Saturday, 31 March 2018

Santry Court


Of the family of DOMVILLE were two branches in Cheshire; the elder seated at Oxton, from the period of the conquest to its termination in females, who carried the estate through the families of Troutbeck and Hulse, into that of the Earls of Shrewsbury.

The younger at Lymm Hall, Cheshire, of which 

GILBERT DOMVILLE (2nd son and heir of William Domville, of Lymm Hall), removed into Ireland in the beginning of the reign of JAMES I, and was clerk of the Crown and Hanaper there, having for his colleague the ancestor of the Wellesley family.

Mr Domville, MP for County Kildare, 1618, married Margaret, daughter of the Most Rev Thomas Jones, Lord Archbishop of Dublin, LORD CHANCELLOR OF IRELAND, father of the 1st Viscount Ranelagh.

He died in 1637, and was buried in the choir of St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin.

His son,

THE RT HON SIR WILLIAM DOMVILLE (1609-89), Attorney-General for Ireland, 1660, MP for County Dublin, Privy Counsellor, Speaker of the General Convention of Ireland at the Restoration, wedded Miss Lake, daughter of Sir Thomas Lake, of Cannons, Middlesex, Secretary of State to JAMES I, and had issue,
William (Sir), MP for Co Dublin;
THOMAS, of whom we treat.
The younger son,

THOMAS DOMVILE (c1650-1721), of Templeogue, Clerk of the Crown and Hanaper, was created a baronet in 1686, denominated of Templeogue, County Dublin.

He wedded firstly, the daughter of his cousin, Sir Launcelot Lake, by whom he had a daughter (married to Barry, 3rd Lord Santry); and secondly, the Hon _____ Cole, daughter of Arthur, Lord Ranelagh, but had no issue.

Sir Thomas married thirdly, Anne, daughter of the Hon Sir Charles Compton (second son of Spencer, 2nd Earl of Northampton), and had issue,
COMPTON, his heir;
Elizabeth, mother of
Sir Thomas was succeeded by his son,

THE RT HON SIR COMPTON DOMVILE (1696-1768), 2nd Baronet, clerk of the Crown and Hanaper, privy counsellor, MP for Dublin for forty-four years.

At the decease of this gentleman, in 1768, the baronetcy expired, and his estates reverted to his nephew,

CHARLES POCKLINGTON (1740-1810), MP for County Dublin, 1768, who assumed, pursuant to the will of his uncle, the surname and arms of DOMVILE only.

He wedded Margaret, daughter of ______ Sheppard, and had issue,
COMPTON, his heir;
Henry Barry, in holy orders;
William, in holy orders;
Elizabeth; Margaret; Anna Maria; Caroline; Louisa; Mary; Bridget.
The eldest son,

COMPTON POCKLINGTON DOMVILE (1775-1857), was created a baronet in 1815, denominated of Templeogue and Santry House, both in County Dublin.

He married firstly, Elizabeth Frances, daughter of the Hon and Rt Rev Charles Lindsay, Lord Bishop of Kildare, and cousin of Lord Balcarres; by whom he had a son,

  • Sir Charles Compton William Domvile, 2nd Baronet (1822-84) son of 1st baronet; married Lady Margaret St. Lawrence; no issue;
  • Sir William Compton Domvile, 3rd Baronet (1825-84) son of 1st baronet; married Caroline Meade; one son and three daughters, including Mary Adelaide, later wife of Sir Hutcheson Poë, 1st Baronet
  • Sir Compton Meade Domvile, 4th Baronet (1857-1935) son of 3rd Baronet; never married.
The baronetcy expired on the death of the 4th Baronet.

SANTRY COURT, Santry, County Dublin, was a very important, early 18th century mansion of red brick with stone facings, built in 1703 by the 3rd Lord Barry of Santry, commonly called Lord Santry.

It was of two storeys over a singularly high basement, with a dormer attic behind the roof parapet.

It had a nine-bay entrance front with a pedimented breakfront.

There were Corinthian columns at the head of a great flight of steps.

Curved wings and sweeps were added later, ca 1740-50, by the 4th and last Lord Barry (Lord Santry).

The Court had a fine interior with a large hall; good plasterwork.

Following the death of Henry, 4th Baron Barry of Santry, the Domvile family inherited the Santry estate, including Ballymun.

Santry Court and nearly 5,000 acres of land remained in the Domvile family’s hands for almost 200 years (1751-1935).

Much of the historical records for the Santry Estate date from Sir (Thomas) Compton Domvile's inheritance of Santry Estate in 1751.

There is some evidence that the Santry estate was experiencing financial difficulties, partly due to the expenses incurred building Santry Court, but also because of the lavish habits of the 4th Baron.

When Sir Charles, 2nd Baronet, inherited Santry Court, demesne and estate from his father in 1857, he began the largest renovation and building programme (gardens and house) that the Santry estate had seen since its construction in the early 18th century.
A vast number of maps, diagrams and plans have survived from this period. Sir Charles was the last member  of the Domvile family to reside permanently at Santry. He married Lady Margaret Frances St Lawrence, a daughter of the 3rd and last Earl of Howth.
After the death of Sir Charles, Santry Court passed briefly to his brother, Sir William, 3rd Baronet, and then to the Pöe family who were relatives of the Domviles by marriage.

Shortly after 1935, Santry Court became a residential care home.

The house fell into disrepair, initially at the turn of the 20th century as the estate proved not to be economically viable; but ultimately after the Domvile family left Ireland in 1921.

It came into the possession of the Irish state, which intended to repair it and use it as a mental asylum.

This plan was shelved by the start of the 2nd World War; the need to increase security around Dublin Airport meant it was used as an army depot, and part of the gardens as a firing range.

There are many theories locally about what happened next, but it appears that soldiers of the Irish army caused a fire and the house was severely damaged in 1947; followed by demolition shortly afterwards.

First published in November, 2011.

Friday, 30 March 2018

Delamont Park



This family, a branch of the ancient and ennobled line of the same name in Scotland, is stated to have gone from Berwickshire to Ulster during the period of the civil wars in Scotland.

Following the destruction of the family papers, the lineage cannot be traced accurately.

Nevertheless, it is known that many years after the period of the Scottish settlement, General Lord Adam Gordon, fourth son of Alexander, 2nd Duke of Gordon, during a visit to Ulster, resided with his cousin, John Gordon, of Florida Manor, County Down.

At a subsequent epoch, in 1783, the intercourse was renewed upon the occasion of some members of the Gordon family visiting Scotland, when they were received with much kindness by Alexander, 4th Duke of Gordon, who fully recognized the relationship.

