Friday, 31 January 2020

McCutcheon's Field Acquisition

SELECTIVE ACQUISITIONS IN NORTHERN IRELAND


PROPERTY: McCutcheon's Field, near Groomsport, County Down

DATE:  2000

EXTENT: 9.17 acres

DONOR:  North Down Borough Council

First published in July, 2015.

Roe Park

SAMUEL MAXWELL ALEXANDER, OF ROE PARK, OWNED 5,229 ACRES OF LAND IN COUNTY LONDONDERRY

The elder branch of this family was ennobled, in 1663, by the title of EARL OF STIRLING, in the person of WILLIAM ALEXANDER, of Menstrie, Clackmannanshire. 

The name of ALEXANDER was assumed from the Christian name of its founder, Alexander Macdonald, of Menstrie. 

This branch, on removing into Ulster, adopted into the family shield the Canton charged with the Harp of Ireland, and settled at Limavady, County Londonderry.


JOHN ALEXANDER, of Eridy, County Donegal, 1610, had issue,
ANDREW, his heir;
John;
Archibald;
William;
Robert.
The eldest son,

THE REV DR ANDREW ALEXANDER, of Eridy, a Presbyterian minister, who married Dorothea, daughter of the Rev Dr James Caulfeild, and dying around 1641, left a son,

ANDREW ALEXANDER (1625-), of Ballyclose, Limavady, County Londonderry (attainted by JAMES II, 1689), who wedded firstly, Jessie, daughter of Sir Thomas Phillips, called Governor Phillips, and had a son and heir, JACOB.

He espoused secondly, a daughter of the Laird of Hillhouse, and had a son, JOHN, ancestor of the EARLS OF CALEDON.

The elder son,

JACOB ALEXANDER (1668-1710), of Limavady, married, in 1692, Margaret (or Jane), daughter and heiress of John Oliver, of The Lodge, Limavady, chief magistrate appointed to administer the oath of allegiance on the accession of WILLIAM & MARY, and had issue,

JAMES ALEXANDER (1694-1786), of Limavady, merchant, who wedded Elizabeth Ross, of Limavady, and had issue,

LESLEY ALEXANDER (1725-1820), of Limavady, who espoused Anna Simpson, of Armagh, and had issue,
JOHN, his heir;
James;
Lesley, of Foyle Park;
Alexander;
Thomas;
Louisa; Jane; Elizabeth.
The eldest son,

JOHN ALEXANDER, wedded, Margaret, daughter of Samuel Maxwell, and had issue,
Lesley, died unmarried;
Alexander, died unmarried;
SAMUEL MAXWELL, of whom hereafter;
John, of Limavady;
Anna; Jane.
The third son,

SAMUEL MAXWELL ALEXANDER JP DL (1834-86), of Roe Park, High Sheriff of County Londonderry, 1858, espoused, in 1884, Henrietta Constance, daughter of Sir Frederick William Heygate, 2nd Baronet, though the marriage was without issue.



In 1697, Sir Thomas Phillips' holdings, which included ROE PARK, were sold by his grandson to the Rt Hon William Conolly, who came to live in Phillips' new house in Limavady, County Londonderry.

When Speaker Conolly sold his estate to Marcus McCausland in 1743, the McCausland family greatly improved the house (and changed the name to Daisy Hill), by creating the five-bay structure which still forms the current frontage.

Roe Park House is a long, irregular, two-storey Georgian house of different periods, of which its nucleus seems to be a five-bay dwelling, built at the beginning of the 18th century by Speaker Conolly

Roe Park's principal features are a three-sided bow with a curved, pedimented and pillared door-case.

The drawing-room and dining-room have fine Victorian plasterwork.

There is a large and imposing pedimented stableyard.

In 1782, Marcus McCausland's son, Dominick, inherited the estate.

He added a fine dining-room and built substantial office buildings, which included a coach-house designed by Richard Castle in 1784.

This building still stands today and houses the Roe Park hotel's restaurant and golf shop.

Dominick McCausland also extended the estate by purchasing adjoining town lands on both sides of the river.

He proceeded to plant thousands of trees on his estate.

He also built a ten-foot wall to surround part of the estate - parts of which are still visible today - and a foot bridge (known locally as The Spring Bridge) so that he could service the well which supplied fresh water to the house known as Columba's Spring.

During this time, it's likely that the walled garden (now the golf driving-range) and gazebo were built.

This gazebo was slightly bigger than it is today and was the home of the estate's head gardener until the 1950s.

In 1817, Daisy Hill was sold to John Cromie, of Portstewart, who renamed the house Roe Park.

Mr Cromie, in turn, sold the estate to Sir Francis Workman-Macnaghten Bt for £11,500.

Sir Edmund, the 2nd Baronet, sold the estate in 1847 to Archibald Rennie, of Inverness, for £12,000 (about £1 million in 2019).

Mr Rennie mortgaged the property to Harvey Nicholson, of Londonderry, who came into possession of the estate during 1850.

In 1872, the estate was bought by Samuel Maxwell Alexander for £12,150 (about £1.4 million in 2019).

Mr Alexander, a distant cousin of the Earls of Caledon, married Henrietta Constance Heygate, daughter of Sir Frederick William Heygate Bt, in 1884.

As this gentleman brought extensive lands from his own estate, this extended Roe Park to 5,229 acres.

Mr Alexander died in 1886, but as he had no immediate family, the estate was left to his two nieces.


The part that included Roe Park was bequeathed to Elizabeth Jane Stanton who, in 1887, married John Edward Ritter; thus Roe Park came into ownership of the Ritter family.

Mr Ritter died in 1901 and the estate passed to his widow, who managed it until she died in 1926.

The estate then passed to her son, Major John Alexander Ritter, Royal Artillery.

Major Ritter continued to manage affairs until his death in 1931, followed by his widow, Mrs Ritter, until her death in 1951.

When Mrs Ritter died, the estate was sold again.

Alas, it was at this time that the estate was stripped of many of the fine trees planted by Dominick McCausland in the late 1700s.

Roe Park House was converted into a residential care home, which closed in the late 1980s, when the house and lands were purchased and developed into the current Roe Park Hotel.

First published in January, 2014.

