On Sunday, the 21st August, 2016, I paid my first visit to Wallace Park in Lisburn.
It was presented to Lisburn by Sir Richard Wallace, 1st and last Baronet, whose residence, Castle House, adjoined the grounds.
This is a wooded, twenty-five acre, public park at the northern side of the town, with an ornamental duck-pond and playing-fields.
Wallace Park has several drinking-fountains with four female caryatids supporting a domed top.
In fact Sir Richard had fifty of these fountains manufactured - in French Renaissance style - to commemorate the end of the Siege of Paris in 1871.
He presented them to many major cities, including London, Paris, Rotterdam; and even Canada, South Africa and Brazil.
The Hertford Estate, centred round the area known as Killultagh at Lisburn, was one of the largest estates in County Antrim and, indeed, Ulster.
Sir Fulke Conway, ancestor of the Marquesses of Hertford, founded Lisburn.
|Castle House in August, 2016|
At the time of writing (August, 2016) it appears to be unoccupied and there is a skip at the porch.
Sir Richard became MP for Lisburn in 1873 and served until 1884.
In November, 1882, Sir Richard presented the Castle gardens and outer grounds to the Lisburn Town Commissioners.
In July, 1884, it was reported that
for several months past a number of men have been employed by Sir Richard Wallace in levelling and laying out the grounds ... they afford means of recreation to all classes, and more especially to the large numbers of operatives, who, pent up in the mills and factories during the day, enjoy the pure air for some hours every evening and thus add immensely to their general stock of health.By August, 1887, the work had been completed and it was noted that Sir Richard had
expended a very considerable amount in ornamenting, railing-in, and making roads through the grounds, as well as erecting very commodious residences for the caretakers.There is a pair of lodges of ca 1884 at each end of the park, intended to provide accommodation for park wardens.
SIR RICHARD WALLACE became the principal benefactor of the city, paying for the improvement of water supplies as well as the building of Assembly Rooms, a court house (now demolished) and a school, which survives as Wallace High School.
Sir Richard also employed the architect Thomas Ambler, who had remodelled Hertford House for him, to build Castle House in Lisburn.
He had hoped that his son Edmond would take up residence in Lisburn, but this was not to be.
Castle House was seldom used.
After his death in 1890, the citizens of Lisburn erected a magnificent monument to Sir Richard in Castle Gardens, where one of two Wallace fountains in the city may also be found.
CASTLE GARDENS is situated on a slope directly opposite Castle House between Lisburn Cathedral and the River Lagan.
These gardens retain a section of the gateway of the former 17th century Castle, destroyed by fire in 1707.
As the castle was never rebuilt, part of the area was developed as a public pleasure ground, so there is a long tradition of public access.
The town map of 1640 shows a good garden for the Castle, which became, in the words of Henry Bayley in Topographical and Historical Account of Lisburn (1834),
elegantly laid off, with walks, shrubberies, &c and are always in the best order. The fine lofty plantations (beautifully foliaged in almost all seasons) along the sides of the centre grant walk, give a majesty and a sweetness to the whole.He also remarks on the fine views of the River Lagan from the steep terrace, maintained with grass and steps today.
The gardens on the top of the hill today, level with Castle Street, were much as Bayley described until extensive archaeological excavations and conservation, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, were undertaken in 2004.
The four notable 17th century terraces, three of which are of brick, with double-flight perron, bowling-green and banquesting pavilion, have been cleared and excavated for presentation to the public.
The Victorian municipal gardens have also been restored; including an avenue of mature trees, lawns, flower beds and two fountains of note; a Wallace fountain of 1872; and the Egret Fountain of ca 1870.
|The Wallace Monument|
There is a monument to Sir Richard Wallace of 1892, and a mounted gun, captured at Sebastopol and erected on the site in 1858.
Sir Richard's name survives elsewhere in Lisburn, in Wallace High School, Wallace Park and even in a recently opened shopping centre, Wallace Colonnades.
Wallace Park is a public park comprising about twenty-five acres, created on land presented to the people of Lisburn by Sir Richard Wallace in 1884.
The area was formerly the outer park for Castle House, his Lisburn residence.
He also furnished it with a bandstand, gates and two gate lodges.
The duck pond was created from what was formerly a town reservoir.
There are mature trees and further planting has been undertaken.
Most of the grounds are grassed, the northern part consisting of tree-lined paths, and the southern end is occupied by sports fields.
Sir Richard died at Paris on the 20th July, 1890.
First published in May, 2010.