The representative of the Ulster branch at the close of the 17th century,

ROBERT GORDON, of Ballintaggart, County Down, married, in 1689, a daughter of George Ross, of Portabo, and sister of Robert Ross, of Rostrevor, in the same county, ancestor of General Ross, who fell at the battle of Bladensburg, and had issue,
JOHN, his heir;
Robert (Rev).
Mr Gordon died in 1720, and was succeeded by his elder son,

JOHN GORDON (1690-1771), of Ballintaggart, who wedded, in 1720, his cousin Jane, daughter of Hugh Hamilton, of Ballybrannagh, County Down, and had issue,
ROBERT, his heir;
Jane, m David Johnston.
Mr Gordon espoused secondly, Grace, daughter of Thomas Knox, of Dungannon, County Tyrone, and had issue,
Thomas Knox;
Margery; Elizabeth.
He bequeathed his estate at Ballintaggart to Thomas Knox Gordon, the eldest son by his second marriage.

The eldest son by his first wife,

(1722-93), of Florida Manor, married, in 1755, Alice, widow of Thomas Whyte, and only daughter of James Arbuckle and his wife Anne, daughter of John Crawford, and niece and heir-at-law of David Crawford, of Florida Manor, and had issue,
JOHN CRAWFORD, his heir;
David, of Delamont, successor to his brother;
Alexander, of Castle Place, Belfast, father of
Alice; Anne.
Mr Gordon was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN CRAWFORD GORDON JP (1757-97), of Florida Manor, Captain, 50th Regiment, who died unmarried, and was succeeded by his brother,

DAVID GORDON JP DL (1759-1837), of Florida Manor and Delamont, High Sheriff of County Down, 1812, who married, in 1789, Mary, youngest daughter of James Crawford, of Crawfordsburn, and sister of Anne, 1st Countess of Caledon, and had issue,
ROBERT, his heir to Florida Manor;
JAMES CRAWFORD, succeeded to Delamont;
Jane Maria.
Mr Gordon was succeeded by his elder son,

ROBERT GORDON JP DL (1791-1864), of Florida Manor, High Sheriff of County Down, 1833, and Tyrone, 1843, who wedded, in 1825, Mary, daughter of William Crawford, of Lakelands, County Cork; though dsp 1864, and was succeeded by his brother,

THE REV JAMES CRAWFORD GORDON (1796-1867), of Florida Manor and Delamont House, Precentor of Down Cathedral, 1828-41, who espoused Geraldine, daughter of James Penrose, of Woodhill, County Cork; though dsp 1867, and was succeeded by his cousin, 

ROBERT FRANCIS GORDON JP DL (1802-83), of Florida Manor and Delamont House, High Sheriff of County Down, 1873, who dsp and was succeeded at Delamont by his nephew, ALEXANDER HAMILTON MILLER HAVEN, and at Florida Manor by his nephew,

ALEXANDER FREDERICK ST JOHN GORDON JP (1852-86), of Florida Manor; who dsp 1886, and was succeeded by his cousin,

ALEXANDER MILLER HAVEN GORDON JP DL (1842-1910), of Florida Manor and Delamont, who wedded, in 1881, Ada Austen, eldest daughter of John Edward Eyre, Governor of Jamaica, of The Grange, Staple Aston, Oxfordshire, and had issue,
John de la Hay;
Edward Ormond;
Henry Gisborne;
Eldred Pottinger;
Ivy Dorothy Catherine; Margerie Frances; Honor; Marion Alice.
Mr Gordon was succeeded by his eldest son,

THE RT HON  SIR ALEXANDER ROBERT GISBORNE GORDON GBE DSO (1882-1967), of Delamont, who married, in 1914, his first cousin, Alice Mary Dorothea, daughter of Robert Francis Gordon, though the marriage was without issue.

Delamont was subsequently held in trust by his niece, Patricia Lillas, for her son, Archibald Arundel Pugh, who assumed the additional surname of GORDON in 1968.

When they took up residence at Delamont in 1968, they altered and modernised the house to the designs of the architect Arthur Jury.

The remaining buildings around the back yard were removed, and water mains and electricity were installed.

To keep maintenance costs down, they ceased using the front avenue and approached the house via the back.

The farm and land were let and, when their son came into his inheritance he, too, continued to let the land.

In 1978, Mr Gordon-Pugh applied for, and obtained, outline planning permission for a hotel, marina and associated development along the shore, together with additional approval for a leisure park and golf course over the rest of the estate.

The proposals were not implemented though the house was, for a period, used as a restaurant and hired out for private parties and functions.

Delamont was sold by Mr Gordon-Pugh in 1985.

DELAMONT HOUSE (above), near Killyleagh, County Down, is a mildly Tudor-Revival 19th century mansion of two storeys with an attic and dormer gables.

Its front has a central, polygonal bow, raised above the skyline to provide the effect of a tower flanked by two narrow oriels and topped by dormer gables.

There is a rather irregular, gabled side elevation, notably longer than the front. A slender, polygonal turret with cupola is at the back of the house.

By the late 16th, early 17th centuries, much of County Down had been acquired by Scottish and English Landlords such as the Hamiltons and Montgomerys.

They, in turn, settled the area with tenant farmers, Scots in the north east and English in the rest; while the native Irish were relegated to the less fertile areas.

These early settlers were required to build fortified dwelling houses or bawns and, in the Thomas Raven maps of 1625, there appears a substantial one-and-a-half storey stone house with a wall around it on approximately the same site as the present Delamont House.

This house was approached by a long, tree-lined avenue, which does not correspond with the line of the present avenue.

The house was also on a hilltop, appearing to lie surrounded by a deer-park.

The land at the time was in the ownership of Lord Claneboye, so his tenants must have been quite prosperous farmers to have afforded such a large house.

This early Victorian period saw most of the major developments and improvements to the estate.

In 1841, the Rev James Crawford substantially extended the farm buildings and planted a second avenue to service the farm, orchard and walled garden.

A second gate lodge was built and is known as the “Gardners Cottage” [sic]. He also improved the main entrance to the estate.

Much of the planting of Delamont was carried out in the years between David Gordon’s death and 1859, most notably Kinnegar Wood and the two wooded hilltops, the “Corbally Planting” and the “Ringwood Planting”.

Gibbs Island was also planted and the wooded area round the house extended.

It would appear that the form of the present house also dates form this period.

The formal terraced gardens were laid out at the same time and provide an integral link between the house and the landscape beyond, carefully leading the eye down through the various levels and making full use of the superb natural setting.

The main terrace directly in front of the house was gravelled, with the others kept as lawn.

