Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Mount Panther

It is unclear who originally built Mount Panther or who lived in it prior to 1740, when it was known to be the residence of the Rev Dr Matthews.

One theory is that the original owner was the Rev Bernard Walsh, Rector of Loughinisland in 1743.

There is no such ambiguity about how the historic house got its name: local legend associates the name Mount Panther with the Great Cat of Clough – a beast that is said to have prowled the area in ancient days.
The first famous inhabitant of the house was the celebrated writer Mrs Mary Delany and her husband, the Very Rev Patrick Delany, Dean of Down.

They stayed at the house for long periods every year from 1744 until 1760, as the Dean’s duties made his presence necessary in the diocese.
A niece of George, 1st Baron Lansdowne, confidante of GEORGE III and Queen Charlotte, a friend of the composer Handel and wooed by John Wesley, Mrs Delany was described in some quarters as “the highest-bred woman in the world.
In 1765, Mount Panther was sold by Bernard Ward to John Smyth of County Louth; and five years later it was put up for sale again, when Mr Smyth was appointed British Resident at Christianstadt, Norway.

The demesne was bought in 1772 by Francis Charles, 2nd Viscount Glerawly (afterwards 1st Earl Annesley), who had the front and return elevations remodelled in stucco. 

After his death in 1802, Mount Panther passed into the possession of the Rev Charles William Moore, Rector of Moira.

The Moore family lived at the house until 1822, its most notable resident during this time being Hugh Moore, a captain in the 5th Dragoon Guards.

John Moore (1724-1800) was land agent to the Annesley Estate.

John Reed Allen JP, of Dunover, bought the property from the representatives of Major William Henry Rainey in 1832 for £12,000.

Major Rainey had acquired Mount Panther from the Moore family in 1822. 

When J R Allen died in 1875 his son George, High Sheriff of County Down, inherited the estate, which comprised 2,585 acres of land at that time.

Mrs Phyllis Charley, of Holywood, remembered visiting the house from time to time to have tea with her cousin George:
"He had very nice silver and china, and his high teas were good. Apart from the housekeeper, he lived alone, and only used two rooms in the house. His land steward was Hugh Killen."
When George Allen died in 1929, the house – but not the estate – went to a cousin, Lt-Col Thomas Gracey.

The estate was split between three other cousins.
In 1931, Mount Panther was bought by the Fitzpatrick family, who still own it today.

Mr Fitzpatrick brought William McKibben (of Mourne) to work at the house, and the gatehouse was occupied by Jim Doyle, Dan Haughian, Owen Rice, and their respective families.
Joe Shilliday lived in the second gatehouse at the Clough end of the property.

He was a survivor from the days when George Allen owned Mountpanther.
When war broke out in 1939, many valuable pieces of furniture from Belfast City Hall were stored at the house, and parts of the grounds were taken over by the US Army. 

Paddy Fitzpatrick died in 1957, and Mount Panther then passed to his eldest son, Seamus.
The most historic event ever to happen at Mount Panther took place on a Saturday afternoon in June 1963, when two black limousines swept up the drive.

His Excellency the Lord Wakehurst (Governor of Northern Ireland) stepped out of the leading car and enquired if Princess Margaret and her husband, Lord Snowdon, might come in to see the famous ballroom. Teresa Fitzpatrick recalled,
“I got the shock of my life when I opened the door. I brought the royal party through the kitchen and down the passage to the ballroom. They only stayed about 20 minutes chatting, and admiring the plasterwork, and then drove away. It was all over before I realised what had happened!”

THOUGH THE MANSION is ruinous and the gardens gone, this once beautiful landscape park retains many features of its former glory. 

The house lies looking down on pasture decorated with well disposed clumps of trees that made up the fashionable surrounding for houses of that era.

There are fine views of Dundrum Bay beyond. 

Shelter belts and an avenue add to the planting.

These trees have never been renewed and are coming to the end of their days, as most are beech.

A road now cuts through the parkland and a bungalow has been built in front of the house. 

There are extensive walled gardens to the rear of the house to the south-west, no part of which is cultivated.

The Gardener’s House and offices are ruinous and the glasshouses have gone. 

An ornamental garden on the south side of the house shows vestiges of planting and an earlier Pleasure Ground was formerly laid out on the north side of the house, as shown on the demesne map of ca 1800. 

