Monday, 15 August 2016

Bovagh House

Vice-Admiral Sir Arthur Hezlet KBE CB DSO DSC

THE HEZLET FAMILY OWNED 675 ACRES OF LAND IN COUNTY LONDONDERRY

The family of HEZLET appears to have had a long connection with County Londonderry.

Some sources claim that the Hezlets derived from Haesluyt in Holland, a place name which means 'the hazel-lot.'

They are first recorded in Ulster during the early 17th century: Thomas Heslett [sic], of Artidillon, appeared in the Coleraine rent roll of 1620-41.

The Rev Robert Hezlet (d 1821) was Mayor of Coleraine in 1781, and rector of Killowen for forty years.

Robert Knox Hezlet, by Bassano, 3 March 1931 - NPG  - © National Portrait Gallery, London
Major-General Robert Hezlet ©National Portrait Gallery, London

Major-General Robert Knox Hezlet CB CBE DSO DL (1879-1963) lived at Bovagh House. His son,

Vice-Admiral Sir Arthur Richard Hezlet KBE CB DSO DSC, Legion of Merit (United States) (1914-2007), a distinguished Royal Navy officer and submariner, lived at Bovagh House.

Sir Arthur's honours included:- 
  • Knight Commander (Military Division) of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire
  • Companion (Military Division) of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath
  • Companion of the Distinguished Service Order and Bar
  • Distinguished Service Cross

He became the Royal Navy's youngest captain, aged 36, and its youngest admiral, aged 45.

Sir Arthur died at Bovagh in 2007, aged 93.

In my youth, I once stood beside Sir Arthur, then Area President of the Royal British Legion in Northern Ireland. My late father supervised the lighting in a voluntary capacity at the annual RBL Festival of Remembrance in Belfast.

In the 1960s, 70s and 80s, the festival was held in the Ulster Hall, one week before the national Festival at the Royal Albert Hall.

About 1979, Sir Arthur - as Area President - recited "As We Grow Old" on the stage; and a young teenage army cadet, Timothy Collins (Colonel Timothy Collins OBE), also recited a poem.

What struck me was how Sir Arthur always made a point of going over to these young people, encouraging them and saying a few words, like "very well done".


BOVAGH HOUSE, near Aghadowey, County Londonderry, was formerly a land agent's house of the Beresfords, Marquesses of Waterford. It was built ca 1740.

The Beresfords were major landowners in the county and were seated at Bovaugh Castle in the vicinity. 

Theobald Jones MP (1790-1868), of Bovagh House, and of 54 Curzon Street, London, was a second cousin of the 3rd Marquess of Waterford.

The house has a small, high quality parkland with mature trees set on the southern banks of the Agivey river, having replaced an earlier house.

The main avenue, which meets the road near Bovagh Bridge to the west, contains the remains of a collection of exotics.

The walled garden, which lies to the south of the house, is not planted up.

There is a very pretty Victorian glasshouse immediately to the west of the house, with a small box parterre in front.


An area in the stable yard is kept up as a modern ornamental garden.

The gate lodge has been demolished.

The property is approached by a sweeping, tree-lined, pebbled driveway.


To the rear of the property there is also a walled courtyard with various outbuildings and garaging with large stone barns and former stables.

There is also an ancient woodland and an old orchard dotted with bluebells and wild flowers.

The grounds today extend to approximately 44 acres.

The lands which surround the house are laid out in three fields.

First published in August, 2012.

4 comments :

Northern Scrivener said...

I have only been in Bovagh House once but it was in quite bad condition, most particularly the sitting room where bracket fungus was growing from the wall. Rather sad to see.

Northern Scrivener said...

It was on the market with I think Bensons. The contents, or at least the remnants, were sold in 2008.

Anonymous said...

Sir Arthur was a close family friend of ours and we visited Bovagh on several occasions. It would be sad to think it had not been sold and kept up.

Richard Rogan

Anonymous said...

Bovagh has been sold and is being lovingly restored.