The flower beds at the front of house and to the side would have been planted with seasonal bedding plants. There was formerly a rose garden.

The demesne was considerably larger than at the present day, extending west of the Downpatrick Road and Island Road and, in Griffiths Valuation of 1863, the Rev James Crawford Gordon held the land in the townland of Tullykin as well as Mullagh.

He also held the right of collecting and taking seaweed from the shore.

The Rev James Crawford Gordon died in 1867 and, having no children, the estates of Florida Manor and Delamont passed to his first cousin, Robert Francis Gordon (1802-83), son of Alexander Gordon and Dorothea Gisborne.

He apparently altered the house in 1875. He remained unmarried.

Robert Francis Gordon never married and following his death, in 1883, the two estates were divided: Florida Manor was left to a nephew, Alexander Frederick St John Gordon (1852-86); and Delamont to another nephew, Alexander Hamilton Miller Haven Gordon (1842-1910).

However, the nephew who inherited Florida Manor died without issue, thence Florida passed back to Alexander Hamilton Miller Haven Gordon.

Thus the two estates were again united in the Gordon family.

This late Victorian period at Delamont was when the Long Avenue was planted, as it does not appear on the 1856 Estate Map, but it features on the Ordnance Survey Map of 1903.

Alexander Gordon appears to have taken an active interest in his estate, and his obituary in 1910 describes him as a man
naturally attracted to the necessity for cultivating the soil in an agricultural country like Ireland. He was foremost in promoting any effort to introduce modern improvements and was himself an extensive farmer, both at Delamont and Florida Manor.
The Delamont estate is now run as a country park for the use of the general public.

Up until the time of the 2nd World War, the estate seems to have flourished: Sir Alexander's land steward, Mr Carlisle, developed the farm and improved the land; fruit and vegetables from the walled garden were sold; and Mr Moreland, who was employed as gardener in the 1920s, remembers half an acre devoted purely to rhubarb.

At that time, the estate employed five indoor servants plus a chauffeur, whose duties included carrying drinking water twice a day from a well by Kinnegar Wood up the hill to the house.

Eventually water was pumped up the hill and stored in a reservoir built on top of the rath.

Delamont appears to have been quite self-sufficient in those days, even generating its own electricity.

Sir Alexander made alterations to the house at the rear, by demolishing some of the sixteen servants' rooms which were no longer needed.

He also altered the porch ca 1938.

Whether Delamont was actually purchased by the Gordons or acquired by marriage is unclear, but their other estate in County Down, Florida Manor at Killinchy, was acquired through the fortuitous marriage or Robert Gordon to Alice Arbuckle in 1755, who was niece and heiress-in-law to David Crawford of Florida Manor.

It is thought that their son, David Gordon (1759-1837), first came into Delamont in 1793.

David Gordon purchased Delamont for £8,360 in 1793 (about £1 million in today's money) from Lord Northland and Matthew Forde, who were acting as executors for Mrs Margery Delahay.

Thomas Delahay acquired the property from Lord Limerick in 1733 for £1,117.

He had married in 1721, Margery, the sister of the Rt Hon Thomas Knox MP and predeceased her in 1747. The name "Delamont" obviously derives from the surname.

Unlike his father and grandfather, who were wine and general merchants, David Gordon entered the legal profession and also established the banking house of Gordon and Company in 1808, which later became the Belfast Banking Company.

He married Mary Crawford, of Crawfordsburn, in 1789 who was, by all accounts, a very wealthy lady.

The Delamont demesne dates from the 17th century. Raven’s picture map of 1625 shows a straight avenue leading to a previous house apparently on top of a drumlin, with mature trees and deer.

The present house was built in the mid-19th century on high ground with extensive views over Strangford Lough.

The ground undulates and the site is very attractive.

There are fine parkland trees, woodland belts and stone enclosed clumps on the hill tops.

The tree-lined ‘Long Walk’ was laid out post-1860 and has recently been shortened by a road-widening scheme. There is a narrow ornamental garden at the house which is not kept up and the conservatories are gone.

To the south of the house there is an enclosure, which has been adapted as a garden feature with encircling, tree-lined walks.

There are farm buildings of 1841, a walled garden and walled orchard. The walled garden is cultivated as a nursery.

There are two gate lodges built ca 1855. Delamont Country Park owned by Down District Council and is open to the public, as is the nursery garden.

Delamont House is presently owned by the Belfast Education & Library Board.


FLORIDA MANOR comprised the townlands of Ballybunden, Drumreagh and part of the townland of Kilmood.

In 1791, the estate was described as containing 1,300 acres of arable land and 400 acres of bog and it was let for £1,000 per annum.

In 1867, when Robert Francis Gordon took possession of the Florida Manor estate, it was valued at £4,634.

However, the bulk of Florida Manor, including the townlands of Ballygraffan, Ballyminstragh, Kilmood, Lisbarnet, Raffrey, Ravara and Tullynagee, formed part of the Londonderry Estates.

There is very little information relating directly to Florida Manor, though it is possible to draw together some information about the building of the house or, at least, to establish an approximate date of when the house was completed.

A bill of complaint declares that, when John Crawford Gordon died in 1797, his brother, David, succeeded to the estate which included the mansion-house called Florida Manor and demesne.

Moreover, a survey of 1794 for the Florida demesne of John Crawford recorded that it comprised just over 100 acres.

A memorandum of agreement between Robert Gordon and Hugh Agnew, a brick-maker, for 'fifty thousand bricks or any greater number...' is dated 1775.

First published in July, 2010.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Ballyarr House


LORD GEORGE AUGUSTUS HILL (1801-79), fifth son of Arthur, 2nd Marquess of Downshire, married firstly, in 1834, Cassandra Jane, fifth daughter of Edward Austen Knight (the novelist Jane Austen's brother), of Godmersham Park, Kent, and had issue,
Augustus Charles Edward (1839-1908);
Norah Mary Elizabeth.
He wedded secondly, in 1847, Louisa, daughter of Edward Knight, and had issue,
Cassandra Jane Louisa;
George Marcus Wandsbeck (1849-1911).
Lord George was succeeded by his eldest son,

ARTHUR BLUNDELL GEORGE SANDYS HILL (1837-1923), of Gweedore, County Donegal, who espoused, in 1871, Helen Emily, daughter of the Most Rev and Rt Hon Richard Chenevix-Trench, Lord Archbishop of Dublin, and had issue.

BALLYARR HOUSE, near Ramelton, County Donegal, was built ca 1780.

It was acquired in 1842 by Lord George Hill.

