Friday, 26 February 2021

County Down Beef

In Northern Ireland, supermarket meat origin labels can be confusing; where precisely the meat is slaughtered, and where it is packed.

I saw this yesterday in a very large supermarket at Knocknagoney, County Down.

With this in mind I think it's best to purchase red meat at one's local butcher.

Recently I visited my butcher, saw a fillet of beef behind the counter, and a good, thick slice was cut for me.

That evening I fried the steak, roasted a few potatoes, fried an onion, and had it with béarnaise sauce.

Needless to say, the steak was really tender and juicy, as you can see in the image.

Mount Stewart Memories

On the White Stag at Mount Stewart


I was a young man living in County Down near Greyabbey.

It was 1964 if I remember correctly, and on occasion I would meet a dark haired lady of middle years dressed as a ‘nanny’ - blue uniform and darker overcoat - and pushing a very smart ‘pram’ which contained a cherubic small boy of about 18 months with fair hair.

We got chatting on one occasion and we walked the long winding footpath together towards Mount Stewart where she explained that her charge was Lady Mairi Bury’s grandson, Charles Villiers.

Nanny Ellis holding Master Charles

Her name was Elizabeth Ellis - a Scottish lady - but I was asked to call her ‘Nanny’ like everyone else.

I was invited to her apartment in Mount Stewart to take tea and biscuits on several occasions, and it was during these visits that I met Charles’ mother, Elizabeth Villiers, and his very well known grandmother, Lady Mairi.

Lady Mairi had a rather disconcerting cool appraising stare, but she must have decided that I was suitable company as I was a welcome visitor, and got to attend a couple of her famous parties.

Billy in the Nursery

I cannot remember now at this remove most of their names, but they were the great and good of society and the arts.

The ladies were very glamorous and dripping with diamonds and the men suitably attired to match their companions.

I thought I might be very out of my depth, but I was very pleased to find them, with a few exceptions, easy to speak to and interesting to listen to.

Michael O’Duffy was a very well known Irish tenor at the time and he entertained the guests accompanied by the wonderful Duncan Morrison from Stornoway on the piano.

Duncan used to play for Rev Sydney MacEwan on many of his recordings.

I met Duncan on several different occasions at Mount Stewart and we exchanged Christmas Cards for several years after.

One character I remember from one of her parties was a gentleman of whom it was whispered had psychic powers, by name Clifford Frost.

I was in deep conversation with someone, I can’t remember who, when he weaved his way over and asked to see my hand.

He took my proffered palm and stared at it, weaving slightly all the while as a result of the bountiful liquid refreshment on offer by our hostess, then dropped it and walked off saying “You’ll get all you want out of life”.

You know, despite the odd knock-back, he wasn’t far wrong.

When Jessie Matthews - dancer, actress, star of stage and screen and latterly on radio as Mrs Dale in Mrs Dale’s Diary, came to open a garden fête for Lady Mairi, I had the pleasure of meeting her, and on giving her a donation for her charity, I was rewarded with a hug and a kiss, and told I was a darling.

I admit to blushing, but walked around on air for the rest of the afternoon.

Billy at the Swimming-pool

There was a well concealed private swimming-pool belonging to the family on the Strangford Lough side of the road which I was kindly offered the use of, and spent many a happy day there in the company of Nanny, Charles the baby and my dog Kim and sometimes just on my own.

On one of these solitary visits I daringly removed my swimming togs and for the first time swam in the nude.

Billy & Charles at the Swimming-pool in 1965

I found it to be a wonderful experience - no clinging togs and a great feeling of being at one with nature.

On many warm summer days we walked around the beautiful gardens enjoying the flowers and shrubs, the statues, and little concealed nooks and crannies - little worlds within the larger one.

The well known composer and pianist from Stornoway, Duncan Morrison (above), in green velvet Scottish evening attire, with his sister Bella Morrison in a black dress (with a rather curious third figure present, seemingly in fancy dress with a black fur hat and a blacked face - maybe having been cast as "the Black Man" who had brought in a New Year?).

