Friday, 25 August 2017

QUEEN ANNE

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

GEORGE I

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


First published in August, 2013.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

9-15 Bedford Street, Belfast

Windsor House ca 2015

MARCUS PATTON OBE, in his invaluable historical gazetteer of central Belfast, describes numbers 9-15 Bedford Street thus:
In 1852 a new stone warehouse had been built on this site for Messrs Robert and John Workman, linen and muslin manufacturers, by Charles Lanyon. 
One of the first developments in the street, this was four storeys high with channelled ground and first floors, central first floor balcony, arched tops to third-floor windows, outer bays set slightly forward, and chimneys rising above deep eaves.

The Workmans' warehouse was demolished in the early 1970s and construction began on Windsor House.


Windsor House, or the Grand Central Hotel as it shall soon be, remains the tallest commercial office building in Northern Ireland (after the Obel Tower), measuring approximately 262 feet in height.

Franklin Street elevation, April, 2017

The Bedford Street (eastern elevation) of the main block is relatively narrow, though the building extends backwards along Franklin Street on the south side and James Street South on the north side for a considerable distance.

A massive extension, forty or fifty feet in height, has been built around these three sides.

Bedford Street elevation, August, 2017

In 2015 it comprised approximately 122,500 square feet, set over ground and twenty-two upper floors.

Most of the floors extend to about 5,300 square feet.

The building incorporated a double-deck car park at ground and first-floor levels, with 96 car-parking spaces accessed via James Street South.

Franklin Street elevation, August, 2017

The external walls were of a mosaic-covered, prefabricated concrete cladding with a steel and reinforced concrete structure.

A concrete mineral felt-finished flat rood covered the building, capped with a communications mast.

It is served by five high-speed lifts from the foyer.

James Street South elevation, August, 2017

Windsor House was purchased in 2015 by the Hastings Hotels group.

I keep a close eye on the construction and building works at the site.

The old Windsor House block is being virtually rebuilt and is being extended on all sides, especially the Bedford Street elevation.

The old building has been gutted and new walls, electrification, and almost everything else is being renewed and replaced.

The new Grand Central Hotel will open in June, 2018.

First published in May, 2015.

Friday, 18 August 2017

New DL

The Earl of Caledon KCVO, Lord-Lieutenant of County Armagh, has been pleased to appoint:
Mrs Georgina WALSH
Annasamry
Summer Island
Loughgall
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

GEORGE II

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

GEORGE III

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

GEORGE IV

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

VICTORIA

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

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Ardgillan Castle

THE TAYLORS WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY MEATH, WITH 9,000 ACRES
AND 805 ACRES OF LAND IN COUNTY DUBLIN


THE HON AND REV HENRY EDWARD TAYLOUR (1768-1852), fourth son of Thomas, 1st Earl of Bective KP, married, in 1807, Marianne, eldest daughter of Colonel the Hon Richard St Leger, and had issue,
THOMAS EDWARD, his heir;
Richard Chambré Hayes (Sir), GCB, General in the army;
Marianne Jane; Louisa Catherine.
The eldest son,

THE RT HON THOMAS EDWARD TAYLOR JP DL MP (1811-83), of Ardgillan Castle, County Dublin, MP for County Dublin, 1841-83, Lieutenant-Colonel, Royal Meath Militia, 1847-74, Honorary Colonel.


Colonel Taylor, who was a Lord of the Treasury 1858-59, and Joint Secretary of the Treasury 1866-68, was appointed in the last-named year Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and again in 1874-80.

He married, in 1862, Louisa Harrington, second daughter of the Rev and Hon Hugh Francis Tollemache, Rector of Harrington, Northamptonshire, and had issue,
EDWARD RICHARD, his heir;
Basil Reginald Hamilton, Lieutenant RN;
Cecil Cornelia Marianne St Leger; Beatrix Virginia Louisa Tollemache (twins).
Colonel Taylor died at his sister's house, 15 Fitzwilliam Place, Dublin, and was buried in the family vault at Balbriggan, County Dublin.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

EDWARD RICHARD TAYLOR JP DL (1863-1938), of Ardgillan Castle, Captain, Grenadier Guards, who espoused, in 1935, Ada, daughter of William Howe Bodley, though the marriage was without issue.


