Thursday, 25 August 2016

Portglenone House

THE ALEXANDERS OWNED 4,215 ACRES OF LAND IN COUNTY ANTRIM

The elder branch of this family was ennobled, in 1663, by the title of EARL OF STIRLING, in the person of WILLIAM ALEXANDER, of Menstrie, Clackmannanshire. 
The name of ALEXANDER was assumed from the Christian name of its founder, Alexander Macdonald, of Menstrie. 
This branch, on removing into Ireland, adopted into the family shield the Canton charged with the Harp of Ireland, and settled at Limavady, County Londonderry.
JOHN ALEXANDER, of Eridy, County Donegal, 1610, had issue,
ANDREW, his heir;
John;
Archibald;
William;
Robert.
The eldest son,

THE REV ANDREW ALEXANDER DD, of Eridy, married Dorothea, daughter of the Rev James Caulfeild, and had issue,


CAPTAIN ANDREW ALEXANDERof Londonderry, who wedded firstly, Miss Philips, daughter of Sir Thomas Philips, and had issue,

Jacob.
He espoused secondly, Miss Hillhouse, daughter of the Laird of Hilles, and had issue,

JOHN ALEXANDER (c1670-1747), of Ballyclose, County Londonderry, and of Gunsland, County Donegal, who married Anne, daughter of John White, and had issue,
William;
NATHANIEL, of whom hereafter;
John;
Martha.
The second son,

NATHANIEL ALEXANDER (1689-1761), of Gunsland, Alderman of Londonderry, 1755, who married Elizabeth, daughter of William McClintock, of Dunore, County Donegal, and had issue,
William, of London; barrister; d 1774;
John;
Nathaniel;
ROBERT, of whom we treat;
James, 1st Earl of Caledon;
Mary Jane; Rebecca; Elizabeth; Ann; Jane.
His fourth surviving son, 
ROBERT ALEXANDER (1722-90), of Boom Hall, County Londonderry, wedded, in 1759, Anne, daughter of Henry McCullogh, and had issue,
NATHANIEL, his heir;
Henry, of Boom Hall;
William, Lieutenant-General;
James;
Joseph Josias Du Pré;
Elizabeth; Jane; Anne; Rebecca; Dorothea.
Mr Alexander was succeeded by his eldest son,
THE RT REV AND RT HON NATHANIEL ALEXANDER (1760-1840), of Portglenone House, Lord Bishop of Meath, Privy Counsellor, who wedded, in 1785, Anne, daughter of the Rt Hon Richard Jackson MP, of Coleraine, and had issue,
Richard Jackson;
ROBERT, of whom we treat;
James;
Nathaniel;
Henry;
George;
William Stuart;
Anne; Elizabeth Rebecca; Henrietta Frances; Jane Mary.
His second son,

THE VEN ROBERT ALEXANDER DD (1788-1840), Archdeacon of Down, married firstly, in 1813, Catherine, daughter of Rt Hon John Staples and Hon Henrietta Molesworth, and had issue,
NATHANIEL, his heir;
John Staples;
Robert, father of
ROBERT ARTHUR MALONEY ALEXANDER;
George William;
Harriet Catherine; Alicia Anne; Louisa Maria; Mary Jane;
Grace Frances; Melosine Elizabeth Charlotte; Catherine Staples.
Dr Alexander married secondly, in 1837, Hester Helena, daughter of Colonel Alexander McManus, but had no issue.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

NATHANIEL ALEXANDER (1815-53), of Portglenone House, MP for County Antrim, who espoused, in 1842, Florinda, daughter of Richard Boyle Bagley, and had issue,
ROBERT JACKSON, his heir
JOHN STAPLES, succeeded his brother.
Mr Alexander was succeeded by his elder son,

ROBERT JACKSON ALEXANDER JP DL (1843-84), of Portglenone House, High Sheriff of County Londonderry, 1870, and of County Antrim, 1875, who died unmarried, and was succeeded by his brother,

JOHN STAPLES ALEXANDER JP DL (1844-1901), of Portglenone House, Lieutenant RN, who died a bachelor.

He was succeeded by his cousin,

MAJOR ROBERT CHRISTOPHER ALEXANDER JP DL, of Portglenone House (1900-68), son of Robert Arthur Moloney Alexander, High Sheriff, 1938, who married, in 1933, Laura Ina Madeline, daughter of Edward Fraser Lenox-Conyngham.

Major Alexander died without issue.


Portglenone House comprises a square, late-Georgian block of three storeys over a basement.

It was built in 1823 by the Rt Rev Nathaniel Alexander.

The house has a three-bay front, the central bay being recessed.

There is a fine classical hall, with a screen of columns separating it from the corridor and stairs.

The columns, subtle mushroom pink marble with stone capitals of Adam's "Dioclesian" order, were originally at Ballyscullion, along with some the the house's chimney-pieces.

In 1850, a wing was added by Nathaniel Alexander MP, containing a new staircase lit by a stained-glass dome.

The entrance front was also given a large porch and Ionic porte-cochere.

The main rooms were enhanced with cornices and heavy moulded door-cases in the form of aedicules.

Portglenone House was sold by Major Alexander in 1948 and is now part of Our Lady of Bethlehem Abbey, run as a guest-house.
The guest house provides for those who wish to make private retreats, and can cater for groups who seek to make days of recollection. As such, it does not function as a B&B, nor as a half-board hotel. Guests are encouraged to enter into the silence and solitude which characterize the monastic life in this place, and to take the opportunity for spiritual renewal which is offered.
Portglenone House is set in parkland by the River Bann. An earlier house in the vicinity is recorded.

The present house now forms part of the Abbey, which also has further buildings added from 1962 in the grounds.

This includes the Our Lady of Bethlehem Abbey ,which was built in 1948 to the designs of Patrick Murray.

Part of the gardens are private for the monks (the walled garden); parts are ornamental grounds for the Abbey; and parts are cultivated for organic vegetables.

There are mature trees in the remnants of former parkland, an ice house, the Bishop’s Well and two 19th century gate lodges.

Within the walls, part of the demesne is administered by DANI as a forest, which was planted from the 1950s. There is public access and paths are laid out.

In a glade in the forest there is a commemorative plot to Augustine Henry, who was reputedly born nearby.

It was laid out in 1969 with examples of some of the plants that he discovered or introduced from the far east.

First published in August, 2012.

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