Friday 15 July 2022

Drumnasole House


The Turnlys of Drumnasole descend from an scion of the old Norman family of Turnley, who accompanied Cromwell to Ireland, and settled in that country. The English line continued, and was represented by JOSEPH TURNLEY JP DL, of London, Master of Merchant Taylors Company, and Deputy Governor of the Honourable the Irish Society, 1856.

 An immediate ancestor of the Drumnasole family held lands in County Down; but his widow, who had control of the property, married for her second husband a Mr Wilson, and to her children by him she devised Mr Turnly's estate.

FRANCIS TURNLY JP (1732-1801), of Newtownards, County Down, one of the principal merchants of Belfast, married, in 1760, Catherine Black, of Bordeaux, France, and had issue with four daughters, three sons,
JOHN (1764-1841)of Rockport House; dsp;
FRANCIS, of whom presently;
The second son,

FRANCIS TURNLY (c1765-1845), of Drumnasole, County Antrim, and RICHMOND LODGE, County Down, High Sheriff of County Down, 1806, County Antrim, 1824, wedded, in 1804, Dorothea Emilia, daughter of John Rochfort, of Clogrennane, County Carlow, and granddaughter of Robert Burgh, of Birt, and had issue,
John, died in infancy;
Francis, died unmarried, 1820;
Robert Alexander (1805-85), of Drumnasole, died unmarried;
Joseph, died unmarried;
JOHN, of whom presently;
Charles Horace, d 1885;
Dorothea Anna, d 1885;
Catherine, d 1906.
Mr Turnly, born at RICHMOND LODGE, spent his early life in China, and obtained a high position there, realizing a considerable fortune, viz £70,000 (£5 million today) with the East India Company.

The Turnlys were prominent merchants during the 17th and 18th centuries, involved with multifarious trading enterprises in and around Belfast.

Francis Turnly and Narcissus Batt imported alcoholic products from Holland and the Channel Islands.

They became business partners, running a brewery at one time, probably supplying the publicans of the local area.

The fifth son,

JOHN TURNLY JP DL (1818-1909), of Drumnasole, wedded, in 1850, Charlotte Emily, daughter of the Rt Hon Edward Litton QC, Master in Chancery in Ireland, and had issue,
FRANCIS JOHN SEYMOUR, of whom presently;
John Edward Litton Alexander, b 1869;
Sophia Dorothea; Dorothea Vescina; Charlotte Augusta Anne;
Flora Eugenie; Catherine Beatrice; Nina Rochfort; Gertrude; Hilda.
The eldest son,

FRANCIS JOHN SEYMOUR TURNLY JP (1862-1934), of Drumnasole, married, in 1896, Hessie Metcalfe McNeill, daughter of Charles Higginson, of Springmount, County Antrim, and had issue,
John Francis, 1898-1918, killed in action;
ARCHIBALD GORDON EDWARD, of whom we treat;
Mary Dorothea Rochfort, b 1900.
Mr Turnly's only surviving son,

MAJOR ARCHIBALD GORDON EDWARD TURNLY DL (1902-), High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1949, wedded, in 1933, Mary Elizabeth, daughter of Robert Alexander Young, of Lisvarna, Ballycastle, County Antrim, and had issue,

JOHN FRANCIS CECIL TURNLY, a local politician and activist, who was murdered in 1980.

DRUMNASOLE HOUSE, near Garron Point, County Antrim, is a country house of ca 1810, described in 1845 as "a most romantic and sheltered site at the base of the perpendicular hills".

Building began before 1819 and was finished ca 1840.

It was built near the site of an earlier house of the same name which had been occupied in the 1760s by the Donaldson family; and in the 1780s by Francis Shaw, who sold the estate to Francis Turnly in 1808.

Turnly had amassed a considerable amount of money while in China in the 1790s, and following his return to Ulster in 1801, he bought two estates, one at Drumnasole and another at Cushendall.

To facilitate his frequent journeys between the two, he cut first the Red Arch near Waterfoot in 1817, and then the Split Rock, known locally as Turnly's Cut, near Garron Point in 1822, thus creating a predecessor of the present coast road.

Turnly also erected the building in Cushendall known as Turnly's Tower.

Elsewhere in the Drumnasole estate Turnly built a schoolhouse ca 1820, and a descendant built a gate lodge about 1860.

Drumnasole House is built of basalt from the hill behind, of two storeys over a basement.

The entrance front has a breakfront centre with windows flanked by two narrower windows above.

A fan-lighted doorway is under a shallow porch of four engaged Doric columns below, one bay on either side. The side elevation comprises five bays.

The long hall with a plasterwork ceiling; the stairwell lit by a dome.

The gate-lodge is at the Antrim coast road entrance.

According to newspaper reports on the 22nd May, 1922, Drumnasole House was burnt (the extent of the damage, however, is unclear).

Photo Credit © Rev John McConnell Auld

Richmond Lodge, Knocknagoney, County Down, another property of the Turnlys, was eventually acquired by the Dunville family, who moved there in 1845.

Plans showed a long drive-way leading to the house and extensive grounds, substantial enough for Captain R L (Bobby) Dunville to establish a private zoo there during the 1920s.

First published in December, 2010.


Irishlad said...

Excellent Tim, included are a few details i was unaware of.

Monkton Combe School Archives said...

John Edward Alexander Litton Turnley was educated at Monkton Combe School, Bath, UK from 1886 to 1889 before going on to Pembroke College, Cambridge and St Bart's, London, qualifying as a surgeon. He was a Captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps during WW1.