ARDGILLAN CASTLE, near Balbriggan, County Dublin, is set in the 200-acre Ardgillan demesne.

Featuring castellated embellishments, the building overlooks Barnageera Beach, the Irish Sea and Dublin (Balbriggan).

The castle consists of two storeys over a basement, which extends under the south lawns.

When occupied, the ground and first floors were the living accommodation; while the west and east wings were servants quarters and estate offices.

The basement was the service floor, the kitchen and stores.

The castle has now been restored and the ground floor rooms and kitchens are open to visitors for guided tours.

Tea-rooms are located off the main reception area and serving light snacks are open in conjunction with the Castle opening times.

Upstairs, the former bedrooms are used for classes and exhibitions including a permanent and unique exhibition of the "Down Survey" colour maps and text.

Ardgillan demesne is a popular local park, with a mix of woodlands and large grass open spaces.

The park contains a walled herb garden, rose garden, Victorian conservatory, tea rooms and an ice house.

A children's playground was added in 2006.

Ardgillan Castle provides guided tours and hosts exhibitions throughout the years.

A new Holistic Centre is set in the former Gardener's House in the corner of the Rose Garden.

The previous owner of the land was Robert Usher, a wine merchant from Tallaght.
When the Very Rev Robert Taylor bought the land it was quite a wooded area, so he employed some out of service soldiers from Bangor, County Down, and paid them one penny and a meal per day, as well as bed every night. They also received a tot of Bushmills whiskey, which was brought in for 2/2 a gallon.
The Castle was built by the Very Rev Robert Taylor in 1738.

The Very Rev Robert Taylor, Dean of Clonfert, was born in 1689 in Cheshire.

In 1714, having studied Holy Orders at Trinity College Dublin, he was appointed Archdeacon of Kilmacduagh in the Province of Tuam.

In 1722, he was appointed Precentor of Clonfert, where his brother-in-law Dr Fitzgerald was Dean.

By 1726 he was appointed Dean of Clonfert, only to resign within months.

Robert Taylor died unmarried in 1744 and Ardgillan, together with its estate, became the property of his eldest brother Sir Thomas Taylor, 2nd Baronet.

Ardgillan remained in the Taylor family until 1962, when the estate was sold to Heinrich Potts, of Westphalia, Germany.

In 1982, the estate was sold to Fingal County Council, which renovated the house.

It was officially opened to the public in 1992.

First published in April, 2013.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

The Prince Henry

A photograph of my late father, Major Thomas Ferres TD, being presented to Field Marshal His late Royal Highness The Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, Earl of Ulster, KG KT KP GCB GCMG GCVO (1900-74).

Prince Henry was appointed Field Marshal in 1955, so this picture would have been taken at some time in the 50s or early 60s, I think. My father was a captain at the time.

Prince Henry was the third son of King George V and Queen Mary, and thus uncle to Elizabeth II.

He was appointed potential regent for his niece, when his brother (George VI) came to the throne in 1936, and was required to stay in the United Kingdom until she came of age in case her father died and she ascended the throne under age.

HRH served as the 11th Governor-General of Australia, from 1945-47.

At his death, Prince Henry was the last surviving Knight of the Most Illustrious Order of St. Patrick.

Friday, 4 August 2017

The Visiting Card

A gentleman's or lady's visiting card used to be de rigueur in the past; whereas even today, in the Internet Age, they survive in the form of a business card.

Traditionally, visiting cards have been in differing sizes for men and women and I gather that the classic man's size was 3" x 1½".

They were very simply laid out, with merely the name in the centre, often the address at the bottom left, and one's club to the bottom right.

I happen to think that they still serve a useful purpose.