Lord George had previously bought 23,000 acres in and around Gweedore.
Ballyarr’s most famous visitor during Lord George's time was the historian Thomas Carlyle, and it was he who later described the house as ‘a farm-like place’ with a ‘piazza’, an Italian style square that was then considered fashionable.
After Lord George's death, in 1879, the house passed through his family until it was sold in 1900, along with the adjacent mill, to William Russell.

It remained in the Russells’ hands until it was bought in 1974 by Ian Smith, a former hotelier and war hero, and his artist wife Peggy.

One wing of the house, which had been barely altered since Lord George’s time, had fallen into ruin and was demolished.

However, one large fanlight window was saved and later erected in a house in Castle Street, Ramelton, known as ‘ The House on the Brae’, owned by Ramelton Heritage Society.

Ballyarr House was bought in 1981 by Andy O’Loghlin, bank manager, and his wife Breda.

They sold it to Roy and Noreen Greenslade in 1989 and the following year they oversaw a substantial restoration in order to return the interior to something like its original Georgian appearance.

The drawing room and library were returned to their previous proportions, with the addition of new fireplaces.

Ceiling cornices in the main bedroom were restored.

The exterior front elevation was also stripped of its stucco to reveal the original stone-work. 


In 1838, Lord George Augustus Hill purchased land in Gweedore and over the next few years expanded his holdings to 23,000 acres, including a number of offshore islands, the largest of which was Gola island.

He estimated that his lands had about 3,000 inhabitants, of whom 700 were rent payers.

Unlike previous landlords who often left their holdings and people alone, Lord George came to stay, and set about to improve the roads and bridges.

He had an advantage in that he knew the Irish language, the main language of the people of the area.

The first road into Gweedore was constructed in 1834 when the Board of Works constructed a road from Dunlewey to the Gweedore River and Lord George further improved the roads on his estate.

At Bunbeg he constructed a harbour and corn store and a general merchandise store.

By purchasing grain at the prices prevailing in Letterkenny, Lord George hoped to curb the practice of illicit distillation, which he perceived was one of the prime causes of distress in the area.

The suppression of illicit distillation was one thing in which Lord George had to admit he wasn't as successful as he would have liked.

Quite conveniently, although not mentioned by him or his admirers, the purchasing of grain from the tenants would have given them money with which to pay their rent. Potatoes were grown for their own needs.

About four miles from Bunbeg, up the Clady River, Lord George constructed a hotel, which he surrounded by a model farm.

Early editions of Hill's book were subtitled With Hints For Donegal Tourists, and this was, apart from demonstrating his agricultural improvements, the other purpose for writing Facts from Gweedore; he wanted people to come and stay in his hotel.

Hill also set up a shop in Bunbeg and imported a Scot named Mason to open a bakery.

Lord George was not for the "free market,"  and made sure that no one else opened up in opposition to him.

Margaret Sweeney was evicted for trying to set up a bakery without permission.

Almost immediately on taking up his land in Gweedore, Hill set about to improve the agricultural practices of his estate.

His tenants naturally were not so inclined to share the landlord's view of what was good agriculture and this became a bone of contention for many years even though Lord George was quite successful in abolishing the Rundale system.

Even he admitted that the reorganization of the farms was
a difficult task, and much thwarted by the people, as they naturally did not like that their old ways should be disturbed or interfered with...the opposition on the part of the people to the new system was vexatious and harassing.
In 1888, there were 800 official tenancies on the Hill estate, which increased the next year to 920, due to sub-tenants being recognized as official tenants, after a settlement negotiated between the landlord and the parish priest.

Downshire arms courtesy of European Heraldry.  First published in November, 2011.

Finnebrogue Visit

photo credit: © Finnebrogue House

Two years ago, almost to the very day, I was invited to see Finnebrogue House.

The owner knew of my interest in heritage and country houses and I'd already written about Finnebrogue prior to its admirable restoration.

Finnebrogue located in a beautiful part of the County Down countryside, close to the river Quoile, near Downpatrick.

Main gate lodge ca 1900

The main entrance lodge of ca 1888 is built of red brick and is a fairly substantial building.

My main article about Finnebrogue can be seen here.

Old gate piers stand isolated in the garden of this lodge, adjacent to the main road.

J A K Dean, in his indispensable gazetteer, The Gate Lodges of Ulster, describes them thus:-
Square in section, the big dressed sandstone pillars with plinths and full entablatures have breakfronts or pilasters on three faces, one forming a gate stop.
Driving slowly up the main drive, the big house emerges to one's right, slightly elevated on a slope.

Its surrounding demesne was the focus of an extensive late 17th century and early 18th century geometrically designed landscape.

This layout was focussed upon the house, which has a north-south axis view to Down Cathedral and Inch Parish Church.

A series of symmetrical enclosures, comprising courts, gardens and orchards, would have surrounded the building, including an entrance court on the north side.

The formal geometric layout was replaced by the present ‘naturalistic’ landscape park in the late 18th century.

Finnebrogue House was built in 1660 and is reputed to be the oldest inhabited private residence in Northern Ireland.

It is built on an "H"-plan: a long, central block with wings projecting at the front and back.

It comprises two storeys over a basement, and the wings have attic storeys.

The interior dates mainly from 1795.

The owner gave me a complete tour of the house, which has been sympathetically and fully restored; including the old wooden flooring.

photo credit: © Finnebrogue House

One striking feature is the colourful skylight above the main staircase which has several county family coats-of-arms; and the quartered armorial bearings of the Perceval-Maxwells, complete with supporters and crest.

photo credit: © Finnebrogue House

Finnebrogue remains a private house; it is, however, available for selected corporate & charity events by prior arrangement.

Its period architecture also makes it suitable as a location for film and television.

First published in March, 2016.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Mitchelstown Castle


The noble family of KING, which has been thrice advanced to the peerage, were anciently seated at Feathercock Hall, near Northallerton, Yorkshire, and there possessed large estates.

The first of its members we find upon record in Ireland is

SIR JOHN KING, Knight, who obtained from ELIZABETH I, in requital of his military services, a lease of Boyle Abbey, County Roscommon; and, from JAMES I, numerous valuable territorial grants, and several of the highest and most lucrative political employments.

He married Catherine, daughter of Robert Drury, and grand-niece of the Lord Deputy of Ireland, Sir William Drury, and had issue,
ROBERT, his heir;
Mary; Margaret.
Sir John died in 1637, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR ROBERT KING (c1599-1657), Knight, Muster-master-general of Ireland, who wedded firstly, Frances, daughter of Sir Henry Folliott, 1st Baron Folliott, of Ballyshannon, and had, with other issue,
JOHN, his heir;
The eldest son,

JOHN KING, who received the honour of knighthood and, although an active Cromwellian, was elevated to the peerage, 1660, by CHARLES II, for his zeal in inspiring the monarchy, in the dignity of Baron Kingston, of Kingston, County Dublin.

