Friday, 9 October 2020

Killeavy Castle


The Killeavy estate, with other property in County Armagh, was granted, ca 1574, by JAMES I to the ancestor of this family, Sir Marmaduke Whitechurch, Knight, of Loughbrickland, County Down.

JOSEPH FOXALL, of Cumberland, son of Joseph Foxall LL.D. and his wife, the Hon Frances Seymour, married Eleanor Meredith, of the city of Dublin, and had, with three daughters, a son,

JOSEPH FOXALL JP, of Killeavy, County Armagh, a magistrate for that county, who wedded Sarah Adams, of Feversham, County Tyrone, and had issue,
JOHN, of whom we treat;
Meredith, a banker, of Newry (d leaving 3 sons);
Powell, JP, of Killeavy Castle, m with 3 sons and a daughter;
Nicholina, m Richard Benison.
The eldest son,

JOHN FOXALL JP (b 1785), of Fork Hill House, County Armagh, and Fox Hall, County Dublin, married, in 1803, Anna Maria, daughter of Colonel Grant, of the 42nd Highlanders.

Killeavy Castle ca 2012

KILLEAVY CASTLE, County Armagh, is a remarkable, mid-19th century, granite, Tudoresque, crenellated house, transformed by George Papworth of Dublin.

It is picturesquely set at the foot of Slieve Gullion, within a maturely planted demesne.

Along with its substantial farmyard, towered wall, gate screen, and walled garden it forms an important group of buildings.

Formerly known as Killeavy Lodge, it was the residence of the Foxall family, whose vault is situated nearby, at St Luke's parish church.

In 1836, Powell Foxall JP (1800-75), a banker from Newry, commissioned the architect George Papworth to enlarge his modest farm house.

It was subsequently transformed into the small Gothic castle existing today.

Foxall proudly adorned the entrance front of his castle with his coat-of-arms: argent, a chevron, azure, between three foxes' heads, erased, gules.

His crest was a griffin's head, or, erased, gules, ducally gorged of the last; and his motto, Faire Sans Dire.

The 1837 ordnance survey memoirs remarked that,
Killevy Lodge, the residence of John Foxall, is situated in the townland of Clonlum. It stands on the eastern base of Slieve Gullion and is built with considerable taste in castellated style. It was completed during the present year.
In 1852, the castle was offered for sale by auction, though a buyer was not found and subsequently part of the demesne was sold.

By 1881, Killeavy was in the possession of the Bell family, and it became known locally as Bell's Castle.

William R Bell MBE JP (1872-1941) and his wife Mary (d 1949) are both buried at St Luke's Church, Meigh.

There were formerly two gate lodges, both of which have now been demolished, though paintings of these can be seen at Armagh Museum.

The south lodge, of ca 1837, is now demolished; the north lodge, ruinous.

Killeavy Castle ca 2012

The castle is picturesquely set at the foot of Slieve Gullion, within a mature planted demesne.
It is accessed from the road by a granite gate screen leading to a tree-lined, serpentine drive which runs in an easterly direction to a walled garden, where it continues past the stable block and farmyard, finally reaching the castle at its western elevation.
Killeavy Castle sits on an elevated platform, with tumbling gardens to the front, accessed by a circular tower terminating at the end of a granite boundary wall.

Killeavy Castle (Image: Timothy Ferres, 2020)

The house is constructed in granite throughout, laid in varying courses with castellated towers to each corner.

All are square in section and similarly detailed, apart from that to the north-west, which is tall and circular, rising above the others.

The first floor of the eastern elevation is set back from ground floor, creating a balcony.

All windows are sliding sashes with granite sills.

The facade consists of a tall, central, canted bay flanked by two identical bays.

A timber-studded entrance door is perpendicular in style, with cusped panels and a Tudor arched head; set below its centre, a panel with three quatrefoil insets containing a carved, timber monkey's head door pull.

The entrance is accessed by four granite steps enclosed to either side by a rubble stone dwarf wall with dressed granite copings.

Below each window, set into the ground and lighting basement, is a cast-iron grille.

The basement was formerly accessed by a servants' tunnel from the gardens.

The south-east Tower has an arrow-loop window to all three exposed faces of ground floor.

The exposed basement level is cement-rendered and the ground floor is wet-dashed.

The first floor level has three arrow-loop windows to the centre.

The first floor has two sliding sash windows, one to either side of a bow.

The north-west tower is circular and is the tallest component of the building: It has two plat bands - one between basement and ground floor levels; the other below the crenellated parapet.

Between each floor are several small, staggered openings.

(Image: Timothy Ferres, 2020)

The grounds are accessed by a granite gate-screen to the Ballintemple Road, which consists of four gate piers, two to each end and two to centre with moulded copings and shallow pyramidal caps and an elongated panel to front face.

The gate piers to the centre support a pair of wrought iron gates.

The wall is constructed in dressed granite blocks with chamfered copings; it is terminated to each end by a rubble stone wall with embattled stone copings.

There is a wedge-shaped walled garden, narrowing to one end.

All walls are random rubble.

There is a small, single-storey garden house with a central door opening and a small window opening to either side.

To the front of the castle is a granite rubble wall with embattled copings terminated to each end by a crenellated round tower with staggered window openings.

The tower to the right contains a spiral stone stair leading to the front garden.

Flanking the central section of the wall is a pair of towers with rendered point-headed caps.

Below the terrace, the front garden falls to an ornamental canal, which appears to be the remains, or a remodelling, of a small lake, suggesting that the castle was set in a designed landscape which changed over time and is now in a neglected state.