Thursday, 30 January 2020

Salt Island Acquisition

SELECTIVE ACQUISITIONS IN NORTHERN IRELAND


PROPERTY: Salt Island & Green Island, Strangford Lough, County Down

DATE1980

EXTENT: 65.98 acres

DONOR:  William Thompson

First published in February, 2015.

Mount Stewart House

THE MARQUESSES OF LONDONDERRY WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY DOWN, WITH 23,554 ACRES


This branch of the noble house of STEWART claims a common ancestor with the Earls of Galloway; namely, Sir William Stewart, of Dalswinton and Garlies, from whose second son, Thomas Stewart, of Minto, descended, 

JOHN STEWART, of Ballylawn Castle (the first of the family that settled in Ireland), who received a grant of the manor of Stewart's Court (where he erected Ballylawn Castle) from JAMES I in County Donegal, and erected the said castle.

Mr Stewart was succeeded at his decease by his eldest son,

CHARLES STEWART, whose grandson,

WILLIAM STEWART, of Ballylawn Castle, had issue,
ALEXANDER, his heir;
Martha, m John Kennedy, of Cultra.
The only son,

ALEXANDER STEWART (1697-1781), of Mount Stewart, County Down, MP for Londonderry City, 1760, married, in 1737, Mary, only surviving daughter of Alderman John Cowan, of Londonderry (by his aunt, Anne Stewart), and sister and heir of Sir Robert Cowan, Knight, Governor of Bombay, and had, with other issue,
ROBERT, his heir;
Alexander.
Alexander Stewart, Photo Credit: The National Trust

Mr Stewart was succeeded by his eldest son,

ROBERT STEWART (1739-1821), of Ballylawn Castle and Mount Stewart, County Down, MP for County Down, 1771-83, who, having represented the latter county in parliament, and having been sworn a member of the Privy Council, was elevated to the peerage, in 1789, in the dignity of Baron Londonderry.

His lordship was advanced to a viscountcy, in 1795, as Viscount Castlereagh; and to an earldom, in 1796, as Earl of Londonderry.

His lordship was further advanced to the dignity of a marquessate, in 1816, as MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY.

He married firstly, in 1766, the Lady Sarah Frances Seymour, second daughter of Francis, Marquess of Hertford, and had issue,
ROBERT, Viscount Castlereagh, 2nd Marquess.
His lordship wedded secondly, in 1775, the Lady Frances Pratt, eldest daughter of Charles, 1st Earl Camden, and sister of the Marquess Camden, by whom he had issue,
CHARLES WILLIAM, 3rd Marquess;
Frances Anne; Caroline; Georgiana; Selina; Matilda; Emily Jane; Octavia.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

ROBERT, 2nd Marquess (1769-1822), KG GCH PC; who had already distinguished himself in the political world as Viscount Castlereagh, and filled, under that designation, several high ministerial offices.

His lordship espoused, in 1794, the Lady Amelia (Emily) Hobart, youngest daughter and co-heir of John, 2nd Earl of Buckinghamshire, by whom he had no issue.

The 2nd Marquess died at his seat, North Cray, Kent, in 1822 (at which period he was Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs), and was succeeded by his half-brother, Lord Stewart, as

CHARLES WILLIAM, 3rd Marquess (1778-1854), who, in 1823, was further created Viscount Seaham and Earl Vane.

He wedded, in 1804, the Lady Catherine Bligh, youngest daughter of John, 3rd Earl of Darnley, by whom he had a son,
FREDERICK WILLIAM ROBERT, 4th Marquess.
His lordship espoused secondly, in 1819, Frances Anne, only daughter and heir of Sir Harry Vane-Tempest, by Anne Catherine, Countess of Antrim in her own right (upon which occasion his lordship assumed the additional surname and arms of VANE), by whom he had further issue,
GEORGE HENRY ROBERT CHARLES WILLIAM, 5th Marquess;
Adolphus Frederick Charles William;
Ernest McDonnell;
A son;
Frances Anne Emily; Alexandrina Octavia Maria; Adelaide Emelina Caroline.
  • Frederick Aubrey Vane-Tempest-Stewart, 10th Marquess (b 1972).
The heir presumptive is his brother Lord Reginald Alexander Vane-Tempest-Stewart (b 1977).The heir presumptive's heir apparent is his son Robin Gabriel Vane-Tempest-Stewart (b 2004).
MOUNT STEWART HOUSE, near Newtownards, County Down, is a long, two-storey, Classical house of the 1820s.

The main interior feature is a vast central hall consisting of an octagon, top-lit through a balustraded gallery from a dome filled with stained glass.

I have written fondly of Mount Stewart's former swimming-pool here.

The estate has one of the most outstanding gardens in the British Isles and has been proposed as a World Heritage Site.

It was formulated within an already established walled demesne on the shores of Strangford Lough on the Ards Peninsula, County Down, with mature shelter tree cover some two hundred years old.

The site benefits from an excellent climate in which a vast range of plants can thrive.

The climatic conditions, the plant collection and the design all combine to make this an outstanding garden in any context; and it is rightfully renowned throughout Europe.
The demesne owes its origin to Alexander Stewart MP (1699-1781), a minor County Donegal landowner and successful linen merchant who, having married his cousin, Mary Cowan, a rich heiress, in 1737, purchased the Colville manors of Comber and Newtownards in 1744 and resolved to build a seat on the present site, then known as Templecrone.
This building, which he initially called Mount Pleasant, was a large, long, low two-storey building, originally painted blue, occupying much the same ground as the present William Morrison house.

Young also mentioned ‘some new plantations, which surround an improved lawn, where Mr. Stewart intends building’ - a reference to landscaping round a planned new house that Alexander Stewart intended to built on the hill lying just south-west of the present walled garden.

His son Robert, later 1st Marquess of Londonderry, advanced his father’s plans once he inherited in 1781.

In June, 1783, the architect James Wyatt was paid for providing plans for ‘New Offices’ and ‘Mansion house intended at Mount Stewart’.

Just south of this house, facing the Portaferry Road running close to the house, he built a small settlement known as Newtown Stewart, which Young described in 1776 as ‘a row of neat stone and slate cabins’ and shown on David Geddas’s Demesne map of 1779 [presently in the house].

The latter was never built, but evidently intended for the same location on Bean Hill near the walled garden.

