Saturday, 26 March 2016

Dumfries House Book

I was at home one day in March, 2014, when, somewhat unexpectedly, a postman arrived with a large parcel.

He handed me the package and I almost immediately recognized the hand-writing of an old school pal who works at the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS).

He knows how keen I am about heritage and country houses.

To my delight, the parcel contained a hard-back copy of Dumfries House.

In this landmark book, the author, Simon Green, draws on previously unpublished documents from the extensive archives of the Bute family, who lived in the house from the early 19th century until the death of Lady Bute in 1993.

There is a wealth of photographs, plans and drawings from the National Trust for Scotland and the RCAHMS.

Exploring the people and the ideas behind a unique building, 'Dumfries House' is the story of the survival of a treasured eighteenth century family residence.

First published in March, 2014.

Friday, 18 March 2016

New DL

APPOINTMENT OF DEPUTY LIEUTENANT

Mrs Fionnuala Jay-O’Boyle CBE, Lord-Lieutenant of the County Borough of Belfast, has been pleased to appoint the following to be a Deputy Lieutenant of the County Borough of Belfast, her Commission bearing the date the 14th day of March 2016:

Mrs Michele MARKEN OBE, Belfast


Signed: Gary Smyth MBE, Clerk of the Lieutenancy

Thursday, 17 March 2016

5th Duke's Portrait


A fine portrait of Northern Ireland's premier peer, James, 5th Duke of Abercorn KG, in uniform as Regimental Colonel of the Irish Guards.

The Duke was a serving officer in the Grenadier Guards in 1952 and lately Lord Steward of the Household.

His Grace is a Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, the most senior Order of chivalry in the personal gift of the Sovereign.

He wears the sash and star of the Order.

HRH The Duke of Cambridge is now Colonel of the regiment. 

First published May, 2008.

Ballyquintin Point

Mount Stewart

I arose from the heavenly slumber (!) at about 7am yesterday morning, breakfasted on muesli, assembled my gear, packed-lunch, and motored out of town.

Bypassing Dundonald and Newtownards (my place of birth, incidentally), I motored in a southerly direction along the Ards Peninsula to the former schoolhouse of Mount Stewart estate, now a property of the National Trust.

We drove the entire length of the peninsula, past Kircubbin and Rubane; Cloghy and Quintin Castle; to our ultimate destination, Ballyquintin Point.

Mount Stewart Estate

Ballyquintin is a 64 acre farm set amid rolling drumlin countryside at the southern tip of the Ards Peninsula, beside Ballyquintin National Nature Reserve.

The property is located in one of the most secluded parts of Northern Ireland and is great for walking with spectacular views across the Strangford Narrows to the Isle of Man, and of the Lecale coast stretching south towards the Mourne Mountains.

A path, suitable for wheelchair use leads to an old 2nd World War lookout tower.

The land is let for farming and is managed to provide habitats suitable for the Irish Hare and a number of species of bird that are declining nationally.

An increase in the quality and quantity of the hedgerows is particularly important towards achieving this aim.

There were about eight of us today; and I spent the day digging a shallow trench for a plastic water pipe.

The pipe is conspicuously blue in colour and leads to a water-trough in a large field.

We had our lunch in a sort of barn or byre. Although it was mainly sunny and the sky was blue, this part of the peninsula is particularly exposed to the elements; and there was a chilly breeze.

Monday, 14 March 2016

1st Baron Kingsale

THE LORD KINGSALE IS PREMIER BARON OF IRELAND

THE EARLY LINEAGE AND ORIGIN OF THIS ANCIENT BARONY IS OBSCURE.

ONE AUTHORITY STATES THAT MILES DE COURCY MAY HAVE BECOME LORD COURCY OF KINSALE ABOUT 1340, THOUGH CONSIDERS IT MORE PROBABLE THAT THE PEERAGE WAS ACQUIRED FIFTY YEARS LATER.

IN 1397, WILLIAM DE COURCY RECEIVED A PATENT AS DOMINUS ET BARO DE COURCY.