Cognisant of this I searched the Internet for printers who specialize in such cards; and I discovered Blush Publishing, based in Flintshire.

Nobody in Northern Ireland seems to specialize in the kind of products that Blush sells.

I contacted two in County Down and might I suggest that they have a look at the Blush web pages.

They use heavy cotton paper and the cards are printed using the letterpress method with vintage Heidelberg presses.

I can apprise you that I am delighted with my new visiting cards, which is why I'm expressing my appreciation in this article.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Westport House

THE MARQUESSES OF SLIGO WERE THE GREATEST LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY MAYO, WITH 114,881 ACRES

This is a junior branch of the noble house of BROWNE, Barons Kilmaine, which is supposed to have sprung from a common ancestor with the extinct Brownes, Viscounts Montagu; though some suggest that the family sprang more immediately from the Brownes of Betchworth Castle, Surrey.

WILLIAM BROWNE, of The Neale, County Mayo, whose will is upon record in Dublin, was father of

RICHARD BROWNE, head of an independent company in the service of ELIZABETH I.

On the division of Connaught into counties by Sir Henry Sidney, Lord Deputy of Ireland, 1565, Captain Browne fixed his abode at The Neale, County Mayo, of which county he was appointed first High Sheriff.

He fell in the act of quelling a riot in his official capacity, and was succeeded by his son,

JOSIAS BROWNE (c1579-1634), of The Neale, who was succeeded by his son,

JOHN BROWNE, who was created a baronet in 1636.

Sir John married Mary, daughter of Sir Dominick Browne, Knight, of Galway, by whom he had
George, ancestor of the Barons Kilmaine;
JOHN, of whom presently;
Dominick.
Sir John's second son, 

JOHN BROWNE (1638-1711), a colonel in King James's service, and one of the capitulators of Limerick, where (being originally bred a lawyer) he had a principal hand in drawing up the celebrated articles of capitulation.

By his second wife Maud, daughter of Theobald, 3rd Viscount Bourke, he had two sons and three daughters: Bridget, Lady Athenry; Elizabeth; and Elizabeth.

Colonel Browne was succeeded by his elder son, 

PETER BROWNE, who wedded Mary, daughter of the Rt Hon Denis Daly, one of the judges of the Court of Common Pleas in Ireland.

Mr Browne died in 1722, and was succeeded by his son,

JOHN BROWNE (1709-76), MP for Castlebar, who was elevated to the peerage, in 1760, by the title of Baron Mount Eagle, of Westport, County Mayo.

His lordship was advanced to a viscountcy, in 1768, as Viscount Westport; and further advanced to the dignity of an earldom, in 1771, as Earl of Altamont.

He wedded, in 1729,  Anne, daughter of Sir Arthur Gore Bt, and sister of Arthur, 1st Earl of Arran, and had issue,
PETER, his successor;
Arthur, colonel in the army;
James;
Henry;
John;
Anne.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

PETER, 2nd Earl, who married, in 1752, Elizabeth, only daughter and heiress of Chief Justice Kelly, of the island of Jamaica, and had issue,
JOHN DENIS;
Denis, a privy counsellor;
Anne; Elizabeth; Charlotte.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son, 

JOHN DENIS, 3rd Earl, KP (1756-1809), who wedded, in 1787, the Lady Louisa Catharine Howe, youngest daughter and co-heiress of Admiral the Earl Howe, by whom he had an only son, HOWE PETER.

His lordship was created MARQUESS OF SLIGO, in 1800.
The heir apparent is the present holder's son Christopher Ulick Browne, styled Earl of Altamont.
The 6th Marquess was the last Lord-Lieutenant of County Mayo, from 1914 until 1922.



WESTPORT HOUSE, near Castebar, County Mayo, ancestral seat of the Marquesses of Sligo, is located west of the Shannon and is one of Ireland's most historic country houses open to the public.

It was designed by the famous architects Richard Cassels and James Wyatt in the 18th century.

