Friday, 23 October 2020

Blessingbourne House


HUGH MONTGOMERY was settled at Derrybrusk, County Fermanagh, by his kinsman, the Rt Rev Dr George Montgomery, Lord Bishop of Clogher, about 1618, and was father of

THE REV NICHOLAS MONTGOMERY (c1615-c1705), of Derrybrusk, Laureate of Glasgow University, 1634, Lieutenant in Sir James Montgomery's Regiment, and afterwards Rector of Carrickmacross, County Monaghan.

He left issue, with two younger sons (Robert, of Derrybrusk, Captain in the army, and Andrew, who succeeded his father as Rector of Carrickmacross), and a daughter, Catherine, who married Captain Alexander Acheson, an elder son,

HUGH MONTGOMERY JP (1651-1723), of Derrygonnelly, Captain of Horse under WILLIAM III, who married Katherine, daughter and heir of Richard Dunbar, of Derrygonnelly (by his wife, Anna Catherina, daughter of Lars Grubbe Stjernfelt, a cousin of King Gustavus Adolphus, of Sweden, and widow of Ludovic Hamilton, Baron of Dalserf, in Sweden), and great-granddaughter of Sir John Dunbar, Knight, of the same place, and had issue,
HUGH, of whom we treat;
Richard, of Monea, Co Fermanagh;
Sarah; Anne; Jane; Margaret; Sidney.
Mr Montgomery's eldest son,

COLONEL NICHOLAS MONTGOMERY (1690-1763), of Derrygonnelly, married firstly, Angel, daughter and heir of William Archdall, of Castle Archdale, County Fermanagh, and assumed the surname of ARCHDALL.

By his first wife he had issue, an only son, Mervyn, MP, of Castle Archdale.

Colonel Montgomery wedded secondly, Sarah, daughter of ______ Spurling, of London, and had further issue,
Catherine; Sarah; Augusta; Elizabeth.

Hugh Montgomery's second son,

HUGH MONTGOMERY, of Derrygonnelly, wedded Elizabeth, daughter of the Ven William Armar, Archdeacon of Connor (by Martha his wife, daughter of Captain William Leslie, of Prospect), and sister of Colonel Margetson Armar (1700-73), of Castle Coole, County Fermanagh, and was father of Hugh Montgomery, of Castle Hume.

Mr Montgomery died before 1760, leaving a son,

HUGH MONTGOMERY (1739-97), of Castle Hume, who espoused, in 1778, Mary, daughter of Sir Archibald Acheson (afterwards 1st Viscount Gosford), and had issue,
HUGH, his heir;
Archibald Armar;
Mary Millicent.
Mr Montgomery was succeeded by his eldest son,

HUGH MONTGOMERY (1779-1838), of Blessingbourne, Captain, 18th Dragoons, Lieutenant-Colonel, Fermanagh Militia, who married, in 1821, Maria Dolores Plink, of Malaga, Spain, and had an only son,

HUGH RALPH SEVERIN MONTGOMERY (1821-44), of Blessingbourne, who wedded, in 1843, Maria, daughter of Philipp Emanuel von Fellenberg, of Hofwyl, Switzerland, sometime Landmann of the Republic of Bern, and had issue, a son and heir, 

THE RT HON HUGH DE FELLENBERG MONTGOMERY JP DL (1844-1924), of Blessingbourne, High Sheriff of County Fermanagh, 1871, Tyrone, 1888, Captain, Fermanagh Militia, who espoused, in 1870, Mary Sophia Juliana, youngest daughter of the Hon and Rev John Charles Maude, Rector of Enniskillen, and had issue,
Archibald Armar (Sir), GCB etc, Field-Marshal;
Geoffrey Cornwallis;
Francis Trevilian;
(Charles) Hubert (Sir), KCMG etc;
Maurice William de Fellenberg;
Walter Ashley;
Ralph Noel Vernon;
Mary Millicent.
Mr Montgomery was succeeded by his eldest son,

MAJOR-GENERAL HUGH MAUDE DE FELLENBERG MONTGOMERY CB CMG (1870-1954), of Blessingbourne, who married, in 1894, Mary, second daughter of Edmund Langton, and Mrs Massingberd, of Gunby, Lincolnshire, and had issue,
Hugh Edmund Langton (1895-1971);
PETER STEPHEN, of whom hereafter;
Mary Langton; Elizabeth; Anne.
The younger son,

PETER STEPHEN MONTGOMERY JP DL (1909-88), of Blessingbourne, Vice Lord-Lieutenant of County Tyrone, died unmarried.

BLESSINGBOURNE HOUSE, near Fivemiletown, County Tyrone, is an Elizabethan-Revival style manor house built between 1870-74.

