Sunday, 29 January 2017

Castle Ward Project

The National Trust has embarked on an ambitious conservation project at Castle Ward, Strangford, County Down, which will see a refurbishment of the Temple and the restoration of historic paths and vista points.

The man-made landscape of the Temple Water area, conceived by the Wards, Viscounts Bangor, is one of the most important late 17th and early 18th century gardens to survive in Northern Ireland.

The National Trust's general manager for South Down, Jonathan Clarke, remarked,
Over the years the design of the landscape has become obscured by self-seeded trees, poor drainage and other changes. 
As a conservation charity we are committed to protecting our special places for ever, for everyone and so we are restoring this hidden part of Castle Ward to enhance visitor enjoyment and understanding of the area. 
We anticipate the project will take three years and will include the repair of the Temple and improvements to the parkland that will open up views of both Audley’s Castle and Strangford Lough.
The lake at Castle Ward, known as Temple Water, will be central to the restoration project.

The Temple Water, Castle Ward

Features planned for restoration include the crumbling stone sides of the Temple Water which have been weakened by tree roots over the years.

The Temple will also be refurbished and the original paths will be reinstated, creating a picturesque route around the Temple with spectacular viewpoints.

Historic paths will be reinstated along Lime Tree Walk and visitors will be able to grace the reinstated historic steps on the Yew Tree Terraces.

The viewing mound and early 18th century Ward family home, the Green House, will both be revealed and interpreted.

The walled garden will be levelled and a planting design scheme started.

It will also be opened for public viewing.

The Temple

Improvements will also be made to access around the Temple Water by reinstating former pathways and steps; repairing drains; creating pockets of natural biodiversity; removing some inappropriate trees; pruning others, and planting new trees in locations based on early demesne maps. 

Enhanced interpretation will also be installed to enable everyone to share in the story of the Ward family and their grand designs.

Map of 1835 showing the Green House

A team of National Trust specialists including curators, archaeologists, historic gardens advisers and interpretation designers will be available to provide advice and work together to bring the Temple Water back to the late 17th early 18th century design.

The final picture will be a grand formal and unexpected statement in the midst of rolling landscape.

Bangor arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Brackenber Dinner

Last night (Friday, 20th January, 2017) I attended the annual reunion dinner of the Old Brackenbrian Association at the Ulster Reform Club, Belfast.

Brackenber House, my old prep school, was at Cleaver Avenue in Belfast.

I was at Brackenber from about 1971 till 1973 or 74.

Our dinner last night was in the former billiards-room on the top floor.

The Reform Club is undoubtedly one of Belfast's most venerated institutions: heavy oak panelling; thick, opulent carpets; vaulted ceilings; decent plasterwork; leather armchairs.

This is the last remaining Victorian gentlemen's club in the city, though of course it's open to both genders now.

The Club used to have accommodation for members, though I think this ceased in the 1970s.

There were about 58 of us there last night, a good turnout given that the old school was demolished perhaps thirty years ago.

As usual the company was most enjoyable.

It's always great to see Johnny Knox there (he endeavoured to teach me French at Campbell) and Jeff Dudgeon, MBE.

I have never been disappointed yet by the dinners at the Reform Club, and last night was certainly no exception.

We had Gateau of Walter's Cured Salmon, Tomato & Prawns served with home-made horseradish mayonnaise and freshly-baked wheaten-bread.

Incidentally, for the benefit of readers, Walter Ewing is from the celebrated Ewing's fishmongers.

The main course was slow-braised daube of beef with a selection of fresh market vegetables.

Pudding, home-made apple pie with cinnamon cream.

All very traditional and appropriate for the occasion.

I happened to be seated beside Paul Bew (Lord Bew) and Ben Lowry of the Newsletter newspaper.

Our speaker was Mike Brown, MVO, the Commissioner of London Transport.

I had a good chat with him afterwards.

We are all indebted to the unsung organizers of the annual dinner, including Gordon Harvey and Robert Curran.

Monday, 16 January 2017

The Lord Caine

In November, 2016, I wrote an article about a visit to Mount Stewart, County Down, by Charles Villiers, Theresa Villiers and Jonathan Caine.

Jonathan Caine has subsequently been in touch to apprise me of his elevation to the House of Lords.

