Friday, 29 August 2014

Portglenone House

Alexander of Portglenone


This family is said to derive from a common ancestor with the Scottish house of ALEXANDER, Earls of Stirling.  

JOHN ALEXANDER, of Eredy, County Donegal, in 1610,
lands he rented from Sir James Cunninghame of Glengarnock, Ayrshire, who had acquired them on condition that he did not "alienate the premises to no mere Irishman or any other person unless he or they first take the Oath of Supremacy", was succeeded by his eldest son, 
THE REV ANDREW ALEXANDER DD, of Eredy, a Presbyterian minister, who married Dorothea, daughter of Rev James Caulfeild. Dying ca 1641, his only child,

In 1666 he was granted the lands of Ballyclose, near Limavady, by Sir Thomas Phillips, Governor of Culmore Fort. In 1689 he was attainted by JAMES II's parliament in Dublin.
His second son,

JOHN ALEXANDER, married and died in 1747. His second son,

NATHANIEL ALEXANDER (1689-1761), married Elizabeth, daughter of William McClintock. He was an alderman of Londonderry in 1755. By his wife he had issue,
ROBERT, of whom we treat;
James, 1st Earl of Caledon;
Mr Alexander's second son, 

was grandson of Captain Andrew Alexander, of Ballyclose, County Londonderry. On his estate of Boom Hall, near Londonderry, he erected a family mansion, at the spot where a boom was constructed to prevent ships sailing towards the city during the siege of 1689. At Londonderry he engaged in merchandise, and became prosperous. He died in 1790, aged sixty-eight, and his remains were deposited in the family burial-ground in the Chapel of Ease churchyard, Londonderry (Tombstone Inscription).
By his wife, Anne, daughter and co-heiress of Henry McCulloch, of Cladymore and Ballyarton, County Londonderry, he had five sons and five daughters, viz.
NATHANIEL, of whom presently;
Josias Dupre;
Elizabeth; Jane; Anne;
Rebecca; Dorothea. 
This gentleman was succeeded by his eldest son,

THE RT REV AND RT HON NATHANIEL ALEXANDER DD (1760-1840), of Portglenone House,
who wedded Anne, daughter of the Rt Hon Richard Jackson MP, of Coleraine, in 1785. This divine was Lord Bishop of Meath. He was educated at Harrow and Cambridge. The Bishop, a privy counsellor, lived at Portglenone House, County Antrim, which he built, and took up residence there.
His second son,

THE VEN ROBERT ALEXANDER DD (1788-1840), Archdeacon of Down, married firstly, Catherine, daughter of Rt Hon John Staples and Hon Henrietta Molesworth, in 1813.

Dr Alexander married secondly, Hester Helena, daughter of Colonel Alexander McManus, in 1837.

There were no children of the second marriage. His eldest son,

NATHANIEL ALEXANDER, MP for County Antrim (1815-53), extended Portglenone House. He had issue, two sons, 
ROBERT JACKSON,  JP DL, of Portglenone House, (1843-84), High Sheriff of Co Londonderry, 1870, and of County Antrim, 1875; 
JOHN STAPLES, JP DL, lieutenant RN, of Portglenone House (1844-1901).
A cousin of the above,

MAJOR ROBERT CHRISTOPHER ALEXANDER JP DL, of Portglenone House (1900-68), son of Robert Arthur Moloney Alexander, succeeded to the estate.

Major Alexander married Laura Ina Madeline, daughter of Edward Fraser Lenox-Conyngham, in 1933; was educated at Eton and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst; High Sheriff in 1938.

He fought during the 2nd World War in the Irish Guards. Major Alexander died without issue.

Portglenone House comprises a square, late-Georgian block of three storeys over a basement. It was built in 1823 by the Rt Rev Nathaniel Alexander.

The house has a three-bay front, the central bay being recessed. There is a fine classical hall, with a screen of columns separating it from the corridor and stairs.

The columns, subtle mushroom pink marble, have stone capitals of Adam's "Dioclesian" order. They were originally at Ballyscullion, along with some the the house's chimney-pieces.

