Wednesday, 15 July 2020

Ballydrain House


The family of Montgomery claims to be a branch of the great Scottish house of MONTGOMERY. 

ROBERT EGBERT MONTGOMERY (1711-92), of Glenarm, County Antrim, married, in 1742, Isabella Stewart, and had issue,
HUGH, his heir;
Rose; Jane.
The eldest son,

HUGH MONTGOMERY (1743-1832), of Glenarm, who wedded, in 1785, Margaret, daughter of John Allen, of Kilmandil, County Antrim, and had issue,
John, his heir, of Benvarden, Co Antrim;
HUGH, of whom we treat;
Alexander, of Potter's Wall, Co Antrim;
Thomas, JP, of Birch Hill, Co Antrim;
Barbara; Isabella; Marion; Victoria.
Mr Montgomery's second son,

HUGH MONTGOMERY (1794-1867), of Ballydrain, County Antrim, married Emily, daughter of John Ferguson, of Ballysillan, and had issue,
Hugh (1830-54), killed in action;
John Ferguson (1832-76), accidentally killed;
Alexander Richard, d 1861;
James Charles, d 1870;
THOMAS, his heir;
GEORGE, of whom hereafter;
Emily Sarah; Mary Isabella; Florence Jane; Eva Victoria; Blanche Marjorie; Ellen Georgina.
Mr Montgomery's fifth son,

THOMAS MONTGOMERY JP DL (1837-1909), of Ballydrain, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1885, wedded, in 1866, Isabella, daughter of the Rev Thomas Walker, and had issue,
Hugh Ferguson (d 1908);
Emily Sarah; Mary Isabella; Florence Jane; Eva Victoria; Blanche Marjorie; Ellen Georgina.
The sixth son of Hugh Montgomery and Emily Ferguson,

GEORGE MONTGOMERY (1843-c1881), Captain, Royal Horse Artillery, wedded Blanche, third daughter of John Eveleigh Wyndham, of Sock Dennis, Somerset, and had an only son,

HUGH WYNDHAM MONTGOMERY (1875-1965), High Sheriff of County Kildare, 1911, who married, in 1898, Annie Selina Emma, daughter of Thomas Benyon Ferguson by his wife, Emma Amelia Cary, sister of 12th Viscount Falkland, and had issue,
Noel Hugh, b 1910;
Shelagh Blanche; Daphne Lena.
The eldest son,

GEORGE WYNDHAM CLAUD MONTGOMERY (1899-1978), espoused, in 1923, Estella M Crane, of Dorchester, Dorset.

The Montgomerys sold Ballydrain in 1918.  

BALLYDRAIN HOUSE, Dunmurry, now Malone Golf Club, is situated opposite Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park on the outskirts of south Belfast.
The early history of the demesne, from the beginning of the 17th century until 1834, is bound up with that of the Stewart family. The first house to be built on the site, in 1608, was a bawn (or fortified farmhouse) by William Stewart, whose family was of Scottish lesser royal blood.
Little remains from those early days, except the family tombstones in Drumbeg Parish Church and a stone inscribed 'A Free Howse 1675' in the church porch. John Stewart died in 1691. The property then passed to his son Thomas (1660-1715); and later to Thomas's son John (1701-84), who married Jane Legge (1698-1778).
John and Jane had seven children. One of the grandchildren, George, inherited Ballydrain. George married Martha Rainey and had two sons, William and Robert, both of whom died abroad in early life.
Shortly before his death in 1805, George sold Ballydrain to his cousin, John Younghusband.

The estate remained in Mr Younghusband's possession until 1834, when he sold it to Hugh Montgomery for £13,500 (£1.3 million in today's money).

Photo Credit: Hugh Montgomery, of Benvarden

The present house is thought to have been built in 1835, though documents of 1837 record that Montgomery was in the process of erecting 'a fine castle' on the estate, an indication that the house was still incomplete in 1837.

The building was certainly finished by 1843, as evidenced in a survey of the estate carried out by Hugh Hanna.