It comprises two storeys and an attic storey.

The windows are multi-gabled and mullioned, with carved, round chimney stacks. 

Located just north of Fivemiletown in County Tyrone, much of the estate was in the neighbouring county of Fermanagh.

Blessingbourne passed to the Montgomery family through marriage to the Armor family early in the 18th century.

This is a Regency period demesne, created for a modest dwelling of 1810, referred to as, ‘a romantic thatched cottage’ built as a bachelor pad for Hugh Montgomery. 

When the family left County Fermanagh their former seat was Derrygonnelly Castle, which was burnt in the late 18th century. 

Hugh Montgomery, known as ‘Colonel Eclipse’, married in 1821 and travelled abroad, needing the cottage only for very occasional visits.

The present house is considerably more substantial.

It is a large restrained Elizabethan style manor-house designed by F Pepys Cockerell and built between 1870-74 for Hugh de Fellenberg Montgomery, grandson of Hugh.
Its grey stone elevations overlook a natural lough, Lough Fadda and is surrounded by a present-day garden around former sunken lawns, Fastigate yews and a gravel terrace, vestiges of the garden made for the present house.
A planted area and lawns on the south east side, which leads to the lough, is now a grazing field.

Views were opened up in the 1960s.

There is also a late 19th century rhododendron walk.

There are fine mature woodland and parkland trees.

A walk through the woods goes round the lake; a lake walk, via a rockery. 

There is public access in the woods and the Ulster Wildlife Trust undertakes some management here. 

This wood dates from the time of the present house.

The boat house and summer house have gone.

The part-walled garden is partly cultivated and dates from the time of the first dwelling. 

The Gardener’s House was replaced by a bungalow in the 1970s.

There is a delightful little Tudor-style gate lodge, built ca 1845 by Hugh Ralph Severin Montgomery after he succeeded to the property in 1838.

Major-General Hugh Montgomery's brother was Field-Marshal Sir Archibald Montgomery-Massingberd.

Peter Montgomery, former president of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, stylishly redecorated much of the interior at Blessingbourne.

In December, 2007, the Daily Telegraph published an obituary of Hugh (Montgomery) Massingberd: 

". . . He was born Hugh John Montgomery at Cookham Dean, in Berkshire, on December 30, 1946. His father was in the Colonial Service and later worked for the BBC; his mother was a "Leftward-leaning schoolmistress". 

His remoter background, however, was distinctly grand, even if it promised a great deal more than it delivered.The Montgomerys, seated at Blessingbourne in Co Tyrone, were a Protestant Ascendancy family, albeit exceptionally conscious of the need to right the wrongs suffered by Roman Catholics. 

In his youth Hugh stayed at the Montgomerys' pseudo-Elizabethan (actually 1870) pile in the full expectation that one day it would be his. There was a strong military tradition in the family. Hugh's paternal grandfather was Major-General Hugh Montgomery, while his great-uncle, the major-general's younger brother, ended his career as Field Marshal Sir Archibald Montgomery-Massingberd, Chief of the Imperial General Staff from 1933 to 1936  

. . As a teenager, Hugh seemed to add substance to his dreams when he went to stay with his Uncle Peter at Blessingbourne. Peter Montgomery was something of a figure in Ulster, to such a degree that his homosexuality, at that date unknown to Hugh, did not prevent him from becoming Vice-Lord Lieutenant of Tyrone

... It was, therefore, a shattering blow to be told in his mid-teens that a cousin who intended to be a farmer would inherit Blessingbourne. This youth, it was judged, would be better qualified than Hugh to return the estate to order after years of benign neglect under Peter Montgomery".

The estate was eventually inherited by Captain Robert Lowry, a great-great grandson of Colonel Hugh Montgomery. 

I recall Captain Lowry voluntarily "skippering" the Duke of Westminster's motor yacht, Trasna, on loan to the National Trust ca 1988 at Crom estate:
The Grosvenors, Dukes of Westminster,  had a beautiful, classic, wooden motor yacht which they used to keep at Ely Lodge. It was called Trasna; it was the finest vessel I'd ever seen on Lough Erne. It was about fifty feet in length and held sixteen persons in comfort. Trasna sported a magnificent kind of figurehead on her bow: a golden sheaf, or bundle, of wheat (or corn). The vessel was acquired by the National Trust for a short period before acquisition by the Duke of Abercorn for Belle Isle. 
Colleen and Nicholas Lowry today operate self-catering apartments on the estate.

First published in December, 2009.


Unknown said...

Are there any photos/sketches/drawings of the Thatched cottage.

Unknown said...

Are there any photos of the Trasna?

Janet C.

Timothy Belmont said...

Janet, yes, I've written a bit about it: