Thursday, 30 March 2017

Greenmount Manor

THE THOMPSONS OWNED 2,853 ACRES OF LAND IN COUNTY ANTRIM

JOHN THOMPSON (d 1705), of Muckamore, County Antrim, left issue, with three daughters, as many sons,
William, of Muckamore (d 1754);
SAMUEL, of whom presently;
John.
Mr Thompson's second son,

SAMUEL THOMPSON, of Muckamore, left issue,
John;
Samuel, b 1709;
THOMAS, of whom presently;
George, b 1718;
Mary, b 1705.
The third son,

THOMAS THOMPSON (1713-1802), of Greenmount, in the parish of Muckamore, married, in 1741, Eleanor Kinnear, of Cromore, County Londonderry, and had issue,
Samuel, of Belfast (d 1794);
John Kinnear, of Copenhagan, Denmark, died before 1799;
Skeffington (Rev), 1742-1810;
ROBERT STEWART, of whom hereafter;
Elizabeth; Margaret; Eleanor; Mary; Anne.
The fourth son,

ROBERT STEWART THOMPSON JP (1755-1822), of Greenmount, had issue by his wife, Anne,
Caroline Beckman; Margaret Beckman.
Mr Thompson's descendant,

SAMUEL THOMPSON (-1838), of Muckamore, County Antrim, had issue by his wife, Mary, daughter of John Olphert, a son, 

SAMUEL THOMPSON JP (1825-), of Muckamore, who married, in 1865, Maria Hannah, second daughter of Robert Smyth, of Gaybrook, County Westmeath, and had issue,
John, 1867-80;
ROBERT, 1869-1952;
Richard, b 1870;
Hugh, 1874-90;
Alexander, b 1879;
Henry, b 1881;
Mary Frances; Henrietta; Bessy; Eleanor.

THE LANDS occupied by Greenmount once formed part of Muckamore Abbey, founded by St Colmán Elo in 550 AD. 

The Abbey flourished until the dissolution of the monasteries in the reign of HENRY VIII.

The family of Thompson, of Scots-Presbyterian extraction, has been associated with Muckamore since about 1650.

Their descendants lived at Greenmount Manor from the mid-18th century.

The Thompsons were an influential family in the Antrim area, who prospered through their successful textile and bleaching businesses.

The manor house was built ca 1820 by Robert Thompson, to the design of Charles Robert Cockerell, with the balcony added by 1835.

It was described as “a sandstone house, presenting a portico and balcony supported by great Ionic columns”.

Greenmount was acquired in 1835 by the Venerable and Hon James Agar (1781-1866), Archdeacon of Kilmore, through his wife Louisa, youngest daughter of Samuel Thompson, of Greenmount.

On Louisa’s death in 1885, Greenmount passed to Richard Dyott MP, whose mother was a Thompson descendant.

In 1902, Greenmount was purchased by William Taylor Malcolm, a tenant farmer from Stirlingshire.

He delegated the management of the farm to his son John.

In 1910, Mr Malcolm sold Greenmount to the Government for £4,400 (£463,000 in today's money).

After some structural alterations to the house, the first term opened in 1912, with 11 students.


The current sandstone house consists of a portico and balcony supported by six great ionic columns.

The present house replaced a previous villa within the demesne.

Extensions were added after Greenmount changed from being a gentleman’s demesne to being an agricultural college in 1912.

The basalt part of the building was added along with the Principal's House (now the lodge) in 1925.

Another extension was added in the 1950s around the time the main student residences were being constructed.

The demesne records show that in 1809 Greenmount was a fine gentleman’s demesne.

There was a landscape in the style of Capability Brown.

A piece then written in 1838 sizes the Greenmount demesne as “about 160 acres, 39 of which were laid out in ornamental grounds and plantings”.

The following extract from Sketch of a Ramble to Antrim, which was published in the Belfast Monthly Magazine of July, 1809, paints a lovely picture of Greenmount in its heyday:-

We crossed the fields to Greenmount, the elegant seat of Robert Thompson Esquire, about one mile from Antrim. This beautiful villa stands on rising ground and is completely furnished in the modern taste.

The demesne is planted with a great number of trees and shrubs laid out into some very pleasing walks. At the rear of the building are two small lakes, well stocked with fish. On them also some swans.

On the verge of one of the fore-mentioned lakes, in a shrubbery is a hermitage build with romantic simplicity and opposite is a small island joined to the mainland by a stonework arch.

Indeed I believe few places in this country surpass in beauty the charming villa at Greenmount.

The stone arch situated at the top end of the Arch Pond, which is about 200 years old, is cleverly constructed from selected stones that press together, holding the arch in place.

This unusual landscape feature once connected an island to the shore in what was then a pond the size of the adjacent car park.

The summer-house, now ruinous, was built about 200 years ago.

This summer-house would have looked out over Lough Neigh and the Antrim Town area and the meandering river Six Mile Water.


The Ice house (above) at Greenmount was built around 1820 by the Thompson family and the family crest can be seen above the entrance. 

The Walled Garden at Greenmount College was built in 1801 and has remained in horticultural use until the present day.

Changes in use over the years, and the presence of obsolete or inappropriate features, had by 1996 left a layout which did not do justice to the Walled Garden’s heritage or its potential.

At this stage proposals were put forward to redevelop the site as a resource which would make the best use of the garden’s unique history and aesthetic.

The dramatic formal garden you see today is a result of that vision.

The old farmyard appears on the Ordnance Survey map of 1837.

It is built in basalt as a square building enclosing a square courtyard.

Today it houses the main farm office.

The surrounding farmyard has substantially outgrown the courtyard.

In the centre of the building on the roof is an old bell tower.

A branch of the Thompsons lived at Muckamore House. I'm interested in obtaining images.

First published in August, 2011.

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