Monday, 11 December 2017

Brackenber: 1956

Here is the Class of 1956 at Brackenber House School.

Malcolm Lennox kindly provided the photograph.

Click on the image to enlarge it.

Dr Kevin Vaughan, a fellow pupil at Brackenber from 1953-59, has sent me the following information:
I recognise all the teachers except the lady at the end. Next to Mr Craig is Miss Rankin, then Miss McKeown, then Miss Gilbert. I think Miss Rankin's first name was Zena, not Zoe!
To the other side of Mr Craig is Norman Henry (I am two rows directly behind him, rather skinny!), then Ronnie Hunter, then Mr T P Sheehan, then Dennis Fergusson, then Mr Walmsley (spelling?) then Mr Williams who was an old boy who came to teach temporarily.
On the front row at one end is A W P Coutts, and at the other Smith, Anthony Malcomson, J A M Grant. I also recognise several of my contemporaries. After my parents moved to England, I spent my last year at Brackenber as a weekly boarder and spent the weekends with friends.
There was a small two bed dormitory where boys would occasionally stay. John Craig and Ronnie Hunter were the two masters who also lived on the premises and I got to know them both quite well.
One of my amusing memores of the school routine is that when they had finished eating lunch but before the boys where allowed to leave their seats, John Craig and Norman Henry would always get up, walk to one end of the dining hall and smoke a cigarette - it was always Mr Henry who offered Mr Craig a cigarette, never the other way round!
First published in January, 2010.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

The Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava

When the 5th Marquess of Dufferin and Ava died in 1988 without issue, Clandeboye estate passed to his widow Serena Belinda (Lindy) Rosemary, Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava (1941-2020).

The marquessate expired following the death of the 5th and last Marquess.

Lady Dufferin inherited a considerable fortune at the time, not least due to the Guinness connection.

She also inherited the beautiful Clandeboye Estate, near Bangor, County Down, and a London residence in Holland Park.

Clandeboye Estate comprises about 2,000 acres of prime Ulster woodland and gardens, making it one of the finest private country estates in Northern Ireland.

Lady Dufferin had a great passion the Arts, painting and conservation.

Clandeboye Golf Club has now become an integral part of the estate.

There is a memorial to the 1st Marquess in the grounds of Belfast City Hall.

I have written an article in April, 2009, entitled The Four Great Ulster Marquessates.

First published in August, 2009.  Dufferin arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Royal GCVO

20th November, 2017

The Queen has been graciously pleased to give orders for the following promotion in the Royal Victorian Order: 


To be a Knight Grand Cross:

His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh KG KT OM GCVO GBE

For Services to the Sovereign.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Keppel Association Tour

THE KEPPEL ASSOCIATION was founded in 2003. Its Honorary Life Member is Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall. The Earl of Albemarle and Viscount Bury are Presidents.

Members of the Keppel Association visited Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland from the 8th-12th May, 2017.

The Association was surprised to discover many Keppel connections and relationships within the Province and even more so south of the border.

The idea of arranging an Irish tour for the membership of the Association stemmed originally from a generous offer by the Lady Rose and Peter Lauritzen to entertain a group of members at Mount Stewart, County Down, former seat of the Marquess of Londonderry.

Mount Stewart was bequeathed to Lady Rose's father, Lord Bury, and her mother, the Lady Mairi Bury (née Vane-Tempest-Stewart) and consequently became a Keppel seat.

As soon as the National Trust completed their work of restoration of Mount Stewart House (which lasted for over three years), the Association started to plan a tour, the centrepiece of which would be a complete day spent visiting the house and gardens; with another day spent driving into the Irish Republic, to the Battle of the Boyne site where it is believed that Arnold Joost van Keppel, 1st Earl of Albemarle, KG, already highly favoured by WILLIAM III, played a role.

The group assembled at the Londonderry Arms Hotel in Carnlough, County Antrim, which was to be their base for the next four days.

