Friday, 18 June 2021

Edgcumbe House

EDGCUMBE HOUSE, Strandtown, Belfast, was originally built in 1837 for John Wallace, a solicitor.

This early Victorian, two-storey residence comprised five bays, the central bay projecting by one bay, with a pediment and pillared Ionic porch.

There was a dentil cornice and quoining.

Ground-floor windows on the entrance front had crossettes and were pedimented.

One three-bay side elevation was widely bowed and extended to possibly another six bays further back, with a three-bay pediment.

In 1854, Edgecumbe was acquired by John Workman, proprietor of John Workman & Son, Manufacturers, of 5 Bedford Street, Belfast.

Mr Workman enlarged and refaced the house in neoclassical style, possibly to designs by Young & Mackenzie.


The grounds comprised 26 acres.

It is thought that the Lemons and Workmans were connected through marriage.

Edgcumbe House later became the home of Archibald Dunlap Lemon JP (d 1922), a director of James Lemon & Sons and the Ulster Steamship Company.

One of his sons was killed in action:-

Lieutenant Archibald Lemon, RIR

NAME; Lemon, Archibald D
RANK; Lieutenant
UNIT/SERVICE; Royal Irish Rifles
REGIMENT; 12th Battalion
BORN; Castlereagh 2nd April 1875
LIVED; 38 Scotch Quarter, Carrickfergus
ENLISTED; Carrickfergus 1915
FATE; Killed in action at the Somme 1st July 1916 aged 41
CEMETERY; Body never recovered
MEMORIAL; Thiepval Memorial, Pier and Face 15A and 15B
REMARKS: _______

Archie Lemon was the son of Archibald Dunlap Lemon and Ellen Workman of Edgcumbe House, Strandtown, Belfast. He had two sisters, Ellen and Marie and one brother Edward.

He was educated at Methody College Belfast and was an active member of the County Antrim Yacht Club. Before joining up with the 12th Royal Irish Rifles he lived in 38 Scotch Quarter, Carrickfergus and worked as a flax spinning manager at Barn Mills.

The details of his death are well documented in the 12th Battalion war diary and with eye witness accounts.  The following extract comes from eye witness accounts:

No.6 Platoon, 12th R.I.R ~ This Platoon was under Lieut. Lemon and was made responsible for the RAILWAY SAP.

The Platoon left our own trenches before Zero at the same tine and on the right of the 9th Royal Ir. Fus. but before reaching the RAVINE the whole Platoon with the exception of Lieut. Lemon and twelve men were all casualties.

On reaching the RAVINE Lt. Lemon looked for some supports, but as none were available he advanced with his twelve men to enter the Sap. When he reached. the Sap he had only nine men left, but he entered the Sap at the Railway bank.

L.Sergt. Millar and three men moved to the right to bomb down the Sap, but, these were soon all casualties. Lieut. Lemon and the remainder of the men advanced up the main Sap. The thick wires running into the first large tunnel was cut by Rfmn. Gamble who was the first bayonet man.

There was a Machine-gun firing across the sap from the small tunnel. Lieut. Lemon, however, climbed above the small tunnel with some bombs in order to catch any Germans who might come out and sent the men on.

Lieut. Lemon was then shot by two German Officers who fired their rifles at him from the top of a dug out which apparently led into the tunnel. The two German officers were afterwards killed by a bomb which exploded right at their feet.

The remaining men got cut off between the 1st and 2nd German line and only two of them escaped.
Edward Lemon, the last member of the family to live at Edgcumbe, continued to reside there until about 1940, when it was requisitioned by the Ministry of Defence during the 2nd World War.

Subsequently the Lemons never returned to live at Edgcumbe.

About 1950, it was purchased by the Northern Ireland Government.

Edgcumbe had two gate-lodges, one at Holywood Road, close to St Mark's Church.

Prior the the "Edgcumbe" housing development, the main entrance was at 249 Holywood Road, Belfast.

In the early 1950s, Edgcumbe House was acquired by Belfast Corporation (City Council) for use as a nursing and residential home for older people.

The Corporation paid £6,000 for the house and grounds, about £150,000 in today's money.

They spent a further £15,500 on alterations and furnishings.

Edgcumbe was officially opened by the Rt Hon Dame Dehra Parker GBE, NI Health Minister, 1949-57.

In 1957, a new wing was officially opened by the Rt Hon the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Alderman Sir Robert Harcourt JP.

Edgcumbe House was finally demolished ca 1993.

A new purpose-built building was constructed and officially opened in 1996 by Lady Mayhew, wife of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

Edgcumbe now serves the community as an assessment and therapy centre.

First published in April, 2013.  I wish to thank Gary Kinkade for help in compiling this article. 

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