Stone walls are used within the demesne and reach the high ground of Cloughram Hill to the south-west of the demesne, where there is a collecting pond.

Water supply to the farm is controlled from here by a sluice gate. 

A pond on the north side is associated with a corn mill and later used for flax.

The School House is in the part to the north-east that is severed by the road.

The two remaining gate lodges, Newcastle Lodge and Side Lodge, both of ca 1830, are in poor condition.

First published in April, 2008.


Anonymous said...

One of the most terrific houses. Alas, there wouldn't be much left of the ballroom now! Absolutely bloody criminal that the government refused to consider any sort of rates abatement, which may well have saved the place.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the Moores mentioned are any relation to Sir William Moore over in Ballymoney?


daydream said...

ridiculous how they let mount panther go. i'm suprised that company who wanted to use it as a golfing resort didn't actually buy it, what a wonderful place; right on the road from belfast, and within distance of newcastle. it's doubtful that would have retained the original grand character of the building, tbh, but better than leaving it to decay. or they could have taken up the National Trust's offer, a la Castle Ward? i live within two miles of Mount Panther, oh what nice days i might have had there!

Irishlad said...

I'm about the same age as you Tim,and i rememeber traveling to Newcastle in the summers of 68/69 just before the 'troubles'to our caravan and looking up in wonderment at the 'big house'wondering who had lived there,who owned it and even as a young lad of 8 or 9 thinking how incongrous the wretched bungalow looked compared with the majestic albeit degenerate former mansion house.

zoffany said...

the plasterwork in malone house was produced from impressions of the originals in mount panther

zoffany said...

lovely house, plasterwork lives on in malone house

Anonymous said...

This is a grade B+ building when buying the land the facade has to be kept if you look at the back you can see that it has been greatly 'modernised' as such .... In the near future you could see some healthy progress... if planning goes a certain way new breath will bring life to this wonderful place and in time if everything goes to plan the house will be resurrected to its former glory over time. When I have more information and it is not as hush hush as it is at the moment I will let you know. Perhaps you would like to come with me the next time I am there which will be in the next couple of week. I would like that tremendously x J.

Anonymous said...

Is the house not too far gone at this stage, surely it would be impossible to re-instate??

Anonymous said...

The house is but a façade but planning will allow the use of modern building to reconstruct the house. The only thing that has to be done is an empathic restoration of the front façade, which is in remarkably good condition considering the its state. There may be things that need to be done in characher but the listing is based on the façade, as it is a grade two or B+ as the back house of the house was added to over the years. So yes even in its state at the moment it can be done but it will take years and a considerable sum.

Anonymous said...

I have dreamt about this house for years, I have bored all my family and friends about it!! WHEN I win the lottery I will buy it! Why do we have to concentrate all our time in N I to all the bloody religious nonsense when we have a National Treasure in our midst in dire need of some love( and money)

Anonymous said...

I would love to see Mount Panther rescued. Have travelled past it for the last 35 years visiting relatives in annalong and it breaks my heart to see it ! Would that it could be saved there are few big houses in this part of the country. What a treasure it would be. All the better if that hideous bungalow disappeared!

Anonymous said...

my great great grandparents use to live inside the house when they where children

Anonymous said...

Drove past today, still up for sale & derelict, what a shame, could be such a wonderful piece of history restored!

Anonymous said...

Lovely place. The old house and estate would be a great area to have a theme and hotel. NI is bad need of an theme park type attraction and this place would suit it perfect

Unknown said...

Does anyone know if there is access to the buildings? I survey for bats and would really like to see whats living there.


Anonymous said...

I see Mount Panther House everyday and I would love someone to restore it to it's former glory a beautiful house and gardens

Anonymous said...

On my way home from Newcastle and as my wife has always said that if she won the lottery she would buy it. Always said it was her dream house. Took a drive up a lane and abadoned the car just to take a walk up. It was stunning just to look at and is heartbreaking what has happened to it. Looks so lost! If anyone does ever buy it and needs an extra few hands my wife and I volunteer as it would be an honor to work on it.

Anonymous said...

I have to say I am another that has admired the house on many drives past. Like several others have commented before me, I have dreamt of the day I win the lottery and help to restore it to its former glory... What a fantastic project that would be. There would of course be a golf course attached, designed by Rory McIlroy... for the American market... haha

Anonymous said...