The next morning they set forth to Glenarm Castle, County Antrim, seat of the McDonnells, Earls of Antrim, where they met Patricia Mackean, who lives in Northern Ireland, and her sister, Diana von Halle, two members of the group who described themselves as the "day girls" because they did not stay with the rest of the group at the Londonderry Arms hotel, nor for the whole tour.

The members were then conducted by the family butler round Glenarm Castle, which also has connections with the Vane-Tempest family through the marriage in 1799 of Anne, Countess of Antrim in her own right, to Sir Harry Vane-Tempest, father of Frances Anne, Marchioness of Londonderry.

Afterwards the group toured the enormous and immaculately maintained 18th century walled garden with its abundant tulip beds., many of which were in full bloom.

After a light lunch in the tearoom, located in the former mushroom-house, the members drove to the Giant's Causeway, where they made a brief stop at Dunluce Castle, a former seat of the Earls of Antrim.

The following day, the group set out on the long drive to the battle of the Boyne site, stopping en route at Castle Ward, ancestral seat of the Viscounts Bangor, where they were hospitably received by the National Trust caretaker, Andrea Hutton.

1st Countess of Albemarle, by Sir Godfrey Kneller. © National Trust, Mount Stewart

Thence the group continued their journey to the Boyne, where John Villiers gave a short talk on the background to the Glorious Revolution and the battle; and Charles Villiers gave an account of his recent researches into the history of the Irish properties owned by the Keppel family in the 18th and 19th centuries.

At the visitor centre the members met up again with the two "day girls" and admired an excellent exhibition comprising the weapons used at the battle and models of the principal characters involved.

On the return journey back to base the group drove to Slane Castle, County Meath, seat of the Marquess Conyngham, though, unfortunately, the main entrance was obstructed by building works and, as a consequence, the house was closed by the time they arrived.

The whole of the third day of the tour was devoted to Mount Stewart, which was, as intended, the climax of the Keppel Association's visit to Northern Ireland.

The group was first taken on an extended tour of the magnificent reception rooms, guided by Peter Lauritzen; his impressive knowledge of the history of the Londonderry family and the unimpeachable scholarship and ready wit that imbued everything he had to say about every picture, piece of furniture and objet d'art in every room made the tour a splendid example of learning worn lightly.

The Keppel Association group with their hosts outside the garden front of Mount Stewart

After a delicious luncheon served in Rose and Peter's private apartments (during which many of the group spilled out into the Italian Garden), they were taken on a tour of all the gardens by the head gardener, Neil Porteous, who proved to be as erudite and entertaining a horticulturalist and dendrologist as Peter was a historian and art historian.

This memorably enjoyable day was ended at the Londonderry Arms Hotel, where a copious, farewell dinner had been prepared.

On the final day in Northern Ireland, after a photo-call in front of the hotel, the members departed for Belfast, where they visited the Ulster Museum.

Through the good offices of William Montgomery, of Greyabbey House, the group was met by the chief curator, Kim Mawhinney.

The members admired a dozen or so pieces of Williamite glassware from the museum's collection (not on public display presently).

So ended a tour that, although the connection with the Keppels was somewhat tenuous, if not non-existent, had enough intrinsic interest to keep all the members of the Keppel Association group fully engaged; and it was greatly enhanced by the superb weather enjoyed throughout and the warm hospitality which was shown everywhere the group went.

Monday, 6 November 2017

New Twitter Address

I have changed my Twitter address and display name to @timothyferres . 

Everything else is the same and business as usual.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Duke of Gloucester in Belfast

The Duke of Gloucester this afternoon opened the extension of the Somme Nursing Home, 121 Circular Road, Belfast, and was received by Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of the County Borough of Belfast (Mrs Fionnuala Jay-O'Boyle CBE).

His Royal Highness later visited Ulster Museum, Botanic Gardens, Belfast, and was received by Colonel Mark Campbell CBE DL (Deputy Lieutenant of the County Borough of Belfast).

