Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Ormeau House

ORMEAU HOUSE, County Down, was a very large Georgian mansion of 1823, replacing Ormeau Cottage, a thatched country villa.
Ormeau Cottage had been occupied until 1803 by Lord Dungannon's agent and family (The Dungannons were seated at Belvoir Park, Newtownbreda, County Down).
The new mansion-house was designed in the Tudor-Revival style by William Vetruvius Morrison for the 2nd Marquess of Donegall, who had moved to Ormeau with his family ca 1807.

It had numerous gables; a lofty polygonal turret with a cupola at one corner; a smaller turret with a pyramidal roof at the rear of the house.

Photo Credit: Ulster Hall

Ormeau was probably the biggest private residence in Belfast, comprising some 20,000 square feet.

The floor area doubled that.
Ormeau, meaning young elm tree in French, was outside the city in a rural setting. It was separated from Belfast by the river Lagan.
It boasted a spacious entrance-hall; a long gallery; and a banqueting-hall.

There were said to be at least one dozen principal bedrooms.

Dozens of servants were required to maintain the household and grounds.

THE PARK comprised about two hundred acres.

Hay Park, the home farm, was opposite the main entrance gates on what is now the Ormeau Road.

There were two gate lodges: One was beside the Ormeau Bridge; the other at the Long Bridge.

The 2nd Marquess died at Ormeau House in 1844, leaving his son huge debts amounting to some £400,000 (£43 million in today's money).

Ormeau Park was abandoned ca 1862 by the 3rd Marquess in favour of the newly-built Belfast Castle.

The 3rd Marquess, with his son-in-law and daughter (afterwards 8th Earl and Countess of Shaftesbury), moved to Belfast Castle, a large Scottish-Baronial mansion which he had built at the opposite side of the city.

Ormeau Embankment (Image: Ebay)

In 1869, Ormeau Park was acquired by Belfast Town Council from the Donegall family.

Ormeau House was subsequently demolished.

Ormeau Park remains the largest and oldest of Belfast's municipal parks and now extends to 137 acres.

First published in November, 2013. 

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