Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Finaghy House


The family of CHARLEY, or CHORLEY, passing over from the north of England, settled in Ulster during the 17th century, at first in Belfast, where they were owners of house property for two hundred years; and afterwards at Finaghy, County Antrim, where

JOHN CHARLEY (c1659-1743), of Belfast, was father of

RALPH CHARLEY (1674-1756), of Finaghy House, County Antrim, who wedded Elizabeth Hill, and had an only child,

JOHN CHARLEY (1711-93), of Finaghy House, who married Mary, daughter of John Ussher, and had issue,

Matthew, died unmarried;
JOHN, of whom hereafter;
Hill, died unmarried;
Jane, died unmarried.
The eldest surviving son,

JOHN CHARLEY (1744-1812), of Finaghy House, married, in 1783, Anne Jane, daughter of Richard Wolfenden, of Harmony Hill, County Down, and had issue,
JOHN, his heir;
MATTHEW, succeeded his brother;
Annabella; Eliza Jane.
Mr Charley was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN CHARLEY (1784-1844), of Finaghy House, who died unmarried, and was succeeded by his brother,

MATTHEW CHARLEY (1788-1846), of Finaghy House and Woodbourne, who married, in 1819, Mary Anne, daughter of Walter Roberts, and had issue,
JOHN STOUPPE, his heir;
Walter Matthew;
William Thomas (Sir);
Cecilia Anna; Suzanne Caroline; Letitia.
Mr Charley was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN STOUPPE CHARLEY JP DL (1825-78), of Finaghy House, High Sheriff of County Donegal, 1875, who espoused, in 1851, Mary Stewart, daughter of Francis Forster, and had issue,
John Francis Ralph (1853-55);
John Francis William (1857-99), k/a;
Walter Roberts Matthew, emigrated to Canada;
Ralph Mansfield, died in infancy;
Mary Grace Leader; Constance Stewart; Charlotte Elizabeth Forster.

FINAGHY HOUSE, Belfast, located in the townland of Ballyfinaghy, dates back to the late-17th century.

It is thought, indeed, that the original house was erected ca 1695.

It was first built as the residence of Richard Woods, but was bought in 1727 by the Charley family, who lived there for five generations.

The two-storey, thatched house was purchased by Ralph Charley.

A mural plaque on the south-west gable records that the Charleys first took possession of the site in 1727.

Finaghy House comprised six reception rooms and twelve bedrooms, and was described by a descendent of the family as 
"an imposing mansion in a large park, with extensive outhouses and stables … a remarkable feature [of the interior] being a revolving fireplace between the drawing-room and the dining-room."
Ralph Charley was a prosperous linen merchant who possessed a number of bleach greens in the Dunmurry area, and later established looms (for the weaving of linen) at Finaghy House.

In 1824 his descendants, John and William Charley, formed the partnership J & W Charley & Co.

Five generations of the Charleys subsequently resided at Finaghy House for more than 150 years.

In the 1830s the Ordnance Survey Memoirs described the house as a commodious two-storey dwelling that continued to possess a thatched roof, remarking that "the walls are nearly four feet thick and run together by grouted lime, similar to other ancient buildings."

The main (two-storey) building was depicted along its present layout, and also featured a number of outbuildings to the north-west side of the house.

It was recorded that these outbuildings were slated,  and had been erected by the Charley family during the last forty years.

The attached two-storey rear return and outbuilding (located to the north-west of the dwelling) had been constructed between the 1830-58.

John Stouppe Charley occupied Finaghy from 1866 until 1885.

Following his death in 1885, Charley’s widow sold the house and its contents to Major and Mrs Brewis.

The Brewises bred corgi dogs: one of which was called “The Queen Mother”.

The first corgi owned by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother was bred in this house. 

James Moore acquired the mansion during the 1890s, and it was during his residence that the formerly thatched building was probably re-roofed and altered into its present appearance.

The most discernible subsequent alteration was the construction of the current single-storey entrance porch.

The Irish census recorded that Finaghy House’s thatched roof was replaced with slate by at least 1901, so it's likely that the house was re-roofed shortly after the building was purchased by Moore about 1890.

The Moores continued to live at Finaghy House until 1930, when the property was acquired by Major and Mrs Tyler.

Finaghy House remained in use as a family home until 1960, when it was converted into a residential care home and renamed Faith House.

Faith House was listed in 1987.

Work was carried out to the two-storey return in 1989-90, when the original windows were replaced and the side porch (located in the courtyard to rear) was altered.

The outbuilding to the north-west side of the original building was replaced with the current two-storey wing at this time, too.

Despite the addition of the modern wing, the original two-storey gable bay to the north-west end of the return (which had been erected between 1833 and 1858) was retained.

Between 1991 and 2011 an additional number of modern extensions were constructed to the north-west and south-west sides of Faith House.

These extensions have considerably increased the capacity of the care home.

First published in March, 2011.

