Friday, 31 October 2014

About Town

I spent two hours in central Belfast this morning.

I strolled through House of Fraser, emerging at Victoria Square shopping centre, where I ambled in to the Apple Store.

I scrutinized the brand new iPad Air 2 and, I must declare, it is noticably lighter and thinner than my 4th generation model.

I am tempted to buy one.

Passing the Masonic Buildings  of ca 1870, at Arthur Square, I headed towards Marks & Spencer in Donegall Place.

I photographed the fantasy castle carved near the apex of Queen's Arcade.

My final port-of-call was the venerable Linenhall Library, where an image of the coat-of-arms of Bailie of Ringdufferin eluded me, despite searching for fifteen minutes.

I did, however, manage to obtain a good likeness of their crest, a hand and dagger (top).

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

McCutcheon's Day

Groomsport from McCutcheon's Field

I've spent the day with other National Trust volunteers at a place known as McCutcheon's Field.

This comprises several acres of coastline at Brigg's Rocks and close to Sandeel Bay, in north County Down.

There's a holiday park here called Windsor Caravan Park.

This field is close to Groomsport.

Today we were gathering old gorse cuttings and burning them.

There were several young Dexter cattle in the vicinity.

We numbered about twelve today, enjoying our packed lunches at the coast-line, watching the ferries and container ships sailing up and down Belfast Lough.

Phil treated us all to some of his wife's German biscuits.

I visited Clandeboye estate on my way home. The walled garden no longer sells spindleberry shrubs, though they still grow some for the seeds.

The Savoy Chapel

The Queen's Most Excellent Majesty

The Queen’s Chapel of the Savoy, off The Strand, London, has long been associated with the Duchy of Lancaster.

The Chapel is the only building of a hospital founded by HENRY VII for homeless people in 1512.

This hallowed place of worship belongs to Her Majesty The Queen in Her Right as Duke of Lancaster.

It is a ‘free’ chapel or ‘peculiar’, not falling within any bishop’s jurisdiction, though remaining firmly within the established Church.

The Chapel remains an important part of the Savoy Estate, the Duchy of Lancaster’s principal London land holding.

It continues to provide spiritual service to the community, as it has done for nearly five hundred years.

The Savoy Chapel is also the chapel of the Royal Victorian Order, an Order of Chivalry within the Sovereign’s personal gift.

By The Queen’s appointment, the present Chaplain is also Chaplain of the Order.

The expenses of the Chapel are borne by the sovereign, and collections are donated to charity.

Maintenance of this historic building remains the Duchy of Lancaster’s responsibility.

Work began on a new development plan for the Chapel in 2012.

The last extensions were constructed in 1957, with the creation of the ante-chapel, the royal Robing room and the Chaplain's office.


The new work, improved and extended in a project in 2012, included:-

  • The royal Robing room was enlarged.
  • A new door from the retiring room into the newly-excavated semi-circular courtyard.
  • The Chaplain's office was divided into a new office for the Verger.
  • A new Chaplain's office was created adjacent to the Verger's office, accessible to the courtyard.
  • The present ante-chapel now has windows opening on to the new courtyard.
  • The choir vestry was refurbished.
  • There is a new kitchen.
In the chapel itself, the wooden dais was removed to reveal the earlier Victorian stone and patterned tile dais.

The chancel carpet was removed to reveal the Victorian tiled floor, together with the brass memorials to two bishops, both of whom are buried in the churchyard.

Heraldic banners are being made for the Sovereign and the Grand Master of the Royal Victorian Order.

The brief was also for the re-landscaping of the Chapel in conjunction with a major development on the adjoining land.

The vestries were re-roofed with copper; the churchyard re-landscaped, to form an oval lawn, path and stone border carved with an inscription recording the re-opening by Her Majesty the Queen.

THE ROYAL VICTORIAN ORDER has about eighteen members in Northern Ireland.

The photograph above shows His Grace the Duke of Abercorn, KG, attending a reception with some members of the Order at Hillsborough Castle.

First published in January, 2014.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

The Bewitching Spindleberry

Many thanks to all those readers who apprised me of this shrub's name.

I am informed that the wood of Euonymus europaeus is very hard and was once used for spindles, skewers, pipe stems and artists' charcoal.

The bark was used medicinally to treat liver disorders.