Wonderful days with lasting memories for me, and I bless the day I struck up a conversation with Nanny Ellis, who continued to be a friend for many years after she had left the employ of the family.

The memories all come back when I occasionally return to Mount Stewart as one of the many visitors, and one of the few who remember this historic house as a wonderful family home.

First published in February, 2019.

Thursday, 25 February 2021

Woodlawn House


The family of TRENCH is descended from a French protestant family, said to have emigrated from the town of La Tranche, in the province of Poitou, to avoid the religious persecutions instituted by LOUIS XIV against those who dissented from the established church.

This family and that of TRENCH, Earls of Clancarty, derive from a common ancestor, namely,

FRÉDÉRIC DE LA TRANCHE, or TRENCH, who fled from France after the massacre of St Bartholomew, and took up his abode in Northumberland about 1575.

He married, in 1576, Margaret, daughter of Thomas Sutton, and had issue,
THOMAS, his heir;
James (Rev), Rector of Clongill, m Margaret, daughter of Hugh, Viscount Montgomery of the Ards;
Adam Thomas.
Mr Trench thereafter crossed into Scotland, where he died in 1580.

The eldest son,

THOMAS TRENCH, of Garbally, married, in 1610, Catherine, daughter of Richard Brooke, of Pontefract, Yorkshire, and had issue,
Frederic, founded the house of CLANCARTY;
JOHN, of whom we treat.
The younger son,

THE VERY REV DR JOHN TRENCH, of Moate, County Galway, Dean of Raphoe, wedded Anne, daughter of Richard Warburton, of Garryhinch, and had issue,
FREDERICK, his heir;
Anne; Judith.
The Dean died in 1725, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

FREDERICK TRENCH (1686-1758), of Moate, County Galway, who married, in 1718, Mary, daughter and heiress of Richard Geering, Clerk of the Court of Chancery, and had issue,
FREDERICK, his heir;
Anne; Mary; Elizabeth.
Mr Trench was succeeded by his only surviving son,

FREDERICK TRENCH (1724-97), of Moate and Woodlawn, County Galway, who wedded, in 1754, Mary, eldest daughter and co-heir of Francis Sadleir, of Sopwell Hall, County Tipperary, and had issue,
FREDERICK, his heir;
Francis, of Sopwell Hall, father of FREDERICK;
Thomas (Very Rev), Dean of Kildare;
William, of Cangort Castle;
Catharine; Mary; Elizabeth; Frances; Anne; Sophia; Mary; Catherine.
Mr Trench was succeeded by his eldest son,

FREDERICK TRENCH (1755-1840), of Moate, MP for Maryborough, 1785-90, Portarlington, 1798-1800, who espoused, in 1785, Elizabeth, only daughter and heiress of Dr Robert Robinson, and niece of the Hon Mr Justice Robinson, one of the judges of the Court of King's Bench, but had no issue.

Mr Trench was elevated to the peerage, in 1800, in the dignity of BARON ASHTOWN, of Moate, County Galway.
The 8th and present Baron lives in East Sussex.


THE TRENCHES of Woodlawn were one of a number of Trench families who came to prominence in County Galway in the 17th century.

They were all descended from Frederick Trench who came to Ireland early in the 1600s.

Strategic marriages into the Warburton and Power families led to the acquisition of more lands in East Galway.

Much of the Woodlawn estate was originally Martin and Barnewall lands which were purchased by the Trenches in the early 18th century.

Lord Ashtown was recorded as a non-resident proprietor in 1824.

In County Roscommon he held over a 1,000 acres; and in County Tipperary he held at least 21 townlands in the parishes of Ballingarry and Uskane, barony of Lower Ormond, inherited from the Sadleir family of Sopwell Hall.

In the 1870s, Lord Ashtown's main estate in County Galway amounted to over 8,000 acres and he also held land in seven other counties including County Waterford where he had purchased lands from the Earl of Stradbroke in the 1870s. 