The walled garden itself was probably completed by 1780-1 for, in 1781, there are payments for the ‘freight for tiles for hothouse’; while, in 1780, the head gardener replanted a vine ‘in the west pine stove’ – apparently the same ancient vine that occupies the west end of the glasshouse today.

The adjacent sprawling farm yard complex, which includes a hexagonal dovecote, was also built around this time, possibly in 1784-5, with the yard being repaired in 1816-17 following a fire.

Further additions were erected here in the 1870s.

The landscape gardener, William King, who may already have been involved in landscaping here in the 1770s, was paid for work in July 1781, May and November 1782.

The park layout as shown on the 1834 Ordnance Survey map is probably largely King’s work, and was laid down sympathetically to the drumlin country, probably assuming the house to be located near the walled garden.

However, most of the demesne plantations were put down over the much longer period, with payments being made between 1785 and 1801.


An important focal point in the park is the Temple of the Winds, reckoned by some to be the finest garden building in Northern Ireland.

Located on a hill on the south side of the park, overlooking the lough, this was begun in 1782 to the designs of James ‘Athenian’ Stuart, who was paid for his work in 1783.

His plans were based on the 1st century BC building of the same name in Athens and sourced from illustrations in the second volume of Stuart and Revett’s Antiquities of Athens (1763).

It is of two storeys over a basement and hipped; an octagonal banqueting house, constructed in Scrabo stone and completed in late 1785, as is evident from payments made to the stonemason David McBlain, the joiner John Ferguson and others (refurbished in 1965 and again in 1994).

It is evident that the temple was formerly a very striking feature in the park-scape, for the plantations around it do not appear to have been established until fifteen or twenty years after its completion.

In the 1790s there was little building activity at Mount Stewart, following the expense of electing Robert’s son, Lord Castlereagh, into Parliament in 1790.

However, in 1802 he decided to modernise part of his existing house and so engaged George Dance, the Younger (1741-1825), who produced plans in 1804 for a Classical Regency replacement of the west wing, which was completed around 1806.

This incorporated grand new reception rooms, complete with a Grecian porte-cochère and gravel sweep on the north front; the wing survives in modified form as the end elevation of the present house.

In the period 1804-18 new approaches were laid down to the house and three gate lodges added.

The new western approach was entered via the Georgian Gothick ‘ink pot’ twin lodges (1808-09), placed on the recently re-aligned Portaferry Road (the road originally ran much closer to the house).

These single-storey twin lodges, notably for their distinctive canted elevations, are probably also the work of George Dance, as is also the nearby contemporary Gothic Clay or Greyabbey gate lodge, notable for its horn-like pinnacles.

At the rear entrance, Hamilton’s Lodge was built in 1817 as part of laying down the new Donaghadee approach; it was later remodelled.

Other buildings at this time included a single-storey, picturesque 'toy fort' hunting lodge of ca 1810, probably by Dance, lying in a wooded area on the north side of the park, and a demesne school house of 1813, formerly a charity school belonging to the Erasmus Smith Foundation; now a house and artist’s studio.

Charles William Stewart (1778-1854) succeeded as 3rd Marquess in 1822, after the suicide of his elder half-brother Lord Castlereagh (who had become 2nd Marquess the previous year); and during the 1820s the family’s resources were focused on building work at Wynyard & Seaham in County Durham and Londonderry House in London.

Eventually, in 1835, the 3rd Marquess and his wife, the heiress Frances Anne Vane-Tempest, invited William Vitruvius Morrison to prepare plans to knock down the old house to the east of the Dance Wing at Mount Stewart, with a scheme to rebuild and enlarge the mansion.

Morrison’s plans were not actually implemented until after the architect’s death in 1838, when work was undertaken between 1845-49, supervised by the Newtownards builder, Charles Campbell.

The new block, as wide as the old house was long, created a new south entrance of eleven bays with an Ionic porte-cochère as its central feature; the old porte-cochère on the north was removed and replaced with a tripartite window.

As work was being completed on the house, a U-shaped rubble-built stable yard was added in 1846 to a design of the architect Charles Campbell, while at the same time improvements were being made in the park, most notably work on digging a new lake between 1846-51 in what was formerly a gravel pit to the north of the house.

Water from this lake was subsequently used to supply the house via McComb’s Hill, through the use of a horse-drawn pump and later a hydraulic ram.

A boat house was built on the south shore, whose waters were linked to the house by a ‘lawn’ meadow dotted with trees.

A gas-works was built ca 1859 in the south side of the demesne.

During the second half of the 19th century the house was only occasionally used by its owners, the 4th Marquess (1805-72); his half- brother, the 5th Marquess (1821-84); and Charles Stewart, 6th Marquess (1852-1915), the latter spending much of his time in London.

The parkland consequently remained relatively unchanged, with some minor alterations, such as the extension of the enclosing screen to encompass the whole perimeter in 1901.

The townland boundary was changed in 1906 to encompass the whole demesne.

In 1921 Charles, 7th Marquess, and his wife Edith moved to Mount Stewart, having inherited the property in 1915.

She had once remarked, on a visit prior to 1921, that the property was ‘the dampest, darkest and saddest place I had ever stayed in’.

As soon as she arrived there to live, Lady Londonderry undertook to transform the grounds around the house.

She took advice from expert plants-men and was fortunate to have been able to employ workmen from a post-war labour scheme. She used her resources skilfully.

The result is a lay-out that includes both formal and informal areas, each with their own style and atmosphere.

Compartments are arranged in close proximity to the house around three sides and are separated into differing formal gardens, such as the Italian Garden, the Spanish Garden, the Mairi Garden and the Dodo Terrace.

The latter is decorated with specially made statuary of creatures representing early 20th century British political figures, most of whom formed part of her ‘Ark Club’; these figures were made of moulded chicken wire and cement by Thomas Beattie of Newtownards.

Gertrude Jekyll planned some of the planting for the Sunken Garden.

The north-east front of the house has a rectangular balustraded carriage sweep but, further afield, paths wind past informally planted shrubs, specimen trees and woodland, carpeted with bulbs and drifts of naturalised plants.

These areas contain a great variety of outstanding plant material, particularly of Australasian origin.

Paths and a great deal of planting were focused round the large artificial lake, with the family burial ground, Tir-ña-nOg, built in the 1930s at the north end on high ground.

