Sunday, 27 March 2016

Drenagh House

THE FAMILY OF McCAUSLAND WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY LONDONDERRY, WITH 12,886 ACRES

This is a junior branch (which settled in Ulster during the reign of JAMES VI) of the ancient Scottish house of MacAUSLANE, of Buchanan, which sprang from

JOHN MacAUSLANE, who acquired the lands of Buchanan, on the Lennox, and from whom they descended in direct male succession to Sir Walter MacAuslane, 11th Laird, who lived at the time of ROBERT II.

The heir male is said to have settled in Ulster during the reign of JAMES VI.

He had two sons, of whom the elder,

ANDREW MacAUSLANE, was grandfather of 

COLONEL ROBERT McCAUSLAND, of Fruit Hill, near Limavady, styled his "cousin" in the will of Captain Oliver McCausland, of Strabane, of which he was left executor and also a legatee.

He had estates in the parish of Cappagh, County Tyrone, and succeeded under the will of the Rt Hon William Conolly to considerable property in County Londonderry.

He married, in 1709, Hannah, daughter of William Moore, of Garvey, and widow of James Hamilton, junior, of Strabane, and by her left surviving issue, at his death ca 1734,
CONOLLY, his heir;
Marcus, of Daisy Hill;
Frederick, of Streeve Hill;
Sarah; Rebecca; Hannah.
The eldest son,

CONOLLY McCAUSLAND (1713-94), of Fruit Hill, wedded, in 1742, Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Gage, of Magilligan, and eventually sole heir to her brother, Hodson Gage, of Bellarena, and left issue, 
CONOLLY, his heir;
Marcus;
Hannah; Elizabeth; Sarah; Sydney.
The elder son,
CONOLLY McCAUSLAND (1754-1827), of Fruit Hill, espoused, in 1778, Theodosia, sister to Maurice, Lord Hartland,  and daughter of Thomas Mahon, of Strokestown House, by Jane, daughter of Maurice, Lord Brandon, and by her had issue,
MARCUS, his heir;
Conolly Robert;
Frederick Hervey;
Jane; Elizabeth; Eleanor; Theodosia.
Mr McCausland, who had assumed the name of GAGE in 1816, was succeeded by his eldest surviving son,

MARCUS McCAUSLAND DL (1787-1862), of Fruit Hill, who married, in 1815, Marianne, daughter of Thomas Tyndall, of The Fort, near Bristol, and by her had issue,
CONOLLY THOMAS, his heir;
Marianne; Theodosia Sydney; Henrietta Caroline; Katherine Geraldine;
Eleanor Georgiana; Julia; Georgiana; Adelaide.
Mr McCausland was succeeded by his only son,

CONOLLY THOMAS McCAUSLAND JP DL (1828-1902), of Drenagh, High Sheriff, 1866, Captain, Derry Militia, who wedded, in 1867, the Hon Laura St John, second daughter of St Andrew, 15th Baron St John of Bletso, and had issue,
MAURICE MARCUS, his heir;
Patrick;
Edmund Thomas William;
Eleanor Marianna Katharine; Lucia; Geraldine; Julia Sydney;
Lettice Theodosia; Emily Octavia.
Captain McCausland was succeeded by his eldest son,

THE RT HON MAURICE MARCUS McCAUSLAND (1872-1938), of Drenagh, High Sheriff, 1908, Lord-Lieutenant of County Londonderry, 1926-38 who wedded, in 1902, Eileen Leslie, second daughter of Robert Alexander Ogilby, of Pellipar, County Londonderry, and had issue,
CONOLLY ROBERT, his heir;
Helen Laura, b 1903;
Eileen Mary, b 1910.
Mr McCausland was succeeded by his son,

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL CONOLLY ROBERT McCAUSLAND MC JP DL (1906-68), of Drenagh, who espoused, in 1932, the Lady Margaret Edgcumbe, daughter of 6th Earl of Mount Edgcumbe, and had issue,
MARCUS EDGCUMBE, his heir;
Antony Richard, b 1941;
Piers Conolly, b 1949;
Mary Fania; Caroline Ann.
Colonel McCausland was succeeded by his eldest son,

MARCUS EDGCUMBE McCAUSLAND (1933-72), of Drenagh, who married, in 1962, June Patricia MacAdam, and had issue,
CONOLLY PATRICK, b 1964;
Shane Francis Marcus, b 1964;
Marianne Laura, b 1970.
In 1972, as an officer in the Ulster Defence Regiment, Captain McCausland became the first soldier to be murdered by the Official IRA.

DRENAGH, near Limavady, is the finest demesne in County Londonderry and one of the noblest country houses in Ulster.

Drenagh House, formerly known as Fruithill, was inherited by Colonel Robert McCausland, agent of the Rt Hon William "Speaker" Conolly, who had purchased the estate from the Phillips family.

Colonel McCausland erected the first house a few hundred yards south-east of the present mansion, overlooking the Glen Plantation.

The original house was extended in 1796, and was said to have had a fine demesne with well laid out walks and plantations.

