Sunday, 31 December 2017

Gussie's Predicament

FROM STIFF UPPER LIP, JEEVES, BY SIR P G WODEHOUSE KBE

BERTIE: "But what's happened?"

I faltered, if faltered's the word.

JEEVES: "I regret to inform you, sir, that Miss Bassett has insisted on Mr Fink-Nottle [Gussie] adopting a vegetarian diet. His mood is understandably disgruntled and rebellious."

I tottered.

In my darkest hour I had never anticipated anything as bad as this.

You wouldn't think it to look at him, because he's small and shrimplike and never puts on weight, but Gussie loves food.

Watching him tucking into his rations at the Drones [Club], a tapeworm would raise its hat respectfully, knowing that it was in the presence of a master.

Cut him off, therefore, from the roasts and boileds and particularly from cold steak and kidney pie, a dish of which he is inordinately fond, and you turned him into something fit for treasons, strategems and spoils, as the fellow said.

First published in June, 2013.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Wodehouse Gems: II

Stiff Upper Lip Jeeves by Sir P G Wodehouse, KBE, published  in 1963


Bertie Wooster's arch-adversary, Roderick Spode, Earl of Sidcup, features heavily in this book.

Spode, as Bertie calls him, is a character we all love to hate.

Here is one of my favourite passages that always makes me laugh:-

'...Spode pivoted round and gave me a penetrating look. He had grown a bit, I noticed, since I had last seen him, being now about nine foot seven. ...I had compared him to a gorilla, and what I had had in mind had been the ordinary run-of-the-mill gorilla, not the large economy size'. 

...'To ease the strain, I asked him if he would have a cucumber sandwich, but with an impassioned gesture he indicated that he was not in the market for cucumber sandwiches..."a muffin?" 


No, not a muffin, either. He seemed to be on a diet.

"Wooster", he said, his jaw muscles moving freely, "I can't make up my mind whether to break your neck or not."

And so on. Wodehouse's command of the English language was supreme. Brilliant.

Wodehouse's character, Spode, is believed to be modelled on the war-time fascist leader, Sir Oswald Mosley Bt.

The Mosleys had a connection with Staffordshire, the county where Spode pottery is made; hence the Spode name.

First published in March, 2009.

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Curraghmore

THE MARQUESSES OF WATERFORD WERE THE GREATEST LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY WATERFORD, WITH 39,883 ACRES


The surname of BERESFORD was assumed from Beresford, in the parish of Alstonefield, Staffordshire, of which manor

JOHN DE BERESFORD  was possessed in 1087, during the reign of WILLIAM II, and was succeeded therein by his son,

HUGH DE BERESFORD, from whom lineally descended

JOHN BERESFORD, Lord of Beresford and Enson, who married Elizabeth, daughter of William Basset, of Blore, Staffordshire, and had, with other issue,
JOHN, his heir;
THOMAS, of whom hereafter.
Mr Beresford died in 1475, and was succeeded at Beresford by his eldest son; while the second,

THOMAS BERESFORD, seated himself at Newton Grange, Derbyshire, where he was resident in the reigns of HENRY VI and EDWARD IV; the former of whom he served in his French wars, and according to tradition, mustered a troop of horse at Chesterfield, consisting alone of his sons, and his own and their attendants.

Mr Beresford wedded Agnes, daughter and heiress of Robert Hassal, of Arclid, Cheshire, by whom he had sixteen sons and five daughters, and was succeeded by his eldest son, Aden; but we pass to the seventh,

HUMPHREY BERESFORD, who eventually became of Newton Grange.

This gentleman espoused Margery, daughter of Edmond Berdesey, or Beresley,  and was succeeded by his second son (the eldest having left a daughter only at his decease),

GEORGE BERESFORD, whose eldest son,

MICHAEL BERESFORD,  was an officer in the Court of Wards, and was seated at Oxford, and The Squerries, in Kent.

Mr Beresford, who was living in 1574, married Rose, daughter of John Knevitt, and had seven sons and four daughters; of whom

TRISTRAM BERESFORD, the third son, going into Ulster in the reign of JAMES I, as manager of the Corporation of London, known by the name of the Society of the New Plantation in Ulster, settled at Coleraine, County Londonderry, and was succeeded by his elder son,

SIR TRISTRAM BERESFORD, who was created a baronet, denominated of Coleraine, County Londonderry, in 1665.