Like most other demesnes, Mount Stewart was requisitioned by the troops during the war and in the years that followed (until ca 1965) many of the original beech and oak demesne woods were sadly felled and replaced with unsightly conifers.

In 1949 the 7th Marquess died and left the property to his wife for her life-time and then to his youngest daughter, Lady Mairi Bury.

In 1955 the gardens were transferred to the care of the National Trust and two years later, in 1959, Edith, Lady Londonderry died.

The Temple of the Winds was acquired in 1963 and, in 1977, the house plus an endowment were accepted by the National Trust as a generous gift from Lady Mairi.

Tir-ña-nOg was acquired by the Trust from Lady Mairi in 1986.

The gardens are beautifully maintained by the National Trust.

During his many years as head gardener, Nigel Marshal, (retired 2002) continued successfully to build up the garden’s important plant collections. The walled garden is not currently on public display.

 20,222 acres in County Durham; Wynyard Hall, and elsewhere.

They also maintained a grand London residence in Park Lane, Londonderry House.

Londonderry arms courtesy of European Heraldry.   First published in June, 2010.

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Desart Court

THE EARLS OF DESART WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY KILKENNY, WITH 8,000 ACRES

This noble family was originally of the counties of Somerset and Northamptonshire.

Its founder in Ireland,

HUGH CUFFE, Secretary to the Earl of Essex, had a grant, during the reign of ELIZABETH I, of 6,000 acres of land in County Cork, and settled at Cuffe's Wood.

He left, at his decease, two daughters, his co-heirs; viz. Elizabeth, married to Sir Francis Slingsby; and Dorothea, to Sir Charles Coote.

The male line of the family was continued by his nephew,

MAURICE CUFFE, of Ennis, County Clare, merchant, who died in 1638, leaving a large family, of which the sixth son,

JOSEPH CUFFE (1621-79), having joined the army under Cromwell, in 1649, was rewarded for his services by considerable grants of lands.

He wedded Martha, daughter of Colonel Agmondesham Muschamp, by whom he had no less than twenty children.

The second son, Maurice, was of Cuffesborough, in Queen's County.

The eldest son,

AGMONDESHAM CUFFE (1650-1727), who was attainted by JAMES II's parliament, in 1689, and had his estates sequestered; but was restored by WILLIAM III.

He espoused Anne, daughter of Sir John Otway, of London, widow of John Warden, of Burnchurch, County Kilkenny, and was succeeded by his eldest son,  

JOHN CUFFE (1683-1749), of Desart, County Kilkenny, MP for Thomastown, 1715-27, who was elevated to the peerage, in 1733, in the dignity of Baron Desart, of Desart, County Kilkenny.

His lordship married firstly, Margaret, only daughter and heir of James Hamilton, of Carnesure (descended from the Hamiltons, Earls of Clanbrassil), but had no issue.

He espoused secondly, Dorothea, eldest daughter of General Richard Gorges, of Kilbrew, County Meath, and had issue,
JOHN, his successor;
OTWAY, succeeded his brother as 3rd Baron;
Hamilton, in holy orders;
William;
Nichola Sophia; Lucy Susanna; Martha; Margaretta; Catherine.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN, 2nd Baron (1730-67), who wedded, in 1752, Sophia, daughter and heir of Brettidge Badham, of Rockfield, County Cork, by whom he had three daughters,
Sophia;
Lucy;
Catherine.
His lordship died without male issue, and was succeeded by his brother,

OTWAY, 3rd Baron (1737-1804), who was advanced to a viscountcy, in 1781, as Viscount Castle Cuffe; and further advanced, in 1793, to the dignity of an earldom, as EARL OF DESART.

His lordship wedded, in 1785, the Lady Anne Browne, eldest daughter of John, 2nd Earl of Altamont, and had issue (with two daughters), an only son,

JOHN OTWAY, 2nd Earl (1788-1820), MP for Bossiney, Cornwall, 1808-17, Mayor of Kilkenny, 1809-10, who espoused, in 1817, Catherine, daughter of Maurice O'Connor, and had issue, an only child,

JOHN OTWAY O'CONNOR, 3rd Earl (1818-65), who wedded, in 1842, the Lady Elizabeth Lucy Campbell, third daughter of John, 1st Earl Cawdor, and had issue,
WILLIAM ULICK O'CONNOR, his successor;
HAMILTON JOHN AGMONSESHAM, succeeded as 5th Earl;
Otway Seymour;
Alice Mary.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

WILLIAM ULICK O'CONNOR, 4th Earl (1845-98), who married firstly, in 1871, Maria Emma Georgina, daughter of Captain Thomas Henry Preston, and had issue, an only daughter,
Kathleen Mary Alexina.
He wedded secondly, in 1881, Ellen Odette, daughter of Henri Louis Bischoffsheim, though had no further issue.

His lordship was succeeded by his brother,

HAMILTON JOHN AGMONDESHAM (1848-1934), 5th and last Earl, KP, KCB, PC.

In his early life he was a midshipman in the Royal Navy before becoming a barrister in 1872. In 1877, he was appointed as a secretary to the Judicature Committee and as a solicitor to The Treasury a year later.

In 1894, he was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath and as Treasury Solicitor that year, as well as Queen's Proctor and Director of Public Prosecutions.

On inheriting the earldom of Desart from his elder brother William (who died without heirs male) in 1898, he was promoted as a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath.

In 1909, the 5th Earl was created Baron Desart in the Peerage of the UK, which enabled him to sit in the House of Lords.

In 1913, he was sworn of the Privy Council and appointed a Knight of St Patrick in 1919, one of the last appointees to the Order.
The 5th Earl was the last Lord-Lieutenant of County Kilkenny, 1920-22.

Entrance Front

DESART COURT, near Callan, County Kilkenny, was a Palladian house of two storeys over a basement, joined to two two-storey wings by curved sweeps.

It was built about 1733 by 1st Baron Desart.

The centre block had a seven-bay front, its main feature being four superimposed, engaged, Doric and Ionic columns and Doric entablature.

Garden Front

The drawing-room, in the centre of the garden front, had a ceiling of rococo plasterwork, similar to the hall.

Desart Court was burnt in 1923, though was afterwards rebuilt by Lady Kathleen Milborne-Swinnerton-Pilkington, daughter of the 4th Earl.

