Thursday, 26 March 2015

Lissan Visit

I visited Lissan House and demesne, near Cookstown, County Tyrone, in August, 2012.

Lissan, former seat of the Staples Baronets, comprised about 30,000 acres at the time of the Plantation of Ulster.

I arrived at about ten-thirty and spent five hours in the estate.

Much admirable work has already been done on the old house, though a lot remains to be done.

The ground in front of the house had two tennis-courts and a croquet lawn.

Funding for PHASE II (the restoration of the interior decorative schemes, re-building the Conservatory and the complete restoration of the farmyard and outbuildings) was being sought in 2012.

The fabric of the house has been restored, including a new roof.

The outbuildings, including the Creamery (attached to the house); the Turf House; the Donkey House; and the Great Barn, all await restoration.

The Donkey House in 2012

It has been envisaged that the Donkey House will be converted into two apartments for rent.

The Turf House was to have been restored in 2013, as a provisional tea-room until work began on the Creamery.

The walled garden is large, comprising 4½ acres.

The charming, though ruinous, gardener's cottage awaited restoration.

Gardener's cottage in walled garden

Lissan House itself is a wonderful old mansion house.

It is said to be about four centuries old, and the Staples Baronets were seated there for most of that time.

I believe that the 13th Baronet was the last to live at Lissan; and his daughter Hazel was born, lived and died there.

The volunteers running the property are enthusiastic and hospitable. We were given a terrific tour of the house at two o'clock today.

The upper storey (second floor) is presently closed to visitors, though the ground and first floors are open.

The late Hazel Dolling lived on the upper floor, after her mother, Lady Staples, died in 1990.

The Ballroom

The brightest room in the house is the Ballroom, a single-storey, Victorian addition.

Hazel Dolling's little dog Woofie has been immortalized in the form of a cushion in one of the bedrooms, dressed in Georgian attire complete with sash and star of an order of knighthood!

A trip to Lissan is most worthwhile and I heartily recommend it to readers.

I look forward to returning in future years.

First published in August, 2012.

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