Killeavy Castle was sold to a private buyer in 2012, when was described thus:

A rare opportunity not only to acquire an historic castle, but also to purchase the surrounding estate of 134 acres which consist of a desirable mix of quality farmland on the lower slopes and mature woodland and pasture on the upper areas.

An additional lot of 202 acres of planted timber, leased to the Department of Agriculture (until 2112) is also available. 

This unique property, situated on the lower slopes of Slieve Gullion, includes a modest pre-Victorian Castle (designed in 1836) extending to approximately 4,000 sq ft and in need of restoration. 

Farmland extending to approximately 134 acres which includes the “upper wood” area to the rear of the Castle, in addition to extensive frontage to Ballintemple Road, approximately ½ mile off the Newry to Forkhill Road, 5 miles south of Newry.

 Proposed Gate Lodge Building Site with Planning Consent for a 1,300 square foot, 1½ Storey Dwelling (granted January 2012). 

Approx. 202 acres of Forestry Land, leased to Department of Agricultural with 101 years unexpired at an annual rent of £40 PA.

Guide Price:- Offers Around £975,000

Closing Date For Offers:- Friday, 16th November, 2012.

The Castle has been completely restored and additional accommodation has been built near by.

The new hotel opened for business in 2019.

First published in October, 2012.


Anonymous said...

Great little 'castle' - and architecturally very highly thought of. I fear an appropriate buyer will not, however, be found.


Miss Mickey said...

My grandmother was Sara Walters Bell. My father talked about this castle. I visited there in 1971 when family was still living there. So sad to see that it has not been kept.

JJ said...

My grandfather was William Powell Foxall - there have been rumours of a "castle" in our family's history, but I didn't realise it was true until I came across this blog, and other sites talking about the sale of the castle. I would love to see it!

Anonymous said...

would make a great inn ..and could potentially support summer fairs and concerts.fantastic looking area and steeped in recent and ancient history.would love to see this magnificent site restored to its former grandeur.

Anonymous said...

realizing this has been posted for quite some time this may not be news but the castle was purchased with plans to house a hotel. a relation of my own is this person. what i find most ironic is that Joseph Foxall was landlord to my family as well as the whole lot of foxalls for generations were landlords to many a killeavy native irish family .

Timothy Belmont said...

I'm very glad to hear that Killeavy is being restored.

Anonymous said...

I walked around the castle in August and there was no sign of any restoration going on. I hope they can get started soon. Glorious building and setting. Do you have any information on the neighbouring Hawthorn Hill demesne? There was obviously a substantial house there at one point. It is now a popular tourist attraction with an excellent 'forest drive' taking in some mountainous terrain (Slieve Gullion Forest Park).

Timothy Belmont said...

I wrote a bit about Hawthorn Hill here:

Anonymous said...

Latest news on £10m plan to turn Killeavy Castle into a top hotel -

Powell Foxall said...

I am Powell William Foxall, a Gr.Gr. Grandson of Powell Foxall , the original owner of the castle. I, like my cousins, are very excited about the restoration of the castle and development, and are planning to visit when completed. I visited the site a few years ago now, and look forward to revisiting Meigh and catching up with Rory Townson and a my irish Facebook friends.

Unknown said...

I am Diane “MAUREEN” Mehrhoff, as in the Grand Niece of the last living Bell family member of Killevy Castle, Phyllis “MAUREEN” Bell.
It was my Great Grandparents who purchased Killeavy from the Foxall family. My Grandmother Violet and her siblings were born in Killeavy. I myself spent two summers at Killeavy and have grand photos of my stays as well as fond memories. Many interior as well as exterior photos.
It was to our family’s dismay that Killeavy was not kept up. Times were difficult and not many family members over in Ireland were there to input time or finances. Great Aunt Maureen did do her best. It did not help any that Killeavy was vandalized and much of the families belongings as well as beautiful furniture was taken when “Maureen” had taken ill and was in the hospital. I would say that took a great breath of life from her upon her return.
We are however pleased that Killeavy and it’s beautiful grounds have a rebirth.

Anonymous said...

Hi Diane is there any way in which I could get in contact with you?

magillpeter said...

Work underway - - so good news

Unknown said...

Getting very excited about a visit to the castle in May this year with several of my cousins, who are all Gr. Gr.+ Grandchildren of Powell Foxall the original owner. I have tried, without success, to make trace any other descendants of our family who may be still residing in Ireland. If any read this note I would be most interested in making contact with them.
Powell W Foxall

MCL said...

William Foxall married Astrea Cutler in 1869. Powell Foxall would have been William Foxall’s great-uncle.
So my connection to the Foxall family is through this marriage.
Michael Cutler Lynch

Unknown said...

Recently came across two old photographs. I wonder if there is a family connection. The first is a portrait identified as Uncle Willie Bell, "Bellevue" Newry, Co. Down. He is wearing what appears to be a MBE award. The photo was taken by Swaine, New Bond St. The second shows Uncle Willie Bell with Marie (on horseback) and Aunt Minnie. Again the place is Bellevue Newry, Co. Down. This image was taken by H. Allison & Son. Armagh, Newry and Warrenpoint.

Powell Foxall said...

Just returned to Oz after visiting Ireland and the restored Killeavy castle and new hotel. What a magnificent achievement and I can thorougly recommend to anyone having connection with Killeavy to get there ASAP and soak up the wonderful atmosphere that has been created.

Powell Foxall said...

If any of the Foxall connection would like to contact me my email is I would be very interested in getting a copy of the photos that Diane Mehrhoff has,if you care to contact me Diane. Tks Powell