Prince Richard this evening attended the Festival of Remembrance Service at Waterfront Hall, 2 Lanyon Place, Belfast.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

New Dean of Belfast

The Board of Nomination has approved the nomination of the Venerable Stephen Forde, Archdeacon of Dalriada, in the diocese of Connor, to be appointed to the Deanery of the Cathedral Church of Saint Anne, Belfast, on the resignation of the Very Reverend John Mann.


The Ven Stephen Forde, Rector of Larne and Inver with Glynn and Raloo, is a native of Rathfriland, County Down, and later lived in Downpatrick and attended Campbell College in Belfast.

He gained a degree in architecture at Edinburgh University before training in theology at the Church of Ireland Theology College, Dublin.

The Archdeacon was ordained in 1986 and was curate at St Mary's, Crumlin Road, Belfast, until 1989 when he was appointed Chaplain, or Dean of Residence, at the Queen's University of Belfast.

Furthermore, he was a minor canon of Belfast Cathedral, from 1989-91.

In 1995, he was appointed Rector of Booterstown and Mount Merrion in the diocese of Dublin, and during this time was Chaplain to UCD and Chaplain to Blackrock Clinic.

He returned to Connor in 1999 as Rector of Larne and Inver with Glynn and Raloo, and was appointed to the rural deanery of Carrickfergus in 2001.

The Archdeacon is married to Fiona, a staff nurse at Antrim Hospital. They have three children.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Potato Farls

Like Ulster potato bread or farls?

I devour it like nobody's business.

I came across this delightful video clip of Rosemary demonstrating how she makes it:-

Friday, 20 October 2017

Prince Charles in NI

THE PRINCE OF WALES is today visiting County Londonderry.

His Royal Highness is visiting Eglinton Community Centre and YMCA Londonderry to meet local residents, farmers and business owners affected by the flooding in August, and speak to volunteers, emergency services and officials assisting with clean-up efforts.

At Eglinton Community Centre HRH will meet local residents, some of whom remain in temporary housing, and the volunteers helping them to rebuild their homes.

Prince Charles will also speak with representatives from the emergency services, including local Police and Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service, and officials who continue to work on repairing the damage caused by the flooding.

The Eglinton Community Centre served as a place of refuge for those displaced by flooding and a coordination point for volunteers in the immediate aftermath of the storm.

HRH will then visit YMCA Londonderry, near Drumahoe, where he will meet representatives from the local farming community.

The Prince's Countryside Fund has partnered with Rural Support NI to offer Emergency Fund support to farm businesses in the area to assist with long-term recovery.

His Royal Highness will also speak with members of a multi-agency group who were also on standby for Storm Ophelia which struck Northern Ireland earlier this week.

The YMCA provides a valuable after-school programme and has a long tradition of offering team-based sports and fostering good community relations.

The Prince of Wales will view the YMCA's sports pitch, which was heavily damaged during the August flooding, and learn about the effect its loss has had on the local community.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Mount Stewart Visit

I spent a few hours yesterday afternoon at the National Trust's Mount Stewart estate on the Ards Peninsula, County Down.

My visit was timed to enable me to have a light lunch in the tearoom; and invariably I choose their soup.

The Bay Restaurant, as it's called, was doing good business, so I joined the queue and perused the chalkboard as I waited.

Potato and leek soup with wheaten bread was my choice.

It didn't seem to be seasoned much (which is fair enough), so I added adequate salt and pepper myself.

There was a sizeable boy or cub scout camp on the estate yesterday, by the way.

They had set up camp in the large overflow car-park field, at the far end.

After lunch I wandered in to the shop and had a quick look at the Christmas cards.

The Trust used to sell delightful cards which featured their big houses and parks, though I haven't been able to buy any like that for many years.

A pity, because nowadays I have to look elsewhere for my cards.

Thereafter I proceeded towards the Rose Garden and Dairy (both are closed for major restoration work), where I managed to catch an intriguing glance at the preparatory work in the garden.

Thence I walked through beautiful woodland, back to the mansion house gardens.

It's generally recognized that Mount Stewart has one of the finest gardens in the British Isles.

There's certainly still abundant autumnal colour in the flower-beds.

Before I motored home I went briefly into the charming village of Greyabbey.

