Sunday, 25 March 2018

Walk in the Woods

I spent a restful few hours again at Mount Stewart estate today.

I often have soup in the tea-room and today was no exception.

The chicken and tarragon soup, served with very fresh wheaten bread and butter, was nutritious and tasty.

Thence I strode into the woods and after about fifteen minutes, came upon a charming little Gothic lodge.

Could this have been the gamekeeper's cottage, I wonder.

Whilst I was there I fancied taking a "selfie", which I'm going to use for the blog and other social media.

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Mount Panther Album

Mount Panther, near Clough, County Down, was one of County Down's finest and grandest country houses.

Front elevation

It is said that the roof was removed in the early 1960s in order to avoid paying rates.

Courtyard: prospect from the house

The images of the old mansion were taken prior to this, most likely in the early 1960s.


Princess Margaret and her husband, Lord Snowdon, paid a visit to view the ballroom before the roof was removed.

The ballroom

The plasterwork in the ballroom was reputedly most exquisite.

First published in March, 2016.

Friday, 23 March 2018

Londonderry DL


Dr Angela Garvey, Lord-Lieutenant of the County Borough of Londonderry, has been pleased to appoint:-
Mr Gavin Joseph KILLEEN
County Londonderry
To be a Deputy Lieutenant of the County Borough his Commission bearing date the 31st day of March 2018.

Signed: Angela Garvey, Lord Lieutenant of the County Borough

Prince Harry in NI

His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales and his fiancée, Meghan Markle, have arrived in Belfast for their first official joint visit to Northern Ireland.

Throughout the day, Prince Harry and Miss Markle will have the opportunity to meet members of the public, to learn how young people are shaping the future of Northern Ireland, and to visit some of the city's most loved sites.

HRH and Miss Markle's first engagement was at the Eikon Centre, Sprucefield, County Down, where they attended an event to mark the second year of youth-led peace-building initiative Amazing the Space.

Thence Prince Harry and Miss Markle travelled to one of Belfast's most historic buildings, the Crown Liquor Saloon, a property of the National Trust.

They were accompanied by the Lord-Lieutenant of Belfast, Mrs Fionnuala Jay-O'Boyle CBE.

In the afternoon, the royal party will leave the Crown bar after luncheon and meet members of the public gathered on Great Victoria Street.

Prince Harry and Miss Markle will afterwards travel to the Belfast campus of Northern Ireland’s next generation science park, Catalyst Inc, to meet some of Northern Ireland's brightest young entrepreneurs and innovators.

Finally, HRH and Miss Markle will visit the iconic Titanic Belfast, Titanic Quarter, Belfast.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

On Ploughman's Hill

I enjoyed an organized walk through the new Ploughman's Hill walk at Mount Stewart estate yesterday.

For the benefit of those readers who have not been following the narrative, Mount Stewart, on the Ards Peninsula, County Down, was the magnificent County Down seat of the Marquesses of Londonderry.

It is now a property of the National Trust.

Ranger Toby met about fifteen of us at the courtyard behind the mansion.

We all ambled past the lake, and just beyond it there is the beginning of the new trail.

Ploughman's Hill Walk has not officially opened yet, though it is expected to open imminently.

En route a new red squirrel hide is being erected in the midst of wonderful silvan scenery.

Toby estimates that we have about 35 to 40 red squirrels on the estate presently, and numbers are expected to grow significantly in the next few years.

The gravel path leads to open woodland, which swerves round towards the sea and close to the Twin Lodges on the Portaferry Road.

Toby really knows his stuff and provided us with abundant facts and figures relating to the estate.

When our walk finished I didn't linger because it was a bit chilly.

I'm very glad to see that a brand new shepherd's hut, the Mark Two, is in situ and is currently being fitted out.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Gussie's Veggie Diet

JEEVES:  'I regret to inform you, sir, that Miss Bassett has insisted on Mr Fink-Nottle adopting a vegetarian diet. His mood is understandably disgruntled and rebellious.'

