The family of NEEDHAM was seated at Needham, Derbyshire, as early as the reign of EDWARD III; and afterwards at the estate of Shavington, Adderley, in Shropshire.
THOMAS NEDEHAM, of Nedeham in Derbyshire, living in 1330, whose youngest son,
WILLIAM NEDEHAM, justice of Chester, living in 1375, married Alice, daughter and heir of William de Cranage, of Cranage, Cheshire, and was succeeded by his elder son,
ROBERT NEDEHAM, of Cranage, who wedded Dorothy, daughter of Sir Robert Savage KG, of Clifton, Cheshire; and had issue, with other children,
THOMAS, his successor;He was succeeded by his eldest son,
John (Sir), MP, Common Sergeant of London, 1449.
THOMAS NEDEHAM, of Cranage, who wedded Maud, daughter of Sir William Brereton, of Brereton, and was succeeded by his only son,
SIR WILLIAM NEEDHAM, of Cranage and Shavington, who espoused Isabel, daughter and co-heir of Sir John Bromley, and was succeeded by his son,
SIR ROBERT NEEDHAM, Knight, who purchased, in 1506, the estate of Shavington, and served the office of Sheriff of Shropshire during the reign of HENRY VIII.
He died in 1556, and was succeeded by his only son,
THOMAS NEEDHAM, of Shavington, who married Anne, daughter of Sir John Talbot, of Grafton, and was succeeded by his eldest son,
ROBERT NEEDHAM, of Shavington, who served the office of Sheriff of Shropshire in the reign of ELIZABETH I; and in the same reign had important commands during the war in Ireland.
Mr Needham, who was subsequently appointed Vice-President of the Council in the Welsh Marches, wedded Frances, youngest daughter of Sir Edward Aston, of Tixall, Staffordshire, and was succeeded by his elder son,
SIR ROBERT NEEDHAM, Knight (c1567-1631), of Shavington, was elevated to the peerage in 1626 as Viscount Kilmorey, County Clare.
His lordship was succeeded by his son,
ROBERT, 2nd Viscount (c1587-1653).
This nobleman espoused firstly, Frances, daughter of Alderman Sir Henry Anderson, by whom he had one son and two daughters; and secondly, Eleanor, daughter and heir of Thomas Dutton, by whom he had several children.His lordship died in 1653, and was succeeded by his eldest son,
ROBERT, 3rd Viscount; who died without issue, in 1657, when the title devolved upon his half-brother,
CHARLES, 4th Viscount, who wedded Bridget, daughter and heir of Sir William Drury, of Besthorp, in Norfolk, and was succeeded by his son,
ROBERT, 5th Viscount (1655-68), who was succeeded by his brother,
THOMAS, 6th Viscount (c1660-87), who espoused Frances, daughter and heir of Francis Leveson Fowler, of Harnage Grange, Shropshire, by whom he had an only son,
ROBERT, 7th Viscount (1683-1710), who married Mary, daughter of John Offley, of Crew, Cheshire, by whom he had four sons (three of whom, ROBERT, THOMAS, and JOHN, became successive Viscounts) and four daughters.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,
ROBERT, 8th Viscount (1702-17), who died in boyhood, when the title devolved upon his brother,
THOMAS, 9th Viscount (1703-68), who wedded, in 1730, Lady Mary Shirley, third daughter and co-heir of Washington, 3rd Earl Ferrers, but had no issue.
His lordship was succeeded by his brother,
JOHN, 10th Viscount (1711-91), an army colonel, who espoused, in 1738, Anne, daughter and co-heir of John Hurleston, of Newton, Cheshire, and widow of Peter Shakerley, by whom he had three sons, viz.
THOMAS, died unmarried 1773;He was succeeded by his elder surviving son,
ROBERT, his successor;
FRANCIS, successor to his brother Robert.
ROBERT, 11th Viscount (1746-1818), who married, in 1792, Frances, eldest daughter of Sir Robert Cotton Bt, and sisiter of Lord Combermere; but having no issue, the viscountcy, at his lordship's decease devolved upon his only brother,
FRANCIS, 12th Viscount, who was created, in 1822, Viscount Newry and Mourne, and EARL OF KILMOREY.
His lordship espoused, in 1787, Anne, second daughter of Thomas Fisher, of Acton, Middlesex:
The heir apparent is the present holder's son Robert Francis John Needham, styled Viscount Newry and Mourne.
- Francis Needham, 1st Earl (1748–1832)
- Francis Jack Needham, 2nd Earl (1787–1880)
- Francis Charles Needham, 3rd Earl (1842–1915)
- Francis Charles Adelbert Henry Needham, 4th Earl (1883–1961)
- Francis Jack Richard Patrick Needham, 5th Earl (1915–77)
- Richard Francis Needham, 6th Earl (b 1942)
THE RT HON SIR RICHARD NEEDHAM, 6th and present Earl, Hereditary Abbot of the Exempt Jurisdiction of Newry and Mourne, does not use the title.
Sir Richard's great-uncle was Francis Charles, 4th Earl, who married Lady Norah Frances Hastings, daughter of Warner Francis John Plantagenet Hastings, 15th Earl of Huntingdon, in 1920.
He died in 1961, aged 77, and was succeeded in the titles by his nephew Francis, 5th Earl.
