Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Craigdarragh House

 GORDON OF DELAMONT & FLORIDA MANOR

THE GORDON FAMILY WERE SUBSTANTIAL LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY DOWN, WITH 4,768 ACRES. THE MANOR OF FLORIDA WAS GRANTED TO THEM BY KING CHARLES I, WITH MANORIAL RIGHTS AND ROYALTIES

This family, a branch of the ancient and ennobled line of the same name in Scotland, is stated to have gone from Berwickshire to Ulster during the period of the civil wars in Scotland.

Following the destruction of the family papers, the lineage cannot be traced accurately.

Nevertheless, it is known that many years after the period of the Scottish settlement, Lord Adam Gordon, a general in the army, 4th son of Alexander, 2nd Duke of Gordon, during a visit to Ulster, resided with his cousin, John Gordon, of Florida Manor, County Down.

At a subsequent epoch, in 1783, the intercourse was renewed upon the occasion of some members of the Gordon family visiting Scotland, when they were received with much kindness by Alexander, 4th Duke of Gordon, who fully recognized the relationship.

The representative of the Ulster branch, at the close of the 17th century,

ROBERT GORDON ESQ, of Ballinteggart, County Down, married, in 1689, a sister of Robert Ross Esq, of Rostrevor, ancestor of the late General Ross of Bladenberg, and had issue,

JOHN GORDON ESQ, of Ballinteggart, born in 1690, who was succeeded by his heir,

ROBERT GORDON ESQ,
born in 1722, who was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN CRAFORD GORDON ESQ, of Florida, a captain in the 50th Regiment, born in 1757; though dying, unmarried, in 1797, was succeeded by his next brother,

DAVID GORDON JP DL
, of Florida, born in 1759; High Sheriff of County Down, 1812; married, in 1789, Mary, youngest daughter of James Crawford Esq, of Crawfordsburn, and sister of Anne, Countess of Caledon.

David Gordon (1759-1837) first came into Delamont in 1793. Unlike his father and grandfather, who were wine and general merchants, he entered the legal profession and also established the banking house of Gordon & Company in 1808, which later became the Belfast Banking Company.

His eldest son,

ROBERT GORDON JP DL, of Florida, born in 1791. High Sheriff, 1833. He was succeeded by his younger brother, 

THE REV JAMES CRAWFORD GORDON MA, of Florida Manor. Precentor of St Patrick's Cathedral; dying in 1867 without issue, his cousin, 

ROBERT FRANCIS GORDON JP DL (1802-83), of Craigdarragh House, County Down, who inherited the estates of Delamont Park and Florida Manor in 1867, Delamont House having been built in the mid-1800s, possibly ca 1855.



CRAIGDARRAGH HOUSE, Helen's Bay, County Down, was built ca 1850 for Robert Francis Gordon, to a design by Charles Lanyon:

The house was built for R Francis Gordon ca 1850, whose monogram can still be seen in the dining-room plasterwork. It is reported that Gordon ran out of funds during construction & never occupied the house & it was tenanted for many years. It was Gordon's residence in 1852 & John Downie in 1855 & leased by George Hamilton in 1863 from Gordon. He was succeeded by Joseph Jaffe in 1864 and then John Patterson in 1874. Lord Dufferin reoccupied the house until 1879 when the house and demesne were advertised “to be let unfurnished” at £325 per annum with applications directed to the Dufferin Estate Office, Clandeboye.Thomas Workman bought the freehold of Craigdarragh from the Durrerin estate in 1883. 

The late Sir Charles Brett notes that it was built in Lanyon’s most ornate style, though some of the window ornamentation may owe its origin to Thomas Turner, who was Lanyon’s senior assistant until he set up on his own in 1852.

According to valuation records, Craigdarragh House had a number of owners or occupants, including, apparently, for two very short periods, Lord Dufferin.


The two storey house stands at the top of a grassy slope running down to a sandy bay, with the drawing-room and the dining-room (which remains intact) having a fine prospect of Belfast Lough.

The square, front hall has six elaborate doorcases and a series of niches.


There was an associated courtyard and stable block.

The parkland surrounding the house, of about 26 acres, includes an attractive wooded glen, stretches across to Seahill and down to the shore. The glen contains many different species of trees, some of which are over 100 years old, and is clearly now enjoyed by many badgers and other wildlife.

Thomas Workman bought the freehold of Craigdarragh House from the Dufferin Estate in 1883.

Margaret Garner recorded that on one occasion Mr Workman, her grandfather, fell out with Lord Dufferin, whose agent claimed that one of his men had encroached on Dufferin land when he was ploughing. The correspondence ended with Dufferin writing from Rome where he was then the British Ambassador. He did, however, write later to Thomas’s widow offering her any help when Thomas died.

Sir Charles Brett, in his book The Buildings of North County Down, recalled from his youth, living on the Craigdarragh Road, that Major Robert Workman, Thomas's son, was a ‘kindly old boy, good to his neighbours’.

Following Major Workman's death in 1949, and following that of his sister, the house was sold to the Sisters of Mercy, and converted into a nursing home.

In 2003, Craigdarragh House was again sold.

The house & grounds were for sale in Febuary, 2012, for £2,000,000; and it is hoped that the new owner will restore it to its former glory.

Its future has remained in doubt while the planning process has been underway; the proposed development is located within Green Belt.

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