He married firstly, Anne, eldest daughter of John Rowley, of Castleroe, County Londonderry, by whom he had one son, RANDAL, his heir, and two daughters; and secondly, Sarah Sackville, and had three sons and three daughters, viz.
Tristram;
Michael;
Sackville;
Susanna; Sarah; Anne.
Sir Tristram died in 1673, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR RANDAL BERESFORD (c1636-81), 2nd Baronet, MP, who married Catherine, younger daughter of Francis, Viscount Valentia, and niece, maternally, of Philip, 1st Earl of Chesterfield; and dying in 1681, left issue,
TRISTRAM, his heir;
Jane; Catherine.
Sir Randal was succeeded by his eldest surviving son,

SIR TRISTRAM BERESFORD (1669-1701)3rd Baronet, who commanded a foot regiment against JAMES II, and was attainted by the parliament of that monarch.

Sir Tristram wedded, in 1687, Nichola Sophia, youngest daughter and co-heiress of  Hugh Hamilton, 1st Viscount Glenawly, and had issue,
MARCUS, his heir;
Susanna Catherina; Arabella Maria; Jane; Aramintha.
He was succeeded by his son,

SIR MARCUS BERESFORD, 4th Baronet (1694-1763), who espoused, in 1717, Catherine, BARONESS LE POER, daughter and heiress of James, 3rd Earl of Tyrone, and in consequence of that alliance, was advanced to the peerage, in 1720, as Baron Beresford and Viscount Tyrone.

His lordship was further advanced advanced to an earldom, in 1746, as EARL OF TYRONE.

He had surviving issue,
GEORGE DE LA POER, his successor;
John;
William (Most Rev), created BARON DECIES;
Anne; Jane; Catherine; Aramintha; Frances Maria; Elizabeth.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

GEORGE, 2nd Earl (1735-1800), KP, who married, in 1769, Elizabeth, only daughter and heiress of Henry Monck, of Charleville, and Lady Isabella Bentinck, daughter of Henry, 1st Duke of Portland, and had issue,
GEORGE DE LA POER, his successor;
John George (Most Rev), Lord Archbishop of Armagh;
George Thomas (Rt Hon), Lt-Gen, GCH;
Isabella Anne; Catherine; Anne; Elizabeth Louisa.
His lordship inherited the ancient Barony of de la Poer at the decease of his mother in 1769.

He was enrolled amongst the peers of Great Britain, in 1786, as Baron Tyrone; and created MARQUESS OF WATERFORD in 1789.

His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

HENRY, 2nd Marquess (1772-1826), who wedded, in 1805, Susanna, only daughter and heiress of George, 2nd Earl of Tyrconnell, and had issue,
HENRY, his successor;
William;
John;
James;
Sarah Elizabeth.
His lordship, who was a Knight of St Patrick, a Privy Counsellor in Ireland, Governor of County Waterford, and Colonel of the Waterford Militia, was succeeded by his eldest son,

HENRY, 3rd Marquess.
The heir apparent is the present holder's son, Richard John de la Poer Beresford, styled Earl of Tyrone, a polo professional who is known as Richard Le Poer.
*****

The Waterfords were a Patrick family, four members of whom were Knights of the Most Illustrious Order of St Patrick.


CURRAGHMORE, near Portlaw, County Waterford, is the ancestral seat of the 9th and present Marquess of Waterford.

Some 2,500 acres of formal gardens, woodland and grazing fields make this one of the largest private demesnes in Ireland and one of the finest places to visit.

A Sitka Spruce planted on the estate in the 1830s is among the tallest tree in Ireland and stands guard over King John's Bridge.

Built in 1205, this stone-arched structure, spanning the Clodagh River, is the oldest bridge in Ireland.

Twelve miles of famine relief boundary wall and four sturdy wrought iron gates surround the estate.

Gnarled pink chestnut trees line the approach to the big house and original castle tower.

St Hubert's stag with crucifix between its antlers - genuine horns on the de la Poer family emblem - gazes across the large Courtyard from atop the old castle.

Today, the formal gardens surrounding Curraghmore House are open for the public to visit on Thursday afternoons from 2pm to 5pm between Easter and mid-October.