The main block of the mansion house suffered a catastrophic fire in the early morning of Saturday, 18th May, 2013.
The 6th Earl (Rt Hon Sir Richard Needham) said at the time that he had been devastated by the fire:
"It's a dreadful end to a house which had been connected to my family for over 500 years and a house which although when I started first going there in 1970 had lost most of its grandeur and glamour - there were buckets in most of the bedrooms to stop the rain coming through - it still was a wonderful happy house where I have fantastic memories of good and great times.
My aunt asked me to go over and stay there because my father had inherited it but he didn't actually want to live there so he sold his interest back to our cousins, and when he died my aunt said you better come and see what once might have been yours.
I went over there and it was a stunning wonderful estate, absolutely beautiful. I looked at this and thought to myself 'goodness me, that might have been mine' but it wasn't."
The current ownership of Mourne Park originates with the founder of the Kilmorey family’s Irish estates, Sir Nicholas Bagenal, who was granted extensive lands in Newry and Mourne, in 1552, by EDWARD VI.
The present mansion was extensively re-built in 1806 on the instructions of the 12th Viscount and 1st Earl of Kilmorey, known as ‘The Little General’.
Later extensions were made in 1820 and again in 1859.
The main family seat was at Shavington Hall in Shropshire.
Mourne Park was used mainly as a holiday residence, designed and used for lavish entertainment and house parties.
On the death of the 1st Earl his son, the 2nd Earl, ‘Black Jack’, inherited the estates and the role of MP for Newry.
He lived a notorious and colourful life, travelling extensively. Part of his legacy is the ‘famine wall’ which surrounds Mourne Park.
He died in 1880 aged 92 and was succeeded by his grandson.
The 3rd Earl was involved with the London stage and built the Globe Theatre.
His extravagance lead to the sale of Shavington and the family moved to Mourne Park, which was extended further.
A variety of specimen trees were planted at Mourne Park and today the gardens are a recognised arboretum.
The 3rd Earl, also MP for Newry, married Ellen-Constance Baldock in 1881, a renowned beauty who caused a scandal by being bequeathed the ‘Teck Emeralds’ among other jewels, from her lover, Francis of Teck, brother of Queen Mary. She also reputedly had a liaison with EDWARD VII, a frequent visitor to Mourne Park.During the 2nd World War, the house was used as an officer’s mess for British and US regiments who were on their way to France and the Normandy landings.
The original house was modest in scale. However, after 1820, a third storey was added; then, after 1859, a new two-storey front, of granite and ashlar, was built.
Towards the end of the 19th century, the 3rd Earl added rectangular bows to this front; and around 1904, he built a single-storey wing containing a large room known as the Long Room.
Finally, between 1919-21, the 4th Earl built a wing to the left of the front. The entrance was subsequently relocated to this side of the house.
The estate, which had diminished in size to about 800 acres, was not, however, inherited by the 5th Earl, who opted instead to inherit contents to the value of the estate, as he lived in England.
The 4th Earl was distinguished as having been a captain in the Life Guards, HM Lord-Lieutenant for County Down and High Sheriff in 1913; and Vice-Admiral of Ulster, 1937-61.
Following the 4th Earl's decease, his nephew and heir, Major Patrick Needham, subsequently 5th Earl, waived his right of succession to Mourne Park in return for assets of equal value.
This arrangement allowed the 4th Earl’s widow, Norah, and her two daughters to continue living in the house.
Nicholas Anley, the son of the elder daughter of the 4th Earl, married Julie Ann in the early 1960s and moved into the converted stables at Mourne Park. He inherited the house in 1984.
Norah, Dowager Countess of Kilmorey, died in 1985.
Formerly known as Ballyrogan and Siberia, the demesne was founded in the 17th century and about 2,000 acres are walled in.
It lies on a fine site on the south-facing slopes of Knockchree and was admired by 19th century travellers and artists.
Mature beech woods were photographed by R Welch at the turn of the century and many remain amongst mixed planting at the base of the mountain.
There are extensive stands of mature trees in the woodland, shelter belts and parkland.
The Whitewater River runs from north to south on the west side of the demesne and riverside walks are edged by mature trees. Bridges are important.
There are three avenues: the Jubilee Avenue; the 1920s Christmas Tree Avenue; and the Walnut Avenue, which was replanted in the 1990s.
Many trees were felled during the 1940s and there has been recent re-planting. The structure of the planting has been examined as part of a tree survey of the Mournes, published in 1996.
The ornamental gardens to the south of the house begin with a terrace man-made lake, which once provided a vista but is now silted up and surrounded by trees.
The thatched boat house has collapsed.
Grounds to the east of the house are well planted and contain many features including exotics and specimen trees, a rockery and pool.
The walled garden is a considerable distance from the house and is attached to the farm buildings to the north-east.
There is a head gardener’s house, but the garden is no longer cultivated.
The farm buildings are used by a pony-trekking business.
The 19th century school-house has its own garden. The south-eastern area is now a golf course and the club-house is in the former land steward’s house.
About 700 acres were sold for forestry.
Four gate lodges were constructed at different times during the 19th century: the East Lodge of 1820; West Lodge, 1840; Whitewater Gate lodge, 1830; and Green Gate Lodge, 1890.
First published in June, 2010.