In 1957, the house was sold and finally demolished.

First published in March, 2013. Desart arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Freemen of Belfast: 1951-60

HONORARY BURGESSES OF THE CITY OF BELFAST
ELECTED AND ADMITTED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF BELFAST UNDER THE MUNICIPAL PRIVILEGE (IRELAND) ACT, 1875


55  HRH Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, Countess of Ulster ~ 1952

56  Rt Hon William Spencer Earl Granville, KG GCVO CB DSO ~ 1952

57  Rt Hon Rose Constance Countess Granville, GCVO ~ 1952

58  Royal Ulster Rifles ~ 1954

59  Sir James Henry Norritt JP DL ~ 1955

60  Mrs Margaret Lawson OBE ~ 1955

61  Rt Hon Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill KG OM CH TD DL ~ 1955

62  Sir Cuthbert Lowell Ackroyd Bt JP DL ~ 1956

63  Lady Ackroyd ~ 1956

64  Royal Air Force Aldergrove ~ 1957

First published in August, 2012.

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Straffan House

STRAFFAN HOUSE IS NOW BETTER KNOWN AS THE K CLUB HOTEL AND LEISURE COMPLEX
THE BARTONS WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY KILDARE, WITH 5,044 ACRES


This family was established in Ireland by

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

Mr Barton, one of the first burgesses of Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, obtained a grant of land, in 1610, comprising a district called Druminshin and Necarne, in the same county.

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

He married Margaret Lloyd, and had a son,

ANTHONY BARTON, who left issue a son,

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

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

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

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

This gentleman established the famous vintners Barton & Guestier.

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

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

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

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

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

Mr Barton, High Sheriff of Kildare, 1840, married, in 1791, Anne, daughter of Nathaniel Weld Johnston, of Bordeaux, and had issue,
Hugh, died young;
NATHANIEL, his heir;
THOMAS JOHNSTON, of Glendalough;
Daniel;
Hugh;
Susan; Anna; Grace; Isabella; Susan Elizabeth; Charlotte.
His eldest surviving son,

NATHANIEL BARTON JP DL (1799-1867), of Straffan House, County Kildare, High Sheriff of County Kildare, 1851, married, in 1823, Mary Susanna, daughter of Harry Harmood Scott, consul at Bordeaux, and had issue,
HUGH LYNEDOCH, his heir;
Harry Fitzgerald (1826-48);
BERTRAM FRANCIS, succeeded his brother;
Charles Thomas Hugh;
Francis Savile;
Mary Esther Isabella; Anna Susan Frederica; Isabel Charlotte; Alice Catherine Harriet.
The eldest son,

HUGH LYNEDOCH BARTON JP DL (1824-99), of Straffan House, High Sheriff of County Kildare, 1861, Major, Kildare Rifles, former Lieutenant, 6th Inniskillings, wedded, in 1855, Anna Emily, eldest daughter of Eyre, 3rd Lord Clarina, though died without issue, when the estate devolved upon his brother,

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

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

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

Thereafter he lived at The Glebe, Straffan.

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

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

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

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

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

Straffan has tall chimney-stacks.

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

The garden was formal, with an elaborate Victorian fountain.

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


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

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

Sir Michael is now the sole owner.

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


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

First published in December, 2012.

1st Earl of Salisbury

The founder of this branch of the CECIL family was descended from the celebrated Lord High Treasurer, William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley, whose eldest son,THOMAS, 2nd Baron, was created EARL OF EXETER, 1605. THE HON ROBERT CECIL, the youngest son, was on the same day created EARL OF SALISBURY.
THE HON ROBERT CECIL (c1563-1612), youngest son of William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley (ELIZABETH I's celebrated Lord High Treasurer, by his second wife, Mildred, daughter of Sir Anthony Cooke), received the honour of knighthood, 1601, was sworn of the Privy Council, appointed Secretary of State, and subsequently Master of the Court of Wards in the reign of ELIZABETH I, but did not attain the honours of the peerage until after the accession of JAMES I, when Sir Robert was created, in 1603, Baron Cecil, of Essendon, Rutland.

His lordship was advanced to a viscountcy, 1604, as Viscount Cranborne; and further advanced to the dignity of an earldom, 1605, as EARL OF SALISBURY.

During these periods he continued as Secretary of State, but succeeded subsequently, at the demise of the Earl of Dorset, to the Lord High Treasurership.

Lord Treasurer Cecil uncovered the plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605.

His lordship married firstly, in 1589, Elizabeth, daughter of William, 10th Baron Cobham; and secondly, Frances Newton, by whom he had issue,
WILLIAM, his successor;
Frances.
The 1st Earl died in 1612, worn out with business.

In his last illness he was heard to say to Sir Walter Cope, "Ease and pleasure quake to hear of death; but my life, full of cares and miseries, desireth to be dissolved."

He had some years previously (1603) addressed a letter to Sir James Harrington, the poet, in pretty much the same tone:
"Good Knight", saith the minister, "rest content and give heed to one that hath sorrowed in the bright lustre of a court, and gone heavily on the best seeming fairground. 
'Tis a great task to prove one's honesty and yet not mar one's fortune. You have tasted a little thereof in our blessed Queen's time, who was more than a man, and, in truth, sometimes less than a woman. 
I wish I waited now in your presence-chamber, with ease at my food and rest in my bed. I am pushed from the shore of comfort, and know not where the winds and waves of a court will bear me. 
I know it bringeth little comfort on earth; and he is, I reckon, no wise man that looketh this way to heaven."
His lordship was succeeded by his only son,

WILLIAM, 2nd Earl (1591-1668), KG, who wedded, in 1608, the Lady Catherine Howard, youngest daughter of Thomas, 1st Earl of Suffolk, and was succeeded by his grandson,

JAMES, 3rd Earl (1648-83), KG (son of Charles, Viscount Cranborne, by Diana, daughter and co-heir of James, 1st Earl of Dirletoun), who espoused, in 1661, the Lady Margaret Manners, daughter of John, 8th Earl of Rutland, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

JAMES, 4th Earl (1666-94), who, being converted to the Catholic faith, was presented by the grand jury of Middlesex immediately before the revolution of 1688 as a popish recusant; and in 1689 the House of Commons resolved that his lordship and the Earl of Peterborough be impeached for high treason, for departing from their allegiance, and being reconciled to the Church of Rome, but the prosecution was eventually abandoned.