I always use to find it so scary as a child and even as a teenager seeing this house on the hill in the distance on the way to Newcastle from Belfast. Now as a grown up photographer / design graduate, i find it simply captivating, I wish I was rich I would love to see restored and stay there for a few nights, it so beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Anyone know how to contact the current owners?

Andrew Mcivor said...

Who are the estate agent?

Anonymous said...


I wonder if some of your many followers might have any information relating to the interiors and furnishings of Mount Panther prior to its abandonment - perhaps old photographs of the interiors, or even a catalogue from the dispersal sale/s?

Best wishes.

Anonymous said...

The HMSO publication 'An Archaeological Survey of County Down' of 1966 has many references and images. Belfast Central Library has (certainly HAD) a copy. I was fortunate to purchase a copy a three or four years ago. Hope this helps.

Tim Scott said...

Hi Tim

You have written above "When George Allen died in 1929, the house – but not the estate – went to a cousin, Lt-Col Thomas Gracey. The estate was split between three other cousins."

I'm just back from PRONI where I looked up the Administration of George Allen's estate which did indeed include Mount Panther, but unfortunately there was no will. The estate at that time amounted to just 261 acres 2 rood 20 perches and it went to his first cousin, Robert Samuel Hunter of Cooden Bay, Bexhill-on-Sea, Sussex. Total value of his estate was £73,883 7s 7d.

I would be interested to know where you came by the information about Colonel Thomas Gracey and the three other cousins as a good friend of mine is a great grandson of Colonel Thomas Gracey but unfortunately knows very little about him.

Btw, I think the big cat of Clough is nice story, but just that. Instead I have a theory about the name Mount Panther and where it came from.

Around 1600 the Clerks of the Great Wardrobe were the Rippingham family of Harborough Magna in Warwickshire, their family coat of arms included a single black Lion, or Panther, as it is often described in heraldic terms, on an azure background. The Rippinghams were legal people, the top third of their coat of arms contained three ink pots on a gold background, and they may well have accompanied their neighbour's family to Ireland and were the original owners of Mount Panther. Harborough Magna is right next door to Chester Over which, at the time, belonged to Sir Fulke Greville. His daughter, Eleanor Helen Greville married Sir John Conway and they were the parents of Sir Edward Conway, I Baron Conway of Ragley, Warwickshire, I Viscount Killultagh of Killultagh, Co. Antrim, I Viscount Conway of Conway Castle, the family largely responsible for establishing Lisburn.



Timothy Belmont said...

Hi Tim,

Firstly, well done on your research and diligence! I know how time-consuming it can be, especially at public record offices.

I'm afraid I cannot remember the source of my article, because it was a piece I wrote years ago, possibly even seven or eight years ago.

However, I do recall emailing the family that owns the property, I think their name is FitzPatrick; and Mrs FitzPatrick likely provided the information by email to me.

Tim, if you wish to pursue it further, I suggest you try to contact Mrs FitzPatrick, if she's still living at the modern bungalow or house below Mount Panther.

I visited the house with a friend about five years ago and Mrs F had us in for coffee.

All the best,


Tim Scott said...

Thanks Tim

Btw, you were right about the 2585 acres, the reference turns up in the Great Landowners of Great Britain of 1883, page 8.

I know one of the Fitzpatrick cousins well so I'll contact him and see what, if anything, he knows.

According to my notes, the Down Survey records the townlands of Creeghduff and Cloghram, Mount Panther, were owned in 1641 by Francis Annesley, I Viscount Valentia, who married Jane Stanhope in 1624.

Jane was the daughter of Sir John Stanhope and his second wife Catherine Trentham. By his first wife, Cordell Alington, Sir John was the father of Philip Stanhope, I Earl of Chesterfield, whose son Sir Henry Stanhope, Lord Stanhope, married Catherine Wotton, Countess of Chesterfield, in 1628. Catherine Wotton was a 6G granddaughter of Denys Ripplingham, a daughter of Edward Ripplingham, and her husband, Thomas Rudston of Hayton.