His lordship married Catherine, daughter of Sir William Fenton, of Mitchelstown, County Cork, and granddaughter of Sir Geoffrey Fenton, principal secretary of state.

By this lady Lord Kingston's family acquired the estate of Mitchelstown.

His lordship died in 1676, and was succeeded by his elder son,

2nd Baron Kingston. Photo Credit: Ulster Museum

ROBERT, 2nd Baron, who dsp 1693, having settled his estates to his uncle, Sir Robert King, in consequence of his brother, and the inheritor of his honours,

JOHN, 3rd Baron (c1664-1728), having conformed to the Church of Rome; but this nobleman appears afterwards to have enjoyed the estates.

He was appointed a gentleman of the privy chamber to JAMES II, and following the fortunes of his royal master into France, was outlawed; but after his father's death, returning into Ireland, he had a pardon from the crown.

His lordship was succeeded by his only surviving son,

JAMES, 4th Baron (1693-1761), who married twice; but dying without male issue, the BARONY EXPIRED, while an estate of £6,000 a year, and a large personal fortune, devolved upon his only surviving daughter, MARGARET.

Sir Robert King's youngest son,

THE RT HON SIR ROBERT KING (c1625-1707), of Rockingham, MP for County Roscommon, 1692-9, and for Boyle, 1703-7, Privy Counsellor, was created a baronet in 1682, denominated of Boyle Abbey, County Roscommon.

Sir Robert wedded Frances, daughter and co-heir of Colonel Henry Gore; and dying in 1707, was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR JOHN KING, 2nd Baronet, MP for Boyle, 1695-1714, MP for County Roscommon, 1715-20, who dsp 1720, when the title devolved upon his brother,

THE RT HON SIR HENRY KING, 3rd Baronet (c1681-1740), MP for Boyle, 1707-27, MP for County Roscommon, 1727-40, Privy Counsellor, who espoused, in 1722, Isabella, sister of Richard, Viscount Powerscourt, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR ROBERT KING, 4th Baronet (1724-55), who was elevated to the peerage, in 1748, as Baron Kingsborough; but died unmarried, when that dignity expired, and the baronetcy devolved upon his lordship's brother,

SIR EDWARD KING, 5th Baronet (1726-97), who was created, in 1764, Baron Kingston, of Rockingham.

His lordship was advanced to a viscountcy, in 1768, as Viscount Kingsborough; and further advanced, in 1768, to EARL OF KINGSTON.
The heir apparent is the present holder's son Charles Avery Edward King-Tenison, styled Viscount Kingsborough (b 2000).

The Mitchelstown estate once comprised 120,000 acres, and included large portions of the Galtee Mountains and the southward plain.

There were few thatched farm-houses; most were stone slated houses built in the English mode.

Mitchelstown demesne itself comprised not less than 1,300 acres, enclosed with a wall ten feet high, with offices, plantations, gardens, pleasure-grounds, and water scenery upon the river Funcheon.

The original mansion was a spacious, though comparatively plain edifice, situated on an eminence, commanding a far-spread prospect of plain and mountain.

It was erected about 1778, by Robert, 2nd Earl of Kingston.

MITCHELSTOWN CASTLE, ancestral seat of the Earls of Kingston, was once the largest Gothic-Revival house in Ireland.

It was a noble and sumptuous structure of hewn stone, in the castellated style, erected in 1823 after a design by Mr Paine, of Cork, at an expense of more than £100,000.

Mitchelstown is about thirty miles north of the city of Cork.

The buildings occupied three sides of a quadrangle, the fourth being occupied by a terrace, under which are various offices.

The principal entrance, on the eastern range, was flanked by two lofty square towers rising to the height of 106 feet, one of which was called the White Knight's tower, from its being built on the site of the tower of that name which formed part of the old mansion.

At the northern extremity of the same range were two octagonal towers of lofty elevation.

The entrance hall opened into a stately hall or gallery, eighty feet in length, with an elaborately groined roof, richly ornamented with fine tracery, and furnished with elegant stoves of bronze, and with figures of warriors armed cap-a-pie; at the further extremity was the grand staircase.


Parallel with the gallery, and forming the south front and principal range, were the dining and drawing-rooms, both noble apartments superbly fitted up and opening into the library, which was between them.

Entrance Hall

The whole pile had a character of stately baronial magnificence, and from its great extent and elevation formed a conspicuous feature in the surrounding scenery.

Near the Castle was a large fish-pond, and from a small tower on its margin, water was conveyed to the baths and to the upper apartments of the castle, and across the demesne to the gardens, by machinery of superior construction.

The gardens were spacious and tastefully laid out, the conservatory 100 feet in length and ornamented with a range of beautiful Ionic pilasters.

The parkland, which comprised 1,300 acres, was embellished with luxuriant plantations, and included a farming establishment on an extensive scale, with buildings and offices of a superior description, on the erection of which more than £40,000 was expended.

It was estimated that the castle, with the conservatories, farm, and the general improvement of the demesne, cost its noble proprietor little less, if not more, than £200,000 (£8.3 million today).

"Big George", the 3rd Earl, was renowned for his extravagant hospitality.

The 4th Earl continued to entertain his visitors regally at Mitchelstown.

One of the under-cooks  was a young man called Claridge.

Lord Kingston suffered a financial downfall: His lordship - and house guests - locked the doors against the bailiffs and were besieged therein for a fortnight, until finally the Castle was possessed, creditors satisfied and much of the estate was sold.

What remained of the estate was inherited by the 5th Earl's widow. Thereafter, Economy reigned.

The house was looted and burnt in 1922 by the IRA, which had occupied it for the previous six weeks.

The order to burn the building, to prevent the newly established Irish Free State army from having use of it, was made by a local Republican commandant, Patrick Luddy, with the approval of General Liam Lynch.

It is clear that one of the motivations for the burning was to try to cover up the looting of the castle's contents, including large amounts of furniture, a grand piano, paintings by Conrad, Beechy and Gainsborough.

Many of these objects have come up for sale in recent years and some, such as the piano, are still kept locally.

The Castle was severely damaged by the fire.

However, it is clear from documents in the National Archives of Ireland that, for example, in places where the fire had not reached, 'mantelpieces had been forcibly wrenched from the walls and carted.'

As this episode took place at the height of the Irish Civil War, there was no appetite afterwards to prosecute anyone for their role in the looting and burning.

The ashlar limestone of the castle was later removed to build the new Cistercian abbey at Mount Melleray, County Water.