Among other new shops, there's an Asian fusion kind of restaurant called "Tuk-Tuk", and they even have one of those Tuk-Tuk jalopies featured outside the porch.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Frieda the Warbler

Lately there have been several occasions when I've had visitors to Belmont GHQ and they missed me.

I happened to be upstairs at about 8pm last night when, on checking my emails, a pal advised me to check my door-bell.

Accordingly I went downstairs to the porch and depressed the button.

By Jove, NCS was right.

The door-bell or, to be more precise, the chimes weren't working.

There was a clicking noise coming from the chime box every time I pressed the door-bell button, though.

This morning I got to work (!), with step-ladder, cotton-bud, WD-40 oil and old cloth.

Now this contraption goes by the name of the Friedland Warbler Mark Two.

I proceeded to thump and agitate it; meddled with the spring and clapper, oiled it slightly; cleaned half a century of dust away.

It came to life again! The old girl is warbling away to her heart's content.

All visitors are forthwith apprised that there will be no need to thump the window or door.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Baron Carrickfergus in Belfast

THE DUKE OF CAMBRIDGE, Baron Carrickfergus, has today paid a visit to Belfast.

His Royal Highness visited Inspire, a charity and social enterprise which fosters wellbeing in Northern Ireland and Ireland.

HRH met mental health counsellors and service users before officially opening the charity's new offices.

Prince William then travelled to the historic Titanic Quarter to see the work of Lagan Search and Rescue lifeboat service.

His Royal Highness watched a live demonstration of a rescue mission in the Abercorn basin - which involved the deployment of a lifeboat, quayside response and rescue swimmers - before meeting a number of the volunteers.

One of the helicopters from the recently established Northern Ireland Air Ambulance service was parked alongside the harbour.

This evening Prince William will attend a dinner of the Irish Guards Association (Ulster Branch).

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Mobile-Friendly Blog

Following a prompt from Google, I have amended the blog settings to enable a more mobile-friendly appearance on mobile phones.

I hope those readers who tend to follow me on their smartphones will notice a difference.

I’m grateful to Google for bringing this feature to my attention.

Saturday, 16 September 2017


Her Majesty ELIZABETH I, Queen of England, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Heritage Weekend

Of course the European Heritage Open Days have been held this weekend.

I paid my first visit this morning - quite spontaneously in the sense that I only decided to go today - to the Old Museum Building, College Square North, Belfast.

Incidentally, an ancestor of mine once lived at 22 College Square North during the Victorian era.

This was my very first visit to the Old Museum.

The Ulster Architectural Heritage Society appears to have its GHQ here now.

One of the staff kindly gave me a tour and afterwards I took advantage of their half-price publications offer by purchasing The Architectural Heritage of Malone & Stranmillis, and Tollymore: The Story of an Irish Demesne.

During the afternoon I drove to Scrabo Tower, a memorial to Charles, 3rd Marquess of Londonderry.

I bumped into an old National Trust volunteer pal, Ron, in the first floor exhibition room, where we had a very good chin-wag about local Trust affairs (!).

Afterwards I motored down the hill to St Mark's parish church, Newtownards, which has been beautifully restored.

The Stewarts, Marquesses of Londonderry were patrons and benefactors of St Mark's.

All in all, a more enjoyable day than I'd expected.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

HMS Intrepid

HMS Intrepid (L11) docked at Limassol, Cyprus, 1987.


His Majesty JAMES I, King of England, Scotland, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Prince Harry in NI

PRINCE HENRY OF WALES is today carrying out engagements in Northern Ireland.

HRH was welcomed by the Lord-Lieutenant of County Antrim, Mrs Joan Christie OBE.

His Royal Highness officially opened Northern Ireland Ambulance Service's new £5.6 million station, which combines Ballymena Ambulance Station and North Division Headquarters.

During the afternoon HRH will visit Belfast, where he will undertake a number of engagements, and hear about the Northern Ireland National Citizenship Service and the Amazing the Space programmes, which bring young people together who might otherwise not meet.

