Sunday, 28 February 2016

Belvoir Park Walk


I paid Belvoir Park, Newtownbreda, County Down, a visit this afternoon.

Belvoir was built by the 1st Viscount Dungannon; and later sold to Sir Robert Bateson, 1st Baronet.

Belvoir forest park is now in greater Belfast.

I have written quite a lot about this extraordinarily fine 18th century demesne, though little trace remains of it.

There are, however, several indicative features.

The stable-yard survives, mercifully.

retaining wall

The old retaining wall is largely intact. It stands to the east of where the mansion house stood (now the car-park).

former fish-pond

There were four or five ornamental fish-ponds below the wall, though their remains are barely discernible.

The sweeping lawn immediately in front of the house (above) is now completely overgrown.

I strolled along the old tow-path, beside the former river Lagan navigation and canal.

1st Earl Cawdor


This is a branch of the ducal house of ARGYLL, springing from the Hon Sir John Campbell, third son of Archibald, 2nd Earl of Argyll.

JOHN CAMPBELL MP, of Cawdor Castle, Nairnshire (son and heir of Alexander Campbell), married Mary, eldest daughter and co-heir of Lewis Pryse, and died in 1775, having had issue,
PRYSE, his heir;
John Hooke, Lord Lyon King of Arms;
The eldest son,

PRYSE CAMPBELL, of Cawdor Castle, and of Stackpole Court, Pembrokeshire, represented Cromarty in parliament, and was a lord of the Treasury in 1766.

He wedded Sarah, daughter and co-heir of Sir Edmund Bacon Bt, and was succeeded by his son,

JOHN CAMPBELL (1753-1821), who was elevated to the peerage, in 1796, by the title of Baron Cawdor, of Castlemartin, Pembrokeshire.

His lordship had previously represented the town of Cardigan in parliament. He wedded, in 1789, Lady Caroline Howard, eldest daughter of Frederick, 5th Earl of Carlisle, and had issue, his eldest son,

JOHN FREDERICK, 2nd Baron (1790-1860), who married, in 1816, Lady Elizabeth Thynne, eldest daughter of Thomas, 2nd Marquess of Bath.

This nobleman was advanced to the dignity of an earldom, in 1827, by the title of EARL CAWDOR.
The heir apparent is the present holder's son James Chester Campbell, styled Viscount Emlyn (b 1998).

CAWDOR CASTLE, near Nairn, is the ancestral seat of the Earls Cawdor.

The earliest documented date for the castle is 1454, the date a licence to fortify was granted to William Calder, 6th Thane of Cawdor (or Calder, as the name was originally spelled).

However, some portions of the 15th-century tower house or keep may precede that date.

Architectural historians have dated the style of stonework in the oldest portion of the castle to ca 1380.

The castle was expanded numerous times in the succeeding centuries.

In 1510, the heiress of the Calders, Muriel, married Sir John Campbell of Muckairn, who set about extending the castle.

Further improvements were made by John Campbell, 3rd of Cawdor, who purchased rich lands on Islay.

By 1635, a garden had been added; and after the Restoration, Sir Hugh Campbell of Cawdor added or improved the north and west ranges, employing the masons James and Robert Nicolson of Nairn.

The architects Thomas Mackenzie and Alexander Ross were commissioned to add the southern and eastern ranges to enclose a courtyard, accessed by a drawbridge.

In the 20th century John, 5th Earl Cawdor, moved permanently to Cawdor and was succeeded by the 6th Earl, whose second wife Angelika, the Dowager Countess Cawdor, lives there still.

The castle is known for its gardens, which include the Walled Garden (originally planted in the 17th Century), the Flower Garden (18th century), and the Wild Garden (added in the 1960s).

In addition, the castle property includes a wood featuring numerous species of trees.

First published in January, 2014.   Cawdor arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Orlock Hedging

I've spent the day at Orlock, a property of the National Trust between Groomsport and Donaghadee, County Down.

The former coastguard lookout stands adjacent to the public road.

This former lookout is now surrounded by residential homes.

Today our task was to construct a hawthorn hedge.