On the 20th October, 2016,
"Jonathan Michael Caine, Esquire, having been created Baron Caine, of Temple Newsam in the City of Leeds, was introduced and took the oath, supported by Lord Black of Brentwood and Lord Empey, and signed an undertaking to abide by the Code of Conduct."
Lord Caine has sent me two photographs of his introduction.

The Lord Empey, the Lord Caine, and the Lord Black of Brentwood

If we are being strictly precise, his formal style is "the Rt Hon the Lord Caine", informally "the Lord Caine"; or on legal documents "the Rt Hon Jonathan Michael Baron Caine".

These days it's generally abbreviated to "Lord Caine" without the definite article.

The style "Right Honourable" is accorded to all peers below the rank of marquess.

It doesn't imply membership of the Privy Council in these instances (in which case the letters "PC" would be added after the title).

Jonathan Caine read History at Leicester University, where his specialism was the Home Rule Crisis and the Anglo-Irish Treaty.

He joined the Conservative Research Department in 1987, working in the office next to David Cameron.

He joined the party's Northern Ireland desk in 1988, and between 1991-95 was a special adviser at the Northern Ireland Office - rejoining it in 2010.

In 2008, Lord Caine stated that he was a Director at Bell Pottinger Public Affairs.

In 2014, he worked as special adviser to the Rt Hon Theresa Villiers MP, being described in the press as her "right-hand man".

Jonathan Caine had also worked for the Rt Hon Owen Paterson MP, and was described by him as "one of the foremost experts on Northern Ireland".

As of 2016, he had worked for no fewer than seven Secretaries of State for Northern Ireland.

Friday, 6 January 2017

High Sheriffs 2017



6th January, 2017


Ms Miranda Tisdale DL
County Antrim


Mrs Jean Thompson Caulfield MBE
County Londonderry


Mr Godfrey William McCartney
County Armagh


Mrs Jennifer Hawkes
County Tyrone


Mr Henry John Stewart Catherwood
County Down


Alderman Thomas Robert Haire


Mr Selwyn Johnston BEM
County Fermanagh


Mrs Mary Teresa Bradley
County Londonderry

Monday, 2 January 2017

Straffan House


This family was established in Ireland by

THOMAS BARTON (1553-1626), of Norwich, who is said to have accompanied the Earl of Essex's army, in 1599, to that kingdom.

Mr Barton was one of the first burgesses of Enniskillen, County Fermanagh.

In 1610, he obtained a grant of land comprising a district called Druminshin and Necarne, County Fermanagh.

Some of these lands were exchanged by him for others in the neighbourhood still in the possession of the elder branch of the family.

He married Margaret Lloyd, and had a son,

ANTHONY BARTON, who left issue a son,

WILLIAM BARTON (c1630-93), of Boa Island and Curraghmore, County Fermanagh, who married Jane Hannah Forster, and had two sons,
Edward, of Boa Island;
WILLIAM, of whom we treat.
The younger son,

WILLIAM BARTON, of Boa Island and Curraghmore, wedded Elizabeth, daughter of John Dickson, of Ballyshannon, and had issue,
THOMAS, his heir;
Elizabeth (Anna); Everina.
The eldest son,

THOMAS BARTON (1694-1780), established the house of business at Bordeaux, France, 1725, and acquired a considerable fortune.

He purchased the estate of Grove, County Tipperary, in 1752.

This gentleman established the famous vintners Barton & Guestier.

He and his wife, Margaret Delap, of Ballyshannon, and had issue, an only child,

WILLIAM BARTON (1723-92), of Grove, who married, in 1754, Grace, eldest daughter of the Very Rev Charles Massy, Dean of Limerick, and sister of Sir Hugh Dillon Massy, 1st Baronet, and had issue,
Thomas, his heir;
William, of Clonelly;
Charles, of Waterfoot;
HUGH, of whom hereafter;
Robert (Sir), KCH, Lieutenant-General;
Dunbar, of Rochestown;
Grace; Elizabeth; Margaret Everina.
The fourth son,

HUGH BARTON (1766-1854), who, by his own energy, industry, and activity, acquired at Bordeaux a very large fortune, which he invested in the purchase of the Straffan estate and other lands in Ireland in 1831, and also in the purchase of the Château Langoa, and a portion of the adjacent property of Leoville, both in the parish of St Julien Medoc, near Bordeaux.

During the reign of terror, in 1793-4, he was imprisoned as an alien, but by the connivance of his wife, daughter of a naturalised Frenchman of Scottish origin, he effected his escape to Ireland.