I took these pictures myself on Sunday, 26th October, 2014, at the National Trust's Minnowburn property, near Shaw's Bridge, Belfast.

The spindleberry stands out alone among a newly-planted wood beside the Rose Garden.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Minnowburn Walk

I motored over to Minnowburn, the National Trust's wonderful property near Belfast, this afternoon.

The little car-park was full and the mobile diner van was parked, as usual, at one corner.

One particular shrub was conspicuous by the boldness of its colour.

Alas, I'm a reluctant gardener and didn't recognize it at all.

Do any readers know of it?

AT the Rose Garden there is a relatively new path which skirts one side. It has sturdy, traditional fencing.

Flamboyant bird-boxes proliferate the woods beside the car-park.

Robinson Arms

The armorial bearings of William Auchinleck Robinson JP MP adorn a gable wall of the Culloden Hotel, Cultra, near Holywood, County Down.

The arms are halved.

I believe that the right-hand section ~ three bears' heads muzzled, below a trefoil ~ are those of his wife, whose family name was CULLODEN.

Intriguingly, the armorial bearings of FORBES, of Culloden House, Inverness-shire, include three bears' heads muzzled.

The possibility cannot be discounted that Patrick Culloden, or his ancestors, were natural offspring of a Forbes of Culloden.

First published in October, 2012; revised.

Friday, 24 October 2014

New DLs


Mr Robert Scott OBE, Lord-Lieutenant of County Tyrone, has been pleased to appoint:
Mrs Meta Bell MBE, Cookstown, County Tyrone;
The Rev Dr Isaac Thompson TD, Cookstown, County Tyrone

To be Deputy Lieutenants of the County,

His Commission bearing date the 17th October, 2014

Gobbins Cliff Path

In 2010, I visited the peninsula of Islandmagee, in County Antrim.

I motored along the Antrim coast, parked at a lay-by, fetched my camera, and ambled down a track which leads to The Gobbins, the former cliff path built in 1902 as a tourist attraction.

The BBC has written an article here.

I didn't walk very far along the old path because I was on my own and, quite frankly, I am not particularly fond of heights; especially if they are precarious, as the ruinous Gobbins path presently is!

Further along the coast there is an intriguing derelict farmstead which, it could be supposed, is the Gobbins Farm named on the memorial obelisk to two First World War fallen soldiers nearby:
To the memory of Lance Corporal Walter Newell, 6th Battalion, Black Watch, who fell in action in France on the 13th July 1915. Erected by his friends with whom he spent many happy days at the Gobbins Farm.
And at its base:
Captain W V Edwards, Royal Dublin Fusiliers ...

The prospect of revisiting the newly-restored Gobbins path in 2015 generates excitement. 

Revised.  First published in July, 2010.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Greyabbey Wood

I was outdoors today with the National Trust Strangford Lough group.

We were at the little wood beside the village of Greyabbey, County Down.

Out jobs today included picking up litter, felling a few trees selectively, and erecting fence-posts.

Quick-drying cement is used for this purpose.

We all lunched in the changing-room beside the village soccer pitch, welcome shelter from somewhat inclement weather this morning.

I took home two sackfuls of logs (the wood isn't seasoned).

Any guesses what the implement above is?

Tuesday, 14 October 2014


St James’s Palace, London SW1

14th October 2014

THE QUEEN has been graciously pleased to give orders for the following appointment to the Royal Victorian Order:


To be a Commander:

The Rt Hon Peter [St Clair-Erskine] Earl of ROSSLYN, QPM; on relinquishing the role of Commander, Royalty and Specialist Protection, Metropolitan Police.

(To be dated 29 September 2014.)

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Tea in Holywood

I'd arranged to meet my aunt and Pat at Whalley's in Holywood, County Down, though the café has ceased trading (otherwise they're still open for business).

Instead, we visited the next nearest coffee-house, viz. Panini's, round the corner.

It was about eleven-fifteen and Panini's was busy. Nevertheless we still managed to find a small table.

I opted for the fruit scone and Earl Grey tea. Their raspberry jam must be home-made, because it is a delicious flavour.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Cuan Brig

I've spent an interesting day at Whiterock, a small coastal community near Killinchy in County Down.

The National Trust invited me to the naming ceremony for their new Strangford Lough barge, the Cuan Brig, at Strangford Lough Yacht Club.

The official naming was to have been performed by the Minister for the Environment, Mark H Durkan MLA, though he was unable to attend.

