Friday, 26 February 2016

Shelton Abbey

THE EARLS OF WICKLOW WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY WICKLOW, WITH 22,103 ACRES

The noble house of WICKLOW derives from the Fersfield branch of the ducal family of Howard.

JOHN HOWARD (1616-43) married, in 1636, Dorothea Hassells.

Following his decease, his widow removed to Ireland, where she wedded her cousin, Robert Hassells, of Shelton, County Wicklow.

The son of John and Dorothea Howard,

DR RALPH HOWARD (1638-1710), of Shelton, who was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, took a degree in Medicine in 1667, and succeeded Dr Margetson as Regius Professor of Physics at that university.

Being afterwards attainted with many others in King JAMES II's parliament, on account of his having returned to England on the breaking out of war in Ireland, with his numerous family of young children, in 1688, his estate containing 600 acres in the barony of Bargy, and County Wexford, and his leasehold interest of the north share of Arklow, and Shelton estates, County Wicklow, held from the 2nd Duke and Duchess of Ormonde, containing 4,000 acres, plantation measure, were seized upon and put in the possession of Mr Hacket, who being appointed sequestrator, resided in Shelton House, and received the rents until the war ended.

After the defeat at the Boyne in 1690, King James stayed at Shelton to refresh himself, en route to Waterford; and says, in his memoirs, that he rested some time at Mr Hacket's.

On the re-establishment of tranquillity under WILLIAM III, Dr Howard recovered his estates.

He married, in 1668, Catherine, eldest daughter of Roger Sotheby, MP for Wicklow, and by her had issue (with three daughters) three sons, viz.
HUGH, his heir;
ROBERT, of whom hereafter;
William, MP for Dublin.
The eldest son,

HUGH HOWARD (1675-1737), of Shelton, born in 1675, was appointed keeper of the state papers at Whitehall in 1714, and paymaster of the Board of Works, 1726.

He died in London in 1737, leaving a fine collection of books, drawings, prints, and medals, as well as his estates at Shelton and Seskin, County Wicklow, to his only surviving brother,

THE RT REV ROBERT HOWARD (1670-1740), Lord Bishop of Elphin, inherited in 1728 the estates of his family at the decease of his elder brother, Hugh, of Shelton, County Wicklow.

His lordship married, in 1724, Patience, daughter and sole heiress of Godfrey Boleyne, of Fenner, by Mary his wife, sister of the Rt Hon Henry Singleton, Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, and had issue,
RALPH, his heir;
Hugh;
Robert;
Mary;
Catherine, m to John, 1st Earl of Erne.
The Bishop was succeeded by his eldest son,

THE RT HON RALPH HOWARD, (1726-89), MP for County Wicklow, and a member of the privy council.

Mr Howard was elevated to the peerage, in 1778, by the title of Baron Clonmore, of Clonmore Castle, County Carlow; and advanced to a viscountcy, in 1785, as Viscount Wicklow.

His lordship wedded, in 1755, Alice (who was raised to the peerage as COUNTESS OF WICKLOW in 1793), only daughter and heiress of William Forward MP, of Castle Forward, County Donegal, by whom he had issue,
ROBERT and
WILLIAM, successive peers;
Hugh;
Boleyne;
Henry;
Stuarta; Isabella; Katherine; Mary.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

ROBERT (1757-1815), 2nd Viscount; who became EARL OF WICKLOW at the demise of his mother, 1807; but died unmarried, when the honours devolved upon his brother,

WILLIAM (1761-1818), 3rd Earl; who had assumed the surname and arms of FORWARD, upon inheriting the estate of his maternal relatives; but resumed his family name of HOWARD on succeeding to the peerage.

His lordship espoused, in 1787, Eleanor, only daughter of the Hon Francis Caulfeild, and granddaughter of James, 3rd Viscount Charlemont, by whom he had issue,
WILLIAM, his heir;
Francis (Rev); father of
WILLIAM;
Robert;
Isabella Mary; Eleanor; Mary; Alicia.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

WILLIAM (1788-1869), 4th Earl, KP, who wedded, in 1816, Lady Cecil Frances Hamilton, daughter of John James, 1st Marquess of Abercorn.

His lordship had no male issue and was succeeded by his nephew,
On the death of the 8th Earl, the titles became extinct.



SHELTON ABBEY, near Arklow, County Wicklow, was the ancestral seat of the Earls of Wicklow.

It is an eleven-bay, two-storey mansion, built in 1770 but remodelled in the Gothic style to designs by Sir Richard Morrison in 1819.

The building is finished with lined render and granite dressings.

The decorative panelled front door has a blind fanlight and is set within a pointed-arched opening.This is recessed within a projecting triple arched flat-roofed porch.

The front is lavishly embellished with reducing buttresses with tall pinnacles. To the north and rear large two-storey wings were later added.



The mainly pitched roof is finished with natural slate and has cast-iron rainwater goods.

The building is set within a large wooded demesne. Internally the elaborate plasterwork is still intact.

This remains an important early 19th century country house which has been very well preserved.

During the Victorian era, the 'Abbey style' was considered appropriate to secluded settings such as this.

It has been converted to institutional use with no loss of character.

The town residence of Lord Wicklow used to be 56 Upper Brook Street, London (now part of the US Embassy).

In 1947, the 8th Earl opened Shelton as an hotel in a vain attempt to meet the cost of upkeep; but he was obliged to sell it in 1951, owing to taxation.

Shelton Abbey operated as a school for a period.

The abbey has, since the early 1970s, been used as an open prison for males aged 19 years and over who are regarded as requiring lower levels of security.

Wicklow arms courtesy of European Heraldry.   First published in January, 2012.

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