The hawthorn trees are already there; our job was to bend them horizontally, using bill-hooks and saws.

The trick is to leave a mere "strap", a sort of ligament of the tree, very thin indeed.

The tree can then be bent down horizontally so that it stays alive.

This is a most satisfying pastime.

Most of the trees were relatively large, so it wasn't as easy as it might seem.

Some of the straps broke, which meant that we had to remove the tree for firewood.

The intention is to plant new hawthorn trees imminently to fill the gaps.

We enjoyed sunny intervals today, though there was a heavy hail shower which lasted five or ten minutes.

I munched away happily on egg salad sandwiches at lunchtime.

Monday, 22 February 2016

1st Earl of Seafield


This family descends from a younger son of the house of AIRLIE.

SIR WALTER OGILVY, Knight, of Auchleven,
second son of the Treasurer of Scotland, Ogilvie, by Isabel Durward, heir of Lintrathen, who married Margaret, only daughter and heir of Sir John Sinclair, of Deskford and Findlater, and thereby acquired those estates.
Sir Walter obtained permission from the crown, in 1455, to fortify his castle at Findlater, and to make it a place of strength.

He died in 1473, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR JAMES OGILVY, Knight, of Deskford and Findlater, who wedded Margaret, eldest daughter of Sir Robert Innes, of Innes, and was succeeded in 1510 by his grandson,

ALEXANDER OGILVY, (son of Sir James Ogilvy, who died in 1505-6, by Agnes, natural daughter of George, 2nd Earl of Huntley,) who obtained a charter, in 1511, for incorporating the lands of Deskford, Findlater, and Keithmore, into one entire barony, to be designated by the name of Ogilvy.
He married Janet, second daughter of James Abernethy, 3rd Lord Saltoun, and had a son, JAMES, whom he disinherited, settling estates upon John Gordon, 2nd son of George, 4th Earl of Huntley; but after a feud and some bloodshed between the Gordons and Ogilvys, the baronies of Deskford and Findlater were restored by an arbitration, of which Queen MARY was overs-woman.
The rightful heir,

JAMES OGILVY,  of Cardell, who was succeeded by his grandson,

SIR WALTER OGILVY, Knight, who was elevated to the peerage, in 1616, by the title of Lord Ogilvy of Deskford.

His lordship wedded firstly, Agnes, eldest daughter of Robert, 3rd Lord Elphinstone, by whom he had a daughter,
Christian, married to Sir John Forbes of Pitsligo.
He espoused secondly, Lady Mary Douglas, third daughter of William, Earl of Morton, and had by that lady,

JAMES, 2nd Lord, who was created, in 1638, Earl of Findlater.

His lordship married Lady Elizabeth, daughter of Andrew, 5th Earl of Rothes, by whom he had two daughters,
ELIZABETH, wedded to Sir Patrick Ogilvy, of Inchmartin;
Anne, married to William, 9th Earl of Glencairn, LORD CHANCELLOR OF SCOTLAND.
He married secondly, Lady Marion, daughter of William, 8th Earl of Glencairn, but by her he had no issue.
Lord Findlater thus having no male issue, procured a renewed patent, dated 1641, conferring the titles of Earl and Countess of Findlater upon his son-in-law, Sir Patrick Ogilvy, and that gentleman's wife, Lady Elizabeth Ogilvy, his lordship's elder daughter.
At his decease the peerage so devolved upon

SIR PATRICK OGILVY AND HIS LADY, as Earl and Countess of Findlater.

His lordship died in 1658, and was succeeded by his son,

JAMES, 3rd Earl, whose eldest surviving son,

JAMES, 4th Earl, a lawyer of great eminence at the Scottish bar, who filled successively the offices of Solicitor-General and Secretary of State for Scotland; Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer; and High Commisssioner to the General Assembly of the church.

His lordship had been elevated to the peerage before the decease of his father, in 1698, by the title of Viscount Seafield; and, in 1701, Viscount Reidhaven and EARL OF SEAFIELD.