Catherine, Countess of Chesterfield, was the Governess of Mary Henrietta Stuart, Princess Royal and Princess of Orange, the daughter of Charles I and his wife Henrietta Marie de Bourbon, Princess of France, and the mother of William III who married his first cousin Mary II, the daughter of James II and his wife Lady Anne Hyde, Duchess of York, and granddaughter of Charles I and his wife Henrietta Marie de Bourbon, Princess of France.

Sir Henry and Catherine's son, Philip Stanhope, II Earl of Chesterfield was Doctor of Divinity at Leyden University and the tutor of William III. Philip married Lady Elizabeth Dormer and one of their sons, Charles Stanhope Wotton married Elizabeth Jane Thacker, a great granddaughter of William Rippingham of Harborough Magna.



Tim Scott said...

Hi Tim

I've just checked on line on the Trinity, Down Survey, website, http://downsurvey.tcd.ie/landowners.php

Francis Annesley, I Baron Mountnorris, I Viscount Valentia, 1585-1660, Prime Secretary of State for Ireland, 1616-1634, and Vice Treasurer and Receiver General of the Revenue in Ireland, 1625, was recorded as being the owner of Cloghram townland, consisting of 400 acres, also now known as Mount Panther, in 1641 and in again 1671. Francis, who held a further 105 townlands in across Ireland, was the great great grandfather of Francis Charles Annesley, I Earl Annesley of Castlewellan and Mount Panther, 1740-1802, whom you mention in your blog above.



Tim Scott said...

Hi Tim

It seems likely that the Mount Panther name may have originated from the lions that were recently stolen from Rowallen, they may have started life adorning the entrance of Mount Panther. The creator of Rowallen Gardens, Hugh William Armytage-Moore was a grandson of Colonel Hugh Moore of Eglantine House, Hillsborough and Mount Panther, he acted as Land Agent for the Earls of Annesley. Colonel Hugh Moore married Priscilla Cecilia Armytage and their daughter, Priscilla Cecilia Moore, married William Richard Annesley, III Earl Annesley and was the mother of Lt.-Col. Hugh Annesley, V Earl Annesley, who married his first cousin, another Priscilla Cecilia Moore, a sister of Hugh William Armytage-Moore of Rowallen.
Maybe my hunch about the Rippingham family is not so far off the mark, Adolphus Rippingham, son of William Rippingham of Harborough Magna, was one of the original owners of Newbold Hall, now Newbold Revel, next door to Harborough Magna. Two lions still stand on the gateposts of Newbold Revel, which is now a Prison Service training establishment.



Tim Scott said...

Hi Tim

Could Eglantine House, Hillsborough, have been previously known as Hollywood House?

Colonel Hugh Moore of Eglantine House and Mount Panther, grandfather of Hugh William Armytage-Moore, the creator of the garden at Rowallane, Saintfield, was the grandson of Robert Isaac of Mount Panther and his wife Anne Bailie of Inishargie, Co. Down. Robert and Anne’s daughter, Deborah Isaac married John Moore of Clough House and their son Colonel Hugh Moore of Eglantine House, Hillsborough, and Mount Panther married Priscilla Cecilia Armitage.

Turtle Bunbury writes in his blog about the Bunbury family, in a section entitled ‘The Bunbury Isaac Family’, that Thomas Bunbury, 1760 - 1823, married Susanna Priscilla Isaac, a daughter of Simon Isaac of Hollywood House near Hillsborough, Co. Down, son of John Isaac from whom he inherited Hollywood House. Turtle goes on to tell how Thomas Bunbury took the Isaac name upon inheriting Hollywood House after Susanna’s brother Lieutenant John, the last of the Isaac male line died at the Battle of Fontenoy, in 1745. It seems Turtle hasn’t been able to find out what became of Hollywood House, near Hillsborough, or where it was actually located.

In the Entrance Hall of Rowallane House the National Trust have a display that states the land of Rowallane passed by marriage from the family of General Nicholas Price, of Holywood, Co. Down, a nephew of the original owner, James Hamilton of Bangor, who died without a male heir, in 1707, to the Isaac family of Mount Panther and from Deborah Isaac by her marriage to John Moore of Holywood, Co. Down to their son Colonel Hugh Moore, of Eglantine House, Hillsborough, and Mount Panther who married Priscilla Cecilia Armitage in 1798.