We all congregated in the club-house, where we enjoyed refreshments.

His Worship the Mayor of Ards was in attendance.

Alas, there was very heavy rain during the actual ceremony at the jetty, where a bottle of locally-distilled whiskey was smashed against Cuan Brig; though this didn't dampen our spirits (!).

Cuan Brig is technically a new steel landing craft for use in Category C tidal waters on Strangford Lough, for the National Trust in Northern Ireland.

The new vessel named was designed by Ian Paton of S C McAllister Ltd, and will be used for transporting cattle, vehicles, machinery, or up to twelve passengers, from the mainland to several islands around the Strangford Lough area.

National Trust staff are responsible for the maintenance of the flora and fauna on many islands in the Lough.

Work began on the vessel at the beginning of March, 2014.

The Cuan Brig is a flat-bottomed vessel with a length of 30 yards; a beam of 4 yards; and it is designed to be road transportable.

The vessel has a small wheelhouse aft, with a drop door on its bow which is raised and lowered by electric winches on both sides, and controlled from within the wheelhouse; and can be all operated by one crew member.

AFTERWARDS, a number of us moved on to the celebrated Daft Eddy's bar-restaurant at Sketrick Island, where we lunched and bade farewell to Alan, a member of NT staff who is leaving us.

The trusty nose-bag was ready for the County Down scampi and chips.

Friday, 3 October 2014

New Vice Lord-Lieutenant


The Viscount Brookeborough, Lord-Lieutenant of County Fermanagh, with the approval of Her Majesty The Queen, has been pleased to appoint

Mr Roland Rennie Alistair EADIE DL
Brookeborough, County Fermanagh,

Vice Lord-Lieutenant for the said County, his Commission bearing date the 1st day of September 2014 

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Elizabeth, Lady Sudeley, 1941-2014

I'm saddened to learn of the death of Elizabeth, Lady Sudeley, elder sister of Lady Rose Lauritzen.

The Hon Elizabeth Mairi Keppel was born at Mount Stewart, County Down, in 1941, the elder daughter of Lord and Lady Bury (later Lady Mairi Bury).

Derek William Charles Keppel held the courtesy title of Viscount Bury, as heir to the Earl of Albemarle.

As a daughter of Lady Mairi Bury, this made her a granddaughter of the 7th Marquess and Marchioness of Londonderry.

Londonderry House

As the Hon Elizabeth Mairi Keppel, she had her eighteenth birthday ball at Londonderry House, Park Lane, to which both of her future husbands came.

She married Alastair Villiers in 1962 and their wedding reception at Londonderry House was one of the very last family gatherings there before that house began to be demolished later in 1962.

Elizabeth and her first husband, Alistair Villiers, were in fact cousins via the Londonderrys, as both were directly descended from Fighting Charlie, 3rd Marquess of Londonderry, and Frances Anne his wife.

Elizabeth married secondly, in 1980, the 7th Baron Sudeley and they divorced in 1988.

Elizabeth Sudeley had two children from her first marriage.

Like her late mother, Lady Sudeley was very interested in racing and thoroughbred breeding, and enjoyed watching the horses which have run in her son Charles's colours in recent years (especially when they win!).

The top photograph shows Lady Sudeley on her way to a ball given by The Queen at Windsor Castle, which she attended with Alistair Villiers, her late husband.

I am very grateful to Charles Villiers for the photograph of his mother and information.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Greyabbey Angus

I was out with the National Trust today, at a small wood beside the village of Greyabbey, County Down.

Skillins Point in the distance

This little wood is approached from Islandview Road, not far from the village hall.

Today we were low on the ground, numerically speaking: there were six of us.

Our tasks were to remove an old barbed-wire fence, and to erect several bird-boxes in the wood.

I lopped a number of rotting trees, too.

We lunched beside the soccer pitch; and self munched contentedly on the cheese & onion sandwiches.

LATER, I drove into the village, where I bought a superb piece of thick fillet steak and some minced-beef at the charming Angus Farm Shop.

The villagers are fortunate indeed to have such a fine establishment.


Best wishes to a pal, colleague and member of NT staff who is leaving the Trust in a career change.

I wish you both all that you wish for yourselves, Alan.

You'll be sorely missed by your volunteer pals, though I'm sure I speak for everybody when I wish you every happiness and fulfilment in your new career.