Earls of Seafield (1701)

The heir apparent is the present holder's son James Andrew Studley, styled Viscount Reidhaven (b 1963). He became a Muslim in 1990.

CULLEN HOUSE, Buckie, Moray, was the ancestral seat of the Earls of Seafield.

The main part of the house dates from 1543. An east wing was added in 1711, and there were alterations by David Bryce in 1858.

The House and estate buildings were converted into fourteen dwellings in 1983.

Prior to the use of Cullen House by the Earls of Seafield, the castle of Findlater, now a ruin, on a rocky coastal outcrop about two miles to the east, was the seat.

Several hundred yards from Cullen House, on the site of the old village, stands Old Cullen, a dower house, Georgian in design. Formerly the Factor's house, it is now the residence of Lord and Lady Seafield.

The Earls of Seafield owned a further 160,224 acres of land in Inverness-shire, and 48,936 acres in Banffshire.

Seafield arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Civic Heritage Walk

25 Donegall Place

I motored into town this morning and, unable to find a space in Upper Arthur Street and the vicinity, drove slightly further out, to Franklin Street.

My mission this morning was to take a few photographs; specifically, of 25 Donegall Place, presently a fashion retailer called Oasis.

Number 25 was built as part of a terrace in 1790-91.

old bricks at 25 Donegall Place

This building is beside Queen's Arcade.

It used to run right back to the premises at 28-30 Fountain Street, now known as Carlton House.

28-30 Fountain Street

For many years this belonged to the Carlton café and restaurant.

Looking up towards the apex of Queen's Arcade, the art deco monogram "AR" is clearly visible, an allusion to the clothing retailer Austin Reed which operated a branch at the entrance to the arcade.


THENCE I motored in a southerly direction to University Road, Upper Crescent, and Lower Crescent.

The former Methodist church still stands derelict at 21 University Road; though I gather that it has been acquired by a very well-known pub chain, viz. J D Wetherspoon.

detail at former Methodist church

Many, if not most, of Upper Crescent remains in a deplorable state, though there is hope that these circumstances might change, because To Let or For Sale signs emblazon this crescent.

I strolled through the little park to Lower Crescent at the opposite side and, though imperfect, most of the properties have fared better.

Several are an eyesore, however.

The Crescent Townhouse boutique hotel is at the corner of Lower Crescent and Botanic Avenue.

This was formerly called The Regency Hotel.

I wandered in and complimented the staff on their website with its history of the crescent.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

S D Bell's Breakfast

I usually meet my aunt at the celebrated tea and coffee merchant, S D Bell's, at 516, Upper Newtownards Road, Belfast.

S D Bell's is one of the longest established family businesses still operating in the city.

It is always busy.

I normally have a pot of their Directors' Blend with a fruit scone; though today I fancied a cooked breakfast.

The Ulster Fry, cooked breakfast, is particularly popular in Bell's.

They have the smaller, five item version; or the full-size eight item plateful.

I opted for the former, and had an egg, sausage, baked beans, potato farl, and soda farl.

This was a rare treat and I devoured it heartily.

I think that in this instance I might just pip Camilla Batmanjelly to the food-trough.

Everything was tip-top and there was no greasiness, either.

It cost £4.80.

Erin, my favourite member of staff, presented it to me at our table.

I noticed another patron with the home-made stew, which looked equally good; and Ewart's haddock and chips featured on the blackboard.

Well done, S D Bell's, and long may you provide the choicest teas, coffees and food to us.

Friday, 19 February 2016

1st Marquess of Linlithgow


The Surname of HOPE is one of great antiquity in Scotland; and the ancestor of the present family,

JOHN DE HOPE, is said to have come from France in the retinue of Madeleine, Queen Consort of JAMES V of Scotland, in 1537, and settling in Scotland, left a son,

who was one of the most considerable inhabitants of Edinburgh in the reign of QUEEN MARY; and being a great promoter of the Reformation, was chosen one of the commissioners for the metropolis to the parliament in 1560.
He left a son,

HENRY HOPE (c1533-91), a very eminent merchant, who wedded a French lady, Jacqueline de Tott, and had two sons. The elder,

being bred to the Scottish bar, first attained eminence, in 1606, by his defence of the six ministers (clergymen) tried for high treason, for denying that the King possessed authority in matters ecclesiastical; and acquired, eventually, the largest fortune ever accumulated by a member of the legal profession in Scotland.
He was subsequently appointed King's Advocate, and created a baronet in 1628.