These townlands remained in Trench ownership until purchased by the Irish Land Commission in the 1930s.

In 1852 Lord Ashtown married as his second wife Elizabeth Oliver Gascoigne, an heiress with large estates in County Limerick and Yorkshire.

In the 1870s Lord Ashtown is recorded as the owner of 11,273 acres in County Limerick and 4,526 acres in County Tipperary.

WOODLAWN HOUSE, near Kilconnell, County Galway, is a Palladian-style country house comprising a three-bay, three-storey central block built ca 1760, having slightly advanced end bays and projecting tetra-style Ionic portico to entrance bay.

There is an interesting video clip of the mansion house and ruinous outbuildings here.

The House consists of 30,000 square feet standing on 115 acres of land.

It boasts 26 bedrooms, a walled garden, courtyard, gatehouse, gardener's house and a lake.

Woodlawn was remodelled ca 1860 and flanked by four-bay two-storey wings having projecting pedimented end bay to each wing.

The central block has tripartite openings to end bays, ground floor of each end bay having segmental pediment and engaged Doric columns to slightly advanced middle light, and flanked by Doric pilasters.

The wings have tripartite windows to pedimented bays, ground floor having Venetian-style windows, middle light slightly advanced and having engaged square-plan Doric columns, flanked by Doric pilasters and having with moulded capitals and cornices.

The mansion is set in its own demesne, with outbuildings to west, and entrance gates and lodge to east.

This large house is an elaborate exercise in classical orders, the use of carved and cut limestone extending throughout the front elevation and evidence of both the skill of 19th century stonemasons and the wealth of the Trench family whose seat it was.

An unusual composition, the quoins to the central block give a vertical emphasis that is extended by the pinnacles.

Although the motifs are classical, the extensive use of dark limestone, the variety of textures and treatments, and the use of pinnacles give it a somewhat Gothic appearance typical of the late 19th century.

Extended and remodelled by the 2nd Baron Ashtown in the 1860s to designs drawn up by James F Kempster, the county surveyor for the East Riding of County Galway, it shows little evidence of the Georgian house behind the façade.

During the 1920s, the 3rd Baron was declared bankrupt and, as a result, the house was closed up and its contents sold at auction; at one point, the IRA occupied one of the wings.

The 4th Baron eventually returned to Woodlawn, but in 1947 he sold the estate to his cousin, Derek Le Poer Trench who, in turn, disposed of it in 1973.

Since then, Woodlawn has had two further owners but neither of these have lived in the house.

Michael Lally, a local publican, bought the property ca 1989.

Before that date, in 1982, a fire burnt out the east wing and caused extensive damage to the central block, partly because of the water used to put out the flames.

Much of the original decoration of the house has also been lost, not least the fireplaces in the principal reception rooms.

While all the walls still stand and the pitched slate roof remains, Woodlawn today is a mere shadow of the house it had been 100 years ago.

Other former seats ~ Chessel House, Southampton, Hampshire; Lotherton Hall, West Yorkshire.

Ashtown arms courtesy of European Heraldry.  First published in December, 2011.

1st Marquess Curzon of Kedleston

Arms of 1st Baron Curzon of Kedleston

This family, of great and undoubted antiquity, came out of Normandy with WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR, to whom that prince gave lands and possessions for their valiant services.

ROBERT DE COURÇON, Seigneur of Courçon, near Lisieux, Normandy, was granted Fishead, Oxfordshire, West Lockinge, Berkshire, etc by WILLIAM I.

His grandson,

RICHARD DE COURÇON, was granted Knights' fees of Croxall, Kedleston, Edinghall and Twyford, in the counties of Derbyshire and Staffordshire.

Richard's second son, STEPHEN, held Fauld, Staffordshire.

ROBERT OF COURÇON (also written Curzon), the celebrated English cardinal, was living in the reign of KING JOHN.

