Thursday, 5 August 2021

Castle Archdale


The first of the family of ARCHDALE, who settled in Ulster during the reign of ELIZABETH I, was

JOHN ARCHDALE (1578-1621), of Norton Hall, Suffolk.

In 1612 he was granted 1,000 acres of land in County Fermanagh as part of the Plantation of Ulster.

This gentleman, by the inscription over the gateway in the ruinous castle, appears to have erected the old mansion-house of Archdale.

He married and had two sons,
EDWARD, of whom we treat;
JOHN (Rev), Vicar of Luske, 1664.
John Archdale was succeeded by his elder son,

EDWARD ARCHDALE (1604-41), who espoused Angel, daughter of Sir Paul Gore (ancestor of the Gores, EARLS OF ROSS), and had issue.

During his time, the castle which his father had erected was taken and burned by the rebels under Sir Phelim O'Neill, in 1641, and only two children of a numerous family survived.

One, a daughter, who was absent and married; the other, an infant son, WILLIAM, preserved by the fidelity of his nurse, an Irish Roman Catholic, which

WILLIAM ARCHDALE, (c1640-1722),  after succeeding to the estates, married Elizabeth, daughter of Henry Mervyn, of Omagh Castle and Trillick, both in County Tyroneand had two sons and a daughter, viz.
MERVYN, his heir;
EDWARD, succeeded his brother;
ANGEL, succeeded her brother.
He was succeeded by his elder son,

MERVYN ARCHDALE (1685-1726), of Castle Archdale, who died unmarried, in 1726, and was succeeded by his brother,

EDWARD ARCHDALE, (1694-1728), of Castle Archdale, who wedded firstly, Frances, eldest daughter of Sir John Caldwell Bt; and secondly, Elizabeth, eldest daughter of John Cole, of Florence Court.

Dying without issue, however, the family estates devolved upon his only sister,

ANGEL ARCHDALE (c1688-1745), who thus became heiress and representative of the family.

Miss Archdale espoused NICHOLAS MONTGOMERY, of Derrygonnelly, County Fermanagh, MP for County Fermanagh, 1731-60, who assumed the surname and arms of ARCHDALE, and left, at her decease about 1742 or 1743, an only son,

MERVYN ARCHDALL (c1724-1813), of Castle Archdale and Trillick, MP for County Fermanagh, 1801-2, who espoused, in 1762, Mary, daughter of William Henry, 1st Viscount Carlow, and sister of John, 1st Earl of Portarlington, by whom he had issue, 
MERVYN, his heir;
William, an army officer;
Henry, an army officer;
Mary; Angel; Elizabeth; Sidney.
Mr Archdale was succeeded by his eldest son, 

GENERAL MERVYN ARCHDALL JP (1763-1839), of Castle Archdale, County Fermanagh, and Trillick, County Tyrone, MP for County Fermanagh, 1802-34, who espoused, in 1805, Jane, daughter of Gustavus Rochfort-Hume, though the marriage was without issue.

General Archdall, who claimed representation of the MOUNT ALEXANDER line of that of Montgomery, succeeded his father in 1813.

He had been exempted from serving the office of High Sheriff by pleading his military rank.

General Archdall's nephew,

WILLIAM HUMPRYS ARCHDALE MP (1813-99), wedded firstly, in 1845, Emily Mary Rebecca, daughter of the Hon and Rev John Charles Maude; and secondly, in 1894, Matilda Mary, daughter of William Alley, though the marriages were without issue.

He succeeded his uncle as head of the family, and in 1896 he changed his name, by Royal Licence, to William Humphrys Mervyn Archdale, in accordance with the will of his uncle, General Mervyn Archdall.

Castle Archdale Manor House (Image: Peter Archdale)

THE MANOR HOUSE, Castle Archdale, County Fermanagh, was built by Colonel Mervyn Archdall in 1773 on the shores of Lower Lough Erne (to replace a Plantation castle of 1615).

It had three storeys over a basement; a six bay entrance front with a two bay breakfront centre; and a tripartite doorway with Ionic pilasters, entablature and pediment, the latter breaking forwards on two Ionic columns to form a porch.

