopkins, who were inspecting their troops in Londonderry.
In the grounds there are fine, mature trees with glen-side walks leading to the River Faughan, to which there is public access.

This area was recently improved following a report by Dr Tim Edwards of Ulster University, which emphasised the importance of this area as a public amenity.

Tree planting is recorded in A Register of Trees in County Londonderry 1768-1911, for the years 1773 to 1776.

The house is set in lawns, with shrubs and trees a short distance away.

The walled garden has not been cultivated in the last twenty years.

Half of it was an orchard, separated from the rest by a beech hedge, which still exists.

Peter Taylor has written an interesting article about the history of the Beresford-Ash family; how Ashbrook was a gift to General Thomas Ash from ELIZABETH I; and their experiences during the troubles in Northern Ireland. 

First published in February, 2010.

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

The Moka Pot

If, like me, you are a confirmed aficionado of that great Sicilian detective, Inspector Montalbano, you shall be aware of his fondness for coffee, particularly the espresso type made in a Moka Pot.

Salvo Montalbano has a small, three-cup version in his house, and he’s often seen bringing the pot out with a bowl of sugar on a large tray to his balcony.

This is all quintessentially part of the Italian culture, I am in no doubt.

Moka pots are inexpensive and readily available on auction sites and so on.

Anybody who knows TImothy Belmont  will know that I’m no connoisseur of coffee. I enjoy it, though I’ll happily drink the instant, freeze-dried  stuff out of jars.

Nevertheless I do appreciate freshly ground coffee beans.

Recently I’ve tried the espresso variety, served in tiny cups equivalent to a large measure of gin.

I had one, in fact, at the Queen’s Film Theatre prior to watching The Lighthouse.

Having a sweet tooth I shovel a good spoonful of sugar into the cup, though, frankly, the espresso does not enthuse me at all.

What’s the point of it? If you drink it regularly does it become addictive in some way? I don’t know.

Readers, enlighten me!