Robert of Courçon (Image: The National Trust)

The senior line terminated in Mary, daughter and heir of Sir George Curzon, of Croxall Hall, who married, in 1612, Edward Sackville, 4th Earl of Dorset KG, the second line being Curzon of Kedleston, and the third, Curzon of Waterperry.

JOHN CURZON (1598-1686), of Kedleston, MP for Brackley, 1628, Derbyshire, 1640, was created a baronet in 1641, designated of Kedleston, Derbyshire.

Sir John married Patience, daughter of Sir Thomas Crewe, and sister of Baron Crew, of Stene; and dying in 1686, was succeeded by his only surviving son,

SIR NATHANIEL CURZON, 2nd Baronet (c1640-1719), who wedded Sarah, daughter of William Penn, of Buckinghamshire, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR JOHN CURZON, 3rd Baronet (c1674-1727), MP for Derbyshire, 1701-7, who died unmarried, when the title devolved upon his brother,

SIR NATHANIEL CURZON, 4th Baronet (c1676-1758), MP, who espoused Mary, daughter and co-heir of Sir Ralph Assheton Bt, by whom he had issue,
NATHANIEL, his successor;
Assheton, created Viscount Curzon, in 1802.
Sir Nathaniel was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR NATHANIEL CURZON, 5th Baronet (1726-1804), MP, who was elevated to the peerage, in 1761, in the dignity of BARON SCARSDALE, of Scarsdale, Derbyshire.

His lordship married, in 1750, Caroline, daughter of Charles, 2nd Earl of Portmore, and had issue,
NATHANIEL, his successor;
Charles William;
David Francis;
Caroline; Juliana.
He was succeeded by his eldest son,

NATHANIEL, 2nd Baron (1751-1837), who wedded firstly, in 1777, Sophia Susanna, third daughter of Edward, 1st Viscount Wentworth, and had issue,
NATHANIEL, his successor;
Sophia Caroline.
He espoused secondly, in 1798, Felicité Anne Josephe de Wattines, a Flemish lady, and had further issue,
Alfred, grandfather of the 4th Baron;
Francis James;
Felicité; Mary; Caroline.
his lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

NATHANIEL, 3rd Baron (1781-1856), who died unmarried, when the family honours devolved upon his cousin,

ALFRED NATHANIEL HOLDEN, 4th Baron (1831-1916), JP, who married, in 1856, Blanche, daughter of Joseph Pocklington Stenhouse, and had issue,
GEORGE NATHANIEL, his successor;
Alfred Nathaniel;
Francis Nathaniel;
Assheton Nathaniel;
Sophia; Mary; Blanche; Eveline; Elinor; Geraldine; Margaret.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

GEORGE NATHANIEL, 5th Baron (1859-1925), KG, GCSI, GCIE, PC, who wedded firstly, in 1895, Mary Victoria, daughter of Levi Zeigler Leiter, and had issue,
Mary Irene, Baroness Ravensdale of Kedleson;
Cynthia Blanche; Alexandra Naldera.
 His lordship espoused secondly, in 1917, Grace Elvina, daughter of Joseph Monroe Hinds.
1st Marquess Curzon of Kedleson KG etc, wearing the mantle and insignia of the Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire

His lordship, VICEROY AND GOVERNOR-GENERAL OF INDIA, 1899-1905, was advanced to the dignity of a marquessate, in 1921, as MARQUESS CURZON OF KEDLESTON.

Ancestral seat ~ Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire.

First published in February, 2019. 

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Dublin Castle: 1783

George, 1st Marquess of Buckingham KG KP,
Founder of the Order of St Patrick



St Patrick's Hall, Dublin Castle (Image: Robert J Welch)


St Patrick's Hall, Dublin Castle, 2014

THIS Day having been appointed by His Excellency the Lord Lieutenant for the Investiture of the Knights of the Most Illustrious Order of Saint Patrick, the Noblemen named in His Majesty's Letter to be Knights Companions of the Order were summoned to attend, in order to be invested with the Ensigns of that Dignity previous to their Installation; and being assembled in the Presence Chamber, a Procession was made from thence to the Great Ball Room, viz.