THE NUMBERING OF THE BARONS VARIES, SOME SOURCES INCLUDING THE HOLDERS OF THE ANCIENT BARONY, OTHERS COMMENCING WITH THE BARONS CONFIRMED BY LETTERS PATENT.

THE FEUDAL TITLES OF LORD COURCY AND LORD RINGRONE, PROBABLY CREATED IN THE TWELFTH CENTURY, ARE ALSO HELD.

The family of COURCY claims alliance with most of the royal houses of Europe, paternally through the Dukes of Lorraine, and maternally through the ducal house of Normandy.

LOUIS IV, King of France, born in 920, wedded, in 939, Gerberga of Saxony, daughter of HENRY THE FOWLER, King of Germany, by whom he had two sons, Lothair, who succeeded to the French throne (and with whose son, LOUIS V, the race of monarchs descended from Charlemagne ceased), and

CHARLES, Duke of Lower Lorraine; whose immediate descendant,

ROBERT DE COURCY, Lord of Courcy in Normandy, in 1026, was succeeded by his eldest son,

RICHARD DE COURCY, who accompanied his sovereign WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR, into England, and distinguishing himself at the battle of Hastings, participated largely in the Conqueror's spoil, having been allotted numerous lordships; amongst which was that of Stoke, in Somerset, and thence denominated Stoke Courcy (Stogursey).

His lordship died in 1098, and was succeeded by his son,

ROBERT, as 2nd Baron of Stoke Courcy, who founded the nunnery of Cannington, Somerset.

This nobleman was steward of the household to HENRY I, and to his daughter, EMPRESS MATILDA; by the former of whom he was appointed one of the greater barons of Westminster.

His lordship espoused Rohais, daughter of Hugh de Grandmesnil, Lord of Hinckley, Leicestershire, and Lord High Steward of England, by whom he had five sons, and was succeeded by the eldest,

WILLIAM, 3rd Baron of Stoke Courcy, and royal steward to HENRY I.

This nobleman, having no issue, was succeeded by his brother,

ROBERT, 4th Baron of Stoke Courcy, who, during the reign of KING STEPHEN, had a principal command at the battle of Northampton against the Scots.

This feudal lord wedded Avice, daughter and co-heir of William Meschin, and was succeeded by an only son,

ROBERT, 5th Baron, father of

WILLIAM, 6th Baron of Stoke Courcy, Royal Steward to HENRY II, who died in 1171, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR JOHN DE COURCY (1150-1219), 7th Baron of Stoke Courcy, who having distinguished himself during the reign of HENRY II, in that monarch's wars in England and Gascony, was sent into Ireland, in 1177, as an assistant to William FitzAdelm in the government of that kingdom.

Sir John having prevailed upon some of the veteran soldiers to accompany him, invaded the province of Ulster, with twenty-two knights, fifty esquires, and about three hundred foot-soldiers, and, after many hard-fought battles, succeeded in attaching Ulster to the English monarchy.

By many prosperous battles fought with great risk to his life, he subdued Ulster to the obedience of HENRY II.

He stretched the bounds of the English Pale as far as Dunluce, in the most northern parts of the province, which he endeavoured to secure by building castles and fortresses in convenient places.

Sir John established Inch Abbey, near Downpatrick, County Down, in 1177.

For this important service Sir John was formally created, in 1181 (being the first Englishman dignified with an Irish title of honour) EARL OF ULSTER, and Lord of Connaught; with a grant by patent to him and his heirs, that they should enjoy all the land in Ireland he could gain by his sword, together with the donation of bishoprics and abbeys; reserving from him only homage and fealty.

In 1182, he was constituted sole Governor of Ireland.

By his reputation and conduct he brought the whole kingdom in one year into such regularity and order that " a man with a wand, having treasure about him, might travel along the country with safety."

His lordship continued in high favour during the remainder of the reign of his royal master, and performed prodigies of valour in Ireland.

This splendour and rank having excited the envy of Hugh de Lacy, appointed Viceroy of Ireland by KING JOHN, Sir John, the Earl of Ulster, was seized while performing penance unarmed and barefooted in the churchyard at Downpatrick, County Down, on Good Friday, 1204.