He married Frances, daughter and co-heir of Simon Bennett, of Beachampton, Buckinghamshire, and was succeeded at his decease by his only son,

JAMES, 5th Earl (1691-1728); who took his seat in the House of Lords, 1712, and carried King Edward's staff at the coronation of GEORGE I, 1714.

His lordship wedded, in 1709, the Lady Anne Tufton, second daughter and co-heir of Thomas, 6th Earl of Thanet, by whom he left (with three daughters) his successor at his demise,

JAMES, 6th Earl (1713-80), who married, in 1743, Elizabeth, sister to the Rev John Keet, Rector of Hatfield, and had an only surviving son,

JAMES, 7th Earl (1748-1823), KG, who wedded, in 1773, the Lady Emily Mary Hill, daughter of Wills, 1st Marquess of Downshire, by whom (who was burnt to death in the west wing of Hatfield House in 1835), he had issue,
JAMES BROWNLOW WILLIAM, his successor;
Georgiana Charlotte Augusta; Emily Anne Bennett Elizabeth; Caroline.
His lordship was created, in 1789, MARQUESS OF SALISBURY, and installed a Knight of the Garter, 1793.

Seats ~ Hatfield House, Hertfordshire; Childwall Hall, Lancashire.

First published in October, 2017.

Monday, 27 January 2020

Burnham House

THE BARONS VENTRY WERE THE SECOND LARGEST LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY KERRY, WITH 93,629 ACRES

This noble family derives from a common ancestor with that of Molyneux, Earls of Sefton, namely,

SIR RICHARD MOLYNEUX, Knight, of Sefton, Lancashire, from whom descended

WILLIAM MOLYNS, of Burnham, Norfolk, descended from the ancient family of MOLYNS of Sandhill, Hampshire, itself a scion of the old baronial house of DE MOLEYNS OF HENLEY, whose heiress of line, ELEANOR MOLEYNS, married Sir Robert Hungerford, Knight.

Mr Molyns married firstly, the daughter and heir of William Montague; and secondly, Emily, daughter William Walrond, of Bovey, Devon, by whom he had a younger son,

RICHARD MOLEYNS or MOLINS, of Mitford, Norfolk, who wedded Jane, eldest daughter of Sir Alexander Culpeper, Knight, of Bedgebury, and was father of

FREDERICK WILLIAM MULLINS, a colonel in the army, who settled in Ireland, and obtained considerable grants in the province of Ulster, which he sold, and purchased estates in County Kerry.

Mr Mullins sat in two successive parliaments in the reign of WILLIAM III.

He wedded Jane, daughter and co-heiress of the Very Rev John Eveleigh, Dean of Cork, and had issue,
FREDERICK;
Richard;
Edward;
Samuel.
The eldest son,

FREDERICK MULLINS (1663-95), wedded, in 1685, Martha, eldest daughter of Thomas Blennerhassett, and granddaughter maternally of Dermot, 5th Baron Inchiquin, and by her had issue, an only son,

WILLIAM MULLINS, of Burnham, County Kerry, who espoused, in 1716, Mary, daughter of George Rowan.

Mr Mullins died in 1761, and left, with a daughter, Anne, an only son,

THOMAS MULLINS (1736-1824) who was created a baronet, in 1797, designated of Burnham, County Kerry.

Sir Thomas was elevated to the peerage, in 1800, in the dignity of BARON VENTRY, of Ventry, County Kerry.

He wedded, in 1775, Elizabeth, daughter of Townsend Gunn, of Rattoo, in the same county, and had issue,
WILLIAM TOWNSEND, his successor;
Townsend, father of THOMAS TOWNSEND AREMBERG, 3rd Baron;
Thomas;
Richard;
Edward, a major in the army;
Frederick, in holy orders;
Theodora; Elizabeth; Arabella; Charlotte; Catherine; Helena Jane.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

WILLIAM TOWNSEND, 2nd Baron (1761-1827), who espoused firstly, in 1784, Sarah Anne, daughter of Sir Riggs Falkiner Bt, and had issue,
ANNA;
Elizabeth.
His lordship wedded secondly, in 1790, Frances Elizabeth, only daughter of Isaac Sage, which marriage was dissolved, 1796; and thirdly, in 1797, Clara, daughter of Benjamin Jones, and had further issue,
THOMAS (1798-1817).
The 2nd Baron died without surviving male issue, when the honours devolved upon his nephew,

THOMAS TOWNSEND, 3rd Baron (1786-1868), who espoused, in 1821, Eliza Theodora, daughter of Sir John Blake Bt, and had issue,
DAYROLLES BLAKENEY, his successor;
Frederick William;
Edward Alured;
Denis John;
Christabella; Rose; Eliza; Helena Emily.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

DAYROLLES BLAKENEY, 4th Baron (1828-1914), DL, who married, in 1860, Harriet Elizabeth Frances, daughter of Andrew Wauchope, and had issue,
FREDERICK ROSSMORE WAUCHOPE, his successor;
ARTHUR WILLIAM, 6th Baron;
Edward Dayrolles;
Richard Andrew;
John Gilbert;
Mildred Rose Evelyn; Maud Helen; Frances Elizabeth Sarah; Hersey Alice.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

FREDERICK ROSSMORE WAUCHOPE, 5th Baron (1861-1923), DSO DL, who died unmarried, when the family honours devolved upon his brother,

ARTHUR WILLIAM, 6th Baron (1864-1936), of Burnham House, who wedded, in 1897, Evelyn Muriel Stuart, daughter of Lansdowne Daubeny, and had issue,
ARTHUR FREDERICK DAUBENEY OLAV, his successor;
Francis Alexander Innys;
Mary Helen.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

ARTHUR FREDERICK DAUBENEY OLAV, 7th Baron (1898-1987),
The heir apparent is the present holder's only son, the Hon Francis Wesley Daubeney de Moleyns (b 1965).


BURNHAM HOUSE (or Manor), near Dingle, County Kerry, comprises a three-storey, seven bay Georgian block enlarged by the addition of two-storey wings, which were re-faced during the late 19th century.

