Thursday, 6 October 2016

Norwood Tower Painting


I visited Mrs Primrose Henderson in 2011.

Her late husband was Captain Oscar William James (Bill) Henderson OBE DL.

The Hendersons once owned the Belfast Newsletter newspaper.

Brum Henderson ran Ulster Television for many years.

Mrs Henderson generously gave me permission to photograph the family's 1864 oil-painting of the old family home, Norwood Tower, Strandtown, Belfast.

Norwood Tower was their seat until 1934.

The grounds extended to about fifty acres.

On the large, ten-acre field to the east of the former mansion, Norwood Park and Norwood Gardens were built.

Mrs Henderson recalled, as a girl, riding her pony across a track through the grounds to the stables and house itself (presumably in the 1930s).

Primrose Henderson's mother was Gundreda Forrest (née Ewart), daughter of Sir William Quartus Ewart Bt.

Miss Florence Henderson bequeathed Norwood Tower to a distant cousin and baronet, Sir Christopher Musgrave, rather than her nephew Oscar Henderson.

The Musgraves were at Norwood for 20 years.

Click on the images to enlarge.

© 2011 Lord Belmont in Northern Ireland

The painting is dated March, 1864, and entitled NORWOOD TOWER, Seat of J A Henderson, Esq; painted by Hugh Fraser, ex-Professor of Painting of the Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin.

© 2011 Lord Belmont in Northern Ireland

This painting, together with another one of Norwood Tower, was discovered by the Rt Hon Terence O'Neill DL MP [the Lord O'Neill of the Maine] in the auction rooms of Messrs Robert Stirling, Antrim, in the autumn of 1957. 
They were given as a present by him to Captain OWJ Henderson MP, with the instructions that he was to keep one of them and the other was to be given to his brother, Mr RB Henderson.
It would seem likely that these paintings were sold by Musgrave when he came into possession of Norwood Tower on the death of Miss Florence Henderson, great-aunt of Bill and Brum Henderson. 
At the time when Sir Christopher inherited Norwood Tower, it was known that he sold as many of the Henderson family's possessions as possible; and it is indeed surprising that, over twenty years later, these two paintings should be discovered in Antrim by Captain O'Neill and returned to the Henderson family.
Norwood Tower was sold and demolished in ... 1955 and the site is now part of suburbia; and, at the present time, August 1958, only the gate lodge remains standing; and this will, itself, be shortly demolished.
First published in May, 2011.

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