Group tours of the main reception rooms of Curraghmore House can be arranged by prior appointment.


This tour takes in some of the finest Neo-Classical rooms in Ireland which feature the magnificent plaster work of James Wyatt and grisaille panels by Peter de Gree.

Curraghmore, near Portlaw, meaning great bog, is the last of four castles built by the de la Poer family after their arrival in Ireland in 1167.

The Castle walls are about 12 feet thick and within one, a tight spiral stairway connects the lower ground floor with the roof above.


Of the many curious and interesting features of Curraghmore, the most striking is the courtyard front of the house, where the original castle is encased in a spectacular Victorian mansion with flanking Georgian ranges.

The combination of architectural features from several periods around the ancient core of the original castle produces a most striking composition; "immediately recognizable and undeniably moving", as it was described by Country Life magazine.

In more than 800 years the property has passed through the female line only once, and that was prior to Catherine de la Poer marrying Sir Marcus Beresford Bt in 1715, when she was a mere teenager.

Together with her husband, it was she who carried out much of the remodelling of the house and grounds and it was Catherine, Lady Beresford, who created the unique Shell-house herself.

The quality of the craftsmanship employed on the developments on Curraghmore through the ages, has secured the House's reputation as one of the most important country houses in Ireland.

In the late 18th century, the 2nd Earl, afterwards 1st Marquess of Waterford, secured the famous architect James Wyatt to design the next phase of modernisation of Curraghmore.

Here he created a series of rooms, with decoration considered by many to be among his most successful.

After Wyatt's Georgian developments, work at Curraghmore in the 19th century concentrated on the gardens and the Victorian refacing to the front of the house.

Formal parterre, tiered lawns, lake, arboretum and kitchen gardens were all developed during this time and survive to today.

At this time some of Ireland's most remarkable surviving trees were planted in the estate's arboretum.

Today these trees frame miles of beautiful river walks.

Developments in the gardens are still under-way and a Japanese garden has been laid out by the present Lady Waterford.

The present day Beresfords are country people by tradition.

Farming, hunting, breeding hounds and horses and an active social calendar continues as it did centuries ago.

Weekly game-shooting parties are held every season (November through to January); and in spring, calves, foals and lambs can be seen in abundance on Curraghmore's verdant fields.

Polo is still played on the estate in summer.

Throughout Ireland's turbulent history, this family have never been 'absentee landlords' and they still provide diverse employment for a number of local people.

Change comes slowly to Curraghmore - table linen, cutlery and dishes from the early 19th century are still in use.

Other former seat ~ Ford Castle, Northumberland.

I am grateful to Lord Waterford for the information provided from Curraghmore's website.

First published in July, 2011.  Waterford arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Evans of Portrane

THE EVANS FAMILY WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY OFFALY, WITH 6,035 ACRES

THEY OWNED A FURTHER 1,456 ACRES OF LAND IN COUNTY DUBLIN

The family of EVANS is originally from Wales, and claims descent from the renowned Elystan Glodrydd.

In the 16th century, two of the family settled in Ireland: JOHN EVANS, ancestor of the Barons Carbery; and ROBERT EVANS, from whom derived the family of Evans of Baymount, County Dublin, and Robinstown, County Westmeath.

The former, JOHN EVANS, settled in the city of Limerick, where he was living in 1628.

Mr Evans left at his decease two sons and three daughters, viz.
GEORGE, his heir;
John;
Deborah; Catherine; Eleanor.
The elder son,

COLONEL GEORGE EVANS MP, of Ballygrennan Castle, served in the army raised to supress the rebellion of 1641, and at the restoration of tranquillity, settled at Ballygrennan Castle, County Limerick, where, and in the adjacent county of Cork, he acquired large estates by grants from the Crown, and by purchase.

He wedded Anne, daughter of Thomas Bowerman, of County Cork, and had issue,
GEORGE, his heir;
John, of Milltown Castle;
Anne.
Colonel Evans, who represented County Limerick for many years in parliament, died in 1707, at a very advanced age, having passed a most eventful life, and was succeeded by his elder son,

THE RT HON GEORGE EVANS MP (1658-1720), of Caherass and Bulgaden Hall, County Limerick.

