Monday, 8 August 2016

Castle Bellingham

THE BELLINGHAM BARONETS WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY LOUTH, WITH 4,186 ACRES

This ancient family derives its surname from the town of Bellingham-in-Tyndale, Northumberland, where it appears to have been seated immediately after the Conquest; and its descent in a direct male line, without any interruption, from 

ALAN DE BELLINGHAM, living in the time of WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR; whose descendant,

ALAN BELLINGHAM, purchased Levens Hall, Kendal, Westmorland, in HENRY VIII's reign, and erected a mansion there, which subsequently became the chief residence of his successors.

The great-grandson of this Alan,

SIR JAMES BELLINGHAM, Knight, married Agnes, daughter of Sir Henry Curwen, Knight, of Workington, in Cumberland, and had, with other issue,
Thomas;
HENRY, of Helsington;
ALAN.
Sir James died in 1641, and the male line of the family was eventually carried on by his third son,

ALAN BELLINGHAM (1596-1672), of Over Levens, who wedded Susan, daughter of Marmaduke Constable, of Masham, Yorkshire, and had a large family, of which the second son,

HENRY BELLINGHAM, went over to Ireland during the civil war, and had a grant of the estate now known as CASTLE BELLINGHAM, which was confirmed to him during the reign of CHARLES II.

Mr Bellingham was admitted to Goldsmiths' Guild, 1652.

He espoused Lucy, daughter of William Sibthorpe, and had issue,
THOMAS, his heir;
Anne.
Mr Bellingham died in 1676, and was succeeded by his son and heir,

THOMAS BELLINGHAM (1653-1721), of Castle Bellingham, who was Colonel in the army of WILLIAM III, and acted as His Majesty's guide, during the march of the army from Dundalk to the Boyne.

After that battle, he accompanied the King to Duleek.

In consequence, JAMES II's army destroyed Castle Bellingham by fire.

Colonel Bellingham married, in 1671, Abigail Handcock; and was succeeded by his only son, 

HENRY BELLINGHAM (c1646-1721), MP for Dundalkwho wedded Mary, daughter and co-heiress of Thomas Moore, and was succeeded by his elder son,

HENRY BELLINGHAM, MP for County Louth, who married Margaret, daughter of Hugh Henry, of Straffan, County Kildare; but dying without surviving issue, in 1755, was succeeded by his brother, 

COLONEL ALAN BELLINGHAM (c1709-96), of Castle Bellingham, Surveyor of the Port of Drogheda, who wedded, in 1738, Alice, daughter and co-heir of the Rev Hans Montgomery, of Grey Abbey, County Down, and had, with four daughters, five sons, namely,
Henry;
Alan;
O'Brien;
Thomas, Royal Navy;
WILLIAM, of whom presently.
The youngest son,

WILLIAM BELLINGHAM (c1756-1826), married, in 1783, Hester Frances, youngest daughter of the Hon and Rev Robert Cholmondeley, and granddaughter of George, 3rd Earl of Cholmondeley, but had no issue.

He represented Reigate in parliament, and was created a baronet in 1796, with special to the heirs male of his deceased father.

Sir William was accordingly succeeded by his nephew, 

SIR ALAN BELLINGHAM, 2nd Baronet (1776-1827), who espoused, in 1799, Elizabeth, 2nd daughter of Reed Edward Walls, of Boothby Hall, Lincolnshire; and by her had issue,
ALAN EDWARD;
Henry Richard;
O'Brien;
Sidney Robert;
William Johnson;
Mary Anne Jane; Frances Elizabeth; Charlotte Sophia.
Sir Alan was succeeded by his son,

SIR ALAN EDWARD BELLINGHAM, 3rd Baronet (1800-89).
The heir apparent is the present holder's son William Alexander Noel Bellingham (b 1991).
The 5th Baronet was the last Lord-Lieutenant of County Louth, from 1921 until 1922.


