Thursday, 24 July 2014

Scottish Provident Building


THE SCOTTISH PROVIDENT BUILDING (SPB), Donegall Square West, Belfast, is a grand, symmetrical, multi-bay, sandstone Italianate office block.

It comprises six-storeys over a basement, with an attic-storey; dated 1902, to the designs of Young & Mackenzie.

The SPB is U-shaped on plan with a central pedimented bow and chamfered corner elevations surmounted by octagonal domed pavilions.

Retail units are on the ground floor of the building, which was extensively renovated ca 2009.

One of the most prominent buildings in Donegall Square, this large-scaled Victorian commercial edifice displays much sculptural stonework to the facade in addition to its copper roof features.

The neo-Palladian idiom is loosely interpreted with hints of Baroque and art nouveau.

Much historic fabric and detailing survives.

The SPB is undoubtedly one of the most impressive late Victorian or early Edwardian structures in the city by notable local architects, representing the commercial development of the city in its later stages.


The SPB comprises one of two large office blocks built in Donegall Square to the designs of Young and MacKenzie during the late 19th century.

The Royal Linen Warehouse for Robinson & Cleaver was constructed first, on the north of the Square, in 1888; followed by the larger Scottish Provident Institution, built at Donegall Square West between 1897-1902.

This site was previously occupied by the offices and yards of linen merchants and the Donegall/Union Hotel.

The new building was initially occupied by the Scottish Provident Institution, and a number of offices had been leased to other businesses, including the architects Young & MacKenzie.

The ground floor contained a number of commercial units, including McGee & Co, Tailors; Erskine Mayne, bookseller; lantern and photo specialists; and at 8 Wellington Place, J Lizar, which remains there today.

The building continues to function with cafes, shops and restaurants on the ground floor; offices and meeting spaces on the floors above.

This grand Italian-Renaissance-style building was constructed by the builder Robert Corry, to designs prepared by Robert Young of Young and MacKenzie.

Carvings and sculpture were executed by Purdy & Millard; while Ward & Partners created the stained glass in the first floor lobby, which depicts Scottish coat-of-arms.

The ornamental sculpture includes detailed carvings of female heads, representing Scotland, Ireland, England, India, Sudan and Canada.

The central bay, which bows outward, is also adorned with panels depicting the prevalent industries of the day including shipbuilding, rope making and weaving.

During the late 20th century the stonework was restored, a projecting central canopy was added over the Donegall Square entrance, and some statues were removed from the facade.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Ministerial Honours

Neck badge of the Order of Companions of Honour

THE QUEEN has been pleased to appoint the Rt Hon Kenneth Clarke CH QC MP to the Order of the Companions of Honour.

The Prime Minister requested the honour be granted following the recent government reshuffle, in recognition of Kenneth Clarke’s longstanding public service to the country.


THE MOST DISTINGUISHED ORDER OF ST MICHAEL AND ST GEORGE

THE QUEEN has been pleased to approve that the honour of Knights Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) be conferred upon the Rt Hon Sir Alan Duncan KCMG MP and the Rt Hon Sir Hugh Robertson KCMG MP, in recognition of their public service to the country.

Killymoon Castle

Stewart of Killymoon

Early in the reign of JAMES VI of Scotland and JAMES I of England, 
JAMES STEWART migrated from Scotland, and purchasing Cookstown, County Tyrone, and the adjacent lands from one Cooke, settled himself at Ballymenagh; while his brother, Andrew Stewart (ancestor of Sir John Stewart, of Athenry, created a baronet, 1803), settled at Gortigal, in same county.
This James had two sisters: Barbara, who married the Rev Richard Danoch, rector of Derrytown; and Grissel, who married Alexander Richardson, of Clogher, in same county.

He had five daughters and one son, his heir,

JAMES STEWART, of Killymoon, who married, in 1709, Helen, daughter of Patrick Agnew, of County Antrim, and had issue, his eldest son,

WILLIAM STEWART, of Killymoon, and of Ballymenagh, MP for County Tyrone, born in 1710.

He married, in 1740, Eleanor, eldest daughter of Sir Henry King Bt, of Rockingham, and by her he left, at his decease in 1797,

JAMES STEWART, of Killymoon, MP for County Tyrone, born in 1741.