This gentleman was bred to the Bar, but following the example of his father and brother, became an active partisan of the revolution, and after the establishment of the new government in Ireland, was sworn of the Privy Council and returned to Parliament by the borough of Charleville

He wedded, in 1679,  Mary, daughter of John Eyre MP, of Eyre Court Castle, County Galway, and sister of the 1st Lord Eyre, and had issue,
GEORGE, 1st Baron Carbery;
EYRE, of Portrane, of whom we treat;
Thomas, of Milltown Castle, County Cork;
Jane, m Chidley Coote, ancestor of the Barons Castle Coote;
Elizabeth, m Hugh Massy, father of 1st Baron Massy and Clarina;
Dorothy; Emilia; Catherine.
The Right Hon George Evans, who was a distinguished public character, refused a peerage on the accession of GEORGE I, when the honour was conferred upon his eldest son.

His  embalmed body lay in state in the parliament house until the next month, when it was removed for interment at Ballygrennan.

His second son,

EYRE EVANS, of Portrane, County Dublin, MP for County Limerick, 1717, espoused Sarah, second daughter and co-heir (with her sister, Mrs Waller, of Castletown)  of Thomas Dixon, of Ballylackin, County Cork, and had six sons, all who dsp except the fourth; and three daughters, of whom the youngest, Elizabeth, the wife of William Evans, of Ardreigh, County Kildare, left issue.

The fourth son,

HAMPDEN EVANS, of Portrane, an officer in the army, succeeded his eldest brother, George Evans, MP for Queen's County, who married, in 1769, Margaret, daughter of Joshua Davis, and had issue,
GEORGE, his heir;
JOSHUA;
Eyre Dixon, of Liverpool;
Mary; Anne Dorothea; Sydney Elizabeth.
Mr Evans died in 1820 and was succeeded by his eldest son,

THE RT HON GEORGE HAMPDEN EVANS, of Portrane, MP for County Dublin, who wedded, in 1805, Sophia, only daughter of the Rt Hon Sir John Parnell Bt, of Rathleague, Queen's County, but had no issue.

He died in 1842 and was succeeded by his brother,

JOSHUA EVANS, one of the commissioners of the Court of Bankruptcy, who wedded Eleanor, only child of Robert Harrison.

His next brother,

EYRE DIXON EVANS, a merchant in Liverpool, inherited his brother's estate.

Dying in 1862, he was succeeded by his only son,

GEORGE EVANS (1831-73), of Portrane, who married though died without issue and was succeeded by his only sister,

MARGARET EVANS, who inherited the Portrane property on the death of her brother, George, without issue in 1873.

She married, in 1852, John Donald MacNeale.

Dying in 1874, she left three daughters, joint heiresses of her property, of whom the eldest,

MARGARET MacNEALE, married, in 1889, Captain S G Rathborne or Rathbourne, Royal Engineers, and had issue,

St George Ronald MacNeale Rathborne, born in 1893.


DESPITE owning a substantial amount of land in County Offaly, it would seem that the family of Evans never any notable residence in the county.

The family seat was Portrane House, or Mount Evans, Donabate, County Dublin.

When George Hampden Evans died in 1842, his widow erected an Irish round tower in his memory, at Portrane.

The Rev Patrick Comerford has written an article about Portrane Castle.

First published in June, 2013.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Brackenber: 1956

Here is the Class of 1956 at Brackenber House School.

Malcolm Lennox kindly provided the photograph.

Click on the image to enlarge it.

Dr Kevin Vaughan, a fellow pupil at Brackenber from 1953-59, has sent me the following information:
I recognise all the teachers except the lady at the end. Next to Mr Craig is Miss Rankin, then Miss McKeown, then Miss Gilbert. I think Miss Rankin's first name was Zena, not Zoe!
To the other side of Mr Craig is Norman Henry (I am two rows directly behind him, rather skinny!), then Ronnie Hunter, then Mr T P Sheehan, then Dennis Fergusson, then Mr Walmsley (spelling?) then Mr Williams who was an old boy who came to teach temporarily.
On the front row at one end is A W P Coutts, and at the other Smith, Anthony Malcomson, J A M Grant. I also recognise several of my contemporaries. After my parents moved to England, I spent my last year at Brackenber as a weekly boarder and spent the weekends with friends.
There was a small two bed dormitory where boys would occasionally stay. John Craig and Ronnie Hunter were the two masters who also lived on the premises and I got to know them both quite well.
One of my amusing memores of the school routine is that when they had finished eating lunch but before the boys where allowed to leave their seats, John Craig and Norman Henry would always get up, walk to one end of the dining hall and smoke a cigarette - it was always Mr Henry who offered Mr Craig a cigarette, never the other way round!
First published in January, 2010.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Ballybay House