Pursuivants and Officers attending the State

Peers named in The King's Letter, viz. Earls:
Bective, and Charlemont.
Courtown, and Mornington.
Clanbrassil, and Shannon.
Tyrone, and Drogheda.
Inchiquin, and Westmeath.
Earl of Clanricarde, and Duke of Leinster.

Officers of His Excellency's Household, viz.

Gentleman at large.

Gentleman of the Chamber.

Master of the Ceremonies.

Gentleman of the House.

Comptroller and Steward of the Household.

Officers of the Order, viz.
Register, and Usher.
Secretary, and Genealogist.


Usher King-at-Arms bearing His Majesty's Commission,
and the Badge and Riband of the Grand Master upon a Blue Velvet Cushion.

Lord Viscount Carhampton, bearing the Sword of State.

His Excellency the Lord Lieutenant with Ten Aides de Camp, Five on each Side.

Gold Stick.

Yeomen of the Guard.

First published in June, 2014.  I am grateful to The Gazette for assistance.

1st Viscount St Davids


This family, which is of great antiquity in south Wales, is descended from CADIFOR AP COLLWYN, Lord of Dyfed (d 1089).

His great-grandson,

SIR AARON AP RHYS, attended RICHARD I into the Holy Land, 1190. 

His descendant,

SIR THOMAS PHILIPPS, High Sheriff of Pembrokeshire, 1516, married Joan, daughter of Henry Dwnn, and was father of

JOHN PHILIPPS, of Picton Castle, Pembrokeshire, High Sheriff of Pembrokeshire, 1542, who wedded firstly, in 1480, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir William Griffith, and had issue,
MORGAN, his heir;
He espoused secondly, Anne, daughter of John Voel.

Mr Philipps died in 1551, and was succeeded by his elder son,

MORGAN PHILIPPS, of Picton Castle, who married Elizabeth, daughter of Richard Fletcher, of Bangor, and had issue, an only child,

SIR JOHN PHILIPPS JP, Knight, of Picton Castle, MP for Pembrokeshire, 1601, High Sheriff of Pembrokeshire, 1597, married firstly, Anne, daughter of Sir John Perrot, and had issue,
RICHARD, his heir;
Dorothy; Jane; Frances.
He wedded secondly, Margaret, daughter of Sir James Dennys.

Sir John was created a baronet in 1621, designated of Picton Castle, Pembrokeshire.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR RICHARD PHILIPPS, 2nd Baronet (c1594-c1648), High Sheriff of Pembrokeshire, 1633, who wedded Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Erasmus Dryden Bt, and had issue,

SIR ERASMUS PHILIPPS, 3rd Baronet (c1623-97), of Picton Castle, MP for Pembrokeshire, who had issue by his second wife, Katherine, daughter of Edward D'Arcy,
JOHN, his successor;
Elizabeth; Margaret.
Sir Erasmus was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR JOHN PHILIPPS, 4th Baronet (c1666-1737), of Picton Castle, MP for Pembroke, 1695-1702, Haverfordwest, 1718-22, who espoused, in 1697, Mary, daughter of Anthony Smith, and had issue (with four daughters),
ERASMUS, his successor;
JOHN, succeeded his brother as 6th Baronet.
The elder son,

SIR ERASMUS PHILIPPS, 5th Baronet (1699-1743), died by accidental drowning, unmarried, when the baronetcy devolved upon his brother,

SIR JOHN PHILIPPS, 6th Baronet (c1701-64), father of

SIR RICHARD PHILIPPS, 7th Baronet, who was elevated to the peerage of Ireland, in 1776, in the dignity of BARON MILFORD.

