Friday, 31 March 2017

Ardress House

THE ENSORS OWNED 333 ACRES OF LAND IN COUNTY ARMAGH

THOMAS EDENSOR, of Cumberland and Staffordshire, married Anne, only daughter of Hopwas, of Hopwas, Staffordshire, and was father of two sons, the elder of whom, JOHN, whose grandson, GEORGE ENSOR, born in 1568, was father, by his wife, E Coleman, of JOHN ENSOR, of Wilnecote, Staffordshire, who wedded Henrietta Coleman, and their only son,

GEORGE ENSOR, espoused Jane, daughter of Francis Saunders, of Northamptonshire, and had one son,

EDWARD ENSOR, who married Jane Darcy, and had issue,
James, of Wilnecote;
JOB, of whom hereafter;
Edward.
The second son,

JOB ENSOR, wedded Mary Hill, by whom he had issue,
John, of Dublin; ancestor of ENSOR OF ROLLESBY HALL;
GEORGE, of whom hereafter.
The younger son,

GEORGE ENSOR (1724-1803), married, in 1760, Sarah Clarke, and had issue,
GEORGE, his heir;
John;
Thomas, b 1777;
Job, b 1778;
Henry, b 1779.
The family seems to have moved to Ireland between George's christening in 1724 and 1729, when Job Ensor was working on the parliament house in Dublin.

George, a younger half-brother of JOHN ENSOR, was baptised at St Michael's church, Coventry, in 1724.

In 1745, he won first prize for designs for a house in one of the Dublin Society competitions sponsored by Dr Samuel Madden.

The previous year he had been appointed clerk of works in the office of the Surveyor-General.

In 1747, he was given the task of inspecting barracks.

His wife, Sarah Clarke, was heiress to the small estate of Ardress, County Armagh; there is, however, no definite evidence of his having come into the property until 1783.

In the interim, he worked as an architect and developer in Dublin and elsewhere.


He was appointed surveyor of the works at Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, in 1761.

George Ensor was succeeded by his eldest son,

GEORGE ENSOR JP (1769-1843), of Ardress, an eminent lawyer and author, who wedded, in 1804, Esther Weld, and had issue,
Henry, b 1806;
George, b 1808;
GEORGE, of whom we treat;
Charles, 1811-75; father of CHARLES;
Elizabeth; Caroline; Matilda; Florence; Alexa; Anna Maria.
The third surviving son,

GEORGE ENSOR (1809-79), of Ardress, died unmarried and the family estate passed to his nephew,

CHARLES ENSOR (1841-97), who espoused, in 1873, Catherine Howard, and had issue,
CHARLES HOWARD, his heir;
Robert &
George, twins, b 1880;
Dudley, 1881-1963;
John, b 1882;
Edward, b 1883;
Henry, b 1885;
Francis, b 1886;
Ernest, b 1891;
Elizabeth Catherine; Harriet; Ester; Alexa; May.
Mr Ensor was succeeded by his eldest son,

CHARLES HOWARD ENSOR OBE JP DL (1880-1963), of Ardress, who married, in 1912, Ethel Clare Sinton, and had issue,
CHARLES HOWARD (1916-2002);
David George, GM, DSM (1917-89);
John;
Thomas;
Henry;
Ethel Alexa; Katie.
Captain Charles Howard Ensor  © National Trust

Charles Howard Ensor, having been a company commander in the Armagh Regiment, Ulster Volunteer Force, for ten months, enlisted into the 9th Royal Irish Fusiliers on its formation and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in 1914.

He went to France with 36th (Ulster) Division in October, 1915, as Officer Commanding ‘A’ Company.

During the attack at Hamel on the 1st July, 1916, he was wounded in the right leg.

He lay in a shell hole for four days (for the last ten hours up to his armpits in water) before being found.

He was evacuated to hospital in England on the 9th July, 1916, where he remained until the 20th October, 1916.

His wounds precluded general service and he served with the 10th (Reserve) Battalion until released from service in 1919.

On the formation of the Ulster Special Constabulary in November, 1921, he was appointed County Commandant for County Armagh and for his work with the USC he was appointed OBE (Civil).

During the 2nd World War he served as the Commandant of the four County Armagh battalions of the Ulster Home Guard in the rank of Colonel.

Colonel Ensor held the post of County Commandant in the Ulster Special Constabulary until he retired in 1952, aged 74.

He died at Rostrevor, County Down on the 29th January, 1963, aged 85, and was buried at Annaghmore Parish Church, County Armagh.

His brother, Captain Ernest Nash Ensor, also served with the 9th Royal Irish Fusiliers and with the Chinese Labour Corps.

Colonel Ensor's son, David George Ensor, GM, DSM, earned a Distinguished Service Medal at sea serving as a Lance Sergeant with Third Regiment, Maritime Royal Artillery during the 2nd World War.

He subsequently earned a George Medal tackling armed robbers in Dungannon and Donaghmore, County Tyrone, in 1952.

An auction of the contents of Ardress House in 1959 attracted interested bidders from throughout Ulster and beyond, including Dr McCann, Lord Archbishop of Armagh, who acquired a Welsh dresser for the archiepiscopal palace.

Entrance front

ARDRESS HOUSE, near Portadown, County Armagh, assumed its present appearance after a series of additions between 1790 and 1810, some of which were evidently made by the author George Ensor (1772-1845) soon after he inherited Ardress from his father in 1803.

Two bays of windows were added to each end of the front façade in order to impress - an exercise that involved constructing no less than five dummy windows and a partly false front hut, which allowed the formation of an elegant garden front with curved sweeps at right angles to the main façade.


New wings were added to the north and east sides, the latter containing the dining-room which, curiously, was linked to the drawing-room by a colonnade along the garden front and was later removed, in 1879.

The garden front in 2016

The room was restored in 1961 and now contains some exceptional furniture, most strikingly a heavily carved grotesque Irish Chippendale side-table and a pair of commodes made in 1759 by Pierre Langlois.
Here hangs a fine collection of paintings from Stuart Hall, near Stewartstown, County Tyrone, and now on permanent loan to the National Trust. They include a group of 'Four Seasons' by Theobald Michau, 'The Road to Calvary' by Frans Francken the younger and 'Christ on the Road to Emmaus' signed by J Myts (1645-64).

Ardress was inherited in 1845 by the third George Ensor who died unmarried in 1879.


The property then passed to his nephew Charles Ensor, and later to Charles's son, Captain Charles H Ensor, who sold Ardress to the National Trust in 1960.

In addition to upgrading the house, the National Trust has restored the mainly 18th century farmyard, where visitors can inspect a milking shed, dairy, boiler house, forge and threshing barn.

There is also an interesting display of old farm implements.

On display is the 1799 table made for the speaker of the Irish Parliament upon which GEORGE V signed the Constitution of Northern Ireland on 22nd June, 1921.

First published in March, 2013.

3 comments :

Jane Crawford-Baker said...

I visited Ardress House today, having been there once before in about 2004. The Harp table in the dining room was definitely not there on my first visit. It is a quirky house and well worth a visit.

Timothy Belmont said...

Many thanks for that. I'm hoping to pay a visit this summer. Tim.

Anonymous said...

I am wondering where the estate records of Ardress House are located. I am seeking information on my Stanley ancestors from County Armagh who may have been estate managers. My ancestors. William Stanley and his wife, Rebecca Malcolm, had a son Robert Stanley, horn in 180, who emigrated to Canafa (Toronto) in early 1830s. Any leads would be much appreciated.

Susan Stanley