Sunday, 16 August 2015

Ravensdale Park

THE BARONS CLERMONT WERE THE GREATEST LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY LOUTH, WITH 20,369 ACRES

This family deduces its pedigree from common ancestors with the Earls Fortescue, viz. remotely, Sir Richard le Forte, a Norman knight, in the train of WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR; and, more remotely, Lord Chief Justice Fortescue.

The first of its members that settled in Ireland,

SIR FAITHFUL FORTESCUE (c1581-1666), Knight, removed to that kingdom early in the reign of JAMES I, and commanded an infantry regiment there.

Sir Faithful obtained large possessions in Ireland, amongst which was Dromiskin Castle, County Louth.

He wedded Anne, daughter of Garret, 1st Viscount Moore, of Drogheda, and was succeeded by his eldest surviving son,

SIR THOMAS FORTESCUE (c1620-1710), Knight, who espoused firstly, Sydney, daughter of Colonel William Kinsmill; and secondly, Elizabeth, daughter of Colonel Ferdinand Carey;
Lieutenant-Colonel, Horse Guards; Governor of Carrickfergus Castle.
Colonel Fortescue had issue,
WILLIAM;Chichester.
Sir Thomas was succeeded by his grandson,

THOMAS FORTESCUE (1683-1769), MP for Dundalk, 1727-60, who married Elizabeth, daughter of James Hamilton, and sister of James, 1st Earl of Clanbrassil, by whom he had issue,
James, father of WILLIAM, 2nd VISCOUNT CLERMONT;
WILLIAM HENRY, of whom hereafter;
Margaret; Charlotte.
Mr Fortescue's younger son,

THE RT HON WILLIAM HENRY FORTESCUE (1722-1806), having represented County Louth in parliament, was sworn of the Privy Council in 1764; appointed Postmaster-General.

Mr Fortescue was elevated to the peerage, in 1770, by the title of Baron Clermont.

His lordship was created, in 1776, BARON and VISCOUNT CLERMONT, with remainder to his brother, the Rt Hon James Fortescue, of Ravensdale Park, County Louth, MP for that county.

This nobleman was further advanced to the dignity of an earldom, as EARL OF CLERMONT in 1777, but without the reversionary grant.

He was installed as a Knight Founder of the Most Illustrious Order of St Patrick (KP) in 1795.

His lordship espoused Frances, eldest daughter of Colonel John Murray, County Monaghan; but dying without issue, in 1806, the earldom expired, while the other honours devolved, according to the limitation, upon his nephew,

WILLIAM CHARLES FORTESCUE (1764-1829), 2nd Viscount, only surviving son of his deceased brother, mentioned above, by Mary Henrietta, eldest daughter of Thomas Orby Hunter, of Crowland Abbey, Lincolnshire.

Lord Clermont died at Ravensdale Park, County Louth, unmarried, and the viscountcy expired.

The title was, however, revived in 1852, when his kinsman,  

THOMAS FORTESCUE, was created BARON CLERMONT (2nd & 3rd creation).


RAVENSDALE PARK, near Dundalk, County Louth, was a large, rather austere, early Victorian house built of granite with a plain, irregular aspect.

A lofty Italianate campanile with an open belvedere atop dominated the mansion.

Ravensdale was built for Thomas Fortescue, 1st Baron Clermont, the architect being Thomas Duff of Newry.


It was partly two and partly three storeys, though mainly the same height, with an eaved roof.

The garden front was remarkably long, being ten bays.

There was another front of five bays with a domed octagon at one corner.


Ravensdale became the home of Lord Clermont's younger brother and successor, the politician Chichester Fortescue, 1st and last Lord Carlingford (who married the famous Frances, Countess Waldegrave).

It was sold to Sir Daniel Dixon Bt, father of 1st Lord Glentoran; then sold again to Lord Arran.

Ravendale was sold, yet again, in 1920, and was burnt shortly afterwards.

Much of the former estate is now a forest park; while the Ravensdale Equestrian and Trekking Centre operates from the demesne.

Ravensdale Forest is part of the former demesne.

First Published in May, 2011.   Clermont arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

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