Monday, 22 March 2021

Donard Lodge


The Earls Annesley derive their surname from the manor of Annesley in Nottinghamshire.

They were one of great noble families of County Down.

The vast Annesley estate stretched from Slieve Croob to Slieve Donard (Northern Ireland's highest mountain), including the village of Castlewellan and part of Newcastle.

They owned 25,000 acres of land in County Down, including 783 acres at Donard Park.

Their ancestral seat was Castlewellan Castle (which still, incidentally, looks as well as the day it was built in 1858 by the 4th Earl).

Lord Annesley and his successors also owned a "marine residence" just outside Newcastle in County Down.

Click to Enlarge

This large house, called Donard Lodge, pre-dated Castlewellan Castle by twenty-five years.

DONARD LODGE, on the southern outskirts of Newcastle, County Down, stood close to the location of the present Donard Bridge, at the foot of Thomas's Mountain and Slieve Donard, close to the location of Donard car park.

The prospect from the house towards the harbour and sea must have been spectacular.

Marine residences were popular amongst the nobility during the Victorian era: Murlough House, not far along the coast towards Dundrum, was Lord Downshire's "marine residence".

Returning to Donard Lodge, doubtless it was the finest edifice and address in Newcastle, a distinguished two-storey classical house of granite ashlar, built ca 1830 by the 3rd Earl.

The entrance front had a central, projecting bay with a strikingly projecting three-sided bow at either side; the centre being joined on each side to the projecting ends by a short Doric colonnade.

One of these colonnades served as an entrance portico, the door being in one side of the central projection.

The garden front had curved and three-sided bows and round-headed ground-floor windows.

There was a fine, semi-circular conservatory at one end of the house.

The little girl standing in the foreground to the right of the conservatory provides an indication the the mansion's size.

The ground floor also joined on to stable buildings and yards.

About 500 acres of land above the mansion were planted with trees, and a beautiful garden was created by the Rev John Moore (of Rowallane) and his sister Priscilla, 3rd Countess Annesley.

Eighty acres of the demesne became the pleasure grounds, with winding paths, ornamental trees and shrubs, waterfalls, cascades, an aviary, a hermitage, shell house, spa house, spa well, visitors' dining house, ornamental dining house, and a variety of rustic stone seats and little bridges.

This scheme may well have been inspired by the near by Tollymore Park.

Annesley Estate Office, Newcastle

The Annesley estate office still stands in the town.

Priscilla, Dowager Countess Annesley, continued to reside at Donard Lodge until her death in 1891.

Following Lady Annesley's death, Donard Lodge was leased to a number of tenants, all of whom failed to maintain the mansion to a satisfactory standard.

The Lodge suffered a serious fire in 1941.

Its sad demise continued until 1966, when the noble Donard Lodge was demolished (one year before Castlewellan Castle was sold to the Northern Ireland Government).

Annesley arms courtesy of European Heraldry.  First published in April, 2009.


The FitzGerald said...

tim yet another ever so sad tale of neglect and destruction-of Ulster's heritage. bloody philistines rampant everywhere when will we learn the hoi polloi have no taste and little interest in preserving anything beyond their social security so why do we let the yoicke prevent preservation?

Anonymous said...

Beautiful house; similar design to Cultra, no?

But, is it semi-detached? (unsure as to its precise location).


Timothy Belmont said...

A shame it was swept away. It was detached.

It was in the woods above Donard Car Park (some rubble might even still be there).

Anonymous said...

The site is to the left of the first bridge over the Glen River.
I can remember exploring the vacant premises in 1960s. At that time, there was still evidence of vines in the glazed areas.
In later years there were some rubble remains buried in the undergrowth - probably still there.
Did the army occupy the house during WW2?

Unknown said...

I remember the day this building was demolished, it was done using explosives.

Unknown said...

Have to agree with The FitzGerald - so much of our built heritage has disappeared even in my lifetime - industrial, commercial and residential.Tell me, how can something irreplaceable be costed? Oh, and I haven't mentioned railways yet!!!

Andrew said...

The Annesleys also have a presence in North Cork. Jane Annesley made people very welcome at the music Festival in Kildorerry Church. She lived at Annesgrove a beautiful house in wondrous gardens, from which she arranged fine wildflower arrangements to be placed around the candlelit church at Bowen's Court.

Unknown said...

Remember as a little girl of @6 or 7, playing in the white ruins following it's recent demolition, I then lived in Slieve Shannagh and it was our playground. So sorry only now to see what it once was.