This gentleman wedded, in 1771, the Hon Elizabeth Molesworth, daughter and eventually co-heir (with Lady Ponsonby, wife of 1st Lord Ponsonby, and Mrs Staples, wife of the Rt Hon John Staples, of Lissan) of Richard, 3rd Viscount Molesworth; and by her (who died in 1835) he had, with other issue, all deceased, a son and a daughter, namely, 

COLONEL WILLIAM STEWART (1781-1850), of Killymoon, MP for County Tyrone, who died a bachelor.

KILLYMOON CASTLE, Cookstown, County Tyrone, is one of John Nash's earliest castles, built ca 1803 for William Stewart MP, incorporating part of the previous house which was burnt ca 1800.

The original castle was built in 1671 by James Stewart.

Stewart’s ancestors had come from Scotland during the plantation to settle in Cookstown, and in 1666 James Stewart bought the land lease for the castle site from Alan Cook, founder of Cookstown.

When, in 1802, Colonel William Stewart decided to rebuild the castle, he employed one of London’s greatest architects, John Nash, to design his castle.

The second Killymoon Castle was built on a much grander scale than the original; thus, by its completion in 1803, the castle is reputed to have cost £80,000 (£6 million in 2010).

Today's castle has a romantic silhouette in a splendid location above the Ballinderry River with a back-drop of sweeping woodland and parkland.

The principal front is dominated by an almost central battlemented, machicolated round tower and turret; at one end, an octagonal tower with similar features; and at the other end the profile of the square tower in the adjoining front, the base of which is arched to form a porte-cochére.

The latter tower has slender, octagonal corner turrets with cupolas. The windows are pointed, grouped together under segmental hood mouldings, which Nash and his ilk regarded as being Saxon.

There is good interior planning with square, circular and octagonal rooms fitted together.

The hall has a double staircase and is lit by a Gothic lantern on a plaster, fan-vaulted ceiling.

The Library is in the form of a Gothic chapel, with stained-glass windows.

Extensive stables, out-houses and labourers cottages were built on the demesne, and on completion of the residential quarters Colonel Stewart had the 585 acres of the Killymoon demesne enclosed by a wall 10 to 12 feet high.

Entrance to the demesne was by way of four stone lodges and avenues at various points along the boundary wall.

The Killymoon estate remained the property of the Stewart family for six generations; however, their extravagant lifestyle caused the Stewart family to fall on hard times, especially during the years of the Irish famine.

Hence, the Colonel's great-grandson, Henry T Clements, sold the Killymoon estate in 1852 for £100,000.

In 1857, the castle had again been sold to the Cooper family; and in 1865 Colonel Bolton, an English gentleman, purchased the castle.

A mere ten years later, Mervyn Stuart Thomas Moutray JP became the owner of Killymoon Castle until 1916, when Gerald Macura bought the castle and town of Cookstown for almost £100,000.

By 1918 Macura was also in financial difficulties and was compelled to sell off his assets. Hence, in 1922, John Coulter bought the castle and grounds for the princely sum of £100.

Today the castle remains the home of the Coulter family. In addition, situated on what was previously some of the castle’s estate lands, is an 18-hole golf course.
Shortly before embarking on his long parliamentary career, the young James Stewart did the Grand Tour in Europe. A splendid portrait of him (now in the Ulster Museum) was painted in Italy some time in 1767 by Pompeo Batoni.
Stewart succeeded his father as one of the MPs for County Tyrone in 1768, retaining the seat continuously and without a contest for the next thirty-two years in Dublin and a further twelve after 1800 at Westminster. 
The Stewart of Killymoon Papers are held at the Public Record Office of NI.

From Killymoon Castle there are views across the parkland, where few trees remain. The grounds were possibly designed by W S Gilpin for the present house.

Grass terraces to the south of the house descend to the river and are enlivened by yew trees. Rowan quotes Paxton,
I have visited most of the celebrated country seats in the kingdom and a very large number on the continent, and I have never seen one – for the extent of it - more compact, more perfect in itself, or where the highest natural beauties have been more aided by refined taste and judgement, than Killymoon.
Unfortunately the demesne is not as it once was: Ornamental garden buildings are lost; the vistas are over bare farmland to distant woods. Extensive walled gardens, with some glass, are partially kept up.

The gardener’s house is ruinous; 18th century offices that pre-date the present house are extensive; one of three gate lodges survives; the northern part of the estate is now a golf course.

First published in November, 2010. 