In 1850, a wing was added by Nathaniel Alexander MP, containing a new staircase lit by a stained-glass dome. The entrance front was also given a large porch and Ionic porte-cochere.

The main rooms were enhanced with cornices and heavy moulded door-cases in the form of aedicules.

Portglenone House was sold by Major Alexander in 1948 and is now part of Our Lady of Bethlehem Abbey, run as a guest-house.
The guest house provides for those who wish to make private retreats, and can cater for groups who seek to make days of recollection. As such, it does not function as a B&B, nor as a half-board hotel. Guests are encouraged to enter into the silence and solitude which characterize the monastic life in this place, and to take the opportunity for spiritual renewal which is offered.
Portglenone House is set in parkland by the River Bann. An earlier house in the vicinity is recorded.

The present house now forms part of the Abbey, which also has further buildings added from 1962 in the grounds.

This includes the Our Lady of Bethlehem Abbey ,which was built in 1948 to the designs of Patrick Murray.

Part of the gardens are private for the monks (the walled garden); parts are ornamental grounds for the Abbey; and parts are cultivated for organic vegetables.

There are mature trees in the remnants of former parkland, an ice house, the Bishop’s Well and two 19th century gate lodges.

Within the walls, part of the demesne is administered by DANI as a forest, which was planted from the 1950s. There is public access and paths are laid out.

In a glade in the forest there is a commemorative plot to Augustine Henry, who was reputedly born nearby.

It was laid out in 1969 with examples of some of the plants that he discovered or introduced from the far east.

First published in August, 2012.

The Hamilton Baronetcy (1662)

Clanbrassil Arms

JOHN HAMILTON  (1576-1639), of Carronery, County Cavan, and of Monella, County Armagh (next brother of James Hamilton, created Viscount Claneboye in 1662), married Sarah, daughter of Sir Anthony Brabazon, Governor of Connaught, and was succeeded by his son,

THE RT HON SIR HANS HAMILTON, knight, of Monilla and Hamiltonsbawn,
Founder of Hamiltonsbawn; MP for Armagh, 1661-66; High Sheriff of Armagh, 1669; Privy Counsellor.
Sir Hans was created a baronet in 1662.

He married Magdalene, daughter of Sir Edward Trevor Kt, and had an only daughter,

SARAH, married to Sir Robert Hamilton, knight, of Mount Hamilton, County Armagh.

Sir Hans died suddenly, in 1681, when the baronetcy became extinct, but the estates devolved upon Sir Hans's son-in-law,

SIR ROBERT HAMILTON, knight, of Mount Hamilton, who was appointed Sir Hans's successor as custos rotulorum of the county; and, in 1683, created a baronet.


Louise Duncan from Australia has researched the family:
Of John's (ie John Hamilton of Monilla) family was first Hans. In his youth he was bred at (unclear) Schools; went to the college of Glasgow, in Scotland; was much disposed for learning, and very capable of it, but by his father's death, and the urgency of his affairs, was soon called back again to Ireland.

He attended his affairs carefully and discreetly till the war of Ireland broke out, at which time duty and necessity obliged him to give his assistance therein, by my Lord Claneboy's advice. His years and parts early promoted him to be a captain of horse; as in progress of time he became lieutenant-colonel. He joined, with the Earl of Clanbrassil, in Ormond's Association.

That war being ended, he married Magdalen Trevor, daughter to Sir Edward Trevor, (and sister to Marcus Trevor, 1st Viscount Dungannon) and had by her some children, whereof only his daughter Sarah came to maturity.

His business then being to improve and plant his estate, lying mostly in the upper country; and, by reason of his very good natural and acquired parts, and justice to the King's interest and family, after King Charles II’s restoration, was knighted and made Baronet., and afterwards one of his Majesty's Privy Council in Ireland, and was very much entrusted by the Government in the oversight of the upper country (at Hamilton’s Bawn in County Armagh).

He died of a good age, in great esteem, and generally much bewailed; lies in the tomb with his father, mother, lady, and daughter.

