Monday, 5 July 2021

Old Court House


OLD COURT demesne is located at Strangford, County Down.

I have written about the barony of de Ros here.

The 23rd Baron de Ros, a grandson of the 20th Earl of Kildare and 1st Duke of Leinster, inherited the port and village of Strangford, which became his principal seat.

In 1844, he built Old Court and surrounded it with pleasant walks and gardens.

Lord de Ros also made many improvements, extended Payne's Chapel at Old Court and built Katherine's Quay as his own private harbour.

Dudley, 24th Baron, was equerry to HRH The Prince Consort (Prince Albert), 1853-74.

His life at Court during the period 1850-62, and his manuscript account, gives interesting personal reminiscences of certain events which occurred while he was acquainted with, and in the service of, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, as well as dinner and shooting lists, etc. 

During this era Lord de Ros owned 1,271 acres of land in County Meath in addition to his County Down estate.

Una Mary, 26th Baroness, attended Court in an application for compensation for criminal injury to property, after a malicious fire had destroyed Old Court at the end of 1921, together with two lists of articles lost.

Nevertheless, it seems that the family were popular with the villagers generally and there was much sadness at the time when the old house was burnt.

OLD COURT was a low, rambling two-storey house with many gables, some of them set on three-sided bows, the angle walls of which curved outwards under the eaves, so that some of the upstairs windows were bent in a vertical plane, like the windows at the stern of an old man-of-war ship.

There were barge-boards on the gables and hood mouldings over the windows.

It was located at the site of the present 1970s house (also called Old Court) in a most picturesque setting overlooking the harbour and Strangford Lough.

In the grounds, nestling in a glade nearby, there is a splendid little private chapel originally built in 1629, surrounded by an old graveyard.

It is believed that the chapel is still used regularly by the family and villagers.

Today the demesne stretches from Strangford Bay to Strangford village, skirting the shore-line.

In the 1980s Georgiana, 27th Baroness, and her husband (Lieutenant-Commander J D Maxwell DL RN) lived in the present Old Court House; while their son Peter Maxwell (present Lord de Ros) had a bachelor pad down in the little boat-house at Katherine's Quay.

When he married and succeeded to the title, he built a relatively modern house in the grounds, not far from the delightful little Old Court chapel.

Peter Maxwell is the present 28TH BARON.

First published in July, 2011.  De Ros arms courtesy of European Heraldry.


Anonymous said...

Is there only the modern building now? If any of Old Court House remains, is it in de Ros ownership but simply unused?

Timothy Belmont said...

Anon, There is a contemporary house on the site now, which I photographed from the sea on Sat.

I've a feeling that the present house no longer belongs to the de Ros/Maxwell family.

Anonymous said...

Hi there,
Thank you for your post. I would be very interested to see the photographs of the old house but they don't seem to want to load or are corrupted??

Unknown said...

My late father and Cdr Maxwell were close friends and used to sail together. Maxwell kept his boat moored just off the private harbour.

We had a cottage on the other side of the Lough on Ballywhite Bay where we moored our own boat, when she wasn't at Ardglass Marina.

Coincidentally my father married my stepmother in the chapel at Old Court.