The site of the building is now occupied by a milk powder processing plant and the surrounding 1,214 acre demesne (private park) of the castle has been destroyed.

Lord Kingston's London residence between 1826-32 was 3 Whitehall Place, now part of the Department of Energy & Climate Change.

Kingston Arms courtesy of European Heraldry.   First published in February, 2012.

Ballydugan House


This family descended maternally from BOYD, of Glastry, County Down, who claimed to be a branch of the Kilmarnock family.

RICHARD KEOWN, of Downpatrick, County Down (son of Richard and Margaret Keown, m 1768), married Mary (who assumed the name of BOYD, as heiress of the Boyds of Glastry and Portavogie), daughter of Henry Keown, and had issue,
John, JP, barrister;
Henry, a military officer;
WILLIAM, of whom hereafter;
Mary, m William Beers;
Anne, m George Gulliver;
Isabella, m Dr R Boyd.
The third son,

WILLIAM KEOWN JP (1816-77), of Ballydugan House, County Down, High Sheriff of County Down, 1849, MP for Downpatrick, 1867-74, wedded, in 1845, Mary, eldest daughter of the Rev Robert Alexander, Prebendary of Aghadowey, County Londonderry, and had issue,
RICHARD, his heir;
John Maxwell;
Alfred Henry;
Edmund Walter;
Mary; Matilda Catherine; Hilda Margaret.
Mr Keown assumed the surname of BOYD in 1873, under the will of his grand-uncle, Major David Hamilton Boyd, of Glastry.

The eldest son,

RICHARD KEOWN-BOYD (1850-), of Ballydugan and Glastry, Lieutenant, Royal Navy, married, in 1875, Florence, fourth daughter of Charles Manners Lushington MP, and had a daughter,

SYLVIA IRONSIDE KEOWN-BOYD, who espoused, in 1927, Sir Denys Henry Harrington Grayson, 2nd Baronet.

They divorced in 1937.

BALLYDUGAN HOUSE, near Downpatrick, County Down, is a three storey, five bay, Georgian house of ca 1770.

The estate lies close to Ballydugan Lake and flour mill, and the disused railway line, one of my favourite places in the county.

A two-storey, bow-fronted wing was added about 1815.

The estate today comprises about 750 acres.

Ballydugan has changed ownership on several occasions.

Stephen Richard Nassau Perceval-Maxwell (whose ancestral home was Finnebrogue House) lived at Ballydugan House until about 1935.

It appears that it was subsequently purchased by the Brownlows of Ballywhite House.

In 1976, Captain James Christy Brownlow (1922-2006), High Sheriff of County Down, 1971,  lived at Ballydugan House.

Stuart Blakley has written a piece about Ballydugan here.

The demesne was established in the 18th century.

There are mature shelter trees and woodland.

The walled garden is not cultivated but there is a very large English yew flourishing in the centre.

A maintained ornamental and productive garden is near the house.

The gate lodges have gone.

This site lies to the south of a much larger demesne, Hollymount, which has completely gone.

There are remnants of a fine oak wood on the east side, amongst forest planting.

The Keown-Boyd mausoleum of ca 1825 remains in very good condition.

First published in March, 2016.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

1st Marquess Conyngham


The family of CONYNGHAM was originally of Scottish descent, and of very great antiquity in that part of the United Kingdom.

WILLIAM CUNNINGHAM, Bishop of Argyll, a younger son of William, 4th Earl of Glencairn, in 1539, left a son,

WILLIAM CUNNINGHAM, of Cunninghamhead, Ayrshire, who had two sons,

WILLIAM, who succeeded at Cuninghamhead, and was created a baronet; and

THE REV ALEXANDER CUNNINGHAM or CONYNGHAM, who, entering into Holy Orders and removing into Ireland, was appointed, in 1611, the first protestant minister of Enver and Killymard, County Donegal.

He was appointed to the deanery of Raphoe, in 1630, on the consecration of Dean Adair as Lord Bishop of Killaloe.
Dean Conyngham settled at Mount Charles, County Donegal, which estate he held, by lease, from the Earl of Annandale, and wedded Marion, daughter of John Murray, of Broughton, by whom he had no less than 27 children, of which four sons and five daughters survived infancy.
The Dean died in 1660, and was succeeded by his eldest surviving son,

SIR ALBERT CUNNINGHAM or CONYNGHAM, Knight,  Colonel, 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons, who was appointed, in 1660, Lieutenant-General of the Ordnance in Ireland.

Sir Albert fought on the side of WILLIAM III at the Boyne, Limerick etc, and fell in a rencounter with the Rapparees, near Colooney in County Sligo.

He espoused Mary, daughter of the Rt Rev Robert Leslie, Lord Bishop of Raphoe, and was succeeded, on his decease, 1691, by his only surviving son,

MAJOR-GENERAL HENRY CONYNGHAM, of Slane Castle, MP for Killybegs, 1692-3, and for County Donegal, 1695-1706, who served during the reign of JAMES II as captain in Mountjoy's Regiment.

When JAMES II desired his army to shift for itself, Conyngham prevailed upon 500 of his regiment to remain united, and with them offered his services to WILLIAM III.

He became subsequently Major-General, and fell, 1706, at St Estevan's, in Spain.

General Conyngham wedded Mary, daughter of Sir John Williams Bt, of Minster Court, Kent, and widow of Charles, Lord Shelburne, by whom he got a very considerable property, and had issue,
WILLIAM, his successor;
He was succeeded by his elder son,

WILLIAM CONYNGHAM, of Slane (an estate forfeited, in 1641, by Lord Slane), who was succeeded at his decease by his brother,

THE RT HON HENRY CONYNGHAM (1705-81), captain of horse on the Irish establishment, MP for Killybegs, 1727-53, when he was raised to the peerage, 1753, by the title of Baron Conyngham, of Mount Charles, County Donegal.

His lordship was advanced to a viscountcy, 1756, as Viscount Conyngham, in 1756; and further advanced, in 1781, as Earl Conyngham, the barony to descend, in case of failure of issue, to Francis Pierpoint Burton, the eldest son of his sister Mary, by Francis Burton.