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Belle Isle: VII


I have written earlier about being brought up at Belle Isle Castle and of the occupants of that beautiful place whom I knew as a child.

I am now writing all of my recollections of Belle Isle, Necarne, Corrard, and Ireland in those days, and the following is an extract from my memories concerning Necarne.

I have always been fascinated by big houses and stories of people who lived in them.

Perhaps it was growing up at Belle Isle that kindled this interest but it has always been with me.

My first memory of Necarne was gossip overheard in the Belle Isle kitchens. 

Mr Hermon had sold all the furniture! The roof was leaking!

There were hens roosting in the drawing-room at night!

I had no idea what Necarne looked like except that it was a castle and Mr Hermon used to live in it.

Until one day, when I was a small boy, my father had to call at Necarne and took me along in the Land Rover for company.

I will never forget the first time I saw the castle: My father drove through the large gates and entered the grounds; he drove along the avenue and, coming suddenly round a bend and through some trees, it was there. 

I was enthralled.

A long and battlemented building, honey coloured, with a row of gables running along the top; turrets at the ends and round towers rising behind the body of the castle.

I saw tall chimneys, arched windows and massive doors.

The Land Rover kept moving but I was pressed to the window, trying to take it all in. It was wonderful.

I would have loved to get closer to it but Esmond would have none of that. 

He picked up what he came for and we left by the back road, that was all I saw of Necarne for years; but my curiosity was fully aroused.

In the years to come, I learned a great deal about Necarne and spent many memorable times there... 



Porter of Belle Isle

WHEN Nicholas Henry Archdale Porter died in 1973, Vida Leigh and Tiggy Brunt moved from Belle Isle Castle to Necarne and lived with Captain Richard Outram Hermon.

The place of residence was not Necarne Castle itself but a lovely house beside it known as the Gardener's House, a fine Georgian building, beautifully proportioned and elegant. 

I believe it would originally have been the Dower House.

I was now living in England and it was strange coming back to Ireland knowing that my old friends were no longer at Belle Isle.

When I came home in August 1974, Vida invited my parents, Esmond and Pearl; Paul, an English friend of mine; and me, to dinner one evening at Necarne.

We arrived at the Gardener's House on a warm and sunny summer evening.

This was the first time I had seen the house: It was a solid two storey Georgian structure with a central door to which Richard Hermon had added pillars, for no other reason but to make the house look more imposing. 

There were casement windows, one either side of the front door and three above.

The house had an elegant drawing-room of a good size, a small dining-room and an old-fashioned kitchen.

There was a further back kitchen and another small room downstairs. 

We sat in the drawing-room for drinks and Vida and Tiggy seemed perfectly happy and adjusted to their new home.

Dick Hermon was present and perfectly agreeable, he had always got on with my father and they chatted away about farming.

The drawing-room had two sofas and some chairs set around a marble fireplace.

There were little tables scattered about and a small desk in a recessed side window alcove.

Mahogany shelving had been fitted on the back wall and was filled with books. 

There was a gilt-edged mirror over the fireplace and some of Vida Leigh’s paintings on the walls - two interior views of Belle Isle and a portrait of Nicholas Porter.

Vida very kindly gave me a copy of one of the paintings of the hall at Belle Isle Castle.  

We all crowded into the small dining-room: a circular table surrounded by chairs, a sideboard and a crystal chandelier over the table.

There was a hatch between the dining-room and kitchen and Tiggy pushed the food through and served the meal.

We had braised duck and a selection of vegetables followed by a summer pudding. 

The pudding was made from fresh raspberries and blackcurrants soaked in wine and packed into a brown bread mould and chilled.

It was a lovely meal.

Vida chatted throughout the dinner and explained how she had prepared the dishes.

On the way home in the car later, my mother laughingly told us that Vida had not prepared anything.

She liked to take credit but Tiggy had done the work! 

It was always the same. My mother knew Vida through and through and was familiar with her ways.

Dear Tiggy had smiled demurely and said nothing!

It would be wrong, however, to give the impression that Tiggy was slighted.

The sisters were devoted and Tiggy understood her sister’s need for glory!

The walls of the long and narrow hall in the Gardener's House were covered with row after row of framed 18th and 19th century political cartoons that had been on the walls of the landing above the Tudor Gallery in Belle Isle Castle.

Lavinia Baird had disliked them and gave them all to Vida Leigh in the 1970s.  

While the party was talking after dinner I wandered across to the castle.

It was still light and the sun shone on the beautiful stonework.

It was, on close examination, a sorry sight: the glass was missing from some of the windows and I leaped over one of the sills and entered a large room. 

There was evidence of water damage everywhere, ceilings were hanging down; there was debris and muck on the floors.

Doors were missing and there were signs of vandalism.

Everywhere was desolation and damage.

There were traces of wall coverings, carvings, mouldings and intricate plasterwork.

It had clearly been a beautiful place.

A voice shouted through the window.

