RICHARD CLOSE, the first of the family who settled in Ireland, was the younger son of a respectable house in Yorkshire, and held a commission in the Army.
He was sent from England, in the reign of CHARLES I, into that kingdom, where he remained after the termination of the civil wars, and became one of the lords of the soil, as we find him having four townlands in County Monaghan during the time of CHARLES II.
After the Restoration, he fixed himself at Lisnagarvey, near Lisburn, County Antrim, where a Protestant colony had been located under the protection of the then Lord Conway.
There he lived and died, leaving a son and heir,
RICHARD CLOSE ESQ, who inherited the County Monaghan estates. He married the sister of Samuel Waring Esq, of Waringstown, MP for Hillsborough, and received from that gentleman a grant of lands contiguous to Waringstown, on which he built a good house and resided.
He considerably enlarged the family estate by purchasing a tract of land on the River Bann, between Rathfriland and Castlewellan, County Down, and after the disturbances in 1688, which obliged him to leave his home and join the Protestants, then united at Lisburn, under the Lord Conway and Sir Arthur Rawdon, he returned (subsequently to the battle of the Boyne) having suffered great losses during the harassing conflicts of the times.
He left at his decease eight children, of whom
RICHARD CLOSE ESQ, who succeeded to the estates in counties Down and Monaghan. This gentleman married the daughter of Toby Hall, of Narrow Water, and dying about 1720 at Waringstown, was succeeded by
SAMUEL CLOSE ESQ, who inherited his father's landed property in Monaghan and Down, and served the office of Sheriff in both these counties upon his majority.
His 2nd son, in whose descendants the representation of the Close family is now vested, was
THE REV SAMUEL CLOSE, who was presented to the rectory of Stewartstown, County Tyrone, in 1721, and married Catherine, daughter of Captain James Butler, of Ringhaddy, County Down. His successor,
MAXWELL CLOSE ESQ, succeeded his grandmother, Lady Maxwell, who died in 1758, in the possession of Elm Park, and the lands settled upon him. This gentleman married Mary, eldest daughter of Captain Robert Maxwell, of Fellows Hall, County Armagh, brother of John, Lord Farnham, and had issue, his heir,
THE REV SAMUEL CLOSE, of Elm Park, rector of Keady, who was succeeded by his son,
MAXWELL CLOSE JP DL, of Drumbanagher, County Armagh, a lieutenant-colonel in the army, born in 1783. In 1820 he married Anna Elizabeth, daughter of Charles Brownlow Esq, of Lurgan, son of the Rt Hon William Brownlow, and had issue,
MAXWELL CLOSE ESQ, born in 1827.
Mr Close's lineal descendants continue to live at Drumbanagher estate.
DRUMBANAGHER HOUSE, near Poyntzpass, County Armagh, was a very large, Italianate mansion, designed by W Playfair of Edinburgh.
It was built in 1837 for Maxwell Close, brother-in-law of the 1st Lord Lurgan.
It comprised a two-storey centre block, with higher three-storey wings set at right-angles to it, projecting beyond it both at the entrance and garden fronts.
The space between the entrance front wings was filled by a massive, arched port-cochere.
The walled 400-acre demesne lies in undulating land.
At the core of the park was Drumbanagher house, in the early 18th century belonging to the Rev Samuel Close; then to his son, Maxwell Close (died 1793); grandson, the Rev Samuel Close (died 1817); and great-grandson, Charles Maxwell Close.
It was the latter who commissioned William Playfair to build a notable Italianate house in 1829.
This was completed in 1837 and consisting of a two-storey central block with two three-storey wings built at right angles – all built of Scottish sandstone at enormous cost.
At the time of its completion Lewis in the Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, observed the ‘… extensive and richly planted demesne’, which had accompanied the earlier house.
It is of note that, in 1820, Maxwell Close had married the daughter of Charles Brownlow of Lurgan, where Playfair was later also to work the house and demesne were occupied by troops (British and then American) during the war, which probably contributed to the house’s demise in 1951, when it was demolished, save for a massive cut-stone port-cochère.
Writing in the Belfast Telegraph in 1962, the then owner said;
"No mortal could have afforded to keep the castle going. So I had it demolished. Death duties, upkeep and financial difficulties meant I just had to get rid of it...It was perfectly sound and in good order when it was demolished...Now it looks like a nuclear bomb hit it."
Today, all that remains of the house is the "vast arched porte-cochere" (Bence-Jones), which Sir Charles Brett described as "resembling a Roman Arc de Triomphe."The owners retreated to a modern house in front of the port-cochère and the land steward’s house in the yard.
The gardens, once of note, have gone. Gertrude Jekyll was said to have designed bedding plans for the flower garden.
There are family water-colours of the gardens in their heyday. Mature parkland and shelter trees remain amongst forest planting. Large exotics emerge above the canopy.
The present house was built in the 1950s. There is a disused walled garden.
The farm buildings are listed. Two gate lodges for the earlier house have gone but one remains, possibly by Playfair.
The Drumbanagher Shoot is well-known in Northern Ireland.