His lordship married, in 1774, Ellen, only daughter and heir of Solomon Merret; but dying without an heir, in 1781, all his honours became extinct, except the barony of Conyngham, which devolved, according to the limitation, upon the above-mentioned

FRANCIS PIERPOINT BURTON (c1725-87), as 2nd Baron, who wedded, in 1750, Elizabeth, eldest daughter of the Rt Hon Nathaniel Clements, and sister of Robert, Earl of Leitrim, and had issue,
HENRY, his successor;
Francis Nathaniel (Sir), GCH;
Catherine; Ellena; Henrietta.
His lordship, on inheriting the title and estates of his uncle, assumed the surname and arms of CONYNGHAM.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

HENRY, 3rd Baron (1766-1832), who, in 1787, was created Viscount Conyngham, of Slane, County Meath; Viscount Mount Charles, of Mount Charles, County Donegal; and, in 1797, Earl Conyngham.
In 1801, Lord Conyngham was appointed a Knight of St Patrick. In 1803, he was appointed Governor of County Donegal, a post he held until 1831, and Custos Rotulorum of County Clare in 1808, which he remained until his death.
His lordship was created, in 1816, Viscount SlaneEarl of Mount Charles, and MARQUESS CONYNGHAM.

In 1821, he was created Baron Minster, of Minster Abbey, Kent, sworn of the Privy Council and appointed Lord Steward, a post he retained until 1830.

From 1829 until his death, in 1832, he served as Constable and Governor of Windsor Castle.
The heir apparent is the present holder's son Alexander Burton Conyngham, styled Earl of Mount Charles.

The heir apparent's heir apparent is his son Rory Nicholas Burton Conyngham, styled Viscount Slane.

The Marquesses Conyngham were seated at The Hall, Mount Charles, County Donegal, now thought to be unoccupied.

The Hall is an early to mid-18th century double, gable-ended house of three storeys and five bays.

It has a pedimented door-case, bold quoins and a solid parapet concealing the roof and end gables.

At one end of the house there is a conservatory porch with astrigals and round-headed windows.

A salt works (also in the grounds of the former Conyngham estate) provided employment to local people during the 18th century.

8th Marquess Conyngham

The present Lord and Lady Conyngham continue to live at the ancestral seat, Slane Castle, County Meath.

Buncraggy House

BUNCRAGGY HOUSE, one of several notable houses on the Conyngham Estate, was home of the Burton family for most of the 18th century.

The house remained in the possession of the O'Gorman family until the end of the 19th century, when it became the property of the Caher family.

The house is still occupied and the yard buildings are the centre of a farming enterprise.

Other properties included Islandmagrath, Burtonhill House,Summerhill and Meelick House.

First published in November, 2011.  Conyngham arms courtesy of European Heraldry. 

House of Docwra

EDMUND DOCWRA, of Chamberhouse Castle, Crookham, Berkshire, was a younger son of Martin Dockwra, of the Chamberhouse, Berkshire, by his wife Isabel, daughter of William Danvers.

This gentleman, MP for Aylesbury, 1571, and for New Windsor, 1572, had a son,

SIR HENRY DOCWRA (1564-1631), Knight, a distinguished soldier in the Irish wars during the reign of ELIZABETH I, who landed with a force of 4,000 foot and 200 horse troops at Culmore, County Londonderry, on the 16th May, 1600.

His mission was to quell the rumblings of discontent in Ulster and, on the 22nd May, he marched into Londonderry without resistance and occupied and fortified the town.

From this base Sir Henry was able to harass the Irish clans in such as a way as to make them sue for peace with him.

He married Anne, daughter of Frances Vaughan, of Sutton-upon-Derwent, and had two sons - Theodore and Henry, and three daughters - Frances, Anne and Elizabeth.

Sir Henry was raised to the peerage, in 1621, as BARON DOCWRA, of Culmore, County Londonderry.

Lord Docwra, Treasurer at War, Privy Counsellor, Governor of Lough Foyle, received a grant in 1628 of 2,000 acres of land in County Wicklow.

He was succeeded by his only surviving son, 

THEODORE, 2nd Baron (1606-47), who died unmarried, when the title became extinct.

First published in February, 2012.  Docwra arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Monday, 26 March 2018

Crawfordsburn Park


ANDREW CRAWFORD, of Kilbirnie, Ayrshire, one of fifty Scottish undertakers of the plantation, was granted 1,000 acres of land in County Tyrone.

Although he sold this property within ten years, many of the kinsmen he brought over from Scotland remained.

In 1625, Crawford, as a tenant of Sir James Hamilton, was in possession of a mill and lands in County Down.

His descendant,

WILLIAM CRAWFORD, purchased the estate of Crawfordsburn, County Down, from Henry, 2nd Earl of Clanbrassil, about 1670, and was succeeded therein by his son,

JOHN CRAWFORD, of Crawfordsburn, who married Jane, daughter of Crawford, of Rocksavage, County Antrim, and was father of

JAMES CRAWFORD, of Crawfordsburn, who wedded Mabel, daughter of Hugh Johnston, of Rademon, County Down, and heiress of Arthur Johnston (1721-1814), of Rademon, MP for Killyleagh, 1769-76, and had issue,
JOHN, his heir;
Anne, m James, 1st Earl of Caledon;
Mary, m David Gordon, of Florida Manor.
Mr Crawford died in 1777, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN CRAWFORD JP (1745-1827), of Crawfordsburn, married, in 1774, Mary, daughter of John Kennedy, of Cultra, County Down, and had issue,
Arthur Johnston, MP, of Rademon, dvp unmarried;
MABEL FRIDESWIDE, of whom hereafter.
The only daughter,

MABEL FRIDESWIDE CRAWFORD (1785-1844), of Crawfordsburn, eventually sole heiress, espoused, in 1805, WILLIAM SHARMAN, who took the additional surname and arms of CRAWFORD, and had issue,
John, his heir;
ARTHUR JOHNSTON, successor to his brother;
James, of Rademon House, MP;
Maria; Arminella; Mabel; Eleanor Frideswide.
William Sharman-Crawford assumed the latter surname in 1827, in addition to his paternal one of SHARMAN, in compliance with the will of John Crawford.

He was the eldest son of William Sharman, of Moira Castle, County Down, by Arminella his wife, daughter of Hill Wilson, of Purdysburn, County Down.

Mr Sharman-Crawford died at Crawfordsburn and was buried in the family vault at Kilmore, County Down, where there is a monumental inscription.