His kinsman (revert to descendants of the younger son of the 1st Baronet),

SIR ROWLAND HENRY LAUGHARNE-PHILIPPS (1788-1832), succeeded to the baronetcy, in 1823, as 8th Baronet, though died without male issue, when the title devolved upon his brother,

SIR WILLIAM PHILIPPS-LAUGHARNE-PHILIPPS, 9th Baronet (1794-1850); whose lineal descendant,

THE RT HON SIR JOHN WYNFORD PHILIPPS, 13th Baronet (1860-1938), GBE, Privy Counsellor, was elevated to the peerage, in 1908, in the dignity of Baron St Davids, of Roch Castle, Pembrokeshire; and advanced to a viscountcy, in 1918, as VISCOUNT ST DAVIDS, of Lydstep Haven, Pembrokeshire.

(Image: Picton Castle Trust)

PICTON CASTLE, near Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, was originally a motte castle, and was reconstructed in stone by the Sir John Wogan between 1295 and 1308.

The design was unusual because there was no internal courtyard.

The main building, however, was protected by seven circular towers which projected from the wall.

At the east end, two of these towers acted as a gatehouse, and the portcullis entrance between them led straight into the lower part of the great hall.

At this time the windows were narrow slits but these were replaced in about 1400 by large windows and a grand recessed arch with large window was built in the gatehouse.

In 1405, French troops attacked and held the Castle, and it was seized again during the English civil war in 1645 by Parliamentary forces.

In the 15th century, the male-line of Wogans died out.

Their heiress, Katherine, married Owen Dunn.

Sir Henry Dunn, the grandson of Owen and Katherine, only had daughters.

The Picton Castle estate thus came into the hands of the Philipps family when Sir Henry's daughter Jane married Sir Thomas ap Philipps of Cilsant in the 1490s.

Sir John Philipps, who inherited the castle in the 15th century, remodelled the building and created a new entrance which remained until the 1820s when a new entrance was designed by Thomas Rowlands

In 1611, JAMES I required funds for his army in Ireland and decided to raise the money by selling baronetcies.

Sir John Philipps paid £1,095 for his hereditary title (about £300,000 in 2019).

(Image: Wikipedia)

The estate remained with the Philipps family until the death of Sir Richard Philipps, 7th Baronet, later the 1st Baron Milford, in 1823, when it was inherited by his cousin Richard Grant, who assumed the surname Philipps and was created a Baronet in 1828 (and Baron Milford in 1847).

His heir was his half-brother, the Rev James Henry Alexander Philipps (formerly Gwyther).

On his death the estate passed to his son-in-law, Charles Edward Gregg Philipps, who was created a Baronet, designated of Picton, in 1887; then to Sir Richard Foley Foley-Philipps, cousin of Sir John Erasmus, and grandson of Charles Edward Gregg Philipps.

The estate is now run by the Picton Castle Trust.

St Davids arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Scottish Mutual Building

The Scottish Mutual Building

THE SCOTTISH MUTUAL BUILDING, 15-16, Donegall Square South, Belfast, is an Edwardian block built in 1904 to the designs of Henry Seaver.

The building is at the corner of Donegall Square and Bedford Street.

It was originally called the Scottish Temperance Building, though its name was changed later to the Scottish Mutual Building.

This baronial pile, made with dark red Ballochmyle sandstone, is six storeys in height, with corbelled turrets at each corner.

Smaller turrets flank a central crow-stepped gable on one façade.

Larvikite pilasters and stall risers complement the ground floor units.

Open arcading under deep eaves at fourth floor

Dormer windows and chimneys also survive.

The Scottish Mutual Building was purchased in 2013 by the Tullymore House hotel group, which owns Galgorm Resort and Spa in County Antrim.

The Scottish Temperance Building ca 1908

The building was sold by the Irish government's National Asset Management Agency (Nama), with an asking price of £1.75m.

Signature Living acquired the property for £6m during 2017, and work began on transforming it into a hotel, to be named the George Best Hotel.

Work was progressing on the 63-bedroom hotel until about April, 2020, when the company went into administration.

The building has since lain vacant and unfinished (February, 2021).

First published in June, 2013.