Westport House enjoys a superb parkland setting with lake, terraces, wonderful gardens and magnificent views overlooking Clew Bay, the Atlantic Ocean, Achill, Clare Island and Ireland’s holy mountain Croagh Patrick. 

It was built and is still privately owned by Lord Sligo, a direct descendant of the 16th century Pirate Queen, Grace O’Malley.

During the 1500s, Grace O’Malley was a famous Pirate and “Queen of Connaught”.

After her death, a report stated that for forty years she was the stay of all rebellions in the West.

She was chief of the O’Malley Clan and ruled the seas around Mayo.

Grace O’Malley had several castles in the West of Ireland and it was on the foundations of one of these that Westport House was actually built.

There is still an area of her original Castle in the basement of the House (now known as the Dungeons) which is on view to the visitors.

A bronze statue of Grace O’Malley by artist Michael Cooper is situated on the Westport House grounds.


The original house was built by Colonel John Browne, a Jacobite, who was at the siege of Limerick, and his wife Maud Bourke.

Maud Bourke was Grace O’Malley’s great-granddaughter.

The House then had no lake or dam, and the tide rose and fell against the walls.

The east front of the House as it is today was built in 1730 by Colonel John Browne’s grandson, 1st Earl of Altamont, who hired the famous German architect Richard Cassels.

It is built with the finest limestone taken from the quarry south of the estate farmyard and was executed by local craftsmen. 

Richard Cassels also designed Carton, Hazelwood, Russborough and Leinster House.

Westport House was completed by James Wyatt, who also laid out the town of Westport. 

On the south face of the House is the date 1778 and inside many of the ceilings, cornices and fireplaces are examples of his finest work.

The Large Dining room is perhaps the finest remaining example of his work.

The doors are mahogany, brought back from the family estates in Jamaica. 

There are still a number of original James Wyatt drawings on show, together with some of his son’s, Benjamin Wyatt, who also did some work in the House.

There are several architecturally stunning rooms on show, complete with original contents, most of which have a long association with Ireland and are of particular interest.
Among the pictures are portraits by Sir Joshua Reynolds of the 1st Earl of Altamont; the Rt Hon Denis Browne, brother of the 1st Marquess and a member of Grattan’s Parliament, by Beechy; Howe Peter, 2nd Marquess, who spent four months in jail for bribing seamen in time of war, to bring his ship, full of antiquities from Greece to Westport.
The 2nd Marquess was a friend of GEORGE IV and the poet Byron.

There is also a portrait of Admiral of the Fleet the Earl Howe, father of the 1st Marchioness of Sligo, by John Singleton Copley.

Other Artworks include a magnificent collection of landscapes painted in the locality by James Arthur O’Connor.

Other artists such as Chalon, Barret, Gibson, Opie, Brooks and Lavery are part of the collection.

There is also a collection of waxwork figures by Gems Display Figures, which are a tribute to the literary, arts and music achievements of the West of Ireland.

Other original items on show in Westport House, of particular interest, include a fine collection of old English and Irish silver, including 18th century Irish ‘potato’ or dish rings, Waterford glass, a library with many old Irish books.

A Mayo Legion Flag was brought to Ireland by General Humbert when he invaded the country in 1798 and has ever since been at Westport House, which was occupied by his troops.

Westport House was opened to the public for the first time in 1960 and since then has welcomed over four million visitors.

Westport House and grounds were sold in 2017 to a local business family, committed to investing and maintaining the current facilities which are a major tourist attraction.

Mayo County Council has acquired forty acres of the estate which are expected to be retained in their current form as part of the setting for the house.

First published in June, 2011.  Sligo arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Island Taggart Acquisition

SELECTIVE ACQUISITIONS IN NORTHERN IRELAND

PROPERTY: Island Taggart, Strangford Lough, County Down

DATE: 1984

EXTENT: 85.38 acres

DONOR: Patrick & Kathleen Mackie

First published in October, 2015.