Friday, 4 June 2021

Belan House


It is said that the family of STRATFORD can be traced from the time of ALFRED THE GREAT; but our account shall commence in 1660 with

ROBERT STRATFORD, a younger branch of the house of MEREVALE, and the first who settled in Ireland, one of the original burgesses in the charter constituting Baltinglass a borough.

He represented County Wicklow in parliament and, in 1662, married a daughter of Oliver Walsh, of Ballykilcavan, Queen's County, by whom he had issue,
EDWARD, his successor;
Francis, Consul at Bordeaux, dsp;
Grace; Mary; Elizabeth; Abigail; Jane; Anne; Catherine.
Mr Stratford was succeeded by his elder son,

EDWARD STRATFORD (1664-1740), who purchased Great Belan, and other lands in County Kildare, from the Viscount Fitzhardinge.

This gentleman was a staunch supporter of the Revolution, and entertained WILLIAM III at Belan.

He married Elizabeth, daughter of Euseby Baisley, of Ricketstown, County Carlow, and had, with a daughter,
JOHN, of whom presently.
The youngest son,

JOHN STRATFORD (c1697-1777), MP for Baltinglass, 1721-59, during the reigns of the first three GEORGES, was raised to the peerage, in 1763, in the dignity of Baron Baltinglass.

He was advanced to a viscountcy, in 1776, as Viscount Aldborough.

His lordship was further advanced, in 1777, to the dignities of Viscount Amiens and EARL OF ALDBOROUGH.

He married Martha, daughter and co-heir of the Ven. Benjamin O'Neale, Archdeacon of Leighlin, by whom he had six sons and nine daughters.

His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

EDWARD, 2nd Earl (1736-1801), who espoused firstly, Barbara, daughter of the Hon Nicholas Herbert, of Great Glemham, in Suffolk; and secondly, in 1788, Elizabeth, only daughter 1st Baron Henniker, though the marriage was without issue.

His lordship was succeeded by his brother,

JOHN, 3rd Earl (1740-1823), MP for Baltinglass, 1763-75, who wedded, in 1777, Elizabeth, daughter of the Hon and Rev Frederick Hamilton, and great-granddaughter of William, 3rd Duke of Hamilton; by whom he had three daughters,
His lordship died without male issue, and was succeeded by his brother,

BENJAMIN O'NEALE, 4th Earl (1746-1833), MP for Baltinglass, 1777, who married, in 1774, Martha, only child and heiress of John Burton, and niece and heiress of Mason Gerard, by whom he had issue,
MASON GERARD, his successor;
Eliza; Sophia.
His lordship was succeeded by his only son,

MASON GERARD, 5th Earl (1784-1849), who wedded, in 1804 (divorced 1826) Cornelia Jane, a daughter of Charles Henry Tandy, of Waterford, by whom his lordship had an only child,

BENJAMIN O'NEALE, 6th Earl (1808-75), Captain, 15th Light Dragoons, who died unmarried, at Alicante, Spain, when the titles expired.

The 1st Earl of Aldborough reviewing Volunteers at Belan House (Image: The National Trust)

BELAN HOUSE, near Ballitore, County Kildare, was said to have been one of the biggest 18th century gable-ended houses in Ireland

It was built in 1743 for the 1st Earl of Aldborough by Richard Castle, in collaboration with Francis Bindon.

Belan comprised three storeys; an eleven-bay front; three centre bays and the two outer bays breaking forward.

A central Venetian window was above the tripartite doorway.

The roof parapet had recessed panelling and urns.

There was also an elegant stable block; and a domed Doric rotunda in the park.

Belan House remained intact, though uninhabitable, until 1837, when the family left owing to impecunious circumstances.

During the lifetime of the 4th Earl, owing to his reckless gambling and extravagant mode of living, the property became heavily mortgaged.

After 1823, the estate became neglected.
During Lord Aldborough's absence abroad, it is said that the family lawyer, a man named Lewis, illegally obtained a long lease of Belan and, together with a friend of his named Mercer, brought about the dismantlement of the house and demesne by gradually auctioning off every stick and stone they could move.
The cut-stone work of the parapet and other parts of the house were sold, and used in the erection of public buildings in Athy; the furniture and chimney pieces were parted with, and the statuary in the grounds suffered a similar fate; the doors and shutters are said to have been used for flooring the stable lofts at Newtown House, near Bolton Castle.

For miles around there is hardly a place which does not possess some fragments of Belan's former grandeur.

At Bolton Castle, in the garden, is a block of composite, bearing the Aldborough crest.

The great iron gates within view of the hall door at Carton House originally hung at the Belan gate lodge.

The only trace now showing the extent of Belan demesne in former times are three stone obelisks.

ALDBOROUGH HOUSE is amongst the most important surviving historic houses in Dublin.

Located on Portland Row, it was the last great mansion to be built in Dublin city during the second half of the 18th century.

Aldborough House was built in 1796 by Edward, 2nd Earl of Aldborough, from whom Aldborough Place, Amiens Street and Stratford Row receive their names.

Stratford House was the family's town residence in London.

STRATFORD HOUSE, Stratford Place, the family's London residence, is now the premises of the Oriental Club.

The building was constructed in the 1770s for the 2nd Earl, who paid £4,000 for the site (formerly occupied by the Lord Mayor of London's Banqueting House) along with the Robert Adam-inspired building.

The House was variously remoulded over the years with new plumbing and a second storey on the east and west wings in the 1890s.

However it was in 1908 when Lord Derby bought the lease that the most extensive alterations were set in motion.

He purchased additional property in Marylebone Lane, removed the stables and built a Banqueting Hall with a grand ballroom above (the last privately owned ballroom to be built in this country).

It was a spectacular room of Italian design which was converted when the house was acquired by the Oriental Club.

When Stratford House was purchased by the Oriental Club in 1960, it was necessary to make certain alterations, as the needs of a Club were different to those of a town house of the nobility.

The ballroom was converted into two floors of bedrooms, additional lifts were installed and alterations to the Banqueting Hall were made, which is now the Dining Room.

The recent addition of eight new bedrooms continues the Oriental Club's tradition of providing a welcoming and comfortable home-from-home for its Members in the centre of London.

First published in August, 2013.   Aldborough arms courtesy of European Heraldry.


Garvagh said...

Great piece. The daughter of Oliver Walsh that Robert Stratford married, was named Mary (apparently). One of Robert Stratford's nine children, Abigail, married George Canning of Garvagh (as her first husband).

Marilyn of the Chandler lineage. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

The 5th Earl of Aldborough, Gerard Mason Stratford, infact did have another son, Henri Stratford, by Mary Arundel, whom he married at the British Embassy in Paris. He had long since lived apart from his first 'wife' Cornelia Jane Tandy whom he'd eloped with as a teenager. A signed document by the Earl stated he never was infact legally married to Cornelia Jane Tandy & his wishes were only for his son Henri Stratford & other children born to Mary Arundel (whom he referred to as his wife the Countess Mary) to inherit his titles,land & property. A bitter court battle ensued resulting in Cornelia Jane Tandy's son being awarded the title 6th Earl of Aldborough...afterwards he burned the house down & moved to Spain, where he remained an unmarried recluse.