CASTLE BELLINGHAM, County Louth, has served as one of the ancestral homes for Bellinghams since the 17th century.

It was purchased and built ca 1660 by Henry Bellingham, a cornet in the Army during the civil war.

He purchased the lands of Gernonstown, Louth, from a fellow soldier who had been granted them in lieu of arrears of pay.

The purchase was confirmed by CHARLES II.

The castle was occupied by troops and burned down in the autumn of 1689 by JAMES II in revenge for Colonel Thomas Bellingham being a guide for WILLIAM III, prior to the battle of the Boyne.

It is said that King William's armies camped the night before the battle in the grounds of the castle.

Castle Bellingham eventually became known as an important gathering point in the county. Fairs were held there every year.

A church was constructed next door to the castle and graveyard with a family vault was built.

The Bellinghams became one of the most powerful and influential family in the county.

For over a hundred years a Bellingham held the seat in Parliament for County Louth.

A history of the parish, dated 1908, states that the impressive Calvary standing close to the Castle was erected by Sir Henry Bellingham as a monument to the memory of his first wife Lady Constance.

Much more interesting for tourists and local history buffs, is the collection of inset religious panels to be seen on the upper facades of many of the village buildings.

These are also a reflection of Sir Henry's religious sentiments, and they are unique in Ireland.

In addition to the many pretty panels, there are biblical quotations cut into the stone window sills of some buildings.

North of the refurbished castle/hotel is a group of "widows' dwellings", built from charitable motives by Sir Henry, and these are architectural gems which have been carefully preserved.

The last Bellingham baronet to live there was Brigadier-General Sir Edward Bellingham, 5th Baronet, and last Lord-Lieutenant of County Louth.

Castle Bellingham was the ancestral seat of the Bellingham Baronets until about the late 1950s, when it was eventually purchased by Dermot Meehan in 1958 from the Irish Land Commission for £3,065.00.

He spent several years converting the house into a hotel called the Bellingham Castle Hotel.

Mr Meehan sold the Castle on 17 acres in 1967 for £30,636.61.

The hotel, including the 17 acres, was recently on the market for €1.5 million.

*****


BELLINGHAM CASTLE has reopened as a country house hotel.

The same proprietor owns Ballyseede Castle and Cabra Castle.

The rooms appear to have been restored and furnished most elegantly and admirably, in keeping with such a historic property.

*****

The castle stands on the site of an earlier medieval castle which was burnt by King James's soldiers before the battle of the Boyne in the late-17th century, as Colonel Thomas Bellingham was fighting for WILLIAM III.

It was remodelled in the late-18th century, when a third storey was added and in the early-19th century it took the shape we see today with its crenellated parapet, turrets and towers.
The Gothic embellishments, which are echoed in the entrance gates, can be seen on every elevation and it is the little details, such as the gargoyled boss to the base of a turret on the east elevation and the decorative label stops on the hood mouldings of some windows that create a pleasing, yet interesting, contrast to the Georgian classical windows seen on the main elevations.
Castle Bellingham played a central part in the development of the village to which it gives its name.

Much of the village is occupied by estate houses and many of their former occupants would have worked on the estate in its heyday.

First published in July, 2012.

1 comment :

kioshte said...

I a dream this morning I was a Head Schoolmaster and had walked off campus to an adjoining wooded area. There was an elder military man, who was a pimp and ex-stockbroker, his son, also a military man and the son's friend, who was one of the students I followed there. I took the half smoked soggy cigar from the elder man's mouth and wrote on the stone gate post Bellingham. Evidently Alan de Bellingham lived at the same time as my ancestor James Melville, who was given Scotland by William the Norman who killed his cousin Harold. Ironically Harold had pulled William out of a quick sand pit at Mount St. Michel in France the year before. No good deed goes unpunished.
My Irish American grandfather was Henry McFadden, also from No. Ireland.
The dream world guided me to your site. The synchronicity is astonishing. Thanks, Michael John Melville