Monday, 29 February 2016

The Belvoir Shoot

Belvoir House: eastern elevation

My visit to Belvoir Park yesterday has prompted me to read a bit about it.

I have a large, A4-sized paperback book entitled A Treasured Landscape: the Heritage of Belvoir Park, edited by Ben Simon.

If readers are interested in this wonderful park, I urge them to seek it out.

Shortly after the 1st Baron Deramore died in 1890, the family decided to lease the estate, which in those days comprised no less than 6,348 acres of land.

The first lessee was Walter Wilson, a director of the Belfast shipbuilders Harland & Wolff, who lived with his family at Belvoir from 1900 till about 1918.

Sir James Johnson, Lord Mayor of Belfast, was the final resident of Belvoir House.

He and his family lived there from 1919 till 1925.

I have written already about the ultimate fate of the historic mansion house and its ignoble demolition in 1961, though the house was considered as the official residence of the new Governor of Northern Ireland.

Hillsborough Castle was chosen instead.

The estate was also a contender as the seat of the new Parliament of Northern Ireland, though Stormont was selected.

*****

BELVOIR was a renowned shooting estate in its day: A shooting party stayed there for the weekend in 1904, and it is recorded that 431 pheasants, 32 hares, 2 rabbits, 2 woodcocks, and 17 ducks were bagged.

There was a pheasantry at the Big Meadow near the river Lagan.

Three years prior to this, the household comprised seventeen members of staff, including a governess, a housekeeper, under-butler, 1st footman, 2nd footman, page, lady's maid, cook, children's maid, stillroom maid, four housemaids, kitchen maid, scullery maid, and dairy maid.

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