The entrance front boasts engaged Doric columns which support sections of entablature and a steep pediment above a porte-cochère.

The roof is eaved on the centre and wings; while the centre has a modillion cornice.

The garden front has two-storey, rectangular projections in the centre; with three-sided bows at the ends of the wings.


Burnham House was sold to the Irish Land Commission in the 1920s and is now a girls' boarding school

First published in April, 2011.  Ventry arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Antrim Castle

THE VISCOUNTS MASSEREENE AND FERRARD WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY ANTRIM, WITH 11,778 ACRES


SIR WILLIAM SKEFFINGTON (c1465-1535), Knight, who was appointed by HENRY VIII, in 1529, His Majesty's Commissioner to Ireland, arrived there in the August of that year, empowered to restrain the exactions of the soldiers, to call a parliament, and to provide that the possessions of the clergy might be subject to bear their part of the public expense.

Sir William was subsequently a very distinguished politician in Ireland, and died in the government of that kingdom as Lord Deputy, 1535.

His great-grandson,

JOHN SKEFFINGTON, of Fisherwick, Staffordshire, married Alice, seventh daughter of Sir Thomas Cave, of Stamford, and was father of

SIR WILLIAM SKEFFINGTON, Knight, of Fisherwick, who was created a baronet in 1627, designated of Fisherwick, Staffordshire.

He married Elizabeth, daughter of Richard Dering, and had issue,
JOHN, 2nd Baronet, whose son WILLIAM, 3rd Baronet, dsp;
RICHARD, 4th Baronet;
Elizabeth; Cicely; Mary; Hesther; Lettice; Alice.
The second son,

SIR RICHARD SKEFFINGTON, was father of

SIR JOHN SKEFFINGTON, 5th Baronet, who wedded MARY, only daughter and heir of

SIR JOHN CLOTWORTHY, who, in reward for his valuable services in promoting the restoration of CHARLES II, was created, in 1660, Baron Lough Neagh and VISCOUNT MASSEREENE, both in County Antrim; with remainder, on failure of his male issue, to his son-in-law, Sir John Skeffington, husband of his only daughter MARY, and his male issue by the said Mary, and failing such, to the heirs-general of Sir John Clotworthy.

His lordship died in 1665, and the honours devolved, according to the reversionary proviso, upon the said

SIR JOHN SKEFFINGTON, 2nd Viscount, who died in 1695 and was succeeded by his son,

CLOTWORTHY, 3rd Viscount (1660-1714), who married, in 1684, Rachael, daughter of Sir Edward Hungerford KB, of Farley Castle, Wiltshire, and had issue,
CLOTWORTHY, his successor;
Jane, Sir Hans Hamilton Bt;
Rachael, Randal, 4th Earl of Antrim;
Mary, Rt Rev Edward Smyth, Lord Bishop of Down and Connor.
His lordship was succeeded by his son,

CLOTWORTHY, 4th Viscount, who wedded, in 1713, the Lady Catherine Chichester, eldest daughter of Arthur, 4th Earl of Donegall, and had issue,
CLOTWORTHY, his successor;
Arthur, MP for Co Antrim;
John, in holy orders;
Hungerford;
Hugh;
Catharine; Rachael.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

CLOTWORTHY, 5th Viscount (1715-57), who was, in 1756, advanced to an earldom as EARL OF MASSEREENE.

This nobleman wedded, in 1738, Anne, eldest daughter of the Very Rev Richard Daniel, Dean of Down; and secondly, in 1741, Elizabeth, only daughter and heir of Henry Eyre, of Rowter, Derbyshire, and had issue,
CLOTWORTHY, 2nd Earl;
HENRY, 3rd Earl;
William, Constable of Dublin Castle;
John;
CHICHESTER, 4th Earl;
Alexander;
Elizabeth, Robert, 1st Earl of Leitrim;
Catharine, Francis, 1st Earl of Landaff.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

CLOTWORTHY, 2nd Earl (1743-1805), who married, though having no male issue the family honours devolved upon his brother,

HENRY, 3rd Earl, Governor of the City of Cork, who died unmarried in 1811, and was succeeded by his only surviving brother,

CHICHESTER, 4th Earl, who wedded, in 1780, Harriet, eldest daughter of Robert, 1st Earl of Roden, and had issue,
HARRIET, VISCOUNTESS MASSEREENE.
The 4th Earl died in 1816, when the earldom expired; but the viscountcy of Massereene and barony of Loughneagh devolved upon his only daughter and sole heiress,

HARRIET, VISCOUNTESS MASSEREENE, who married, in 1810, Thomas Henry, Viscount Ferrard, by whom she had issue,

JOHN, VISCOUNT MASSEREENE AND FERRARD (1812-63).
The heir apparent is the present holder's son the Hon. Charles Clotworthy Whyte-Melville Foster Skeffington (born 1973).
Sir John Clotworthy took his title from the half barony of Massereene in County Antrim, where he established his estates.

In 1668, the Marrereenes owned about 45,000 acres in Ireland; however, by 1701, the land appears to have shrunk to 10,000 acres; and, by 1713, the County Antrim estates comprised 8,178 acres.

Land acquisiton through marriage etc meant that the land-holdings amounted to 11,778 acres in 1887.

In the 1600s the Massereenes possessed the lucrative fishing rights to Lough Neagh by means of a 99-year lease and they were also accorded the honour, Captains of Lough Neagh, for a period.

The Chichesters, Earls of Belfast, were Admirals of Lough Neagh.

Historical records also tell us that Lord Massereene had the right to maintain a “fighting fleet” on the Lough.

The 12th Viscount Massereene and Ferrard, DSO, was the last of the Skeffingtons to live at Antrim Castle:
The 12th Viscount was educated at Winchester and Sandhurst; commissioned into the 17th Lancers in 1895; saw action throughout the South African War, 1899-1902; was wounded, mentioned in dispatches and awarded the DSO; and retired as a brevet major in 1907.

Lord Massereene became a TA major in the North Irish Horse later in that year. He later served in the early years of the First World War and is said to have found Lawrence of Arabia 'impossible'. In 1905 he married and succeeded to the title.

