Saturday, 2 April 2016

Tempo Manor

THE EMERSON-TENNENT BARONETS OWNED 2,408 ACRES OF LAND IN COUNTY FERMANAGH

The family of EMERSON came originally from Foxton, County Durham.

GEORGE EMERSON, of Ardmore, County Armagh, was succeeded by his son,

WILLIAM EMERSON, a Belfast merchant, who married and had a son, JOHN EMERSON-TENNENT.


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THE FAMILY of TENNENT, originally DANAND, or TENAND, was of respectability in Scotland, and the principal branch resided at Glasgow.

WILLIAM TENNENT (1760-1832), of Tempo Manor, 
born in County Antrim and served as an apprentice with John Campbell, a Belfast merchant and banker; joined Belfast Chamber of Commerce, 1783, and was junior manager in the New Sugar House in Waring Street.
He eventually became a partner in this business, and he held partnerships in the distilling firm of John Porter & Co. and the Belfast Insurance Co. He was co-founder, in 1809, of the Commercial Bank, and he worked in the bank until it became Belfast Banking Co. in 1827. He was on the Board of the Spring Water Commissioners and the Belfast Banking Company, and was manager of the Belfast Academical Institution and Vice-President of the Chamber of Commerce.
After the rebellion of 1798, he was arrested on suspicion of belonging to the United Irishmen, and imprisoned in Scotland for two years.He returned to Belfast and in 1814, purchased the village and demesne of Tempo, County Fermanagh. He bequeathed property to the Presbyterian Church, and died in the cholera epidemic.
Mr Tennent's only daughter and heiress,

LETITIA, of Tempo Manor, married James Emerson, later Emerson-Tennent.

The 1st Baronet was born James Emerson (1804-69), and changed his name to Emerson-Tennent in 1832 under the will of William Tennent of Belfast and Tempo, a wealthy Belfast merchant banker whose daughter and heiress, Letitia, he had married in the previous year.

He began his political career as a Whig, but was espoused by the local Conservatives in his first election for Belfast in 1832, and in 1834 went over to the Conservatives under the aegis of his political mentor, Lord Stanley.

photo credit: Belfast City Hall 

Sir James was MP for Belfast, 1832-45 (and his portrait, full-length, hangs in the Reception Hall of Belfast City Hall); Joint Secretary to the India Board, 1841-45; Colonial Secretary in Ceylon, 1845-49; Permanent Secretary to the Board of Trade, 1852-67 (and usually regarded as the inventor of competitive examination for the Civil Service).

He was an author of major books on Greece, Ceylon, natural history, antiquities, etc; friend of Dickens and other literary and artistic people; and builder of Tempo Manor in County Fermanagh (to the designs of Sir Charles Lanyon), 1861-69.
Emerson-Tennent was knighted in 1845, and was created a baronet on his retirement from the Board of Trade in 1867.

The 1st Baronet survived for a mere two years after receiving his baronetcy.

The title became extinct on the death of his son, Sir William, 2nd Baronet, in 1876, aged 41.

Sir William had an only daughter,

ETHEL SARAH EMERSON-TENNENT,  who married Sir Herbert Charles Arthur Langham Bt in 1893.

The Emerson Tennent Papers are held at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.

TEMPO MANOR, County Fermanagh, is between Enniskillen and Fivemiletown.

The original manor was an old castle of the Maguires.

The estate was acquired in 1815 by William Tennent, a Belfast banker, whose daughter and heiress was the wife of Sir James Emerson-Tennent Bt MP, an illustrious politician, colonial administrator and writer.

A new house, incorporating part of the old castle, was built in 1863 in a rather curious Victorian-Jacobean style.

There are curvilinear gables; and rectangular, round-headed, plate-glass windows, some with entablatures crowned with strap-work.

The house is of two storeys, the upper storey being an attic in the high-pitched roof. One end has a turret with a belfry and spire.


Tempo Manor passed by marriage to the Langham Baronets.

The present demesne comprises 300 acres of parkland and woodland.

The part-walled 17th century demesne, also edged by the Tempo River, is adjacent to the village of Tempo. There are fine stands of mature trees in the shelter belts and woodland.

The park was said to have been the setting for Maria Edgeworth’s novel, Castle Rackrent.

Mature exotics are in evidence.

A winding avenue of open grass and woodland leads past a lough to the present mansion, which incorporates part of the old Maguire house on the site and is successfully juxtaposed with contemporary terraced lawns.

These dip down to a small lough, which is surrounded by a romantic garden at the core of the demesne.

It is a notable example of an informal-style ‘Robinsonian’ garden that was fashionable in the early part of the 20th century.

The view from the house is of the lough, an island ‘Tempo Dessell’, and surrounding planting of flowering shrubs, enhanced by evergreen trees beyond.

There is a walk meandering round the lough, part of which has an embanked rockery. Although not fully maintained, the rockery is an important and rare survival in Ulster.

The coach-house dates back to the Maguire ownership of the property. The two gate lodges are of the same era as the Lanyon house.

Former seats ~ Francfort, County Sligo, and Tempo, County Fermanagh.

Former town residence ~ 25 Duke Street, Westminster. 

Photo credits: Sir John Langham Bt.   First published in September, 2010.

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