He was guilty of great errors—whereof afterwards, His natural parts and improvements were both very considerable; his deportment, in his younger years, very commendable; but, his estate being much burthen'd, his disposition to live high and aim to purchase great things, occasioned many to think (as a gent, of his neighbourhood and great acquaintance once say'd) that.

Sir Hans Hamilton was never so honest as Hans Hamilton by half. He was unfortunate in that his daughter married contrary to his disposition, and the measures he had proposed to himself.

He fell at last in great variance with his nearest friends, and affliction by the death of his lady and daughter; went to Dublin, with design, as it is believed, to do something that was great for his family against his friends, but failed of it, and died in the enterprise, but did not perform it.

 First published in April, 2011.  Clanbrassil arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

2 Royal Avenue, Belfast

2, ROYAL AVENUE, BELFAST, formerly Hercules Street, was restored in 2008 by the supermarket group, Tesco.

This mid-Victorian building - the only building in Royal Avenue to survive from that period - was erected between 1864 and 1869 by W J Barre, for the Provincial Bank.

It remained a financial institution till the 1990s.

It is now a Tesco Metro supermarket.

Hercules Street was narrower than Royal Avenue

The fine, Cookstown sandstone has now been revealed for all to see, having been covered in paint for a very long time - perhaps even since its original construction.

It particularly interests me because I worked there for a brief period in the early 1990s.

Anderson & McAuley's department store was still trading then, too.

Tesco deserves credit for keeping this important Belfast edifice in such good repair.

First published in 2008.

Stradone House

Burrowes of Stradone


This family was established in Ireland by

ROBERT BOROWES, who settled at Drumlane, County Cavan, on the settlement of Ulster by JAMES I.

His eldest son and heir,

THOMAS BOROWES, became possessed of Stradone, of which estate he also received a patent of confirmation from CHARLES I, in 1638. 

THOMAS BURROWES, of Stradone House, High Sheriff of County Cavan, 1743, married Jane, daughter of Thomas Nesbitt, of Lismore House, County Cavan, and had issue, his eldest son,

ROBERT BURROWES, of Stradone House, High Sheriff of County Cavan in 1773, married Sophia, daughter of the Ven Joseph Story, Archdeacon of Kilmore, and by her had a son and heir,

THOMAS BURROWES (1772-1836), of Stradone House, High Sheriff of County Cavan in 1803, a major in the Army, who married, in 1807, Susan, daughter of the Rev Henry Seward, of Badsey, Worcestershire, and had issue, his eldest son,

ROBERT BURROWES JP DL MP (1810-81), of Stradone House, High Sheriff 1838, and MP for Cavan, 1855-57; married in 1838, Anne Frances, only daughter of John Garden, of Barnane, County Tipperary, and by her had issue,

ROBERT JAMES BURROWES JP DL (1844-93), of Stradone House, High Sheriff, 1883; captain, 1st Dragoon Guards; married, in 1876, Ella (44, Thurloe Square), daughter of Commodore Magruder, US Navy, and niece of Maj-Gen JB Magruder; leaving issue,  

THOMAS JAMES BURROWES JP DL (1880-1935), of Stradone House, County Cavan, High Sheriff, 1902; born 1880; succeeded his father, 1893. His eldest son, 

ROBERT PHILIP BURROWES, born in 1920, married Anne Patricia Young Ritson, daughter of Edward Arnold Ritson and Elizabeth Grace Savage Young, in 1952; educated at Harrow School; fought in the 2nd World War; major, Royal Artillery; director of Lincolnshire Chickens Ltd.

He lived in 1976 at Dorrington Priory, Lincoln, Lincolnshire.

STRADONE HOUSE, near Stradone, County Cavan, was a late Georgian mansion by John Keane, with a two-storey front, and a large return with an extra mezzanine storey.

The entrance front had five bays, the central bay recessed under a massive arch, beneath a pediment.

The ground-floor windows on either side of the entrance were set in shallow arched recesses.

The house had an eaved roof on a bracket cornice.

Stradone House is now demolished. 

Former town residence ~ 22 Lowndes Street, London.

First published in August, 2012.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Schoolhouse Barbecue: II

We all enjoyed a splendid day today at the old schoolhouse, Mount Stewart Estate, County Down.