During his absence the business in Bordeaux was managed by Daniel Guestier, with whom he entered into partnership in 1802.

In 1840, he served as High Sheriff of Kildare.

Mr Barton married, in 1791, Anne, daughter of Nathaniel Weld Johnston, of Bordeaux, and had issue,
Hugh, died young;
NATHANIEL, his heir;
THOMAS JOHNSTON, of Glendalough;
Susan; Anna; Grace; Isabella; Susan Elizabeth; Charlotte.
His eldest surviving son,

NATHANIEL BARTON JP DL (1799-1867), of Straffan House, County Kildare, High Sheriff, 1850-51, married, in 1823, Mary Susanna, daughter of Harry Harmood Scott, consul at Bordeaux, and had issue,
HUGH LYNEDOCH, his heir;
Harry Fitzgerald (1826-48);
BERTRAM FRANCIS, succeeded his brother;
Charles Thomas Hugh;
Francis Savile;
Mary Esther Isabella; Anna Susan Frederica; Isabel Charlotte; Alice Catherine Harriet.
The eldest son,

HUGH LYNEDOCH BARTON JP DL (1824-99), of Straffan House, High Sheriff of County Kildare, 1861, Major, Kildare Rifles, former Lieutenant, 6th Inniskillings, wedded, in 1855, Anna Emily, eldest daughter of Eyre, 3rd Lord Clarina.

He died without issue, when the estate devolved upon his brother,

BERTRAM FRANCIS BARTON (1830-1904), of Straffan House, High Sheriff of County Kildare, 1903, who married, in 1855, Fannie Annie, eldest daughter of Commander Frank Cutler RN, of Upton Lodge, Brixham, Devon, and had issue,
BERTRAM HUGH, his heir;
Harry Scott;
Mary Fannie; Isabel Eleanor.
Mr Barton was succeeded by his eldest son,

BERTRAM HUGH BARTON JP DL (1858-1927), of Straffan House, High Sheriff of County Kildare, 1908, who wedded, in 1899, Lilian Edith Laura, only daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Frederick Walter Carden Bt, and had issue,
Hugh Ronald, b 1902;
Storeen Lily, b 1906.
Mr Barton was succeeded by his eldest son,

FREDERICK BERTRAM (DERICK) BARTON (1900-93), of Straffan House, who espoused, in 1927, Joan Aileen, daughter of Major-General Robert St Clair Lecky, and had issue,
Christopher Bertram Ronald, b 1927;
Anthony Frederick, b 1930.
Captain Barton sold Straffan House in 1949.

Thereafter he lived at The Glebe, Straffan.

He was President, Royal Dublin Society, 1966-68.

In 1976, Captain Barton lived at 18 Waltham Terrace, Blackrock, County Dublin.
Derick Barton sold Straffan House to the motorcycle manufacturer, John Ellis, for £15,000. Other owners in the interim periods between the Barton family and the current owner included: Car importer Steven O’Flaherty (1960); the film producer responsible for the James Bond film Thunderball, Kevin McClory (1973); Iranian Air Force founder, Nader Jahanbani (1977) who was executed around the time of the downfall of the Shah Reza Pahlavi government; Patrick Gallagher (1979); and the property magnate Alan Ferguson (1981).

STRAFFAN HOUSE, near Straffan, County Kildare, is a stately 19th century mansion with the appearance of a French-Italianate château.

The main block is of two storeys with an attic of pedimented dormers in a mansard roof.

There is a seven-bay entrance front, the centre bay breaking forward, with a tripartite window above a single-storey, balustraded, Corinthian portico.

Straffan has tall chimney-stacks.

The main block is prolonged at one side by a lower, two-storey wing, from which rises a lofty, slender campanile tower, with two tiers of open belvederes.

The garden was formal, with an elaborate Victorian fountain.

The mansion house was reduced in size about 1937 by Captain Barton, the four bays of the main block furthest from the wing being demolished.

IN 2005, Sir Michael Smurfit KBE (with Gerry Gannon) purchased Straffan estate.

It was transformed into a luxury hotel and leisure complex, the Kildare Hotel & Golf Club, known simply as The K Club.

Sir Michael is now the sole owner.

Under Sir Michael's ownership, Straffan House has in effect been doubled in size, using a granite porch from Ballynegall in County Westmeath, to fuse the two sides together.

Not only has a de luxe hotel been created, but it has also been furnished with important works of art.

First published in December, 2012.