Saturday, 20 June 2015

Caledon Estate Fête

Shortly after breakfast this morning I got my stuff together, started the two-seater, and drove to the Earl of Caledon's splendid estate in County Tyrone.

My first stop, however, was in the village of Caledon itself, a place of considerable character and charm.

Successive Earls have stamped their mark on the village.

There is a water fountain dedicated to the 4th Earl, KP, on the main street.

I stopped opposite a little café called Café Rose, where I had a beaker of tea.

Afterwards I took a stroll along the village. The Caledon Arms Hotel is, sadly, closed down.

Alexander House, Main Street

It's a pity that such a pretty village cannot sustain a good inn or guest-house.

The main entrance to Caledon Estate is just outside the village, through a very grand entrance gate and lodges. It is unmistakable, especially since there are gleaming, gilded earl's coronets attached to the railings.

The drive must easily be a mile in length.

Caledon Park is one of the finest private estates in Northern Ireland, undoubtedly.

The garden fête today was in aid of the local parish church.

Caledon crest outside the portico porch

I arrived early. However,  when I departed in the afternoon, there were hundreds of cars parked in fields within the 3,000 acre estate.

The atmosphere was most agreeable. Lord and Lady Caledon were outside the house in the grounds.

I chatted briefly with Lady Caledon about an item for sale, viz. a pair of black and gold mini skis, presumably for children, which were emblazoned with the Bentley Motors motif.

The Lord-Lieutenant's official flag flew from the Castle's flag-pole.

Prospect from the garden front

At about twelve forty-five I was taken on a guided walk of the arboretum, yew-tree garden, stables and the grounds within the immediate vicinity of the Castle.

There were lots of displays on the lawns outside the Castle, including stalls in marquees, military displays, and police dog-handler demonstrations.


Of course there was no shortage of nosh, either. I could not resist the hog-roast stall.

For a fiver, you received a generous helping of roasted hog, baby roast potatoes, apple sauce, and stuffing.

Former head gardener's cottage

The fête was officially opened by Captain Dame Mary Peters CH DBE RNR, erstwhile Lord-Lieutenant of Belfast (obviously acquainted with Lord Caledon, KCVO, Lord-Lieutenant of County Armagh).

I left at about three-thirty.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Barons Court Tour

Our tour of Barons Court House began in the front hall, where Lord Anthony Hamilton, the Duke of Abercorn's brother, greeted us.

The House dates as far back as 1790 and has adapted itself admirably throughout many generations of the family.

When you enter this large hall, the splendid ceiling catches the eye with its elaborate Italian plasterwork.

It was used by the 4th Duke and Duchess, the present Duke's parents, as a living-room.

This hall has six doors leading from it into other reception rooms.

There is an exquisite portrait of Emma Hamilton (no relation) by Sir Thomas Lawrence.

THENCE we moved in to the rotunda with its glorious coffered ceiling.

I gather that this was once a music-room; though today it is used for formal dinners or even meetings.

Yesterday there were four sizeable portfolios of drawings by Sir Edwin Landseer laid on the table.

THE LONG GALLERY is about thirty yards in length.

It faces what is now the garden front of the House; however this was originally the entrance to Barons Court.

This is a bright and spacious room.

Its considerable size makes it ideal for family celebrations, parties and even christenings.

This room contains fine furnishings and paintings, including a commode with the cipher of Marie Antionette.

THE BROWN LIBRARY, leading from the long gallery, is a family room which makes skilful use of subdued and quiet red and brown colours.

OUR next part of the tour took us to the lofty and spacious staircase hall.

It's not hard to miss the massive painting by Jordaens, quite aptly entitled Soldiers Carousing (!).

I've been told that this room can be used for shooting parties and children's parties.

An antique pianola sits directly under the staircase.

THE last room we visited was what is today known as the Family Room.

It used to be the large dining-room, though, with the sage advice of the celebrated interior designer, David Hicks, the room has been "compartmentalised" into different areas and dark green free-standing units.

At one end there is a kitchen; while there is a space at the other end with drinks cabinet and CD player and so on.

BARONS COURT remains essentially a family home and it is delightful that the Duke and Duchess open its doors occasionally for everyone to enjoy and admire.

Thursday, 4 June 2015


Star, Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order

His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales has been appointed a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (KCVO) by Her Majesty The Queen.

Monday, 1 June 2015