Sir Thomas left a very large family; from the eldest son of which descend the Hopes of Craighall. The fourth son,

SIR JAMES HOPE (1614-61), of Hopetoun,
a member of the Scottish bar, marrying Anne, only daughter and heir of Robert Foulis, of Leadhills, Lanarkshire, acquired the valuable mines there, and applying himself to mineralogy, brought the art of mining to the highest perfection ever known before in Scotland. Sir John was appointed, in 1641, Governor of the Mint, and constituted a Lord of Session in 1649.
His eldest surviving son,

JOHN HOPE (1650-82), of Hopetoun,
took up his residence at Niddry Castle, the barony of which he purchased from Lord Winton; and he also purchased, about the same time (1678) the barony of Abercorn, with the office of Heritable Sheriff of the County of Linlithgow, from Sir Walter Seton.
Mr Hope represented Linlithgowshire in parliament in 1684.

He married Margaret, eldest daughter of John, 4th Earl of Haddington, by whom he had a son and a daughter.
Mr Hope having embarked with the Duke of York, and several other persons of distinction, in HMS Gloucester, in 1682, was lost in the wreck of that vessel, a few days after going abroad, aged 32.
His son,

CHARLES HOPE (1681-1742), who was born in the previous year, succeeded to the family estates, and was elevated to the peerage, in 1703, by the titles of Lord Hope, Viscount Aithrie, and EARL OF HOPETOUN.

His lordship was installed as a Knight of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, at Holyrood House, in 1738.

He espoused, in 1699, Henrietta, only daughter of William, 1st Marquess of Annandale, and had thirteen children, of whom the eldest son,

JOHN (1704-81), 2nd Earl wedded thrice. His eldest son,

JAMES (1741-1816), 3rd Earl,
who, at the demise of his great-uncle, George, Marquess of Annandale, in 1792, inherited the large estates of that nobleman, and the earldoms of Annandale and Hartfell, neither of which dignities, however, did he assume, but simply added the family name of the deceased lord, JOHNSTONE, to that of HOPE.
His lordship was nominated Lord-Lieutenant and Hereditary Sheriff of Lochmaben Castle.

He wedded, in 1766, Elizabeth, eldest daughter of George, 6th Earl of Northesk, by whom he had five daughters, though no male issue.

The honours, therefore, devolved upon his half-brother,

SIR JOHN HOPE (1765-1823), 4th Earl, KB, PC, then Lord Niddry, a general in the army, colonel of the 42nd Regiment of Foot, and Knight Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath; who, for his gallant achievements in the Peninsular War, had been elevated to the UK peerage, in 1814, as Baron Niddry.

His lordship married twice: firstly, in 1798, Elizabeth, youngest daughter of the Hon Charles Hope Weir, of Craigiehall, by whom he had no issue; and secondly, in 1803, Louisa Dorothea, third daughtr of Sir John Wedderburn Bt, by whom he had,
JOHN, his successor;
Alicia; Jane.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN, 5th Earl (1803-43), who espoused, in 1826, Louisa, eldest daughter of Godfrey, 3rd Lord Macdonald, by whom he had issue,

JOHN ALEXANDER, 6th Earl (1831-73), who wedded, in 1860, Etheldred Anne, eldest daughter of Charles Thomas Samuel Birch-Reynoldson, of Holywell Hall, Lincolnshire, and had issue,
JOHN ADRIAN LOUIS, his successor;
Charles Archibald;
Estrella; Dorothea Louisa.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN ADRIAN LOUIS, 7th Earl (1860-1908), 7th Earl, KT, GCMG, GCVO, PC, who wedded, in 1886, Hersey Alice, third daughter of the 4th Baron Ventry.