THE LESLIES OWNED 5,463 ACRES OF LAND IN COUNTY MONAGHAN

GEORGE, 4TH EARL OF ROTHES, married thirdly, Agnes, daughter of Sir John Somerville, of Cambusnethan, and had issue,
Andrew, 5th Earl;
Peter;
JAMES, of whom we treat;
Janet; Helen.
His lordship's third son by his marriage to Agnes Somerville,

THE HON JAMES LESLIE, born in 1530, married Jane, daughter of Sir James Hamilton, of Evandale, and had issue,
George;
HENRY, of whom we treat.
The younger son,

THE MOST REV DR HENRY LESLIE (1580-1661), Lord Bishop of Meath, settled in Ireland, 1614, where he was ordained in 1617.

He was chaplain to CHARLES I, with whom he shared his great adversities.

This prelate espoused Jane Swinton, and had issue,
Robert (Rt Rev Dr);
JAMES, of whose line we treat;
William, of Prospect, Co Antrim;
Mary; Margaret.
The second son,

JAMES LESLIE (1624-1704), of Leslie House, County Antrim, wedded, in 1650, Jane, daughter of John Echlin, of Ardquin, County Down, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

THE VEN DR HENRY LESLIE (1651-1733), Archdeacon of Down, Chaplain to the Duke of Ormonde, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.

In 1680 he obtained a Prebend in Down Cathedral, which he resigned, 1695, for the Archdeaconry.

Dr Leslie espoused, in 1676, Margaret, daughter and heiress of Peter Beaghan, of Ballibay, and had issue,
PETER, his heir;
Edmund, MP for Antrim;
Penelope.
The Archdeacon was succeeded by his elder son,

THE REV PETER LESLIE, born in 1686, Rector of Ahoghill, who married Jane, daughter of the Most Rev Dr Anthony Dopping, Lord Bishop of Meath, and had issue,
HENRY, his heir;
James, of Leslie Hill, Co Antrim;
Samuel;
EDMOND (Ven), Archdeacon of Down;
Margaret; Jane.
The eldest son,

THE REV HENRY LESLIE (1719-1803), of Ballybay, County Monaghan, Prebendary of Tullycorbet, Clogher, and afterwards prebendary of Tandragee, in Armagh Cathedral.

Dr Leslie married, in 1753, Catherine, daughter of the Very Rev Charles Meredyth, Dean of Ardfert, and had issue,
Peter Henry, b 1755; k/a in America;
CHARLES ALBERT, of whom hereafter;
Catherine Letitia.
The surviving son,

CHARLES ALBERT LESLIE (1765-1838), of Ballybay, married, in 1799, Ellen, youngest daughter of Richard Magenis MP, of Waringstown, County Down, and left at his decease an only surviving child,

EMILY ELEANOR WILHELMINA LESLIE, of Ballybay, who married firstly, in 1828, her cousin, Arthur French, of Clonsilla, County Dublin, and had issue,
ROBERT CHARLES (now LESLIE), of Ballybay;
Charles Albert Leslie Attila FRENCH;
Helena Charlotte; Albertine Caroline; Henrietta Victoria Alexandria.
She wedded secondly, in 1844, her cousin, the Rev John Charles William Leslie, son of James Leslie, of Leslie Hill, by whom she had issue,
Ferdinand Seymour;
Marion Adelaide.
Mrs Leslie died in 1844, and was succeeded by her eldest son,

ROBERT CHARLES LESLIE JP DL (1828-1904), of Ballybay, and Kilclief, County Down, who married, at Paris, 1867, Charlotte Philippa Mary, daughter of Captain Edward Kelso, of Kelsoland, and Horkesley Park, Essex, and had issue,
Theordore Barrington Norman;
EDWARD HENRY JOHN, succeeded his brother;
Mabel Edith.
He assumed, in 1885, the surname and arms of LESLIE, in compliance of his maternal grandfather's will.