The question is, was Simon Isaac’s home at Hollywood House near Hillsborough the same place as General Nicholas Price’s home at Holywood, Co. Down and did it then become Eglantine House, the home of Robert Isaac’s grandson, Colonel Hugh Moore?



Timothy Belmont said...

Good question, which I'm afraid I cannot answer. Is or was there ever a place or townland near Hillsborough with the name Hollywood or even Holywood?

Bence-Jones makes no mention of any name other than Eglantine in his guide.


Anonymous said...

I love driving past this house, looking up at it and wondering what it once looked like and what it could of become if it had of been looked after properly. A stunning property

Anonymous said...

Tim Scott.

Eliza Allen married Thomas Gracey, JP of Ballyhosset. Eliza, b 1808, was the aunt of George Allen who owned Mountpanther until his death in 1929. Her son was Thomas Gracey, Colonel, RE and he was therefore the first cousin of George Allen. This Thomas had two children - Thomas Gracey and Elsie Gracey.

All of George Allen's 6 siblings predeceased him, and we think that only one of them had children. They would be nieces and nephews,

Although the Allen family is a large one, many died dsp or unmarried. Much inter-marriage between the lines occurred. Third cousins who have inherited from another line, may be connected to the inheritance to which you refer. Relevant names may be Musson, Carleton, Carey and Armstrong, but this would need to be searched.

George also had third cousins who would belong to the Montgomery Family. Names could be Montgomery, Ferguson, Staples.

Mount Panther itself was one part of a large cluster of properties.

Hope this helps.

Tim Scott said...

As I mentioned above Mount Panther was inherited by Robert Samuel Hunter of 'Ma Vie, Cooden, Bexhill-on-Sea, who married secondly Jane Smith (1858-1931). Their daughter, Phyllis Hunter M. B. E., of 'Ma Vie' Holywood, Co. Down (1893-1988) married Colonel Harold Charley C.B.E., D.L. of Seymour Hill (1875-1956) on the 9th June 1923 and are buried in the Charley family grave at Drumbeg Parish Church, Co. Down.

Colonel Thomas Gracey (1843-1921) and Robert Samuel Hunter of 'Ma Vie, Cooden, Bexhill-on-Sea, (1853-1932) were both first cousins of George Allen of Mount Panther through different grandparents of George Allen.

Robert Samuel Hunter and George Allen's shared grandparents were James Murland of Annsborough (1774-1850) and his wife Mary Craig (1777-1851), a daughter of Samuel Craig of Carricknab, Ballykinler, Co. Down, (1732-1819) and his wife and cousin Anne Craig, (d.1822) a granddaughter of the Rev, Craig of Donaghadee, all presumably cousins of James Craig, I Viscount Craigavon, (1871-1940) whose great grandfather was Robert Craig of Ballyvester, Donaghadee. James Craig, I Viscount Craigavon's father was James Craig J.P., of Tyrella House, beside Carricknab and Ballykilner, Co. Down.

Colonel Thomas Gracey and George Allen's shared grandparents were John Allen of Portaferry (d.1816) , who worked as a tanner, and his wife Elizabeth McKibben (d.1829), who secondly married Hugh Dornan.

According to Blackwood, Thomas Gracey of Ballyhosset and Eliza Allen had two sons and three daughters.

Elizabeth Gracey (23 Mar, 1838-12 Mar, 1914)
Isabella Gracey (20 Jul, 1839-18 Jul, 1921)
Colonel Alexander Gracey (17 Nov, 1840-24 Feb, 1918)
Colonel Thomas Gracey (21 Jan, 1843-16 Jun, 1921)
Mary Gracey (26 Jan, 1850-27 Jan, 1917)

Tim Scott said...