In 1902, his lordship was advanced to the dignity of a marquessate, as MARQUESS OF LINLITHGOW.
John Adrian Louis Hope, 1st Marquess (1860–1908);
Victor Alexander John Hope, 2nd Marquess (1887–1952);
Charles William Frederick Hope, 3rd Marquess(1912-87);
Adrian John Charles Hope, 4th Marquess (b 1946).
The heir apparent is the present holder's eldest son, Andrew Christopher Victor Arthur Charles Hope, styled Earl of Hopetoun (b 1969).

The heir apparent's heir apparent is his elder son, Charles Adrian Bristow William Hope, styled Viscount Aithrie (b 2001).

Lord Aithrie served as one of the Queen's Pages of Honour at the 2014 State Opening of Parliament.

HOPETOUN HOUSE, Linlithgowshire, is the ancestral seat of the Marquesses of Linlithgow.

It is located near South Queensferry to the west of Edinburgh.

Hopetoun was built in 1699-1701 and designed by Sir William Bruce.

The mansion was then hugely extended from 1721 by William Adam until his death in 1748, being one of his most notable projects.

The interior was completed by his sons, John and Robert Adam.

The grand entrance hall dates from 1752.

The parklands in which it lies were laid out in 1725, also by William Adam.

The east front centres on the distant isle of Inchgarvie and North Berwick Law.

The walled garden dates from the late 18th century.

In the grounds an 18th-century mound was excavated in 1963 to reveal the remains of the earlier manor house, Abercorn Castle, dating from the 15th century.

The Hope family acquired the land in the 17th century.

Other former seats ~ Raehills, Dumfriesshire; Ormiston Hall, Haddingtonshire.

First published in February, 2014.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Connswater Bridge

I happened to be passing the Connswater Bridge, Newtownards Road, Belfast, this afternoon and work progresses well on the Connswater Greenway project.

The river Conn's Water is culverted on one side for several hundred yards; while, at the Connswater Bridge, beside McDonald's, a Trench Shield (or box) has been placed in the middle of the river adjacent to the bridge.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Orlock Visit

The National Trust owns a fair bit of coastline between Ballyholme Bay, Bangor, and Portavo, just beyond Orlock Point, County Down.

This townland is called Balloo Lower.

To our south is Portavo Reservoir; whereas the town of Bangor is to the west; and the Copeland Islands to the east.

Today eleven of us drove to a field close to the old coastguard lookout at Orlock, a tight-knit community comprising about forty homes, I gather.

We endeavoured to light a bonfire in order to burn old branches and grass cuttings.

It seemed to take two hours to light the fire because everything was saturated.

Nevertheless, our persistence eventually paid off.

Will was cutting the lower branches from a kind of conifer tree at the entrance to Orlock.

Fodder today for self consisted of salmon sandwiches and a beaker of coffee.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Pecking Orders

My fellow blogger has drawn my attention to the fact that I omitted to mention the Right Rev the Lord Eames, OM, in my article about the OC dinner and Sir Ronnie Flanagan.

His Grace the Duke of Abercorn is, of course, a Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter.

The Right Rev the Lord Eames is a Member of the Order of Merit.

Sir Ronnie Flanagan is a Knight Grand Cross of the Civil Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

Ulster's golden girl is Dame Mary Peters, a Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour and a Dame Commander of the Civil Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

New DLs


Dr Angela Garvey, Lord-Lieutenant of the County Borough of Londonderry, has been pleased to appoint:

Dr Lucinda WATT


To be Deputy Lieutenants of the County Borough, her Commission bearing date the 8th day of February 2016.

OC Dinner

Last night I attended the Old Campbellians' annual dinner at the College.

Campbell College stands in about seventy acres, I imagine, off Belmont Road, Belfast.

My old pal Dangerfield (!) called me earlier in the day and offered to collect me.

A lively fire was blazing in the vestibule, where we met the President of the society, Bill McKelvey.

Having relieved myself of the overcoat, we made a beeline for the makeshift bar which was located in the central hall.

I rather enjoy these reunions, seeing old, familiar faces again.

