Wednesday, 9 December 2020

Craigdarragh House


This family, a branch of the ancient and ennobled line of the same name in Scotland, is stated to have gone from Berwickshire to Ulster during the period of the civil wars in Scotland.

Following the destruction of the family papers, the lineage cannot be traced accurately.

Nevertheless, it is known that many years after the period of the Scottish settlement, General Lord Adam Gordon, fourth son of Alexander, 2nd Duke of Gordon, during a visit to Ulster, resided with his cousin, John Gordon, of Florida Manor, in County Down.

At a subsequent epoch, in 1783, the intercourse was renewed upon the occasion of some members of the Gordon family visiting Scotland, when they were received with much kindness by Alexander, 4th Duke of Gordon, who fully recognized the relationship.

The representative of the Ulster branch, at the close of the 17th century,

ROBERT GORDON, of Ballintaggart, County Down, married, in 1689, a daughter of George Ross, of Portavo, and sister of Robert Ross, of Rostrevor, in the same county, ancestor of General Ross, who fell at the battle of Bladensburg, and had issue,
JOHN, his heir;
Robert (Rev).
Mr Gordon died in 1720, and was succeeded by his elder son,

JOHN GORDON (1690-1771), of Ballintaggart, who wedded, in 1720, his cousin Jane, daughter of Hugh Hamilton, of Ballytrenagh, and by her had issue,
ROBERT, his heir;
Jane, David Johnston.
Mr Gordon espoused secondly, Grace, daughter of Thomas Knox, of Dungannon, County Tyrone, and had by her,
Thomas Knox;
Margery; Elizabeth.
Mr Gordon left his estate at Ballintaggart to Thomas Knox Gordon, his eldest son by his second marriage.

His eldest son by his first wife,

ROBERT GORDON (1722-93), of Florida Manor, married, in 1755, Alice, widow of Thomas Whyte, and only daughter of James Arbuckle and his wife Anne, daughter of John Crawford, and niece and heir-at-law of David Crawford, of Florida Manor, and had issue,
JOHN CRAWFORD, his heir;
David, of Delamont, successor to his brother;
Alexander, of Castle Place, Belfast; father of 
Alice; Anne.
Mr Gordon was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN CRAWFORD GORDON JP (1757-97), of Florida Manor, Captain, 50th Regiment, who died unmarried, and was succeeded by his brother, 

DAVID GORDON JP DL (1759-1837), of Florida Manor and Delamont, High Sheriff of County Down, 1812, who married, in 1789, Mary, youngest daughter of James Crawford, of Crawfordsburn, and sister of Anne, 1st Countess of Caledon, and had issue,
ROBERT, his heir to Florida Manor;
JAMES CRAWFORD, succeeded to Delamont;
Jane Maria.
Mr Gordon was succeeded by his son,

ROBERT GORDON JP DL (1791-1864), of Florida Manor, High Sheriff of County Down, 1833, Tyrone, 1843, who wedded, in 1825, Mary, daughter of William Crawford, of Lakelands, County Cork.

This gentleman dsp in 1864, and was succeeded by his brother,

THE REV JAMES CRAWFORD GORDON (1796-1867), of Florida Manor and Delamont House, Precentor of Down Cathedral, 1828-41, who espoused Geraldine, daughter of James Penrose, of Woodhill, County Cork.

He dsp 1867, and was succeeded by his cousin, 

ROBERT FRANCIS GORDON JP DL (1802-83), of Florida Manor and Delamont House, High Sheriff of County Down, 1873, who dsp.

CRAIGDARRAGH HOUSE, Helen's Bay, County Down, was built ca 1850 for Robert Francis Gordon, to a design by Charles Lanyon.

The family monogram, in fact, still adorns the dining-room plasterwork.

It is reported that Gordon ran out of funds during construction & never occupied the house & it was tenanted for many years.

It was Gordon's residence in 1852 & John Downie in 1855 & leased by George Hamilton in 1863 from Gordon.

He was succeeded by Joseph Jaffe in 1864 and then John Patterson in 1874.

Lord Dufferin reoccupied the house until 1879 when the house and demesne were advertised “to be let unfurnished” at £325 per annum with applications directed to the Dufferin Estate Office, Clandeboye.

Thomas Workman bought the freehold of Craigdarragh from the Durrerin estate in 1883.

The late Sir Charles Brett noted that it was built in Lanyon’s most ornate style, though some of the window ornamentation may owe its origin to Thomas Turner, who was Lanyon’s senior assistant until he set up on his own in 1852.

The two storey house stands at the top of a grassy slope running down to a sandy bay, with the drawing-room and the dining-room (which remains intact) having a fine prospect of Belfast Lough.

The square, front hall has six elaborate doorcases and a series of niches.

There was an associated courtyard and stable block.

The parkland surrounding the house, of about 26 acres, includes an attractive wooded glen, stretches across to Seahill and down to the shore.

The glen contains many different species of trees, some of which are over 100 years old, and is clearly now enjoyed by many badgers and other wildlife.

Thomas Workman bought the freehold of Craigdarragh House from the Dufferin Estate in 1883.
Margaret Garner recorded that on one occasion Mr Workman, her grandfather, fell out with Lord Dufferin, whose agent claimed that one of his men had encroached on Dufferin land when he was ploughing. The correspondence ended with Dufferin writing from Rome where he was then the British Ambassador. He did, however, write later to Thomas’s widow offering her any help when Thomas died.
Sir Charles Brett, in his book The Buildings of North County Down, recalled from his youth, living on the Craigdarragh Road, that Major Robert Workman, Thomas's son, was "a kindly old boy, good to his neighbours".

Following Major Workman's death in 1949, and following that of his sister, the house was sold to the Sisters of Mercy, and converted into a nursing home.

In 2003, Craigdarragh House was again sold.

The house & grounds were for sale in February, 2012, for £2,000,000.

It is hoped that the new owner will restore it to its former glory.

Its future remained in doubt while the planning process was underway; the proposed development is located within Green Belt.

First published in November, 2012.

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