Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Dromana House


LORD HENRY STUART (1777-1809), third son of John, 1st Marquess of Bute, married, in 1802, the Lady Gertrude Amelia Mason-Villiers, only daughter and heir of George, 2nd Earl Grandison, of Dromana, and had issue,
HENRY, his heir;
Gertrude Anelia.
Lord Henry was succeeded by his eldest son,

THE RT HON HENRY STUART (1803-74), of Dromana, County Waterford, Privy Counsellor, MP for Banbury, 1830-1, Colonel, Waterford Militia, who was alleged to have wedded, in 1826, Theresia Pauline Ott, and had issue, an only child,
Mr Stuart, Lord-Lieutenant of County Waterford, 1831-74, was elevated to the peerage, 1839, in the dignity of BARON STUART DE DECIES, of Dromana, within the Decies, County Waterford.

He added the surname of VILLIERS to his name in 1822.

Without a lawful heir, the peerage expired following Lord Stuart de Decies's decease in 1874.

His only son,

THE HON HENRY WINDSOR VILLIERS-STUART JP DL (1827-95), of Dromana-within-the-Decies, County Waterford, MP for County Waterford, 1873-85, Vice Lord-Lieutenant of County Waterford, 1871-73, High Sheriff of County Waterford, 1889, wedded, in 1865, Mary, second daughter of the Ven. Ambrose Power, Archdeacon of Lismore, fourth son of Sir John Power Bt, and had issue,
Maurice Ambrose;
Horace Gervase;
Mary Therese; Gertrude Gwendoline; May; Winifred Frances.
Mr Villiers-Stuart was the author of Nile Gleanings, Egypt After the War, and other works; and was commissioned by the Government in 1882 to visit Egypt, and report upon the condition of the populace after the Battle of Tel-el-Kebir.

His eldest son,

HENRY CHARLES WINDSOR VILLIERS-STUART JP (1867-1908), of Dromana, High Sheriff of County Waterford, 1898, espoused, in 1895, Grace Frances, only daughter of J A R Newman DL, of Dromore House, County Cork, and had issue,
Geraldine Mary; Nesta Mona.
Mr Villiers-Stuart was succeeded by his son,

ION HENRY FITZGERALD VILLIERS-STUART (1900-48), of Dromana, who wedded, in 1928, Elspeth Richardson, and was succeeded by his only son,

JAMES HENRY ION VILLIERS-STUART (1928-2004), of Dromana, who married, in 1952, Emily Constance Lanfear, daughter of Major Charles Plenderleath Graham, and had issue,
Caroline Elspeth, b 1955;
Barbara Emily, b 1955.

THE MEDIEVAL CASTLE of Dromana occupied a spectacular site, high above the River Blackwater.From the 13th century onwards this was the seat of the FitzGeralds, Lords of the Decies, a junior branch of the Earls of Desmond.

In the 1670s the FitzGerald heiress, Katherine, the ‘Lady of the Decies’, ward to CHARLES II, married Colonel Villiers, son of Lord Grandison.

Their descendants succeeded as the Earls Grandison until 1800, when the only child of the 2nd Earl (of the second creation) married Lord Henry Stuart, younger son of Lord Bute. 
Their son was subsequently created Lord Stuart de Decies, a title that recalled his long family connection with the region. 
The castle of Dromana was attacked and damaged in the wars of the 1640s and 50s, though its base can still be identified from the river, and indeed is still inhabited. 
About 1700, instead of rebuilding the castle, two new ranges were built at right angles to one another along the courtyard walls. 
Both were simple gable-ended two storey structures, possibly just intended for occasional occupation, their only decoration being a robust, pedimented block-and-start door case in the manner of James Gibbs.

Work on a larger new house commenced in about 1780, directly in front of the longer 1700s range.

The principal façade was of two storey and nine bays, quite plain, with a parapet and a rather curious segmental-headed armorial doorcase.

The river façade contained a shallow double-height bow and was actually an extension of the smaller 1700s range.

Together these three buildings faithfully followed the line of the original bawn or courtyard.

The interior was elaborately fitted out for Lord Stuart in the 1840s, with a suite of very grand reception rooms and a massive imperial staircase but by the 1960s Dromana had become something of a white elephant.

The estate was sold and subdivided, and the house bought by a cousin who demolished the 1780s block and reduced it to more manageable proportions.

Happily, James Villiers-Stuart was able to repurchase the house in the 1980s.

His widow Emily still lives there, along with her daughter and family.

The Dromana demesne extends to 600 acres.

The steeply sloping riverbanks are covered with oak woods and the important mid-eighteenth century garden layout, with its follies, the Rock House and the Bastion, is currently being restored.

To the north of the estate, on a bridge across the River Finisk, is the renowned Hindu-Gothic lodge, originally erected to welcome the owner and his bride on their return from honeymoon in 1826.

They were so taken with this temporary structure in the latest Brighton Pavilion mode, that they had it rebuilt in more durable materials.

The most notable person associated with Dromana was Katherine, Dowager Countess of Desmond.

Born a daughter of the house, she died there in 1604, supposedly from falling out of a cherry tree at the reputed age of 140, having allegedly worn out three natural sets of teeth.

Another remarkable man was Lord Stuart de Decies himself, a Protestant aristocrat and large landowner with radical views.

As a young man he defeated the Waterford establishment in the famous 1826 election to give Daniel O'Connell and the Catholic Emancipation movement their first Member of Parliament.



brian said...

Well done Tim, I like your articles on landed gentry, especially Waterford and Tipp.
I do some local history in that area, but I live in Cobh.
Brian, Prince of the Decies

Andrew said...

I lived not far away near Chair. Mrs Villiers-Stuart showed me over the house on a very interesting open day. The view down the Blackwater is serene. It's one of my favourite parts of Ireland, though there are so many. Still the most peaceful and beautiful spot. Mrs Barbara Grubb served tea and cake! A happy memory. I miss Ireland so and look forward to the day we can travel freely again. We got over foot and mouth, we'll get over this.

Andrew said...

Excuse the auto-correction. Cahir obviously.