Thursday, 28 July 2016

Cleland of Stormont Castle

THE CLELAND FAMILY OWNED 4,385 ACRES OF LAND IN COUNTY DOWN

This is a County Down family, claiming descent from James Cleland of that ilk, Lanarkshire.

THE REV JOHN CLELAND (1755-1834), sometime prebendary of Armagh, Rector of Newtownards 1789-1809, became tutor to the young Lord Castlereagh and subsequently acted as agent for the Londonderry estates.
John Cleland was a student at the Rev William Neilson's Classical Academy in Rademon, County Down. A murder attempt occurred against him in 1796; he passed on information against the United Irishmen in 1797; agent for Marquess of Londonderry, 1824; bought land in Killeen & Ballymiscaw, 1830.
He married, in 1805, Esther, daughter and co-heiress of Samuel Jackson, of Stormont, by his wife Margaret Vateau, only child and heiress of Paul Peter Isaac Vateau, the descendant of a French Huguenot family, and had issue,
SAMUEL JACKSON, 1808-42;
Robert Stewart;
Sarah Frances.
Mr Cleland was succeeded by his elder son,

SAMUEL JACKSON CLELAND (1808-42), who wedded, in 1834, Eliza, daughter of James Joyce, of Thornhill, and had issue,
JOHN, his heir;
James Vance;
Robert Stewart;
Samuel Frederick Stewart;
Margaret.
Mr Cleland was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN CLELAND JP DL (1836-93), of Stormont Castle, Dundonald, County Down, High Sheriff of County Down, 1866, who wedded, in 1859, Therese Maria, only daughter of Captain Thomas Leyland, of Haggerston Castle, Northumberland, and Hyde Park House, London, and had issue,
ARTHUR CHARLES STEWART, his heir;
Andrew Leyland Hillyar, b 1868;
Florence Rachel Therese Laura, b 1894.
Mr Cleland was succeeded by his eldest son, 

ARTHUR CHARLES STEWART CLELAND (1865-1924), of Stormont Castle; sometime Lieutenant, 3rd Battalion, Prince of Wales Leinster Regiment, who married, in 1890, Mabel Sophia, only daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel H T D'Aguilar, Grenadier Guards.

Mr Cleland died at Field Green, Hawkhurst, Kent.


STORMONT CASTLE, Dundonald, County Down, is a Scottish-Baronial mansion of 1858, built by the Belfast architect Thomas Turner. 

This mansion replaced the original castle.

The entrance front is three storeys high and eight bays wide, with a two-storey canted bay window.


Remaining windows have square-topped sashes, with bartizan turrets at either end.

There is a tall tower at the eastern end, with a large door surround and balustrade on top, turrets on tower corners, crow-stepped castellation, and three rounded arch windows at top.

Gryphons brandish shields at either side of the main staircase

Cleland arms

The Castle's lofty tower is reminiscent of The Prince Consort's Tower at Balmoral Castle.

John Cleland's grandson began extending the Georgian house after 1842, though work did not begin on the new Castle (above) till 1858.


It was at "Storm Mount" that, ca 1830, Cleland created what was described as "a plain house": A mid or late Georgian house of a traditional type, it was in the form of a plain rectangle with a central projection to the south, presumably for the entrance. 

Associated plantings were very modest; there was a small fringed meadow at the front and an orchard on the hillside to the north west.  

A directory entry of 1837 referred (probably inaccurately) to the house as 'Storemont'; and, by 1864, the "Parliament Gazetteer" still did not rank it amongst the principal residences of the area. 


In those days the most substantial such residence was Rose Park, a name still in use in the residential area (and indeed in Rosepark House, a Government building occupied by the Exchequer and Audit Department and by part of the Department of Finance and Personnel).

It was in the course of removing Rose Park, in the process of consolidating Cleland's holdings, that his son Samuel Jackson Cleland was killed by the collapse of a wall in 1842.

In 1858, the Cleland family commissioned the local architect Thomas Turner to convert the existing plain dwelling into a flamboyant baronial castle.

To what extent the original house survives is not clear. Conventional wisdom, supported by some map evidence, is that the symmetrical five-bay block facing south is the "baronialised" shell of the Georgian dwelling.

To this, Turner added the entrance tower to the east.

The whole image and particularly the outline of the building was given a baronial character with turrets, battlements, bartizans with conical caps, iron cresting and weather vanes. 

The Cleland monogram was used on the shields held by the snarling stone gryphons which still guard the main entrance to the Castle.

The 1850s also saw extensive development of the demesne which was extended to the main Upper Newtownards Road, with the old lodge for Rose Park becoming the lodge for the remodelled baronial Stormont.

The Clelands finally left in 1893, preferring to live elsewhere, and the demesne was let out. 

At some stage Stormont Castle was rented by Charles E Allen JP, a director of the shipbuilding firm of Workman and Clark Limited. 

On his departure from Belfast, the Castle became vacant and, in April, 1921, both it and the surrounding land were offered at auction, but withdrawn when no bid higher than £15,000 was obtained.

Later in 1921, however, it was acquired, with 235 acres of land, as a site for the Parliament Buildings of the new Northern Ireland state. 

On September 20th, that Parliament resolved that 
Stormont Castle demesne shall be the place where the new Parliament House and Ministerial Buildings shall be erected, and as the place to be determined as the seat of the Government of Northern Ireland as and when suitable provision has been made therefore. 
While there was initial uncertainty about the use to be made of Stormont Castle itself, it was later decided that it should become the official residence of the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland. 

Sir James Craig (later 1st Viscount Craigavon) lived there until 1940, when he moved out to make more room for officials engaged in War work.

Lord Craigavon was succeeded in office by Mr J Andrews and thereafter by Sir Basil Brooke Bt (later 1st Viscount Brookeborough).

While both had offices in the Castle, no Prime Minister resided there with any regularity between 1940 to 1969.

On the arrival in office of Captain Terence O'Neill in 1963, substantial reinstatement and improvement works were carried out.

These included the removal of an ugly glass entrance canopy and the restoration of the old ballroom as an improved Cabinet Room.

In those days the Prime Minister occupied what became the Secretary of State's office, with the Secretary of the Cabinet using the other major front room on the ground floor.

Captain O'Neill (afterwards Baron O'Neill of the Maine), Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, resided, when in Belfast, at nearby Stormont House, originally built as a residence for the Speakers of the NI House of Commons.

His successor, Major James Chichester-Clark (later Baron Moyola), had premises on the first floor converted into a self-contained flat and regularly stayed there.

Since 1974, when Northern Ireland reverted to direct rule from Westminster, the Castle became the administrative headquarters for successive Secretaries of State.

Today, Stormont Castle serves as the Office of the First and Deputy First Ministers.

Although Stormont Castle is a house of the 1850s, the grounds date from the time of a former house of 1830. There are a few mature trees from that era.

There is a fine restored glasshouse with 'bothies' on the back (ca 1857).

Formal bedding in the vicinity of the glasshouse and immediately to the west of the Castle was recorded, in its original form, in R Welch’s photographs of 1894 but have now gone. 

The demesne was purchased over the period 1921-78 for the Parliament Buildings and now amounts to about 400 acres.

First published in April, 2012.

1 comment :

mem said...

The original Cleland married a gggggaunt of mine . He is described as having acquired his money by nefarious means . I'd one think he wa a paricularly nice fellow . I wonder if anyone knows what he got upto?