Friday, 19 March 2021

Rossmore Park


THE WESTENRAS, descended from the family of VAN WASSENAER, of Wassenburg, were of great antiquity in Holland, and they bore the augmentation of the SEAHORSE, in reference to the valour of an ancestor who, during the Duke of Alba's campaigns, was actively employed against the enemy, and undertook to swim across an arm of the sea with important intelligence to his besieged countrymen.

WARNER WESTENRA settled in Ireland during the reign of CHARLES II, and with his brothers, Derrick and Peter Westenra, became a free denizen of that kingdom, by act of parliament, in 1662.

In 1667, Colonel Grace sold the town and lands of "Clonlee, Brickanagh, and Lyagh" [sic], in the King's County, to this Warner Westenra, merchant, of the city of Dublin.

He married Elizabeth Wyhrantz, and had issue,
HENRY, his successor;
Elizabeth, m Rt Rev Simon Digby.
Mr Westenra died in 1676, and was succeeded by his son,

HENRY WESTENRA, who inherited likewise the estates of his cousin, Peter Westenra, MP for Athboy, 1692.

Mr Westenra wedded, in 1700, Eleanor, second daughter of Sir Joshua Allen, Knight, and sister of John, 1st Viscount Allen, by whom he had surviving issue,
WARNER, his successor;
Elizabeth; Jane; Penelope.
He died in 1719, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

WARNER WESTENRA, MP for Maryborough, 1728-55, who espoused, in 1738, the Lady Hester Lambert, second daughter of Richard, 4th Earl of Cavan, and had issue,
HENRY, his successor;
Castilinna; Eleanor.
Mr Westenra was was succeeded by his eldest son,

HENRY WESTENRA, MP for Monaghan, 1818-26, Seneschal of the King's Manors in Ireland, who married, in 1764, Harriet, daughter of Colonel John Murray MP, and had issue,
Mary Frances; Harriet Hesther.
He was succeeded by his eldest son,

WARNER WILLIAM WESTENRA (1765-1842), of Rossmore Park, County Monaghan, who wedded firstly, in 1791, Mary Anne, second daughter of Charles Walsh, of Walsh Park, County Tipperary, and had issue,
HENRY ROBERT, his successor;
John Craven;
He espoused secondly, in 1819, Augusta, fourth daughter of of Francis, Lord Elcho, and sister of Francis, 7th Earl of Wemyss.

Mr Westenra succeeded to the barony of ROSSMORE on the decease of ROBERT CUNINGHAME, 1st Baron Rossmore, in 1801.


ROBERT CUNINGHAME (1726-1801), son of the late Colonel David Cuninghame, of Seabegs, Stirling, a General in the army, and Colonel, 5th Dragoons; MP for Tulske, 1751-60, for Armagh, 1761-8, for Monaghan, 1769-96, and for East Grinstead, 1788-9; was elevated to the peerage, in 1796, in the dignity of BARON ROSSMORE, of Rossmore Park; and having no issue by his wife, Elizabeth, daughter of John Murray, and co-heir of her mother Mary, Dowager Lady Blayney, sole heir of Sir Alexander Cairnes Bt, the patent of creation contained a reversionary clause conferring the Barony, at his lordship's decease, upon the heirs male, at the time being, of two of her ladyship's sisters successively; namely, Anne, the wife of the Rt Hon Theophilus Jones; and Harriet, the wife of Henry Westenra.

His lordship died in 1801, and the only son of Mrs Jones, Alexander Jones, having predeceased him, unmarried, the barony devolved upon Mrs Westenra's eldest son, WARNER WILLIAM WESTENRA, 2nd Baron Rossmore.

The heir apparent is the present holder's only son, the Hon Benedict William Westenra (b 1983).

ROSSMORE CASTLE, County Monaghan, was a very large and complex mansion, constructed on the outskirts of Monaghan town in Tudor-Gothic style in 1827 by the the 3rd Lord Rossmore, to the designs of William Vitruvius Morrison.

An extension was added in 1858 in Scottish-Baronial style, designed by William Henry Lynn.

A main feature of the original building was a large square tower and turret with crow-step battlements.

(Image: Henry Skeath)

The extension also featured two towers, one with a polygonal turret and cupola, the other a smaller square tower with a spire.

The building underwent further smaller changes, a number of which were inspired by a competition which had developed over the years between Lord Rossmore and Mr Shirley of Lough Fea, as to which of them could claim to have the largest room in County Monaghan.

The remarkable consequence was that the drawing-room in Rossmore Castle was enlarged five times.

(Image: Henry Skeath)

Eventually the combined changes and additions resulted in a building with three towers and over 117 windows in 53 different shapes and sizes.

After the 2nd World War, the house developed a severe case of dry rot, and the 6th Baron and his family were forced to leave the castle and take up residence in Camla Vale, a Georgian house owned by the family and situated within the estate grounds.

The mansion was demolished in 1975.

(Image: Henry Skeath)

The former demesne is now a forest park.

First published in January, 2012.


Christopher Bellew said...

I was told by my grandfather that a Rossmore introduced grey squirrels to his estate in Monaghan. As it was surrounded by bogs he thought they would be contained but, of course, he was wrong. The present Lord Rossmore introduced the singer Marianne Faithfull to Monaghan but she moved back to England and Mick Jagger. Here is a picture of them at Dublin Airport.


Jonathan Gray said...

My Great Great Grandparents John Auld & Louisea Frederika Auld worked for the Rossmores in the late 1800s early 1900s. John was a carpenter and Louisea was Ladies Maid to Lady Rossmore.

I was wondering if there may be a family archive where I could get more information on their time on the estate etc. Pictures would be my greatest hope.


Unknown said...

Hi Jonathan, I actually run a history page about the Rossmore/Westenra family on Facebook. My great great grandparents worked on the on the Rossmore estate too-they possibly knew each your relatives. The page is called Old Memories of Rossmore Park. Send me a join request and I think you will be surprised at the amount of information you will find. Regards Sinead