It was Tom McKervey, the old butler.

He was retired but still lived nearby.

I knew Tom well from my childhood and he greeted me warmly but added a warning; “don’t go up the stairs, the floors are rotten and it is dangerous.” 

I could not resist a look.

Gingerly I made my way to a landing which was even more depressing.

Tiggy told me, on a later occasion, that around that time some children ran amok in the derelict castle and tossed loose and crumbling stonework from the battlemented towers into the gardens below. 

The castle’s windows were boarded up to preserve what was left.

It was a sorry end to one of Fermanagh’s beautiful buildings.

Later that evening, we sat in the drawing-room and then Vida jumped up and said “come on,” we all followed her and trooped upstairs to her bedroom.

Vida reclined on the bed and we all sat around.

Some more drinks were produced and we chatted for a couple of hours. 

It was like old times at Belle Isle, Vida had always enjoyed holding court in her room.

It was a lovely room, too, but nothing compared to the one she had used at Belle Isle.

We were shown round the upstairs rooms and Vida remarked on a tapestry on the wall in Mr Hermon’s room.

It was old and had been with him at the castle.

I wish I had paid more attention because I cannot remember what she said, but I think it may well have been Gobelins. 

Apparently it was one of the few possessions he had retained from the castle.

Richard Hermon had been in an affable mood all evening and I broached the subject of the castle.

He said that it was not practical after the war to keep it up and it was no good rattling around a place like that on your own. 

I knew better than to pursue the matter but do recall Lavinia Baird saying once that had Mr Hermon spent a couple of thousand pounds when the roof started to leak and, repaired, it would still be sound.

She said it would now cost a fortune to bring it back.

At the end of a most enjoyable evening at Necarne, we made ready to leave.

Again, this is a memory that sticks in my mind: we walked along in front of the gardener's house, passing a small ornate stone wall; there was a donkey on the grass behind it.

It was a clear, silent night and Vida linked arms with my father as we walked back to the car.

Tiggy was chatting to me; we all embraced and said good night. 

I never saw Vida again.

In the next year she developed a swelling on one of her legs, she was taken into hospital in Omagh, County Tyrone; she died shortly afterwards.

The period that followed was interesting, because Richard Hermon had always admired Vida but had tended to be a little distant from Tiggy.

Now they were left alone together they got on remarkably well. 

I saw them out driving on a couple of occasions together.

Richard Hermon died in June 1976 and left the Necarne Estate to Tiggy’s nephew, Pierce Brunt.

Vida and Tiggy had a brother, Nigel, who never came to live in Ireland but had visited occasionally. Pierce was his son. 
Richard Hermon had arranged that Tiggy (right) was to be able to remain in the Gardener's House for the rest of her life.

Tiggy remained at Necarne for some years.

I always went to see her when I was in Ireland and we kept up a correspondence.

She was always cheerful and amusing but it must have been lonely for her though she never said so. 

She took on a lease of life for a while after Richard Hermon’s death and would take herself into Enniskillen and have her hair done!

Soon she settled into a quiet existence with her little dog.

She only had one now: Penny, a brown and white Jack Russell terrier.

There were still people around Irvinestown and Necarne who had worked for Richard Hermon, and they were good to Tiggy. 

I saw Tiggy a few more times, once my sister Audrey and two of her young children came with me, Helen and James.

Helen sat close to her mother and James played with the dog.

We were in the kitchen of the Gardener's House.

It was an old-fashioned room with a range, a flagstone floor and large cream-coloured glass-fronted cupboards full of blue and white china.

On one wall behind a sheet of glass were a series of impressionist watercolours. 

They had been in the summer-house at Mullaghmore originally and belonged to Vida.

I remember Vida telling me they were French.

I recall them distinctly: they were all of a young fair-haired man standing among flowers and shrubs in an idyllic landscape. 

I have a feeling they will turn up on an antiques programme one day and be worth a fortune!

Tiggy was delighted to see Audrey; they had always been friends.

Tiggy laughed and said “You were always slimming Audrey when you were growing up, look at you now, seven children later and still slim!”

Audrey laughed and responded, “Oh no!” Tiggy smiled and said “There’s not a scrap on you!”

They chatted on in this vein quite happily and I took some pictures.

The last time I saw Tiggy we spent several hours together in her kitchen, she brought out a box of old photographs and there were some fascinating glimpses of the past, including a series of pictures of the interiors of Alton Castle in the 1920s; and one picture of Nicholas Porter as a young man standing in front of Belle Isle wearing a cape, standing with his arms outstretched and bowing slightly.
He looked very whimsical, perfectly capturing the spirit of the ‘bright young things’ of the 1920s.

I wish I had asked for a copy, it was so striking.

Tiggy made some tea and produced cakes, and then we went for a short walk by the castle with the little dog.

Tiggy was so sympathetic for everyone else: “Poor Vida, how difficult it was for her, in her last days”; and “Dear Richard, he did miss Vida so”. 

