Friday, 19 February 2021

Lough Eske Castle


CHARLES NICHOLAS WHITE (1754-1839), of Datchet House, Windsor, Berkshire, East India Company, Chief Secretary to the Government of Madras and Judge of the High Court, son of Captain John White RN, by Joanna Dormer his wife, of Alphington, Devon, married, in 1792, Letitia Mytton, daughter of Edward Owen Williams, of Eaton Mascott Hall, Shropshire, and had issue,
HENRY, of whom presently;
The third son,

THE REV HENRY WHITE, of Almington Hall, Shropshire, born in 1804, sometime Lieutenant, Coldstream Guards, wedded, in 1834, Sarah Ford, daughter of George Stevens RN, and had issue,
Ada Letitia; Edith.
His only son,

MAJOR-GENERAL HENRY GEORGE WHITE JP DL (1835-1906), of Lough Eske Castle, County Donegal, espoused, in 1874, Frances Cromwell, widow of Captain Raymond Henry Pelly, Royal Engineers, son of Colonel Raymond Pelly CB, and had issue,
Sybil Georgina.
General White was succeeded by his only son,

MAJOR HENRY HERBERT RONALD WHITE DSO OBE JP (1879-1939), of Lough Eske Castle, High Sheriff of County Donegal, 1912, who married, in 1906, Florence Geraldine, daughter of Sir John Arnott, 1st Baronet, and had issue,
John Maxwell, b 1909.

LOUGH ESKE CASTLE, near Donegal, County Donegal, is a Elizabethan-Revival mansion of 1859-61 by the architect FitzGibbon Louch.

It was built on the site of an older castle for the Donegal branch of the Brooke family (whose ancestor erected Donegal Castle).

There is an imposing four-storey square tower at one end.

A large Gothic porch stands between two oriels; the parapet is crenellated, with two blind gables.

The tower has machiolations, crow-step battlements, and curved, corbelled oriels.

A date stone of 1621 on the plantation house displays initials "WH" for William Hamilton, father of Gavin Hamilton (progenitor of Brown Hall.) and "IM" for Joan Merbury, sister of the wife of the William Brooke of Colebrooke in Cheshire (father of Sir Basil Brooke, proprietor of Donegal Castle).

Thus the Hamilton and Merbury armorial bearings beside the central beaver of Brooke surmount the main entrance of the Lough Eske Castle Hotel.

All the stone for the ornamental stonework came from Monaghan’s Quarry, Drimkeelan, near Frosses, and the road from there to Lough Eske was built to transport the sandstone or freestone for the Castle.

Mr Brooke even brought two Clydesdale horses with cockney drivers from England to draw the stone.

His ancestors had acquired the Lough Eske estate in 1717 through a marriage with the Lough Eske Knoxes.

Thomas Brooke, who built the castle, was not a Brooke by birth.

He was born Thomas Young, but changed his surname to order inherit the property.

The Brooke coat-of-arms still stands over the door on the east and main entrance.

The tower is an impressive part of the Castle’s architecture and dominates the whole building and adjoining countryside.

The tower held the flagstaff where the family flag would have flown, visible for miles around.

Beneath the battlements, all along the front of the castle were a line of finely carved gargoyles faces, no two alike.

During the time that the estate belonged to the Irish forestry commission most of the gargoyles were stolen.

In 1859, architect-designed enhancements were installed by a local contractor.

In 1897, after visiting audience with Prince ofWales, embarked on modern improvements projects continued in 1911, with pleasure-rooms, steam-heated “Roman Bath”; master suite and guest rooms.

Colonel de Vere Brooke inherited the estate in 1884 and remained there for ten years until Lough Eske was sold, in 1894, to Major-General Henry George White.

During this period the the estate comprised 15,134 acres.

General White had a great love for the area and he was buried close to the lake, where there stands a fine Celtic high cross.

The burial site is enclosed by a wall and railings, with double gates at the entrance which bear plaques.

One of these carries the figure of a pelican, the symbol of mortality, with the inscription “Beware in Time”.

The second plaque bears the inscription Virtus Semper Vincit (Virtue Always Conquers).

The burial plot is maintained with the help of a bequest invested in the representative church body, donated by Mrs Sybil Georgina Barnes, General White's only daughter.

The Castle was operated it as a hotel from 1930 to 1939.

In 1939, a curtain in the ballroom caught fire due to a candle that hadn’t been extinguished.

The ballroom and billiards-room were destroyed, and by the time the fire brigade was able to attend (it had to come from Londonderry in Northern Ireland) most of that wing of the castle had been destroyed.

Thereafter the Knee family decided to vacate Lough Eske and sold the estate to Mr Scott Swan, who sold the castle to an American gentleman, Bernard Etzin, of Ardnamona House.

In the early 1980s the castle and estate were taken over by the Irish forestry commission, which had little interest in the castle itself.

Consequently, Lough Eske Castle became derelict.

The present owners, Solis Hotels, bought the estate (all that remained of the house at the time were the outer walls).

Trees grew inside the castle and their strengthening roots threatened to knock the castle down altogether.

After eighteen months and a considerable financial investment, Lough Eske Castle has been faithfully restored, including the interiors of the reception rooms.

First published in December, 2016.


Demetrius said...

Letitia Mytton Williams of Shropshire? I presume related to Mad Jack Mytton. Jack's daughter Barbara married Poulett Somerset in I think 1845, he was then a junior officer in the Coldstream Guards and went on to be Colonel. Somerset was nephew and aide to Lord Raglan in The Crimea and Barbara was with them.

Melinda Sippel said...

Well done, with the exception being Sybil Georgina was General H. G. White's only daughter, not sister. Henry G.R. White (the general's grandson, and son of Major H.H. Ronald White) was my grandfather. Sybil was my grandfather's aunt. You can read more about my grandfather's childhood at Lough Eske Castle in the book, "Life at Lough Eske Castle, Donegal, Ireland: The Childhood Memories of Henry G. R. White."

Timothy Belmont said...

Dear Melinda Sippel, thanks so much for getting in touch and pointing out my discrepancy. I'm reliant on readers to keep me on the straight and narrow! Tim.

Melinda Sippel said...

I admire your work, Mr. Belmont. It's not easy keeping names, dates, titles, and relations straight when doing genealogical work! Our family in London recently sent Lough Eske Castle a very elaborate genealogical chart of the White family which goes even further back than what you have documented, I believe. My grandfather did the chart in calligraphy some years ago, and it's quite beautiful. If you are interested in seeing how far back the lineage goes, I am sure the castle would be willing to show you the chart if you asked.