Sunday, 20 September 2015

Charleville Forest

THE EARLS OF CHARLEVILLE WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN KING'S COUNTY, WITH 20,032 ACRES

This family derives maternally from the extinct house of MOORE, Barons Moore, of Tullamore, and Earls of Charleville of the first creation, which sprang from a common ancestor with the Moores, Earls and Marquesses of Drogheda.

THOMAS MOORE, living in the reign of EDWARD II, was ancestor, after ten generations, of

JOHN MOORE, of Benenden Place, Kent, living, in 1519, who had issue,
EDWARD (Sir), father of the Earls of Drogheda;
THOMAS (Sir), of whom we treat.
Sir Edward and Sir Thomas went over to Ireland, as soldiers of fortune, in the reign of ELIZABETH I.

Sir Edward founded the house of DROGHEDA, and

THOMAS MOORE obtained by grant from the Crown, in 1577, the castle of Castletown, with 758 acres of land thereunto adjoining, in the King's County, being styled in the said grant, "Thomas Moore of Croghan."

Mr Moore received, subsequently, the honour of knighthood for his services against the Irish, by whom he was eventually put to death in his castle.

Sir Thomas was succeeded by his son,

SIR JOHN MOORE, of Croghan Castle, who, with other considerable territorial possessions, had a grant from the Crown, in 1622, of the town and lands of TULLAMORE, in the King's County, to the extent of 1,147 acres.

He married Dorothy, fifth daughter of Dr Adam Loftus, Lord Archbishop of Dublin; and dying in 1633, was succeeded by his eldest son,

THOMAS MOORE, of Croghan, MP for Philipstown, who wedded Margaret, daughter of Sir Ambrose Forth, of County Dublin, judge of the Prerogative Court in Ireland, and was succeeded at his decease by his eldest son,

JOHN MOORE, of Croghan, who espoused a daughter of Sir William Sambach, attorney-general for Ireland, but by that lady had no surviving issue.

He married secondly, in 1669, Ellen, second daughter of Dudley Colley, of Castle Carbery, County Kildare, by whom he had Dudley, who fell in a duel with Cornet Castine, 1714; and an elder brother, his heir,

THE RT HON JOHN MOORE, of Croghan, MP for the King's County, who was called to the privy council by GEORGE I in 1714; and, in 1715, by the same monarch, was created Baron Moore.

His lordship obtained a reversionary grant of the office of Muster-master General of Ireland.

He wedded, in 1697, Mary, daughter of Elnathan Lunn, banker, of Dublin, by whom he had, with an only surviving daughter, an only surviving son,

CHARLES, 2nd Baron (1712-64), appointed a privy counsellor, governor of King's County, and Muster-master-General in Ireland.

The 2nd Baron was created EARL OF CHARLEVILLE in 1758.

Lord Charleville, having died in a childless marriage, in 1764, when the titles expired, was succeeded by his nephew,

JOHN BURY, eldest son of the Hon Jane Bury (sister of 2nd Baron), born in 1725, whose only son,

CHARLES WILLIAM BURY, born in 1764, was created Baron Tullamore (2nd creation) in 1797.

This nobleman was advanced to a viscountcy, as Viscount Charleville, in 1800.

In 1806, Lord Charlville was further advanced to the dignity of an earldom, as EARL OF CHARLEVILLE (2nd creation).

The following account of the Bury family, Earls of Charleville is taken from Mark Girouard's account of Charleville published in Country Life, 27 September 1962:
... Charles William Bury (1764-1835) [was] a landowner of considerable wealth, derived partly from [Shannongrove], the Bury estate in Co. Limerick (where the family had settled in 1666), and partly from property in [and around] Tullamore, King's County, inherited through his father's mother, the only sister and heiress of Charles Moore (1712-1764), Earl of Charleville and Baron Moore of Tullamoore [as the Moores liked to call it]. He himself was created Lord Tullamoore in 1797, Viscount Charleville in 1800 and Earl of Charleville in 1806.

[This was mainly because in 1795 he had purchased political control of the borough of Carlow, which continued to be represented in the Parliament of the UK after the Union, and used his nomination of members for Carlow to bargain for his advancement in the peerage.]
The titles descended from father to son until the early death of his grandson, the 4th Earl, in 1874, who was succeeded by his uncle, the 5th Earl.

The 5th Earl was childless and, on his decease in 1875, the titles expired.