Mr Leslie was succeeded by his second son,

EDWARD HENRY JOHN LESLIE CMG MVO JP DL (1890-1966), of Ballybay, High Sheriff of County Monaghan, 1908, who entered the Foreign Office, 1902; HM Ambassador, Rome.


BALLYBAY HOUSE, Ballybay, County Monaghan,  was a fine Classical house of 1830 by JB Keane, for Charles Albert Leslie.

It comprised two storeys over a high basement, with a three-bay entrance front, the centre of which was recessed, with a Wyatt window above a single-storey Doric portico.

The adjoining front had five bays.

Practically all of the windows in the lower storey were set in arched recesses.

A three-storey, gable-ended range was added behind the house later in the 19th century.

Ballybay House was burnt and the contents were sold in 1920.

Nothing remains.

Former London residence ~ 10 Douro Place, Kensington.

First published in July, 2013.

Monday, 4 December 2017

Loughcrew House

THE NAPERS WERE THE SECOND LARGEST LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY MEATH, WITH 18,863 ACRES

JAMES NAPER (fourth son of Sir Samuel Naper MP, of Moor Crichel, Dorset, and grandson of Sir Robert Napier, Chief Baron of the Irish Exchequer, 1593), High Sheriff of County Meath, 1671, married Dorothy, daughter of Sir Anthony Petty, of Romsey, Hampshire, and sister of the celebrated Sir William Petty, ancestor of the Marquess of Lansdowne.

By this lady he left at his decease, in 1676, three sons and two daughters,
William, of Loughcrew, died unmarried;
JAMES, succeeded his brother;
Robert, lieutenant-general;
Elizabeth; Frances.
The second son,

JAMES NAPER (-1718), of Loughcrew, High Sheriff of County Meath, 1702, married firstly, in 1684, Elizabeth, daughter of James Tandy, of Drewstown, County Meath, and by her had two daughters,
Dorothy;
Sarah.
He wedded secondly, in 1695, Elizabeth Barry; and thirdly, Anne, daughter of Sir Ralph Dutton Bt, of Sherborne, Gloucestershire, by whom he had two sons and a daughter,
JAMES LENOX, his heir;
William;
Anna Maria.
The elder son,

JAMES LENOX NAPER (1712-66), of Loughcrew, High Sheriff of County Meath, 1740, assumed the surname and arms of DUTTON.

He espoused firstly, in 1734, Catherine, daughter of Henry Ingoldsby, by whom he had an only child,
John, who died unmarried, 1771.
He married secondly, Jane, daughter of Christopher Bond, of Newland, Gloucestershire, and had issue,
JAMES, created 1st BARON SHERBORNE;
WILLIAM, who inherited the Naper estates;
Ralph;
Anne; Mary; Frances; Jane.
Mr Dutton was succeeded in his Irish estates by his second son, William, who resuming the name and arms of NAPER, became

WILLIAM NAPER (1749-91) of Loughcrew; who married, in 1787, Jane, daughter of the Rev Ferdinando Tracy Travell, of Gloucestershire, and left one daughter, Jane, and one son,

JAMES LENOX WILLIAM NAPER JP DL (1791-1868), of Loughcrew, High Sheriff in 1822, who wedded, in 1824, Selina, second daughter of Sir Grey Skipworth Bt, of Newbold Hall, Warwickshire, and had issue,
JAMES LENOX, his heir;
William Dutton;
Lelia Jane; Anna Selina.
Mr Naper's elder son,

JAMES LENOX NAPER JP DL (1825-1901), of Loughcrew, High Sheriff, 1853, espoused, in 1877, the Hon Catherine Frances Rowley, only daughter of Clotworthy, 3rd Baron Langford, and had issue, a son,

WILLIAM LENOX NAPER MC JP DL (1879-1942), of Loughcrew, who wedded, in 1902, Adela Mary Charlotte, eldest daughter of Colonel the Hon W R Trefusis CB, Scots Guards, and Lady Mary Trefusis.

*****

THE NAPER ESTATES eventually grew to 180,000 acres in counties Meath, Westmeath and Cavan, helped by the Colonel`s marriage to the sister of Sir William Petty, a senior Dublin Castle official.

