Friday, 6 August 2021

Murlough House

Arms of Wills, 1st Marquess of Downshire,
created Baron Harwich in 1756

THE MARQUESSES OF DOWNSHIRE WERE THE LARGEST LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY DOWN, WITH 78,051 ACRES


MURLOUGH HOUSE, near Dundrum, County Down, is a Victorian villa of 1857-60 in the Georgian style.

It was built by the 4th Marquess of Downshire (1812-68), and used by the family as a seaside holiday home.

The predecessor of the present house was at the site of Murlough Farm, a short distance away. 

During the Victorian era the Hills, Earls of Hillsborough and Marquesses of Downshire, were the greatest landowners in County Down.

Their extensive estates were managed from Hillsborough, County Down.

Murlough House was designed by William Haywood.

The house, comprising two storeys, has a seven-bay entrance front, prolonged by a lower two-storey wing over a basement.

The side elevation has three bays.

The single-storey porch protrudes from one side of the house, with doors at each side and a round-headed, rusticated window at the front.

The roof is eaved.

Murlough House, Entrance Front (Image: William Alfred Green)


Arthur, 2nd Marquess of Downshire (1753-1801), married Mary Sandys, an heiress, who brought him Easthampstead Park in Berkshire, DUNDRUM in County Down, and Edenderry in County Offaly.

Mary Sandys inherited the Irish properties from her grandmother, sister of the 1st Viscount Blundell, who had died in 1756.

The 4th Marquess developed the village of Dundrum, building the main street and the harbour, which imported cereals and coal.

The former Downshire Arms hotel on the main street, which has a plaque with the Downshire arms, is today the premises of the Mourne Seafood Bar.

Murlough House commanded a sea-view when it was built, but by 1910 all the windows on the seaward side of the house had to be replaced, so trees were grown to protect it from inclement weather conditions.

(Image: William Alfred Green)

The 7th Marquess (1894-1989) sold Hillsborough Castle, County Down, to the Government in 1922.

Murlough House was made available to the Church of Ireland, in 1952, as a retreat house for nine months of the year, and was used by the Downshire family for the three summer months.

In 1967, Lord Downshire donated the land (comprising about 430 acres) to the National Trust to form Murlough Nature Reserve; and a further 266 acres in 1975, comprising Murlough House and lands.

The Queens University of Belfast thereafter purchased a lease for the property and used it for 20 years as a field study centre.

Murlough House (Image: www.murloughhouse.org)

Queen's University built a laboratory, which is the conference centre of today.

The university sold the lease to Project Evangelism in 1993, where it was run as a centre for training in Evangelism and Discipleship.

Since 2014, Murlough House has changed custodianship and now accommodates small groups at weekends and is open as a retreat house during the week.

No comments :