I visited Lizard Manor, near Aghadowey, County Londonderry, in February, 2012. The house sits on a hill and the cobbled drive winds up to the manor-house. It all felt rather Gothic and atmospheric: I found it delightful.
The manor of Lizard was established by the Honourable The Irish Society in 1618, and a conveyance of this manor to the Ironmongers' Company from the Society was executed in November of the same year.
By this deed, the Society did "fully, clearly, and absolutely grant" the Manor of Lizard, and all the rents, advowsons [sic], tithes, and all other profits whatsoever, except timber, &c., at the yearly rent of £11. 6s. 8d., to the Ironmongers' Company, their successors and assigns for ever, to the only use and behoof [sic] of the said Company.Towards the end of 1614, George Canning, a native of Barton in Warwickshire, was appointed agent by the Company and charged with building a bawn and castle at Agivey.
In 1630, Paul Canning, who was then a member of the Ironmongers' Company, and their agent in Ireland, sold his estate in England, and spent it in planting and stocking the Company's estate, and also at his own charge built a church.
The charter to the Irish Society granted by JAMES I was revoked in the reign of CHARLES I, by decree of the Star Chamber in Hilary Term, 1638, and all the estates were escheated to the Crown.
In 1662, in the reign of CHARLES II, letters patent were issued, containing, with but little alteration, all the clauses of the charter of JAMES I; and the renewed grant from the Society to the Ironmongers' Company of the Manor of Lizard, dated 1663, recites, that
The King takes into consideration the vast sums of money the Society and the several Companies of London had laid out and disbursed in their building and planting.
This lease was assigned to another George Canning, whose son, George, obtained a new lease in 1705 for 21 years [with a fine of £1,900 and an annual rent of £250].
Henry Anderson, the local agent to the Worshipful Company of Ironmongers, was the first occupant.
In 1861, offices were completed. These offices (which may have included the two-storey, red brick stable block to the west of the dwelling) were completed by 1864.
The servant’s block, which abuts the northern return of Lizard Manor, was utilised as a dwelling by the estate steward.
Henry Anderson continued to reside at Lizard Manor until his death in the 1870s.
In 1874, the property was acquired by the Stronge family of Tynan Abbey, County Armagh, who continued to hold Lizard Manor until the 1950s.
Sir Charles Stronge, 7th Baronet (1862-1939), lived at Lizard Manor.
After 1889, the Worshipful Company of Ironmongers began to sell portions of its estate; and in 1891 the Stronge family purchased Lizard Manor and its associated lands from the company.
The Stronges employed a large number of domestic servants, cooks and maids to manage the estate.
Lizard Manor was described at that time as
"a first class dwelling that consisted of 22 rooms and possessed a large number of outbuildings, including two stables and two coach houses, five cow houses, a boiling house and a barn."The layout of Lizard Manor has not been altered since 1904, although some of the original minor outbuildings have been demolished in the intervening years.
Sir Charles Stronge had taken over possession of Lizard Manor from his father in 1897, although Edmond Stronge continued to reside at Rusky until his death about 1910.
Sir Charles Stronge remained at the site until his own death in 1939.
Lizard Manor remained in his family until coming into the possession of the Rt Hon Phelim O’Neill (later 2nd Baron Rathcavan) in 1953; and who resided there till 1978, when he moved to County Mayo.
Lizard Manor dates from ca 1861; however, due to its association with the Worshipful Company of Ironmongers, the origins of the Victorian manor stretch back to the Plantation of Ulster in the 17th Century.
The Worshipful Company of Ironmongers was granted lands in the parish of Aghadowey.
In 1614, George Canning, the first agent of the company in Ulster, constructed a bawn and castle in the parish.
The ‘Manor of Lizard’ was established by the company in 1618, comprising lands which amounted to a total of 38,470 acres.
The title of the manor was derived from the Company’s armorial bearings, which included lizards.
The Ironmongers, having leased out their land to their agent for almost two centuries, took over control of the Manor of Lizard ca 1840 and carried out a survey of all its properties and land.
With the completion of the survey the company carried out a number of improvements to their lands, which included the construction of a permanent residence for their agent in the townland of Rusky.
Lizard Manor continues to be utilised as a private dwelling and has undergone few alterations over the past 150 years, retaining much of its original mid-Victorian character.
The demolition or dilapidation of the associated outbuildings has been the only notable alteration to have occurred to the original property.
First published in March, 2012.