Prince Harry will later be among hundreds of guests at a garden party at Hillsborough Castle, County Down.

The event, which was attended by TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge last year, has been hosted annually by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland since 1984.

Saturday, 2 September 2017


His Majesty CHARLES I, King of England, Scotland, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith

Friday, 25 August 2017


By the Grace of God, Queen of Great Britain, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, etc.

First published in September, 2013.

Monday, 21 August 2017


By the Grace of God, King of Great Britain, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, etc.

First published in August, 2013.

Friday, 18 August 2017

New DL

The Earl of Caledon KCVO, Lord-Lieutenant of County Armagh, has been pleased to appoint:
Mrs Georgina WALSH
Summer Island
County Armagh
To be a Deputy Lieutenant of the County, her Commission bearing date the 25th July, 2017.

Lord-Lieutenant of the County

Wednesday, 16 August 2017


By the Grace of God, King of Great Britain, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, Archtreasurer and Prince-Elector of the Holy Roman Empire

First published in August, 2013.

Monday, 14 August 2017


By the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland King, Defender of the Faith

First published in August, 2013.

Saturday, 12 August 2017


By the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland King, Defender of the Faith

First published in August, 2013.

Dixon Park

Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park is located at Dunmurry, County Antrim, now on the outskirts of Belfast.

This fine civic park, originally Wilmont Estate, was conveyed as a gift to the City of Belfast in December, 1959, by Edith, Lady Dixon, DBE, in order to perpetuate the long association of her husband (the Rt Hon Sir Thomas Dixon Bt) and herself with the City.

It comprises 134 acres.

The mansion house of 1859 still stands, in reasonably good condition; though its future seems uncertain, since it lies disused and apparently unwanted by the city fathers.

The surrounding parkland is delightful, with mature trees and woodland, and the River Lagan.

A large section of the grounds is now used for the international rose trials, established in 1964.

The stable block now houses a ground-floor café.

The walled garden is a haven of peace and tranquillity, with a number of park benches donated by the families of deceased loved-ones, their details on metal plaques.

The fruit and vegetables which flourished here are long gone, though some original paths remain and the garden now thrives with fine flora.

On an outside wall of the walled garden, at one corner, there are three mural memorials to pet dogs.

The canine memorial above must have been erected by the Reade family, who sold Wilmont to the Dixons in 1919.

First published in August, 2015.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017


By the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Queen, Defender of the Faith, Empress of India

First published in August, 2013.

Baronscourt Fête

Hard to believe it was two years ago (June, 2015) that I travelled down to Baronscourt, the Duke of Abercorn's stately home in county Tyrone.

A summer fête was taking place within the grounds in order to raise funds for the Woodland Trust's Centenary Woods project, one of four flagship woods being created throughout the United Kingdom to mark the centenary of the 1st World War.

I began the day with a visit to Baronscourt House, where there were guided tours by Lord Anthony Hamilton, the Duke's brother.

I had earlier encountered the Duke and Duchess near the stately porte-cochère outside the house. 

Stable-yard entrance

Inside the mansion house, Lord Anthony conducted tours of the principal rooms, including the main hall, the Rotunda, the long gallery at the garden front (the present garden front used to be the entrance front).

There is a charming little children's play house (below) within the formal garden beside the House.

Baronscourt boasts an array of old masters, including portraits by van Dyke and Panini, to mention but a few.

Ducal arms

I reminisced with Lord Anthony about his period as custodian of Florence Court estate, County Fermanagh, during the late 1970s.

At lunch-time I made a beeline for the stable-yard tea-room, where ladies of Baroncourt parish were providing delicious cream teas, sandwiches, and pastries.

Later, I ambled towards a display of army trucks, including one mighty beast which had two bunk-beds behind the driver's seat.

At two o'clock, Peter Archdale conducted an informative woodland walk.

Deep in the woods, there is a replica of a Russian Dacha  (the Duchess is patron of the Pushkin Trust).

Dacha replica

Irish cobs
I left for home at about four-thirty.
First published in June, 2015