*****

Lady Emily Howard-Bury, daughter of the 3rd Earl, married Kenneth Howard, son of the Hon James Howard.

She succeeded to the Charleville estates, including Charleville Castle, on the death of her brother the 5th Earl in 1875 and in 1881 she and her husband assumed by Royal license the additional surname of Bury.

The property passed in 1931 to her son, Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Kenneth Howard-Bury DSO JP DL.
He was the leader of the first Everest expedition to find a route through Tibet to the North Col (1921), and is best known for that achievement. He is said to have abhorred Charleville Forest and stripped it of its contents at a now notorious auction in 1949. 
The Howard-Bury Papers are held at the PRONI.


CHARLEVILLE FOREST, near Tullamore, County Offaly, is thought to be the finest and most spectacular early 19th century castle in Ireland.

It was built between 1800-12 for Charles, 1st Earl of Charleville (2nd creation).

The Castle is nestled among the huge and ancient oak trees that were once held sacred by the Druids.

The building site was originally home to the Lynally monastic community, which existed as a part of the Durrow settlement.

By the 1500s, the site was no longer ecclesiastical in nature, but used as a plantation settlement for the Moores.

This thickly wooded acreage at the very centre of Ireland has been occupied through generational succession until the late 19th century.


The castle itself, Ireland’s premier example of Gothic Revival architecture, was a work in progress from 1798 until it was completed in 1812.

It was designed and erected in the style of a “tin soldier fortress” partly to commemorate Cornwallis’s victory over French revolutionary forces that had made their way into the Irish midlands.


Following the death of the 5th Earl in 1875, the titles became extinct.

Charleville passed to the sister of the 4th Earl; then to her son; and then to the grandson of another of the 4th Earl's sisters.

From 1912 until 1971, the unoccupied castle fell victim to the ravages of time.

The years that followed the war for independence and the accompanying economic difficulties reduced the structure to a nearly roofless, ruined condition by 1968.

The restoration and renovation work that was begun in 1971 by Michael McMullen continued under the supervision of Constance Heavey Seaquist and Bonnie Vance.

The Castle is open to the public and is currently funded by a charitable trust under the direction of Dudley Stuart.

It occupies 30 acres of land that includes gardens as well as densely wooded areas.

The castle building was designed by Francis Johnston, and Charles Bury was the original owner.

Johnston was responsible for several classic Georgian buildings in Dublin, including the General Post Office.

The exterior of the building is dominated by stately turrets and a flag tower, and features many mullioned windows.

A large window located above the main entrance is the focal point of the fa├žade.

Inside, the rooms are gigantic, including the dining room designed by William Morris that still bears its original stenciled wallpaper.

The estate also includes a small outbuilding that resembles a gothic chapel and actually houses the kitchen and storage area.

The stable yard is located just beyond this building.

Lord Byron visited Charleville Forest Castle often and it is said that he held many parties here.

The castle grounds are now the object of a massive restoration project that, when finished, will clear the area of overgrowth, discern the original plantings from the old English flower garden, and design and build new garden and relaxation areas for visitors.

Volunteers are on hand to do this work from UK, France, the USA and Canada. They also assist in the regular maintenance of the property.

The house and the surrounding grounds are said to be haunted by Druids and past occupants of the castle.

It has been featured on several television programmes, including Most Haunted and Scariest Places on Earth.

The huge staircase is reportedly visited often by the ghost of a young girl named Harriet, who was killed accidentally while sliding down the balustrade.

Visitors have felt the chill of her presence while climbing the stairs, and have seen her ghostly figure skipping past. Sometimes, she is seen in the company of a small boy.

Another haunting, reported by Bonnie Vance, included an early morning visitation of the ghosts of Charles Bury and Francis Johnston, accompanied by a large group of Druids.

They appeared to be invoking a blessing upon Bonnie as she lay in her bed.

Also, disembodied voices of two men have been heard as they spent the evening drinking at the castle, as well as children’s voices and shrieks in the empty playroom.

Many of the visitors that arrive are paranormal experts, investigating the reports of various hauntings.

People also come to attend a diverse range of events that includes plays, shows and auctions.

Many ancient oak trees line the driveway. One of the largest is referred to as “King Oak”.

Legend says that a member of the Charleville family has died every time the tree lost a branch to weather or old age.

Colonel Howard-Bury died in 1963, two weeks after the tree was nearly destroyed by a lightning strike.

First published in September, 2011.   Charleville arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

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