I had a good chin-wag with Richard Sholdis, whose family once lived in the Mourne Mountains beside Spence's River.

I reminisced about my uncle's cottage, the well in the moor behind it, how we obtained water with a metal pail; and when the Sholdises arrived, how they let us use their outside tap for fresh water.

The good old days!

I was pally with his younger brother, David.

Eventually we all trooped in to the dining-hall, a large chamber with a lofty, vaulted ceiling.

Needless to say, the grub was good; the company, convivial.

Our guest speaker was Sir Ronnie Flanagan, GBE, QPM, Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary from 1996 until its demise in 2001.

I met Sir Ronnie earlier in the evening and recounted an anecdote about Sir John Hermon, OBE, QPM, a predecessor of his in the RUC.

As a matter of fact, as a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE), Sir Ronnie is the third most highly decorated person in Northern Ireland, afte the Duke of Abercorn, KG, and the Right Rev the Lord Eames, OM.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Orlock Hedging

Orlock Point lies between Groomsport and Donaghadee in County Down. It is almost opposite Portavo reservoir and estate.

The Copeland Islands are directly opposite.

Pheasants proliferate here, clucking and wandering about the fields.

One dominant feature of the landscape at Orlock is an ugly, man-made structure, a concrete water-tower, on the top of a hill.

There were a dozen of us again today, at a field near the Point.

At one side of this field there's an old stone-wall with hawthorn trees growing alongside it.

This wall has a herringbone pattern.

Our task today was to clear the ivy and debris from the wall, which has a two-foot ditch.

The photo is self-explanatory, as to my lunch; in fact the mug was purchased at Castle Howard, Yorkshire, thirty-five years ago.

Our truck got stuck in the mud, so we all had to get behind it and do our duty.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Brackenber Tie

Do any readers happen to have a Brackenber House School old boys' tie?

They are virtually impossible to obtain now, obviously because the school closed down decades ago and the ties are obsolete.

One or two old boys have asked me about it, so I'm wondering if there are any in a drawer or attic.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Brackenber House Annual Dinner

Given that the weather was somewhat inclement in Belfast yesterday, I took a cab into town for the annual Old Brackenbrian dinner at the Ulster Reform Club.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Brackenber, it was a prep school at Cleaver Avenue in Belfast.

I was there from about 1971 till 1973 or 74.

The Reform Club is one of Belfast's most venerated institutions: heavy oak panelling; thick, opulent carpets; vaulted ceilings; decent plasterwork; leather armchairs.

You get the idea.

This is the last remaining Victorian gentlemen's club in the city (actually ladies are very welcome now, too).

The Club used to have accommodation for members, though I think this ceased in the 1970s.

Gordon Harvey greeted me on the top floor and I entered the dining-room, overlooking Royal Avenue.

Johnny Knox hailed me as I entered, "Ah, it's Lord Belmont!"

There was a 1970s cine film being shown on the television screens of the school and games days, several teachers, viz. Mr McQuoid, Mr Bull, Miss Rankin, and so on.

I relished the grub, as ever.

We tucked in to spiced parsnip soup with chive oil and freshly baked bread; lamb shank braised with vegetables and red wine, served with a gravy of pan juices; Chef's selection of vegetables and potatoes; home-made deep-filled apple pie with cinnamon cream; and tea or coffee.

I was fortified with a glass of port for the speeches.

There were sixty-two old boys this year, a very commendable turnout given that the school closed down and was demolished many years ago.

I have another old boys' bash next Friday, this time at Campbell.

I must give the old DJ an airing.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Ballymacormick Day

We (National Trust Strangford Lough Group) spent a good part of yesterday at Ballymacormick again.

Ballymacormick is a stretch of coastline near Groomsport, County Down.

Once again, we were burning and cutting gorse.

There's a considerable amount of it. Much of it has become so well established that the stumps are large enough for firewood.

A dozen of us made good progress; it was dry with sunny intervals; and the stonechats were never far away.

As usual, we had a good natter at lunchtime. I had my favourite cheese & onion sandwiches with tea.