Hugh Montgomery's 'fine castle' was not erected on the site of the 18th century house, but some distance north-east of this.

The house was built in the Tudor-Revival style, with coursed but undressed stone, tall diamond-set chimney stacks, shouldered gables and mullioned windows.

The new owner of Ballydrain, Hugh Montgomery (1794-1867), was the second son of Hugh Montgomery (1743-1832) of Benvarden, County Antrim, President of Belfast Chamber of Commerce 1802-03 and founder, in 1809, of Montgomery's Bank, forerunner of the Northern Bank.

The bank was located at Donegall Place, neat Fountain Lane.

Like his father, Hugh was involved with the Northern Bank, being a director for forty-three years.

After his death in 1867 the estate became the property of his second son, John Ferguson Montgomery, (the eldest son, Hugh, having been killed in the Charge of the Light Brigade, at the battle of Balaclava, October 1854).

John Ferguson Montgomery (1832-76) was, by all accounts, a dashing figure: Nicknamed 'Rufus', on account of his red hair and beard, he was an outgoing character, cheerfully extrovert and a fearless sportsman.

He was well-known in Turf circles throughout the British Isles, being familiarly called 'The Captain', a title he was permitted to use after his retirement from the Queen's Royal Antrim Rifles.

His tragic early death was the result of an accident at the Maze racecourse in 1876.

After his death, Ballydrain passed to his brother Thomas, Hugh Montgomery's fifth son (the third and fourth sons, Alexander Richard and James Charles having died in 1861 and 1870).

Shortly after coming into possession of Ballydrain, Thomas Montgomery began a series of alterations to the house: the main entrance door was moved from beneath the oriel window and put into a projecting porch with a Tudor arch which was part of a major insertion with a dominant gable.

The garden front was also altered, the first floor oriel window being removed and replaced by a central two-storey canter bay inserted between the one-storey bays of the ground floor.

The alterations were very well handled and gave the building a unity and clarity it had hitherto lacked.

Though family tradition held the architect to be Sir Thomas Drew, the alterations were in fact the work of William Henry Lynn.

Thomas also added a conservatory (designed by James Boyd & Sons, of Paisley, in 1880) and a billiards-room.

After Thomas Montgomery's death in 1909 (his only son, Captain Hugh Ferguson Montgomery having died in 1908), his wife Isabella continued to reside at Ballydrain until her death in 1917.

The estate then passed to Thomas's nephew, Hugh Wyndham Montgomery, who sold it, in 1918, to John Barbour Morrison, director of the Ulster Spinning Company.

The house was inhabited until about 1940 and, like Wilmont, was occupied by the Army during the 2nd World War.

Following Mr Morrison's death in November, 1947, Ballydrain became the property of his son, John Maynard Morrison, of Mullaghbuoy, Donaghadee and his (John Barbour's) brother, James Morrison, of Balloo, Groomsport, County Down.

Though the land continued to be farmed, the house lay empty for several years, until the estate was purchased by Malone Golf Club in 1960.

Play commenced on the course on the 2nd June, 1962, and the house was officially opened, as Malone Clubhouse, on the 19th September of that year, by the Rt Hon Sir Basil Brooke Bt, Prime Minister of Northern Ireland.

Part of the grounds and the house were changed considerably by the golf club: One of the main alterations was the removal of the flower garden to make way for a car park; while the walled garden was turned into tennis courts and a bowling green.
The gate lodge at the main entrance was demolished. However, while the character of the estate - with its magnificent trees and lake - has been allowed to remain reasonably intact, this unfortunately has not been the case with the house: the Tudor chimneys and balustrades have been removed, as have the mullioned windows; and the main entrance has been altered considerably.
The present Ballydrain site is Malone Golf Club's fourth location since it was founded in 1895, moving from Newforge Lane, to Stranmillis, to the Upper Malone Road, and finally to its current location on the Upper Malone Road.

First published in December, 2010.

1 comment :

Irishlad said...

That was a fine article.