Wednesday, 12 May 2010

County Down Landowners

Continuing with my county series of great landowners, I arrive at the county of Down. This county has had a high number of country estates, some vast and others more modest. This is a relative term in the 21st century, because many demesnes in the county were between five and ten thousand acres, which is very large indeed by today's standards.

I propose, initially, to focus on the ten biggest demesnes in the county. Thereafter, as with the other counties, I shall probably revisit them and write about any felt to have been inadvertently omitted.

Narcissus Batt, the Belfast banker, lived at Purdysburn House outside Belfast. Coupled with a large estate in the mountains of Mourne, Batt owned 12,010 acres. I have a paucity of information about Purdysburn House so, if anyone reading this can help, I'd be greatly obliged.

The Hon Sir Robert Henry Meade GCB, 2nd son of 3rd Earl of Clanwilliam, inherited the Meade family's Rathfriland Estate, extending to 13,492 acres.

Ballywalter Park, the fine demesne of 1st Baron Dunleath, comprised 13,506 acres in Victorian times.

The Marquess of Dufferin and Ava's principal country seat was Clandeboye House, near Bangor in County Down. It extended to 18,238 acres.

The Forde family owned 20,106 acres of land and their residence was Seaforde House.

Montalto House and its fine demesne was acquired by the Ker family, having purchased the estate from Lord Moira. It was 20,544 acres in size.

The Marquess of Londonderry was a very substantial landowner, not merely in County Down but also in County Durham. In Ulster the Londonderrys owned 23,554 acres.

Castlewellan Castle used to be the seat of the Earls Annesley. They owned much of the Mourne Mountains and the surrounding area. Their land holdings comprised 24,221 acres.

The Earls of Kilmorey owned huge amounts of land and their country seat was at Mourne Park, near Kilkeel. 40,902 acres.

The greatest landowner in County Down was the Marquess of Downshire, whose seat was Hillsborough Castle. Lord Downshire at one time owned almost 13% of the county, with 78,051 acres. This holding made the Downshires possibly Ulster's greatest landowners.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Of all of them, only the Fordes seem to remain - they still live at Seaforde House. Patrick died not so long ago.