Never any complaint about her own situation.

We said good-bye at last and I promised to call again soon, but it was not to be. 

Tiggy died within the year and I never went back to the gardener's house.

I hope someone at Necarne looked after little Penny, but I feel sure they did.

First published in April, 2010.

Viscount Dungannon (2nd Creation)


This family and the noble house of HILL, Marquesses of Downshire, had a common progenitor in

THE RT HON MICHAEL HILL MP (1672-99), of Hillsborough, County Down, MP for Hillsborough, 1695-9, Privy Counsellor to WILLIAM III, and a member of both the English and Irish parliaments, who wedded, in 1690, Anne, only daughter of Sir John Trevor, Knight, of Brynkinalt, Denbighshire, Speaker of the House of Commons, and subsequently first Lord Commissioner of the Great Seal, by whom he had two sons, Trevor, created Viscount Hillsborough, founder of the house of DOWNSHIRE; and

THE RT HON ARTHUR HILL (1694-1771), of Belvoir Park, Newtownbreda, County Down, MP for Hillsborough, 1715-27, County Down, 1727-66, who inherited the estates of his maternal grandfather, Sir John Trevor, in 1762; upon which occasion he assumed the additional surname of TREVOR, and was created, in 1766, Baron Hill and VISCOUNT DUNGANNON.

His lordship espoused firstly, Anne, third daughter and co-heir of the Rt Hon Joseph Deane, Chief Baron of the Irish Exchequer, by whom he had no issue.

He wedded secondly, in 1737, Anne, daughter and heir of Edmund Francis Stafford, of Brownstown, County Meath, and had issue,
Arthur, MP (1738-70), predeceased his father;
Anne, m 1st Earl of Mornington;
Prudence, m Charles Powell Leslie.
His lordship was succeeded by his grandson, 

ARTHUR (1763-1837), 2nd Viscount, who married, in 1795, Charlotte, eldest surviving daughter of Charles, Baron Southampton, and had issue,
ARTHUR, his successor;
Charles Henry (1801-23).
His lordship was succeeded by his elder son, 

ARTHUR (1798-1862), 3rd Viscount, who wedded, in 1821, Sophia, fourth daughter of George D'Arcy Irvine, of Castle Irvine, County Fermanagh, though the marriage was without issue.

The titles expired on the death of the 3rd Viscount in 1862.

The Dungannon estates, including Brynkinalt, passed to the latter's kinsman, Lord Edwin Hill, third son of the 3rd Marquess of Downshire, who assumed the additional surname of TREVOR and was created Baron Trevor, of Brynkinallt, Denbighshire, in 1890.

Of particular interest is the fact that Lord and Lady Dungannon had one son and two daughters, one of whom, the Hon Anne Hill-Trevor, married Garrett, 1st Earl of Mornington, by whom she had issue Richard, 1st Marquess Wellesley; and Arthur, 1st Duke of Wellington.

Of course this makes Lord Dungannon the grandfather of "The Great Duke" of Wellington; and it can be supposed that the Great Duke would have been familiar with the Belvoir demesne and spent time there during his childhood.

Below is the 1st Viscount's memorial:-

First published in February, 2010.  Dungannon arms (2nd Creation) courtesy of European Heraldry.

Monday, 29 October 2018

Lismore House


ANDREW NESBITT, of Brenter (presumed to be son of Thomas Nesbitt, of Newbottle, and grandson of George Nesbitt, who died in 1590), assignee from the Earl of Annandale, of the estates of Brenter and Malmusock, County Donegal, was father of 

ANDREW NESBITT, who served in the army of CHARLES I in Ireland; whose eldest son,

THOMAS NESBITT (c1672-1750), of Grangemore, County Westmeath, High Sheriff of County Cavan, 1720, MP for Cavan Borough, 1715-50, married twice, and was father of

COSBY NESBITT (1718-91), of Lismore, MP for Cavan Borough, 1750-68, High Sheriff of County Cavan, 1764, who succeeded to the Cavan estates on the death of his father.

His eldest son, 

COLONEL THOMAS NESBITT (c1744-1820), of Lismore, MP for Cavan Borough, 1768-1800, High Sheriff of County Cavan, 1769, married and was father of

COSBY NESBITT JP DL, High Sheriff of County Cavan, 1798, Major, Cavan Militia, whose second son, 

ALEXANDER NESBITT DL (1817-86), of Lismore House, County Cavan, and Old Lands, Sussex, High Sheriff of County Cavan, 1862, died without issue and was succeeded by his sister, 

MARY ANNE BURROWES, who espoused, in 1854, James Edward Burrowes, and had issue, an only child,

THOMAS COSBY BURROWES JP DL (1856-1925), of Lismore, County Cavan, High Sheriff of County Cavan, 1888, married, in 1885, Anna Frances Maxwell, sister of 10th Baron Farnham, and had issue,
Eleanor Mary (1886-1962);
Rosamund Charlotte, b 1891.
Rosamund Charlotte Cosby Burrowes, of Lismore, married, in 1922, Major Shuckburgh Upton Lucas-Clements in 1922, and had issue,
Elizabeth Anne, b 1922;
Thomas, b 1925;
John, b 1930;
Robert Henry, b 1930.