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

The Molyneux Baronetcy

THE MOLYNEUX BARONETCY, OF CASTLE DILLON, WAS CREATED IN 1730 FOR THOMAS MOLYNEUX

This is a junior branch of the family of Molyneux, Earls of Sefton, springing immediately, it is supposed, from Sir Thomas Molyneux, 2nd son of Sir William Molyneux, of Sefton, a celebrated warrior under the Black Prince; who added to his arms, in a distinction, the fleur-de-lis in the dexter chief still borne by the family.

The ancestors of the Molyneux family, who arrived in England around the time of the Norman conquest of 1066, bore the name "de Molines".

They came from Molineaux-sur-Seine in France, and settled in Lancashire, where they were granted lands by WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR, Duke of Normandy, their liege lord, for their distinguished assistance at the battle of Hastings in 1066.

They can be shown to have held the manor of Sefton without interruption from about 1100.

The senior branch of the family had been staunch Catholics and Royalists (notably in the 17th and 18th centuries).

Although Anglo-Norman surnames like Molyneaux are characterized by many spelling variations, the name Molyneux has prevailed with the modern trend towards standardisation.

SIR THOMAS MOLYNEUX, knight, who was born at Calais in 1531, was sent to Ireland by ELIZABETH I in 1576 as chancellor of the exchequer, and received extensive grants of lands.

Sir Thomas married Katherine, daughter of Ludovic Stabcort, Governor of Bruges, and died in 1596.

At his decease in 1596, Sir Thomas was succeeded by his eldest surviving son,

DANIEL MOLYNEUX MP,
Who was appointed, in 1586, Ulster king-of-arms, and the celebrated collection of Irish family history, now amongst the manuscripts of Trinity College Dublin, prove him to have been an accurate and very learned antiquary.
His third, but eldest surviving son,

SAMUEL MOLYNEUX (1616-93), of Castle Dillon, County Armagh, chief engineer of Ireland, married and was succeeded by his eldest son,

WILLIAM MOLYNEUX (1656-98), MP for the city of Dublin, 1691, and for the university of the same place, from 1694 until his decease; and author of the celebrated  "Case of Ireland".

He married Lucy, daughter of Sir William Domvile Bt, attorney-general of Ireland, and was succeeded at his decease, in 1698, by his eldest son,

THE RT HON SAMUEL MOLYNEUX, a lord of the Admiralty, and secretary to GEORGE II when Prince of Wales. He married and died without issue, hence the estates reverted to his uncle,

© National Museums Northern Ireland

LIEUTENANT-GENERAL (SIR) THOMAS MOLYNEUX FRS (above), born in 1661, physician-general to the Army in Ireland, who was created a baronet in 1730.

Sir Thomas was born at Cook Street, Dublin, on the 14th April, 1661. He was educated in Trinity College, and took out his degree of Bachelor of Medicine, and afterwards visited London, Oxford, Cambridge, and the Continental schools, to extend his knowledge.

During the War of 1689-91 he resided in Chester with his brother. They returned immediately after the battle of the Boyne. Thenceforward for some time Dr Molyneux resided in the house with his father, and engaged in practice.

His progress must have been rapid, for in 1693 he was enabled to purchase an estate worth £100 per annum, and in 1711 he founded the Molyneux Blind Asylum in Peter Street, Dublin, at a cost of £2,310 for the house and £2,341 for furniture.

In 1715 he was appointed State Physician, afterwards Surgeon-General to the army, holding the rank of lieutenant-general; and in 1730 a baronetcy was conferred upon him by Lord Carteret.

He died in 1733, aged 72. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society in London, and a constant contributor to the proceedings of the Dublin Philosophical Society, being especially interested in antiquarian and zoological enquiries relating to Ireland.

The 1st and 3rd Baronets are interred at St Audoen's Church, Dublin.


There is a monument to the 1st Baronet in Armagh's Anglican cathedral by the sculptor Roubillac, with an elaborate description of his honours and genealogy; while his portrait is in Armagh Museum.

His eldest son,

SIR DANIEL MOLYNEUX, 2nd Baronet, died unmarried in 1738 when the title and estates devolved upon his brother,

THE RT HON SIR CAPEL MOLYNEUX, 3rd Baronet, MP for Dublin University (below). Sir Capel erected a fine obelisk near his park, at Castle Dillon, to commemorate the revival of the constitution of Ireland, in 1782. Sir Capel died in 1797 and was succeeded by his son,


SIR CAPEL MOLYNEUX, 4th Baronet, who, having married and died without issue in 1832, the title devolved upon his brother,

SIR THOMAS MOLYNEUX, 5th Baronet, of Castle Dillon, County Armagh, a lieutenant-general in the Army (below).