The schoolhouse now serves as a base for the National Trust's Strangford Lough team.

In the morning fifteen of us tidied up the rear garden, digging, weeding and raking.

Fortunately for us it remained quite sunny, dry and mild.

There was an abundance of bangers, burgers, chicken legs, salad, puddings and good company.

During the afternoon we were delighted to receive members of the Trust's regional administration.

Later, we went for a stroll in the woodland behind the schoolhouse.

Schoolhouse Barbecue

We are having a late summer barbecue today in the gardens of the old schoolhouse.

Volunteers and staff of the National Trust Strangford Lough group have been invited.

We are meeting at the old Schoolhouse on Mount Stewart estate, County Down.

The former estate schoolhouse is located at Portaferry Road on the Ards Peninsula.

Half of it is now used as an office and tool-store; the other, as accommodation.

I made some fresh coleslaw as my modest contribution towards the occasion (white cabbage, onion, carrot, a little mustard, pinch of caster sugar, seasoning).

There is an interesting stone plaque at the front entrance, which proclaims 
This School was Founded ..... 1813 by the Viscountess Castlereagh. The Governors of Erasmus Smith Schools. 

Two years ago (in June, 2012) I was presented with a special badge and certificate for twenty-five years' voluntary service with the National Trust.

This thrills me and I do appreciate this kind gesture from a charitable establishment which is dear to me.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Quintin Castle

QUINTIN CASTLE is located on the Ards Peninsula, about 2½ miles east of Portaferry in County Down.

It is one of the very few inhabited Anglo-Norman castles in Ulster.

The original castle was built by John de Courcy in 1184.

In the later middle ages the castle was held by the Smiths, a dependent family of the Savages.

In the mid 1600s, Sir James Montgomery, a relation of the Savages, purchased the castle and the surrounding lands from Dualtagh Smith.

Sir James and his son William renovated the castle, adding a large house to it as well as a walled courtyard.

At some period after an interlude in the 1650s, when a Cromwellian officer held Quintin, the Montgomerys sold the castle to George Ross, a member of an influential local family who held lands at Kearney.

Ross never lived at the castle, which remained in its mid-17th century form until the 1850s, when one of his descendants, Elizabeth Calvert, set about remodelling it.

Quintin Castle was, by that time, a ruinous structure, much of whose stone, according to the OS Memoirs, had been taken by local people.
This remodelling included the raising in height of the central keep, the construction of drawing and dining rooms and the general decoration to the entire building, as well as rebuilding the courtyard walls, gates and outer towers.
In 1897, the estate was sold by The Land Commission; however, the house remained with the descendants of the Calverts, one of whom, Miss Louise King-Hall, became a writer whose many works included The Wicked Lady, a story of highwaymen and women, which later became a successful film.

The King-Halls sold the castle in the 1920s and Quintin passed though a series of owners, one of whom, James O'Hara, ran the building as a nursing home during the 1980s.

It may have been at this stage that that the secondary entrance in the front facade was added, perhaps to provide easier access for some of the elderly residents.

The building is now a private residence.

The central keep was raised; a walkway constructed within the battlements; a drawing-room which opened into the inner gardens; and a dining-room constructed on the lowest floor of the great tower. 

Most of the grounds were also enclosed by a massive stone wall.

In the 1870s the estate comprised 1,007 acres.

Quintin Castle was extensively refurbished by the builders McGimpsey and Kane, changing hands most recently in 2006.

It underwent a further restoration ca 2006, when it was bought by the property developer, Paul Neill.

In 2011, one bank moved against him taking control of two of his retail parks in Bangor over a £37m debt. Mr Neill was subsequently declared bankrupt.

Consequently, the Irish government's National Asset Management Agency (Nama) repossessed the castle in 2012.


The original demesne is now split up, but the house retains stone-walled terrace gardens, which were depicted as being fully planted up.

The walled garden is in separate ownership.

There is medieval-style gateway leading into the grounds of ca 1855, and a tall octagonal rubble-constructed folly tower within the grounds.

First published in January, 2011.