Monday, 8 June 2015

Glenarm Castle Tour

GLENARM CASTLE IS THE ANCESTRAL SEAT OF THE EARLS OF ANTRIM

I was in my element during the weekend: Barons Court, County Tyrone, on Saturday; and  Glenarm Castle, County Antrim, yesterday.

Viscount and Viscountess Dunluce (Lord Dunluce is heir to the earldom) have done a splendid job of restoring and rejuvenating their lovely home beside the historic village of Glenarm.

Glenarm Castle estate remains sizeable, comprising about 1,300 acres.

Antrim arms

I arrived in Glenarm  at about eleven forty-five, just in time for the first guided tour of the Castle.

George, the butler, and Elaine, the housekeeper, were on hand to guide us through the principal rooms.

East elevation

The present Castle seems to date from 1756, although there have been many additions and alterations since then.

Out tour began in the hall, which rises two storeys.

There are a number of family portraits here, including one of Louisa, wife of the 5th Earl and niece of the 2nd Earl Grey, Prime Minister from 1830-34.

A fine serving-table, dating from 1750, stands below the portrait of Anne, Countess of Antrim in her own right.

The splendidly ethereal ceiling was painted by Angela (née Sykes), Countess of Antrim (1911-84).

Garden front

OUR NEXT stop was the drawing-room.

The late Angela, Lady Antrim, painted scenes from La Fontaine's Fables round the ceiling in the 1950s.

Many ancestral portraits hang here, and four 18th century landscape paintings of the family's two castles, Dunluce and Glenarm.

A number of personal family photographs stand on the grand piano.


THE DINING-ROOM is spacious and elegant, containing two full-length portraits of the 5th and 6th Earls.

Randal, 6th Earl and 2nd Marquess of Antrim, KB, (1749-91), wears the robes of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath.

The dining-table was laid for six today, though can be considerably enlarged, I gather, to accommodate twelve.

Crockery is monogrammed with the Antrim cipher.

We were apprised that the open fire is seldom lit here because its draught is somewhat less than satisfactory.


THE BLUE ROOM was originally the billiards-room.

There are quite a few equine paintings on the wall, drawn for the 5th Earl, a passionate horseman who kept a stud in the estate.

The 5th Earl is said to have been an avid gambler (hardly surprising given his fondness for the Turf) who squandered much of his money.


Like Barons Court in County Tyrone, Glenarm Castle flourishes today thanks to Lord and Lady Dunluce's love and passion for this historic, ancestral, family home; its magnificent gardens; the wooden Obelisk hand-crafted by Corin Giles; the beautiful cascade and fountains; the herb garden; and the yew circle.


THE BARBICAN gate lodge, available to rent, is built into the estate wall at the end of an old stone bridge spanning the river Glenarm.

It was commissioned in 1823 by Edmund Phelps, the second husband of Anne, Countess of Antrim (in her own right), who inherited the estate when her father, the 6th Earl, died without male issue.

The architect William Vitruvius Morrison built it using local, coursed, rubble basalt and red ashlar sandstone dressings.

This gate lodge has a narrow turret staircase which leads onto a roof terrace overlooking the surrounding countryside.

*****

BEFORE I conclude this article, I wish to mention the Castle tea-room.


I lunched here yesterday and enjoyed a hearty bowl of home-made sweet potato and parsnip soup, with a fresh bread roll and butter.


It was delicious. I complimented the staff and accordingly bade them Farewell.

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