The walled garden of that period is still retained along with one barn and a gardener’s house.

The house had a different avenue approach from the old Coleraine Road and this can still be discerned from early maps.

Before the old house was abandoned, a new avenue approach was made to the house from the new Coleraine Road (now Broad Road).

During this period (ca 1830) W Hargrave was commissioned to consider designs for a new house which was three storeys with canted bays.

However, before these plans could materialise into buildings, both McCausland and Hargrave died and the present gate lodge, known as Logan’s Lodge, or the east lodge of ca 1830, is all that was built of Hargrave’s design.

Charles Lanyon, who arrived in County Antrim as surveyor in 1836, was commissioned to prepare designs for house, offices and outhouses; and these appear to have reached fruition about 1840.

At the same time, the west avenue approach was changed and the west lodge was built to Lanyon’s specifications.

Pleasant gardens were extended in the Glen, with a viewing platform having impressive niche and fountain below and beyond a pool and parterre.

Nothing remains of the former house.

Today Drenagh is set in 1,000 acres of parkland.


It comprises two storeys, using an agreeable pinkish sandstone ashlar.

There is a five-bay entrance front, with a recessed central bay and a single-storey Ionic portico whose outer columns are coupled.


The adjoining front is of six bays, with a pedimented breakfront which is emphasized by three massive pilasters supporting the pediment.

There is a lower service wing at the side; a balustraded parapet round the roof and on the portico.


There is a magnificent single-storey, top-lit central hall with screens of fluted Corinthian columns.

An elegant double staircase, with exquisite cast-iron balusters, rises from behind one of the screens.

There are also rich plasterwork ceilings in the hall, over the staircase and in the drawing-room.

The morning-room and dining-room have more modest ceilings.

The outbuildings are extensive.

A vista through the gap in the trees beyond the entrance front boasts an idyllic landscape far below.

Most notable is the Chinese Garden, with its circular "moon gate", developed by the Lady Margaret McCausland in the 1960s.

The demesne itself is part-walled and dates from the early 18th century.

There are fine woodland, parkland and shelter belt trees.

The ground within the demesne is undulating, descending to the Castle River running to the south of the house and to the Curly River to the north and east.

Neither river is used as an ornamental feature.

An unusual Italianate high balustraded terrace, with a commanding view point, formerly looked over an extensive 19th century Italian Garden, which is now overgrown.

The vista at the present time overlooks what has become dense woodland, including exotics and rhododendrons.

A water garden in the foreground includes a handsome stone pond built in the 1960s to the designs of Frances Rhodes.

The '‘Moon Garden'’ was also designed by Frances Rhodes in 1968.

It is an enclosed area influenced by both Chinese and Arts and Crafts garden design, which remains fully planted up.

It incorporates pre-1830s office buildings.

Outside is the ‘Orbit Garden’, also by Rhodes, planted with shrubs, trees and herbaceous material.

An area south east of and adjacent to the house had a late 20th century ornamental garden, which is now grassed.

The walled garden is used for nursery planting.

It was enlarged after the present house was built. Logan’s Lodge, 1830 by Hargrave, pre-dates the present house.

The main entrance gate lodge, gates and screen are ca 1840 by Lanyon.

Streeve, the dower house, is within the demesne and has its own garden.

Images courtesy of Conolly McCausland.   First published in February, 2010.

5 comments :

Anonymous said...

One of the worst atrocities...and I think we know who was in charge of it...

Anonymous said...

Yes...I think of it every time I see his face, too. Never to be forgotten.

peter edmunds said...

Does anyone know anything about one of the McCauslands converting to the Catholic church and if so when ? This would make the murder of Marcus McCausland more poignant as will be obvious to anyone from Northern Ireland. Of course the religious affiliation of a murder victim is essentially unimportant, but it reminds me of the abduction of a Catholic priest by the UVF (??) who had been,I think, a chaplain to Her Majesty's Crown forces. All so sad whoever it is.

Anonymous said...

Yes I know something of the conversion, the court case etc, I think it was just after the war.

Aaron Callan said...

In reference to the court case. It was Conolly Robert McCausland who converted to Catholicism around 1941. He has inherited the estate in 1938 after his father's death but it was a clause in the Will that no Catholic could inherit or own the estate. The Trustees which local solicitor WA Ingram of Martin, King, French and Ingram was one and Sir Norman Stronge was another took the view that Conolly forfeited his claim on the estate and he had signed the will with the clause a number of years previously. At first Conolly did not object to this and indeed forfeited the estate selling its contents to his sister who took it over. Shortly after WA Ingram passed away, Ingram was the last living person to know the events around the will, Conolly decided to take the issue up in court. The whole episode caused great emotional and financial distress to the family. Conolly lost the case for himself but he also had his son Marcus as one of the co-Plaintiff. The Court ruled in favour of Marcus stating that as he was too young the clause did not apply and that the estate would pass to him on him coming of age. Conolly would see effigy of himself burnt outside the gates of Drenagh and in the town of Limavady itself. A tragic episode in the history of the family and estate.