Thomas Gracey of Ballyhosset and Eliza Allen possibly had another son, the Rev. David Gracey, (1841-1893), President of Spurgeon's College in 1884, who was born in Northern Ireland. Rev. David Gracey was the grandfather of General Sir Douglas David Gracey whose family were involved in building railways in India and who had an illustrious military career serving under Lord louis Mountbatten of Burma.
Army career summary
• Commissioned into 1st King George's Own Gurkha Rifles (The Malaun Regiment) (1915)
• Brigadier General Staff Western Command, India - 1938
• Commanding Officer 2nd Battalion 3rd Queen Alexandra's Own Gurkha Rifles - (1939–1940)
• Assistant Commandant of Staff College Quetta, India - (1940–1941)
• Commanding Officer 17th Indian Brigade, Iraq and Syria - (1941–1942)
• General Officer Commanding 20th Indian Division, Burma - (1942–1946)
• Commander in Chief Allied Land Forces French Indochina - (1945–1946)
• General Officer Commander in Chief Northern Command, India -1946
• General Officer Commanding Indian I Corps - (1946–1947)
• Chief General Staff, Pakistan Army - (1947–1948)
• Commander-in-Chief Pakistan Army - (1948–1951)
• Retired with honorary rank of general - 1951

Colonel Thomas Gracey (1843-1921), Inspector-General of Indian Railways, married Mary Grace Ada Gaye on 23 Oct, 1875, at Christ Church, Simla, India. Mary Grace Ada Gaye was a daughter of Brig.-Gen. Douglas Gaye R. A., Inspector General of Artillery for India. Colonel Thomas Gracey and Mary Grace Ada Gaye had one son and four daughters.
Mary Kathleen Gracey (4 Jun, 1879-Apr, 1902)
Norah Gracey (b. 29 Apr, 1881)
Elizabeth Helen Gracey (b. 18 Mar, 1883)
Lilly Gracey (b. 15 Sep, 1893)

Their son,
Colonel Thomas Douglas Gracey (19 Mar, 1877-1964) followed in his fathers footsteps as a colonel in the Royal Engineers responsible for constructing railways in the North of India and finished his career in Ireland as colonel of the Royal Engineers at the Curragh. He married Agnes Campbell of Devon, where they lived at Northcote Manor, now a small hotel.

When Ballykinler Camp was constructed old army huts were moved from the Curragh army camp to Ballykinler, presumably by the Royal Engineers under the command of Colonel Thomas Douglas Gracey who it seems was then living at Mount Panther.

Anonymous said...

Dear Tim,

My late father used to tell of purchasing furniture from Mount Panther, probably in the 1950s or '60s. I'm unsure as to whether this was during an auction at the house or if the furnishings were sold off piecemeal over a period of time. Perhaps there is some information to be had on this from the other Belmont-ites out there on the interweb?

BTW, Tim, I have at last managed to get hold of a copy of the book you recommended, HMSO's Archaeological Survey of County Down from the 1960s, and it does indeed contain some excellent information on the house, as well as shots of the interiors. A superb reference book.


Churchmouse in North Antrim.

Donna McDowell said...

Has there been any further progress on this comment?. Many thanks, Donna

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if one of the previous residents got called gentle John

Unknown said...

This is so intersting, I am a desendent of George Allen and lived in portaferry as a child in the early 70's recalling my family's conversations of this property and how they visited the property. I am just starting out on my family tree and the research so far keeps bringing me to George Allen and this property. If anyone can help me I am the granddaughter of the late lieutenant alex allen and the late rosina allen.i believe the connection to George Allen is he is a an uncle of my grandfather.

Thank you

Tim Scott said...


The Linenhall Library, Belfast, holds the Blackwood Pedigrees for the Allen family and the related families of Murland, Gracey, Hunter and Craig of Carricknab, worth a look if you haven't already done so. I have already recorded a lot of this info on my Reunion family tree database, if it would be of interest to you please feel free to make contact with me.

Anonymous said...

For your previous correspondent, I have some detail about George Allen's uncle called Alexander, ie brother of John Reed Allen. Alexander bp 26 July 1813, died 27 March 1863, married Elizabeth Dawson of Liverpool in 1840. They had three daughters - Helen married but died childless, and both Ann and another daughter died young.

From the six children of John Allen of Portaferry, I know of only two continuing lines of descent. One line is from his son, John Reed Allen's third son, my great grandfather, Alexander, and the other from his fifth child Eliza Gracey.

The name Alexander was used so frequently that there could well be another Alexander who married Rose, maybe a different generation or as a second marriage also.


Anonymous said...


I made a mistake in a message I posted late last night. I should not work from memory. I stated that John Allen of Portaferry and his wife, Isabella McKibbin are both buried at Ballyhalbert. That is wrong. Please delete. They lie in another graveyard closer to Portaferry.