He was sent over to England, where he was condemned to life imprisonment in the Tower of London.

KING JOHN granted to de Lacy all of Sir John's possessions in Ireland, and, in 1205, created him EARL OF ULSTER.

After Sir John had been in confinement about a year, a dispute happening to arise between KING JOHN and PHILIP II of France, concerning the Duchy of Normandy, the decision of which being referred to single combat, KING JOHN, more hasty than advised, appointed the day, against which the King of France provided his champion;

But the King of England, less fortunate, could find no one of his subjects willing to take up the gauntlet, until his captive in the Tower, Sir John de Courcy, was prevailed upon to accept the challenge.

However, when everything was prepared for the contest, and the champions had entered the lists, in the presence of the monarchs of England, France, and Spain, the opponent of the Sir John, seized with a sudden panic, put spurs on his horse and fled the arena; whereupon the victory was adjudged with acclamation to the champion of England.

The French king being informed, however, of Sir John's powerful strength, and wishing to witness some exhibition of it, his lordship, at the desire of KING JOHN, a sturdy helmet was laid on a block of wood, which Sir John cleft asunder, and with the same blow struck so deep into the wood, that no person present except himself could withdraw his sword.

The King was so well satisfied that this signal performance, that he not only restored Sir John to his estates and effects, but desired him to ask anything within his gift, and it should be granted.

His Majesty would now have restored his earldom, which was held back by Hugh de Lacy, who refused to surrender it.

KING JOHN could only accede to Sir John de Courcy the permission to repair to Ireland to re-conquer it for himself; at the same time granting to him and his male heirs the privilege of appearing covered before the Kings of England.

To which Sir John replied, that having estates and titles enough, he desired that his successors might have the privilege to remain covered in the presence of His Majesty, and all future kings of England, which request was immediately conceded.

Contrary winds prevented his succeeding in several attempts to cross the Irish Sea.

Sir John de Courcy died in France in 1219, and was succeeded by his only son,

MILES DE COURCY (c1286-c1344), who, being unable to recover his father's earldom, was created, ca 1340, BARON KINGSALE, in Ireland, as a compensation for the earldom of Ulster, which was retained by Hugh de Lacy.

His lordship was thereafter obliged to reside in Ireland, and neglected to claim the English barony of Stoke Courcy.

For three centuries afterwards the honours descended uninterruptedly to,

JOHN, 13th Baron, died in 1628, leaving four sons,
GERALD, his heir;
Edmond, dsp;
PATRICK;
David, grandfather of
JOHN, 25th Baron.
The eldest son,

GERALD, 14th Baron, died without male issue, about 1642, leaving a daughter, MARY, who wedded firstly, John Galway, of Kinsale; and secondly, Donogh O'Driscoll.

His lordship was succeeded by his brother,

PATRICK, 15th Baron, who died about 1663, leaving four sons and three daughters, viz.
JOHN, his successor;
Edmund, dsp;
Miles, father of GERALD, 24th Baron;
Gerald, dsp;
Alice; Elizabeth; Margaret.
The eldest son,

JOHN, 16th Baron, died in 1667, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

PATRICK, 17th Baron (c1660-69); who dsp and was succeeded by his brother,

ALMERICUS, 18th Baron (c1664-1720); outlawed, 1691, for his adhesion to the fortunes of King JAMES II; but the oulawry was very soon removed, and his lordship took his seat in the Irish parliament in 1692.

This nobleman, in observance of the ancient privilege of his house, appeared in the presence of WILLIAM III covered, and explained to that monarch, when His Majesty expressed surprise at the circumstance, the reason thus:
Sire, my name is Courcy; I am Lord of Kingsale in Your Majesty's Kingdom of Ireland; and the reason of my appearing covered in Your Majesty's presence is, to assert the ancient privilege of my family, granted to Sir John de Courcy, Earl of Ulster, and his heirs, by JOHN, King of England.
The King acknowledged the privilege, and giving Lord Kingsale his hand to kiss, his lordship paid his obeisance and continued covered.