A great stone obelisk was erected in his memory on a hill at Rademon Estate, near Crossgar, County Down.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN SHARMAN-CRAWFORD JP DL (1809-84), of Crawfordsburn, Major, North Down Militia, High Sheriff of County Down, 1839, who died unmarried, and was succeeded by his brother,

ARTHUR JOHNSTON SHARMAN-CRAWFORD JP DL (1811-91), of Crawfordsburn, High Sheriff of County Down, 1888, Barrister, Director, Belfast Banking Company, who married, in 1846, Louisa Alicia, daughter of William Crawford, of Lakelands, County Cork, and had issue,
William Henry;
Arthur Johnston (1850-62);
ROBERT GORDON, of Crawfordsburn;
Arthur Frederick;
Mary Elizabeth; Louisa Mabel; Alice Aimée.
Mr Sharman-Crawford was succeeded by his eldest surviving son,

THE RT HON ROBERT GORDON SHARMAN-CRAWFORD JP DL (1853-1934), of Crawfordsburn, High Sheriff of County Down, 1895, Colonel Commanding, 3rd Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, 15th Hussars, and 16th Lancers, who wedded, in 1882, Annie Helen, eldest daughter of Ernest Arbouin, of Brighton, and had issue,
TERENCE (1892-1913), d unm;Helen Mary.


JOHN SHARMAN, of Grange, County Antrim (elder brother of Captain William Sharman, MP for Randalstown 1749-60, who married, in 1740, Anne, daughter of John O'Neill, of Shane's Castle), had issue, two sons and three daughters,
WILLIAM, of whom hereafter;
Letitia; Anne; Sarah.
The eldest son,

WILLIAM SHARMAN (1731-1803), of Moira Castle, County Down, Barrister, Colonel, the Union Volunteers, MP for Lisburn, 1783, married, in 1773, Arminella, daughter of Hill Wilson, of Purdysburn, County Down, and had issue,
WILLIAM, assumed surname of CRAWFORD, as stated above;
John Hill;
Eleanor, m, in 1884, Hill Wilson, of Rosebrook, Co Antrim.
Crawfordsburn House today in its Edwardian reincarnation

CRAWFORDSBURN HOUSE, near Bangor, County Down, was built in 1906 to designs by Vincent Craig, at an estimated cost of £20,000 (about £2.2 million in today's money).

The Irish Builder publication in 1904 invited tenders for the
...erection of a new house at Crawfordsburn Co Down for Colonel Sharman Crawford D.L....This will do away with the rather historic, if excessively ugly old mansion on the shores, at the entrance of Belfast Lough.
The present house replaced an earlier "excessively ugly" building (below) of ca 1820, situated to the west, which itself replaced a house of about 1780.

The Irish Builder was surely suffering from an unfortunate dose of myopia or sycophancy, or had not seen the prosaic Edwardian pile before its Georgian predecessor was demolished.

Crawfordsburn House ca 1820-1905, prior to demolition. Click to enlarge.

The first occupant of the new house was the Rt Hon Robert Gordon Sharman-Crawford.

In 1933, a valuer described the building as
a well built modern mansion occupying attractive site on shore of Lough. Built about 30 years ago cost £20,000 + extras also large sums spent on cott[age]s and offices. Well planned house with good approach by drives from both C’burn and Helen’s Bay Roads. 
Extensive lawns, ornamental gardens, kitchen garden (walled in), conservatories and well built offices (none of which are used for agricultural purposes) including garages, carriage and coach ho, stabling for hunters &c. Ho[use] and offices have been well maintained and are in good general condition. 
Own water supply pumped from wells to service tank. Central heating. Lighting from own acet[ylene] gas plant. Drainage to septic tank. House and offices are now somewhat larger than required by occupier.
The accommodation at this time comprised, on the ground floor, an outer hall and porch, a lounge hall, 6 rooms, two cloak rooms (lavatory and basins), a safe room, butler’s pantry, butler’s room and safe, brushing room, lavatory and cloakrooms, servant’s hall, housekeeper’s room, store room, flower room, kitchen, scullery larder, boots and lavatory, dairy, wood stores and coal hole.

On the first floor there was a boudoir, minstrels gallery, 10 principal bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, 3 lavatories, a house maids’ pantry, linen room and sewing-room.

On the second floor there were 8 principal bedrooms, six maids’ rooms, three bathrooms, and two lavatories.

A wine cellar, store and safe were in the basement and cottages for the coachman and gardener in the grounds.

An estate agent’s pamphlet of this period describes the house as having a thoroughly modern interior with 9 reception rooms, 25 bedrooms and 7 bathrooms.

It was thought that the house might have been be used as a private residence, ‘a Country Club, Hotel or Central Headquarters for a Holiday Camp’.

In 1935, that the house was let to W J Stewart, after Crawford’s death.

William John Stewart, MP for South Belfast, 1929-46, was head of the building firm, Stewart & Partners, which built the parliament buildings at Stormont in 1932.

Colonel Crawford’s representatives were obliged to spend ‘over £1,250’ on improvements before the house could be let, including the installation of electric light and extra bathrooms with improved fittings.

Crawfordsburn House was sold in 1948 to the Northern Ireland Tuberculosis Authority.

A nurses home, recreation and school room were to the site in the same year.

In 1959, the Northern Ireland Hospitals Authority took over, using the house as a geriatric hospital.

In the early 1980s it passed into private ownership; and in 2000, was redeveloped to designs by MacRae Hanlon Spence Partnership, who converted the building into thirty-eight apartments with an additional twenty-two apartments in a new courtyard development.


SUBSEQUENTLY a great deal of planting was undertaken, so that today the area is well wooded.

There is extensive woodland and glen-side planting, shelter belts and two fine, twisting approach avenues.

An ornamental garden, known as Mrs Crawford’s Garden was added in the 1880s.

A rockery and pond remain, with some now outsize plants, but it is not maintained.

The walled garden is part used for a tree nursery and not otherwise cultivated. The gardens were probably at their peak at the turn of the century.

Banim says, in 1892, it had,
luxuriant growth of tree … masses of crimson rhododendrons lend rich colour.
Robinson commented in the Garden Annual and Almanac in 1908 and the head gardener, John Whytock, had a regular column in Irish Gardening at that period.

Since the 1970s replanting for the country park has improved the site.

There is a waterfall, numerous bridges, including a stone viaduct by Lanyon and modern buildings and landscaping associated with the park.

The ‘Crawfordsburn Fern’ was discovered here. It is thought to be extinct.

The gates lodges are notable and are all listed: Burn Lodge, of ca 1812, is thought to be by Nash for the first house; Helen’s Bay Lodge of ca 1870; and Home Farm Lodge of ca 1900.


Crawfordsburn’s heyday, like many of Ulster's  stately homes, was during the 18th and 19th centuries.

It was then that much of the estate was planted, including the coastal headlands (with Scots Pine, Beech, Beach, Sycamore and Elm) and the Glen (many exotic trees Monterey Cypress, Red Cedar, Californian Redwood as well as Rhodendrons, Beach and Laurel.

Crawfordsburn is now a Country Park.

Crawfordsburn House has been converted into opulant apartments and re-named Crawford House, Sharman Estate.

First published in July, 2010.