 © National Museums Northern Ireland

SIR GEORGE MOLYNEUX DL (below), 6th Baronet, married Miss Emma Green, by whom he had issue two daughters and a son Capel, who inherited the family honours and estates.

He was a magistrate and Deputy Lieutenant for the county of Armagh, and served as High Sheriff in 1867.

© National Museums Northern Ireland

The present Castle Dillon mansion house was built for Sir George.

SIR CAPEL MOLYNEUX, 7th Baronet, married, in 1863, Mary Emily Frances, eldest daughter of Peter Fitzgerald, Knight of Kerry, but died without issue in 1879, when the title passed to his father's cousin,

THE REV SIR JOHN WILLIAM HENRY MOLYNEUX, 8th Baronet, rector of St. Gregory's, Sudbury, Suffolk, and honorary Canon of Ely, born in 1818, married Louisa Dorothy, daughter of John Christian Dempster of the Isle of Man. Dying in 1879, a few weeks after his accession to the family honours, and was succeeded by his son,

THE REV SIR JOHN CHARLES MOLYNEUX, 9th Baronet, born in 1843, married Fanny, daughter of Edward Jackson of Walsoken House, Wisbeach.

The 9th Baronet's son, William Arthur Molyneux (1877-1928), was the last Molyneux to live in Castle Dillon, although he predeceased his father by a few months and never held the title, which passed to a cousin,

SIR ERNEST MOLYNEUX, 10th and last Baronet, who had no connection with Castle Dillon and died in 1940 without a male heir, leaving the title extinct.

Phantom Revival

Eureka! I wondered what had become of the City of Belfast's Rolls-Royce Phantom VI limousine.

David Irvine discovered it.


The navy blue colour partly remains, though the car is now painted two-tone, grey on the sides.

The car was re-registered as WVO 338G.


The mayoral limousine was probably ordered at Stanley Harvey & Company Limited, Clarence Street West, Belfast.


Note the well-upholstered leather hide seating, with occasional seats.

The upholstery befits, and has supported, many illustrious and esteemed posteriors...


...and the drinks cabinet: The Bristol Cream or a wee dram today, my Lord Mayor?


It is known that the car was for sale on Ebay recently.

First published in August, 2012.

Prince George of Cambridge

HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge is one year old today.

Prince George, third in line to the Throne, was born at St Mary's Hospital, Paddington, London.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Mayoral Phantom VI


In the late sixties and seventies, the Lord Mayor of Belfast's official mode of transport was a stately Rolls-Royce Phantom VI.

This car was, without doubt, the finest mode of transport the first citizen has ever used; nothing has matched it ever since.

I have attempted, in vain, to obtain information from Belfast City Council about earlier mayoral transport.

Remarkably enough, I gather that the Lord Mayor's was the very first Phantom VI ever produced and was the official mayoral car from 1968 until 1978, when Belfast City Council sold it. 

The Lord Mayor of London still uses one.


The then Councillor David Cook may have been Belfast's last mayoral occupant of the Phantom VI, which was navy blue in colour with the first citizen's registration number 1 WZ.

It even had a little pennant on the bonnet and a coat-of-arms mounted on its roof.

The Queen still has a fleet of trusty Phantoms, including at least two Phantom VI state limousines.

As a boy I was in awe of this car, a true symbol of authority, power and presence.

It really was quite a spectacle to behold (more so, perhaps, than some of its official occupants).

It must have been quite similar in appearance to the Queen's car, a 1977 Phantom VI presented to Her Majesty for the Silver Jubilee.

The Phantom VI was manufactured from 1968 until 1991 and a mere 374 of them were made.

The mayoral transport gradually became less grand when the Phantom VI was sold. I imagine it was simply too grand for some tastes.

The Council subsequently bought a Daimler Limousine for the first citizen; then another Daimler; then downgraded to a Jaguar car and so on. It's been in free-fall ever since.

The present mayoral transport is a BMW 7 Series - still navy blue and 1 WZ. 

First published in June, 2008.