LISMORE HOUSE, near Crossdoney, County Cavan, was built ca 1730.

The main block was of two storeys over a high basement, with a pediment breakfront centre and a widely spaced Venetian window in both storeys.

There were two bays either side of the centre, overlapping tower wings of one storey each.

The house had a solid roof parapet with urns and oculi in the upper storey of the office wings.

Lismore passed to the Lucas-Clements family through the marriage of Miss R Burrowes to Major Shuckburgh Lucas-Clements in 1922.

Having stood empty for many years, the house fell into ruin and was demolished ca 1952, with the exception of a tower wing.

The estate is three miles from the Farnham estate and hotel.

The office wings were used as farm buildings and appear to have been converted to modern living accomodation.

The family moved to the former agent's house.

First published in May, 2012.

Mount Stewart Hunting Lodge

The North Lodge, formerly the gamekeeper's lodge, is a modest, single-storey, "toy fort" Gothic hunting lodge of ca 1810, situated in a wooded area within a clearing in the National Trust's Mount Stewart estate, Ards Peninsula, County Down.

This delightful little lodge is not included in Dean's Gate Lodges of Ulster, simply because it is not a gate lodge.

The roof is covered with Bangor blue slates.

There are decorative barges and a finial.

The main lodge's roof lies behind the castellated parapet and is only visible from the rear elevation to the north.

The southern facade at the front is symmetrical, and has two moderately projecting outer bays, each with a pointed arch window with casement frame, with (now boarded) quatrefoil openings above.

The porch has wooden double doors with pointed arch sidelights and a quatrefoil window in the gable apex.

There is a quatrefoil opening above the porch.

The top of the facade is "castellated with stone pyramidal pinnacles to corners and inner edges of outer bays".

The eastern and western facades are similar in arrangement as the outer front bays, with castellations and pinnacles.

Each side has a yellow brick chimney stack which rises from the castellations.

The northern edges of both the eastern and western elevations each merge into a wall.

The eastern wall adjoins a small, single-storey, lean-to, corrugated-iron outhouse.

All of the facades (apart from the north one) are finished in lined render, with sandstone dressings to the openings.

The rear is finished in roughcast.

There is no documentary evidence relating to the date of construction of this lodge.

It is thought, however, to be contemporaneous with the other Gothic gate lodges within the estate, which are believed to date ca 1804-13.

The lodge is shown on the Ordnance Survey map of 1834, with the exception of the front porch (probably a late-Victorian addition).

The rather incongruous chimney stacks are likely a late Victorian addition, too.

Sunday, 28 October 2018

1st Earl of Seafield


This family descends from a younger son of the house of AIRLIE.

SIR WALTER OGILVY, Knight, of Auchleven, second son of the Treasurer of Scotland, Ogilvie, by Isabel Durward, heir of Lintrathen, who married Margaret, only daughter and heir of Sir John Sinclair, of Deskford and Findlater, and thereby acquired those estates.

Sir Walter obtained permission from the Crown, in 1455, to fortify his castle at Findlater, and to make it a place of strength.

He died in 1473, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR JAMES OGILVY, Knight, of Deskford and Findlater, who wedded Margaret, eldest daughter of Sir Robert Innes, of Innes, and was succeeded in 1510 by his grandson,

ALEXANDER OGILVY (son of Sir James Ogilvy, who died in 1505-6, by Agnes, natural daughter of George, 2nd Earl of Huntley), who obtained a charter, in 1511, for incorporating the lands of Deskford, Findlater, and Keithmore into one entire barony, to be designated by the name of Ogilvy.

He married Janet, second daughter of James Abernethy, 3rd Lord Saltoun, and had a son, JAMES, whom he disinherited, settling estates upon John Gordon, 2nd son of George, 4th Earl of Huntley; but after a feud and some bloodshed between the Gordons and Ogilvys, the baronies of Deskford and Findlater were restored by an arbitration, of which QUEEN MARY was overs-woman.

The rightful heir,

JAMES OGILVY,  of Cardell, who was succeeded by his grandson,

SIR WALTER OGILVY, Knight, who was elevated to the peerage, in 1616, in the dignity of Lord Ogilvy of Deskford.

His lordship wedded firstly, Agnes, eldest daughter of Robert, 3rd Lord Elphinstone, by whom he had a daughter,
Christian, married to Sir John Forbes of Pitsligo.
He espoused secondly, the Lady Mary Douglas, third daughter of William, Earl of Morton, and had by that lady,

JAMES, 2nd Lord, who was created, in 1638, Earl of Findlater.