The side elevation was of three bays, the bottom storey having Venetian windows with Gothic astragals in its outer bays.

The quoins were rusticated and bold; with a solid roof parapet.

It has been said that the Archdales were popular landowners with their staff, many of whom came from the neighbouring village of Lisnarick.

The grounds and gardens were well tended.

There was a tennis court on the front lawn immediately in front of the manor-house and, sadly, Harry Archdale suffered a fatal heart attack there in 1938.

He had no heir, so the estate passed to Mervyn Archdale, a Canadian cousin.

Like all of the big country houses in the county, life often revolved round shooting parties, which were often held on Crevinishaughy Island and White island.

The Archdales even had a private railway halt which was on the line between Irvinestown and Enniskillen.

Mervyn Archdale continued to live at the old manor-house till about 1942, by which time it had been requisitioned by the Royal Air Force and had become the officers' mess, with the stabling being the administration.

He lived in a few rooms at the time, but moved out shortly afterwards.

This was possibly the last time an Archdale ever inhabited the mansion again, as the RAF kept it till 1957.

It lay neglected and derelict by 1959 and was finally demolished in 1970.

All that remains of the manor house now is its site, paved and ballustraded; however, the grand court-yard remains well preserved behind it.

Photo Credit: Peter Archdale

I have some reminiscences of Castle Archdale here.

The Archdale Baronets of Riversdale were a branch of the family from Riversdale, not far from Castle Archdale.

The demesne lies on the eastern shores of Lower Lough Erne.

There are islands incorporated into the estate, which was established in the 17th century.

A substantial part of the early T-plan house and bawn, built for John Archdale in 1615 and known as Old Castle Archdale, survives, surrounded at the present time by thick forest plantation.

It is approached at the end of a long straight avenue of late 17th century or early 18th century date.

The manor-house was placed in an elevated position.

Excellent views could be enjoyed from this house across 18th century parkland, which was, quoting from an early 20th century visitor, ‘probably unsurpassed in Ireland’.

Beyond the lawns, mature hardwood woodland formed a foreground to a vista of the lough, with distant mountains behind.

As I stated earlier, the house became derelict in 1959; then ruinous; and was finally demolished in 1970, but the adjacent stable block remains intact.

The approach to the Park is via an avenue of venerable oaks.

There are other fine mature broad-leaved trees, though forest planting accounts for a large area of tree cover.

The ornamental garden was known as a ‘good garden’ until the 1940s.

A yew walk leads from the house to a rockery and lawns.

The walled garden, still in use during the war, is no longer planted up with flowers, fruit and vegetables, though it is partially ornamented with shrubs in grass.

A bamboo walk remains a feature that survives.

There is a dug-out bath house.

A 19th century tower is listed.

The North Gate Lodge, built by Lt-Col William Archdale not long after he succeeded to the demesne in 1839, is unfortunately now demolished, but the South Lodge survives.

This was built by Captain Mervyn Edward Archdale in the Tudor-Picturesque style around 1870; it is a replacement for an earlier pre-1834 lodge further down the same avenue.

During the 2nd World War the demesne was a major base for Short Sunderland and Catalina Flying boats in the Battle of the Atlantic.

The property is now a Country Park, owned and managed by the state, and contains a marina, caravan site and a new arboretum and ‘butterfly garden’; while the court-yard has been refurbished as a Visitor Centre.

First published in January, 2010.


Anonymous said...

Was a nice plain house, it reminded me in ways of Mount Panther but, on second thoughts, the latter was much grander. I imagine you've come across this before -


Anonymous said...

You wonder where all the money went... I suppose these families invested funds received from selling their estates post 1907 land reform acts in stocks, bonds, etc which lost their value in WW1 and WW2. Still, to go from having 27,000 acres to not being able to keep up a house seems quite incredible! Is there any good book on how the Irish gentry fell into financial ruin? And - equally as interesting - how the ones who survived did it!

Anna Archdale said...

Can't wait to see whatever is left at the reunion in September.

Gordon Dudgeon said...

Death Duties, and land reform as much as miss management.