Thursday, 22 June 2017

Caledon Estate

THE EARLS OF CALEDON WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY TYRONE, WITH 29,236 ACRES

CALEDON HOUSE, County Tyrone, otherwise known as Caledon Castle, is a Classical mansion of 1779 built for James Alexander, 1st Earl of Caledon.

The designer was Thomas Cooley.

The house was originally of two storeys, with a seven-bay entrance front and pedimented breakfront centre.

Garden front

The garden front has one bay on either side of a broad, central, curved bow.

The side elevations comprise five bays.

Side elevation and library wing

In 1812, the 2nd Earl extended and enhanced the mansion to the designs of John Nash.

Two single-storey domed wings (otherwise pavilions) were added to each side of the entrance front, projecting forwards.

These wings contain a colonnade of coupled Ionic columns and formed a veranda.

One wing, with its coffered dome and smaller columns, contains the library.

The oval drawing-room is said to be one of the finest of its kind, with its sumptuous Regency interior; gilded friezes of Classical figures; and mouldings in cut paper work.

The drapery pelmets are intricately shaped.

The 2nd Earl undertook further additions to the house in 1835.

Original entrance front

A third storey was built on to the main block and the pediment, resplendent with the Caledon arms, was also raised.


The entrance was relocated to one side of the house, with a single-storey extension with another domed octagonal hall.

Caledon crest at entrance porte-cochère 

A noble porte-cochère stands over the porch, with smaller Ionic columns with a splendid stone and metal cast of the Caledon crest (a raised arm in armour holding a sword).

The original hall of the mansion house became the saloon.


THE walled demesne at Caledon is one of Northern Ireland's finest landscape parks.

During the Victorian era, the Earls of Caledon were the third largest landowners in County Tyrone, after the Dukes of Abercorn and the Earls Castle Stewart.

The estate's significance and condition has been enhanced throughout successive generations of the same family to the present day.

Caledon Estate is largely contained by the river Blackwater within its eastern and southern boundaries; and the village of Caledon to the north-east.

Most of the estate lies in County Tyrone, though it straddles counties Armagh and Monaghan.

The original Caledon Castle was the seat of the 5th Earl of Cork and Orrery, a friend of Dean Swift.

It was said, in 1738, to be "old, low, and, though full of rooms, not very large."

Lord Orrery was the biographer of Jonathan Swift and friend of Dr Johnson, as well as an improving landlord who did much to beautify the gardens around his newly-acquired residence, through planting and the addition of ornamental buildings and statues.

In 1747, he constructed a folly-like bone house in the garden (faced with ox bones), which he intended should "strike the Caledonians with wonder and amazement".

It is the only element of his garden ornamentation to survive to the present day.

On the death of his kinsman, Richard, 4th Earl of Cork, in 1753, Lord Orrery became Earl of Cork and Orrery.

His wife Margaret died in 1758 and, with the death of Lord Cork himself in 1762, the Caledon estate passed to their son, Edmund, 7th Earl (1742-98).

It is during the period of the 7th Earl of Cork and Orrery's tenure that the earliest documentation concerning the modern village of Caledon dates.

Lord Cork sold his estate to James Alexander in 1776 for £96,400 (about £14 million in 2014).

This new landlord was the second son of Alderman Nathaniel Alexander of Londonderry.

He made his fortune in the service of the East India Company during the 1750s and 60s, returning to Ulster in 1772 worth probably over £250,000 (£34 million in 2014).

With this money, he proceeded to accumulate estates in Counties Donegal, Londonderry, and Antrim, as well as Caledon, to which he added neighbouring townlands (some bought outright, some leased) in both Tyrone and Armagh.

In 1779, he built a new classical mansion, to designs by Thomas Cooley, either on the site of, or a short distance from, the old Hamilton residence.

The 1st Earl died in 1802 and was succeeded by his son, Du Pré, 2nd Earl, who served as the first governor of the Cape of Good Hope between 1806 and 1811, where the river Caledon and the District of Caledon are named after him.

The celebrated landscape designer, John Sutherland, re-designed Caledon estate in 1807.

In 1827, further improvements were made by the landscape designer W S Gilpin.

There are splendid parkland and woodland trees (some renowned for their monetary value), and the estate has a benign climate for tree growth.

The estate boasts a 19th century pinetum, fastigiate yew avenues, a lake, deer park (red deer) with a lake.

The disused Union Canal and river Blackwater enhance the water features.

In the late 19th century the park was inhabited by black bears, caught by the 4th Earl (1846-98), who had ranched in the American west (father of Field Marshal the 1st Earl Alexander of Tunis).

The walled gardens are in sections, the one closest to the offices with glasshouses, fruit and vegetables.

Stables

The estate contains a large number of buildings, including gardeners' cottages, lodges, stables, and offices.

A number of the former estate workers' cottages have been modernized and are available for rental.

Head gardener's cottage

The Doric Lodge, dating from about 1780, is possibly by Thomas Cooley.

The grand and elaborate Twin Lodges of 1812 at the main entrance, by John Nash, are guarded by Coade stone sphinxes, Caledon arms and gilded earls' coronets.

The Glaslough gate lodge, the School gate lodge, and the Tynan gate lodge (all ca 1833) are likely the work of Thomas J Duff.

Other buildings include the head gardener’s cottage, a sunken tunnel to the offices, the keeper’s house, the dower house and several bridges.

There is an old cross and well along the main drive to the House.

First published in June, 2015.  Caledon arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

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