His lordship married the Lady Elizabeth Leslie, daughter of Andrew, 5th Earl of Rothes, by whom he had two daughters,
ELIZABETH, m Sir Patrick Ogilvy, of Inchmartin;
Anne, m William, 9th Earl of Glencairn, LORD CHANCELLOR OF SCOTLAND.
He married secondly, the Lady Marion Cunningham, daughter of William, 8th Earl of Glencairn, but by her he had no issue.

Lord Findlater thus having no male issue, procured a renewed patent, dated 1641, conferring the titles of Earl and Countess of Findlater upon his son-in-law, Sir Patrick Ogilvy, and that gentleman's wife, the Lady Elizabeth Ogilvy, his lordship's elder daughter.

At his decease the peerage so devolved upon

SIR PATRICK OGILVY AND HIS LADY, as Earl and Countess of Findlater.

His lordship died in 1658, and was succeeded by his son,

JAMES, 3rd Earl, whose eldest surviving son,

JAMES, 4th Earl, a lawyer of great eminence at the Scottish bar, who filled successively the offices of Solicitor-General and Secretary of State for Scotland; Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer; and High Commisssioner to the General Assembly of the church.

His lordship had been elevated to the peerage before the decease of his father, in 1698, in the dignity of Viscount Seafield; and, in 1701, Viscount Reidhaven and EARL OF SEAFIELD.

Earls of Seafield (1701)

The heir apparent is the present holder's son James Andrew Studley, styled Viscount Reidhaven (b 1963). He became a Muslim in 1990.

CULLEN HOUSE, Buckie, Moray, was the ancestral seat of the Earls of Seafield.

The main part of the house dates from 1543.

An east wing was added in 1711, and there were alterations by David Bryce in 1858.

The House and estate buildings were converted into fourteen dwellings in 1983.

Prior to the use of Cullen House by the Earls of Seafield, the castle of Findlater, now a ruin, on a rocky coastal outcrop about two miles to the east, was the seat.

Several hundred yards from Cullen House, on the site of the old village, stands Old Cullen, a dower house, Georgian in design. Formerly the Factor's house, it is now the residence of Lord and Lady Seafield.

The Earls of Seafield owned a further 160,224 acres of land in Inverness-shire, and 48,936 acres in Banffshire.

First published in February, 2016.  Seafield arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Norwood Tower Painting

I visited Mrs Primrose Henderson in 2011.

Her late husband was Captain Oscar William James (Bill) Henderson OBE DL.

The Hendersons once owned the Belfast Newsletter newspaper.

Brum Henderson ran Ulster Television for many years.

Mrs Henderson generously gave me permission to photograph the family's 1864 oil-painting of the old family home, Norwood Tower, Strandtown, Belfast.

Norwood Tower was their seat until 1934.

West Lodge of ca 1845

The grounds extended to about fifty acres.

On the large, ten-acre field to the east of the former mansion, Norwood Park and Norwood Gardens were built.

Mrs Henderson recalled, as a girl, riding her pony across a track through the grounds to the stables and house itself (presumably in the 1930s).

Primrose Henderson's mother was Gundreda Forrest (née Ewart), daughter of Sir William Quartus Ewart Bt.

Miss Florence Henderson bequeathed Norwood Tower to a distant cousin and baronet, Sir Christopher Musgrave, rather than her nephew Oscar Henderson.

The Musgraves were at Norwood for 20 years.

Click on the images to enlarge.

© 2011 Lord Belmont in Northern Ireland

The painting is dated March, 1864, and entitled NORWOOD TOWER, Seat of J A Henderson, Esq; painted by Hugh Fraser, ex-Professor of Painting of the Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin.

© 2011 Lord Belmont in Northern Ireland

This painting, together with another one of Norwood Tower, was discovered by the Rt Hon Terence O'Neill DL MP [the Lord O'Neill of the Maine] in the auction rooms of Messrs Robert Stirling, Antrim, in the autumn of 1957. 
They were given as a present by him to Captain OWJ Henderson MP, with the instructions that he was to keep one of them and the other was to be given to his brother, Mr RB Henderson.
It would seem likely that these paintings were sold by Musgrave when he came into possession of Norwood Tower on the death of Miss Florence Henderson, great-aunt of Bill and Brum Henderson. 
At the time when Sir Christopher inherited Norwood Tower, it was known that he sold as many of the Henderson family's possessions as possible; and it is indeed surprising that, over twenty years later, these two paintings should be discovered in Antrim by Captain O'Neill and returned to the Henderson family.
Norwood Tower was sold and demolished in ... 1955 and the site is now part of suburbia; and, at the present time, August 1958, only the gate lodge remains standing; and this will, itself, be shortly demolished.
First published in May, 2011.