He was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant for County Antrim. Although his father-in-law was a Liberal MP and Home Ruler, Lord Massereene was a staunch Conservative and Unionist. Notwithstanding his position as a DL for County Antrim, he is supposed to have sat in his chauffeur-driven car, looking on with approval, as guns were run into Larne Harbour in 1912!

His lordship was Lord-Lieutenant of County Antrim from 1916-38.

From 1921-29 he was Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland and a member of the Northern Ireland Senate.


ANTRIM CASTLE, County Antrim, stood at the side of the River Sixmilewater beside the town of Antrim.

It was originally built in 1613 by Sir Hugh Clotworthy and enlarged in 1662 by his son, the 1st Viscount Massereene.


The Castle was rebuilt in 1813 as a three-storey Georgian-Gothic castellated mansion, faced in Roman cement of an agreeable orange colour.

The original doorway, most elaborate and ornate and complete with Ionic pilasters, heraldry and a head of CHARLES I became a central feature of the new 4-bay entrance front, with a long, adjoining front of 180 feet with 11 bays; mullioned oriels and a tall, octagonal turret were added in 1887 when the Castle was again enlarged.


The image of the Castle above was taken in 1921, just before the disastrous fire.

Clicking on the images shall provide considerable detail.


The demesne boasts a remarkable 17th century formal garden and parterre with a long canal bordered with tall hedges; and another canal at right angles to it making a “T” shape.

There are abundant old trees, masses of yew and walls of rose-coloured brick.

An ancient motte stands beside the ruinous Castle.

The motte was transformed into a magnificent 'viewing mount' in the early 18th century with a corkscrew path lined on the outside with a yew hedge.

Lord and Lady Massereene and their family were hosting a grand ball in Antrim Castle when it was burnt by an IRA gang on the 28th October, 1922.

It is thought that one of the servants was an Irish Republican sympathizer; provided information to the gang; and left the Castle having packed his bags.

Many items of historical importance were destroyed in the fire; but the presence of mind of Lord Massereene and his staff, and the length of time which it takes for a very large house to be consumed by a fire, saved much that would otherwise have been lost.

The daughter of the Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Rev Charles D'Arcy, who was staying at the time, jumped out of a window to save herself.

A 900-piece dinner service of Foster provenance was thrown from the drawing-room windows into the Sixmilewater river; however, very little of it survived intact.

A great deal of furniture, some of it large, was rescued.

More would have been rescued, except that the townspeople of Antrim, who turned out in large numbers to help, thought that the most important thing to be saved was the billiards table!

Thirty men managed to get it out of the castle.
Among the major survivals were the family portraits. A comparison with the portraits itemised by C.H. O'Neill in 1860 and those surviving in family possession today, suggests a rescue operation of astonishing success (although it has to be remembered that many portraits and other important pieces were probably in the London town house in 1922, or with the Dowager Lady Massereene at her house in Hampshire).
The 13th Viscount , who was a small boy at the time, recalled the blaze vividly.

He remembered being trapped with his mother in a light well from which they narrowly escaped, and being told by her that they were going to die there.

He particularly remembered the nursery cat with its fur on fire. I wonder if it survived.

Following the fire, Lord Massereene went to live in the nearby dower house, Skeffington Lodge (which subsequently became the Deer Park Hotel). Further losses of family treasures – this time by sale, not by fire – now followed.

The family considered building a two-storey, Neo-Tudor house on the site of Antrim Castle but nothing came of this.

Apparently no insurance compensation was paid, because arson could not be proved.

The ruin of the great mansion was finally removed about 1970.

After the Second World War, Skeffington Lodge was abandoned; the Antrim Castle stable block was converted for use as a family residence, and was re-named Clotworthy House.

It was let for about ten years following the death of Lord Massereene in 1956.

Clotworthy was then acquired by Antrim Borough Council, and was converted for use as an Arts Centre in 1992.

The gardens are of great importance as they retain, in reasonable condition, features from the 17th century.

Whereas, at other sites in Ulster, later fashions dictated alterations in garden layout, at Antrim the formal style typical of European gardens of the 17th century remained little changed throughout successive generations.

The gardens are listed, naming the Long pond and Round Pond.

A great deal of the latter was wooded; became a deer park; and was set out in the early 19th century in clumps and shelter plantations in the landscape manner, but no longer survives in that form.

A fine stone bridge, the Deer Park Bridge, spans the river at a shallow point and formed a link between the demesne and the rest of the estate.

The Anglo-Norman motte adjacent to the house was made into a garden feature, with a yew-lined spiral walk leading to the top, from which views of the grounds, the town of Antrim and the river could (and can still) be enjoyed.

The castle and the motte were enclosed within a bawn and protected by artillery bastions, which were utilized for gardens from the 18th century.

The formal canals, linked by a small cascade and lined with clipped lime and hornbeam hedges, are the main attraction.

The wooded Wilderness is interspersed with straight paths that lead to vistas outside the demesne, which added to the impression that the area it covers is larger than it is.

Unfortunately most of the vistas have now been blocked.

A round pond is a feature in the wilderness.

A small former parterre garden is now the family memorial ground.

A larger parterre was reconstructed in the 1990s and now forms a considerable ornamental area planted in the manner of a 17th century garden, including plants that were known to have been grown at that time.

The model for the layout comes from Castle Coole in County Fermanagh.

This area is bounded by a fine clipped lime hedge and a venerable yew hedge.

Use of the site as an army camp in the last world war possibly accounts for the paucity of fine mature trees.

Other sections have suffered; the kitchen and ornamental Terrace Garden were destroyed in the 1960s, when a road was laid through part of the area.

The main gate lodge from the town, the Barbican Gate, was possibly built in 1818 to the designs of John Bowden and has been separated from the site by the intrusion of the road.

An underpass now connects the lodge entrance to the grounds.

Another gate lodge, at the farm and stables entrance on the Randalstown Road, has been demolished.

The stable block, built in the 1840s and now known as Clotworthy House, is used as an arts centre.

It replaced an earlier stable block immediately to the east of the house and assumed the name ‘House’ when the family went to live in it some time after the fire at the castle.

The estate and gardens are now owned by Antrim Borough Council and are open all the time for public access.

The 14th and present Viscount formerly lived with his family at Chilham Castle in Kent till it, too, was sold in 1996.

First Published in March, 2010.  Massereene arms courtesy of European Heraldry.