Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Belvedere House


The ancient and noble family of ROCHFORT, in old deed and writings styled De Rupe Forti, is stated to have been established in Ireland since its first conquest by the English.
Sir Richard de Rochfort was Lord of Crom and Adare, 1243. Sir Maurice Rochfort was Lord Justice of Ireland, 1302. 
His son, Sir William, was father of Edmund Rochfort, whose son, Sir John, lord of Tristledelan, 1384, was father of John, who became settled at Kilbride, County Meath, in 1415, and was father of Thomas, whose son, Robert of Kilbride, 1464 and 1472, was father of Christopher of Kilbride, lord of Castledelan, who was succeeded by his son Robert, who was living at Kilbride in 1569.
This Robert Rochfort's second son, Walter, was seated at Brennanstown, and died in 1630.

His second son, James Rochfort, of Aughrim, County Wicklow, had a second son,

JAMES ROCHFORT, named Prime-iron, Lieutenant-Colonel in CROMWELL's army, youngest son of James Rochfort, of Agherry, County Wicklow (ninth in descent from Sir William Rochford, Lord of the Manor of Killadoon at the beginning of the 14th century), was executed, under a court-martial, for killing Major Turner in a duel in 1652.

By Thomasine his wife, daughter of Colonel Sir Robert Piggott, he left three daughters and two sons, of whom the youngest,

ROBERT ROCHFORT (1652-1727),  MP for Westmeath, 1692-1707, chosen Speaker of the Irish house of commons, 1695, Chief Baron of the Exchequer, 1707, wedded Hannah, daughter of William Handcock MP, of Twyford, County Westmeath, and left two sons, the elder of whom,

, MP for Westmeath, 1707-13, Chief Chamberlain of the Court of Exchequer, wedded, in 1704, the Lady Elizabeth Moore, daughter of Henry, 3rd Earl of Drogheda, and had issue,
ROBERT, his heir;
Arthur, MP for Westmeath, 1738;
Mary; Hannah; Elizabeth; Alice; Thomasina; Anne.
The eldest son,

ROBERT ROCHFORT (1708-74), MP for Westmeath, 1731, married, in 1736, Mary, eldest daughter of Richard, 3rd Viscount Molesworth, and had issue,
GEORGE, his heir;
Robert, MP;
Mr Rochfort was elevated to the peerage, in 1737, in the dignity of Baron Bellfield; and advanced to a viscountcy, in 1751, as Viscount Bellfield.

His lordship was further advanced to the dignity of an earldom, in 1756, as EARL OF BELVEDERE.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

GEORGE, 2nd Earl (1738-1814), MP for Westmeath, 1761-8, who married firstly, in 1775, Dorothea, second daughter of John Bloomfield, of Redwood; and secondly, in 1803,  Jane, daughter of the Rev James Mackay.

The 2nd Earl died without issue, in 1814, when the titles became extinct.

BELVEDERE HOUSE, near Mullingar, County Westmeath, is an exquisite villa of about 1740, by Richard Castle, on the shores of Lough Ennell.

It was built for Robert Rochfort, 1st Earl of Belvedere, whose original seat was Gaulston, about five miles away.

The house comprises two storeys over a basement; a long frontage; and curved end bows.

The front has a three-bay recessed centre between projecting end bays.

Belvedere itself has only a few rooms, though they are well-proportioned, with rococo ceilings on the ground floor of exceptional quality, including cherubim gazing down from the clouds.

Belvedere House passed, by inheritance, to the Marlay family; thence to Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Howard-Bury DSO JP DL, leader of the 1921 Mount Everest expedition.

In the period following the 2nd World War, Colonel Howard-Bury restored the house and gardens.

He never married and, on his death in 1963, the estate was inherited by Rex Beaumont, who had been Howard-Bury's friend and companion for 30 years.

Mr Beaumont sold the estate to Westmeath County Council in 1982.

Following a multi-million pound restoration the house and gardens have been opened to visitors.

Belvedere also hosts weekend music festivals and intimate garden theatre performances.

First published in June, 2013.   Belvedere arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

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