Friday, 26 October 2018

Culloden Estate

William Auchinleck Robinson JP (c1816-98), originally from Scotland, married, in 1847, at St Anne's, Shankill, Belfast, Elizabeth Jane (1819-89), daughter of Patrick Culloden (1768-1843), of Stranmillis, Belfast.
Mr Robinson was a stockbroker, and initially settled on the Antrim Road, Belfast. He conducted his business at 67 High Street. His commercial prowess and acumen were such, that he purchased land at Craigavad, County Down.

CULLODEN, Cultra, County Down, was built in 1876 by the Belfast firm, Young & Mackenzie.

Most of the stone came from Scotland by boat, landed at Portaferry, and was conveyed by horse and cart to the Craigavad site.

The mansion took two years to build, during which time the Robinsons lived in a modest cottage within the grounds.

Culloden House, named after his widow, Elizabeth Jane Robinson (née Culloden) was presented to the representative body of the Church of Ireland.

At the end of the 19th Century, Culloden House duly became the official residence of the Lord Bishop of Down, Connor and Dromore, and was known as The Bishop’s Palace.
Ardtullagh, Knocknagoney, near Holywood, was the previous episcopal palace, but this property was acquired in 1886 by the War Department (Ministry of Defence) for use as a military barracks. The barracks is still in use today by the Army and is known as Palace Barracks.
The Rt Rev Thomas James Welland was the first prelate to live at Culloden, in 1898.

In subsequent years, three further bishops lived at Culloden.

During the tenure of Bishop Crozier (later Archbishop of Armagh), a private chapel, the Jeremy Taylor Memorial Chapel, was dedicated within the house.

During this period, the celebrated songwriter and entertainer Percy French often stayed there (Bishop Crozier was godfather to French’s second daughter).

In the 1920s, the Church of Ireland sold Culloden to Sir John Campbell MD FRCS LL.D, a well-known Belfast gynaecologist and MP.

In 1959, Culloden was purchased from Sir John’s son, Robert, for £10,000, by Thomas C Reid, sometime chairman of the Northern Ireland Ploughing Association.

Mr Rutledge White, proprietor of White’s Home Bakery, purchased Culloden in 1962.

It was opened as a hotel, comprising eleven bedrooms, the following year, under the management of Mr White’s son-in-law, Mr Roberts.

The late hotelier Sir William Hastings, CBE, purchased the premises in 1967, and Culloden is now the Culloden Estate and Spa,  Northern Ireland's longest-established de-luxe hotel.

First published in October, 2012; revised.

Belle Isle: VI


I have previously written that the Belle Isle people travelled to the west coast of Ireland each year, from 1950 onwards, to holiday at Captain Hermon’s house at Mullaghmore in County Sligo, Southern Ireland.

Since the partition of Ireland, the north was becoming prosperous and changes could be seen everywhere. 

But, at that time, the south was set in the past: Ireland was now divided into Northern Ireland and the newly established Irish Free State.

Barriers and customs posts were set up at the border.

In the south, road signs were changed into Gaelic, the countryside began to look subtly unfamiliar.

The west coast of Ireland, in the 1950s, was a world where time had stood still.

Dry stone walls divided small fields; white-washed, thatched cottages were commonplace.

The southern towns were old-fashioned and picturesque, cars were rarely to be seen. 

There was no television service and few homes had electricity.

The rural south of Ireland had hardly changed in a hundred years.

Most of the people led simple, uncomplicated lives.

A common sight, on the narrow roads, was donkeys and carts, carrying creels of turf.

It was a world of immense charm and innocence.

This may seem strange, given the history of Ireland; but it was essentially true.

Captain Richard Outram Hermon, of Necarne Castle (Dick Hermon, to those around him) bought his house near Lord Mountbatten’s castle, Classiebawn, which had belonged to Edwina Mountbatten's family. 

Lady Mountbatten had inherited Classiebawn and ten thousand acres of land in County Sligo from her grandfather, Sir Edward Cassel, who had been one of the richest men in the world and a friend of King Edward the Seventh at the turn of the century.

Captain Hermon chose Mullaghmore, because of his friendship with Lord Mountbatten.

They were both keen sportsmen, and shot and fished together. 

Captain Hermon and Lord Mountbatten both kept sea-going boats at Mullaghmore. 

A friendship developed between Lord Mountbatten and the rest of the Belle Isle household; he was sometimes their guest for dinner.

Lord Mountbatten repaid the compliment on more than one occasion. 

Indeed, Lord Mountbatten wrote the forward to Vida Leigh’s book about her mother that she wrote following the death of Mrs Brunt, ‘Mary Bright of Fiddler's Green.’

Lord Mountbatten’s contribution was handwritten on Classiebawn headed notepaper. 

I recall a visit to Classiebawn Castle as a very small boy, sitting in a car outside the castle.

I retain an impression of grey walls, lichen, turrets and small trees in tubs, but not much more.

My father had called for some reason on one of the Sundays when we were at Mullaghmore. 

I have a recollection of being out in a boat at Mullaghmore with my father, Captain Hermon, Mr Porter and others.

They were very fond of fresh mackerel at Mullaghmore.