He died without issue, when the title reverted to his first cousin,

GERALD, 19th Baron (1700-59), grandson of Patrick, the 20th Baron; who, upon being presented to GEORGE I, in 1720, had the honour of kissing His Majesty's hand, and asserting his ancient privilege.

His lordship espoused Margaretta, only daughter and heir of John Essington, of Ashlyns, Hertfordshire, and had issue,
Mary;
Elizabeth Geraldine;
Eleanor Elizabeth.
His lordship thus leaving no male issue, the Barony devolved upon his second cousin,

JOHN, 20th Baron (c1717-76), who married, in 1746, Martha, daughter of the Rev William Heron, of Dorchester, Dorset, by whom he had issue,
JOHN, his successor;
William;
Michael, Admiral in the Royal Navy;
James;
Gerald (Rev);
Mary; Martha; Elizabeth; Anne.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN, 21st Baron, who wedded, in 1763, Susan, daughter of Conway Blennerhasset, of Castle Conway, County Kerry, by whom he had issue,
John, died 1813;
THOMAS (Rev), his successor;
Michael, Captain RN;
Gerald;
Martha; Elizabeth; Anne Geraldine; Mary.
His lordship died in 1822, and was succeeded by his eldest surviving son,

THOMAS, 22nd Baron (1774-1832); at whose decease, unmarried, the title devolved upon his nephew,

JOHN STAPLETON, 23rd Baron (1805-47), who wedded, in 1825, Sarah, daughter of Joseph Chadder, and had issue,
JOHN CONSTANTINE, his successor;
Michael Conrad;
Florence Helena; Catherine Adela.
  • John Constantine de Courcy, 24th Baron (1827–65);
  • Michael Conrad de Courcy, 25th Baron (1828–74);
  • John Fitzroy de Courcy, 26th Baron (1821–90);
  • Michael William de Courcy, 27th Baron (1822–95);
  • Michael Constantine de Courcy, 28th Baron (1855–1931);
  • Michael William Robert de Courcy, 29th Baron (1882–1969);
  • Nevinson Mark de Courcy, 31st Baron (b 1958).
 The heir presumptive is the present holder's kinsman, Joseph Kenneth Charles de Courcy (b 1955).

The heir presumptive's heir apparent is his son, Patrick Miles Hugh de Courcy (b 1993).

Kingsale arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

The Lookout


There was a very good turnout today for the National Trust Strangford Lough Volunteers.

About a dozen of us met at the Strangford Lough Lookout at the main car-park, Mount Stewart Estate, County Down.

Out task today was to give the exterior of the Lookout a spring-clean, viz. treating the wooden cladding with a stain paint.

We also removed some vegetation from the sea side of the Lookout in order to provide an unrestricted view of the Lough.

At lunch-time, Tomasz gave us Volunteer passes, which are far more beneficial than I thought.

Properties running events permit Volunteers to claim 10% discount; up to 35% off NT Holiday Cottages; up to 30% off at NT Historic House Hotels; discounted RAC membership; 20% off at the NT Online Shop; 15% off at Cotswold Outdoor stores; the NT London Theatre Club.

I have been a volunteer with the National Trust long before the Pass was introduced, though this is a worthy incentive for new volunteers to join us whenever they can, enjoy the camaraderie, and the great sense of satisfaction generated by the work.

I had cheese & onion sandwiches for lunch today, by the way.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Connswater Bridge


I ambled across to the Connswater Bridge this afternoon and took a few photographs of developments as part of the Connswater Greenway Project.

What, I wonder, is happening?

The river has been considerably narrowed immediately below the south side of the bridge.

It is culverted for a few hundred yards to the north.


Will this be stylish new terracing? And what are the short cylindrical columns?

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Orlock Revisited


The weather has been quite treacherous today.

I arrived at Orlock, County Down, shortly before 9am, where we all assembled for our tasks, viz. burning old branches and foliage; and planting hawthorn saplings.

It was wet, windy, 5c, muddy, you name it. It actually felt colder due to the wind chill.

Nevertheless, we carried on intrepidly; mission accomplished.

Mind you, a modicum of diesel fuel fostered the blazes.

I had a healthy lunch today: banana sandwiches.