James Lennox William Naper (1791-1868) commissioned the building of Loughcrew House in 1823, a year after he was appointed High Sheriff of Meath.

A busy landlord and writer, he served as chairman of the Poor Law Guardians during the Famine years and subsidised the emigration of tenants to Canada in the 1830s.

His son, James Lenox Naper, also served as High Sheriff and was a major in the Meath Militia while also enduring the first major fire at Loughcrew House in 1888.
His son, William Lenox Naper, was awarded the Military Cross for services in the Royal Horse Guard during World War One but he died without issue and his widow Adela married the colourful adventurer, Rodney Matthews in 1946. His spending seriously impacted on the estate before he disappeared in his plane in the Irish Sea in 1953.
A cousin of William Lenox, Merrick Naper, died in Africa that same year before he could inherit and Merrick`s brother, Nigel, inherited the 1,500-acre estate before suffering two major fires in the house in 1959 and 1964.

The Irish Land Commission took 600 acres of the estate in 1967 and it was divided between his three sons on Nigel`s death in 1978.

Emily and Charles Naper have converted the old conservatory, pavilions, servant quarters and stables into the current living area, school of gilding and studio area.
Emily Jane Dashwood was born in 1958, eldest child of Sir Francis John Vernon Hereward Dashwood Bt (Premier Baronet of Great Britain). She married Charles William Lennox Naper in 1981.
They have revived the 17th century gardens and established Loughcrew Garden Opera.


LOUGHCREW, Oldcastle, County Meath, today comprises the vestiges of Loughcrew House, the Gardens, ancillary accommodation and about 200 acres of parkland and grounds. 

Loughcrew Garden Opera has been holding operas and concerts in the grounds of the estate since 2000 during the summer months, which has proved immensely popular.

Weddings, exhibitions and craft workshops have also been held in the large rooms within the courtyard buildings.

Remaining within the Naper family from the 17th Century to the present day, Loughcrew has had a turbulent and fascinating history. 


Originally the seat of the Plunkett family, its most famous member being St Oliver Plunkett, whose church still remains today on the estate, the first Loughcrew House was built in the 1600s by the Naper family, where the current formal gardens exist, amidst an awesome 180,000 acre estate.

Subsequently destroyed by fire, the next Loughcrew House was designed by Charles Cockerel in 1821 for the Naper family.


In 1964 this house, too, was destroyed by fire and all that remains today is the giant portico, rebuilt and free-standing as a modern day folly, and a hard tennis court within the old footprint.

Mark Bence Jones, in his guide to Irish Country Houses, describes the vast stones and fallen capitals of the 1820's neo-classical house, designed by Cockerell, once strewn about the ground like the remains of some lost city of antiquity.

The current house grew out of The Garden House, a large and interesting stone building attached to the original courtyards, unusual in its design, and which used to house an array of flora and exotic plant-life. 

The rooms that make up the house were in fact originally the palm houses, the azalea houses and the furnace rooms.

It currently comprises two principal reception rooms, including a particularly fine drawing-room, two sun-rooms, kitchen, five bedrooms, a basement, and a guest wing with three further bedrooms.



LOUGHCREW GARDENS have been created by generations of the Naper family since the 1660s. The Gardens are open to the public for a number of months during the year.

The result is a stunning combination of vistas, with water and archaeological features and many unusual trees, shrubs and flowers. 

A host of enchanting features are displayed in a setting steeped in atmosphere and history, including a medieval motte and the ruins of Saint Oliver Plunkett's family church and tower house.

The surviving 17th century features include a magnificent yew walk, foundations of a longhouse and a walled garden from which a canal and a parterre have been relocated in replica. 

In the 19th century these earlier elements were enveloped in a comprehensive development of parkland, water gardens, specimen trees, follies, rockeries, wood walks and magnificent vistas. 

The central area of approximately six acres now includes a lime avenue, extensive lawns and terraces, magnificent herbaceous border, ‘Grotesque Rockery and Grotto’, Hellfire garden, watermill, fountain, and symbolic statues and sculptures.

A large, log-cabin-style visitor centre with car park is located at the entrance to the gardens.

This contains a spacious coffee shop on the ground floor with small kitchen and lavatories. 

A covered decked area provides outdoor seating. On the first floor is a large room for a crèche or craft centre with lavatories.

First published in June, 2011.