It was held that mackerel had to be eaten when they were freshly caught, because they were scavengers and it was unwise to keep them! 

They were often fried in butter very simply and delicious!

Another way of cooking them was by coating them in oats and then baking them in the oven.

Miss McDougal, the old cook at Belle Isle, was fond of using oats in cooking; it must have been her Scottish upbringing. 

It was rare for Miss McDougal to get her hands on fresh mackerel; she could only really obtain these if the household returned from Mullaghmore with some that had been caught that morning. 

On Sundays, lunch was always a happy occasion at Mullaghmore: Everyone would sit down and dine in view of the sea through the large plate glass windows.

Sometimes lunch was served by a butler, as far-fetched as that sounds! 

Tom McKervey had been Captain Hermon’s butler at Necarne Castle in the days when the castle was occupied.

Captain Hermon continued to employ Tom after he abandoned Necarne Castle, and retained Tom’s services till the day he died.

Tom took on many roles in later years but he was always Richard Hermon’s loyal servant. 

Tom did, when required, still attire himself in black jacket, waistcoat, striped trousers and wait on table; sometimes at Mullaghmore; and sometimes his services were used at Belle Isle if there was an occasion that called for the old razzmatazz! 

There was a different cook at the Mullaghmore house during the summers: her name was Maggie and she had worked for Captain Hermon in the castle at Necarne in the past.

I remember nosing about in the kitchen at Mullaghmore while she was there and she was very kind to me. 

As usual I got under everyone’s feet and had to stick my nose in everywhere!

In any event, Miss McDougal never had leave from Belle Isle to cook at the holiday house.

Just as well or she would have had a blue fit! 

The trips to Mullaghmore on the coast continued for some years, as Audrey (right) and I were growing up.

In 1964 I left Ireland, like countless thousands of young Irish men before me, to work in England. 

I went back to Ireland often, and made what was to be to be my final visit to my old Belle Isle friends at Mullaghmore in 1965.

I was seventeen, a lanky, awkward and sallow youth. 

I remember this occasion vividly: Vida Leigh took my mother, father, Audrey and Tiggy on a drive around the coast road; I don’t recall where Dick Hermon and Nicholas Porter were, but old Mrs Brunt and I were left alone, sitting in the porch, overlooking the sea. 

We were old friends and easy with each other.

Gigi made polite conversation, how did I enjoy England? Had I made friends? Would I come back to Ireland?

She looked at me closely and, smiling at me, took my hand, “I have known you since you were born Julian, you must not let England spoil you, you know, do not lose touch with Ireland and your mother, you must always come back.”

I remember this clearly, it was one of those moments.

 I recall looking closely at Gigi and registered how old she had become.

Her hair was still chestnut in colour, but her eyes were yellow and tired.

She was 87 years old. 1965 became 1966. 

I was at work in Hatfield, near London, when the telephone rang one morning: it was a payphone in a passage on a wall outside for the use of staff.

“It’s for you Jules,” I left what I was doing and went to the phone, it was my mother.

She told me quietly that Gigi had died peacefully in her sleep the evening before, on New Year’s Day, 1966. 

It was the end of an era, the Belle Isle folk never returned to Mullaghmore. 

In 2008, in summer Audrey and I returned to Mullaghmore with Audrey’s husband, Jack, and her daughters Caroline and Jackie.

I was sixty years old and Audrey was fifty five.

We walked round the harbour and had something to eat in what had been Peter’s public house, all those years ago. 

It bore no resemblance to the old inn of the 1950s, and had changed beyond recognition; it was clean and modern and bright and welcoming, but no trace remained of how it had been before.

It was a different world.

Mr Hermon’s house was still there on the hill; it belonged to someone else now.

We drove up to the gates and sat for a minute or two in silence, remembering. 

It seemed smaller and greyer and strange; there was nothing for us there, no trace of what had been, the sheet had been wiped clean; and I remembered Tiggy’s words to me at Necarne, when she was talking about Belle Isle, “You can never go back to the past.” 

It was a page from another time and no-one standing on that hill now would know how it had been back then. 
I can still see my sister Audrey, running along a stone wall beside the beach at Mullaghmore in 1958.

Our father would be teasing her; they played a little game, time and time again. “Audie, two!” 

She would shake her head and respond, “No, Audie three!” young Audrey was the apple of Esmond’s eye and the age game was played often, but Audrey knew she was three!

“Come on Juna!” she would shout excitedly, as she ran to the beach. 

I was ‘Juna’ to Audrey and the beach was waiting!

All those who laughed and danced and walked on the sand and paddled in the sea, with the wind in their faces, have gone.

Esmond and Pearl, Nicholas Porter and Richard Hermon, Vida Leigh and Gigi and Tiggy - and Audrey. 

My beloved sister Audrey was dying from lung cancer when she made the last visit to Mullaghmore.

She died on 22nd January, 2009.

First published in March, 2010.