   I tottered. In my darkest hour I had never anticipated anything as bad as this. You wouldn't think it to look at him, because he's small and shrimplike and never puts on weight, but Gussie loves food.

   Watching him tucking into his rations at the Drones [club], a tapeworm would raise its hat respectfully, knowing that it was in the presence of a master.

   Cut him off, therefore, from the roasts and boileds and particularly from cold steak and kidney pie, a dish of which he is inordinately fond, and you turned him into something fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils, as the fellow said - the sort of chap who would break any engagement as soon as look at you.

   At the moment of my entry I had been about to light a cigarette, and now the lighter fell from my nerveless hand.

 BERTIE:  'She's made him become a vegetarian?'

   'So Mr Fink-Nottle informed me, sir.'

   'No chops?'

   'No, sir.'

   'No steaks?'

   'No, sir.'

   'Just spinach and similar garbage?'

   'So I gather, sir.'

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Maggie's Hut

Maggie's Hut

At the beginning of the Blue and Red trails at the National Trust's Mount Stewart estate on the Ards Peninsula, County Down, there was a blue shepherd's hut where a member of staff greeted visitors and provided information.

Unfortunately that quaint little hut was crushed by a large tree during a storm in December, 2017.

I have just been informed, however, that a replacement arrives in the estate today, the 20th March, 2018.

It seems, however, that shepherd's huts or keepers' watch huts do have a history.

The one at Mount Stewart (above) was built by a company in County Fermanagh.

My cousin Shirley and her family purchased one, and it's installed in the grounds of their home at Fittleworth in West Sussex.

In fact, if you like the look of it and its location at the village of Fittleworth, you can stay in it.

It is close to the Duke of Richmond's magnificent seat, Goodwood.

Maggie's Hut has a double bed and wood-burning stove.

The Swan Inn, a family-run 15th century pub, is a short stroll away, too, convenient for the South Downs National Park, Chichester, Petworth and Arundel.

Maggie's hut during winter, 2018.

Maggie's Hut has a separate outdoor 'Eco' composting loo, and showering facilities are presently available in the main house.

I wish them every success with their imaginative endeavour; and may many guests enjoy Maggie's Hut.

I know who "Maggie" is, by the way (!).

First published in September, 2016.

Monday, 19 March 2018

Shelton Abbey


The noble house of WICKLOW derives from the Fersfield branch of the ducal family of Howard.

JOHN HOWARD (1616-43) married, in 1636, Dorothea Hassells.

Following his decease, his widow removed to Ireland, where she wedded her cousin, Robert Hassells, of Shelton, County Wicklow.

The son of John and Dorothea Howard,

RALPH HOWARD (1638-1710), of Shelton, who was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, took a degree in Medicine in 1667, and succeeded Dr Margetson as Regius Professor of Physics at that university.

Being afterwards attainted with many others in JAMES II's parliament, on account of his having returned to England on the breaking out of war in Ireland, with his numerous family of young children, in 1688, his estate containing 600 acres in the barony of Bargy, and County Wexford, and his leasehold interest of the north share of Arklow, and Shelton estates, County Wicklow, held from the 2nd Duke and Duchess of Ormonde, containing 4,000 acres, plantation measure, were seized upon and put in the possession of Mr Hackett, who being appointed sequestrator, resided in Shelton House, and received the rents until the war ended.

After the defeat at the Boyne in 1690, JAMES II stayed at Shelton to refresh himself, en route to Waterford; and says, in his memoirs, that he rested some time at Mr Hackett's.

On the re-establishment of tranquillity under WILLIAM III, Dr Howard recovered his estates.

He married, in 1668, Catherine, eldest daughter of Roger Sotheby, MP for Wicklow, and had issue (with three daughters), three sons, viz.
HUGH, his heir;
ROBERT, of whom hereafter;
William, MP for Dublin City, 1727.
The eldest son,

HUGH HOWARD (1675-1737), of Shelton, was appointed Keeper of the State Papers at Whitehall, 1714, and Paymaster of the Board of Works, 1726.

He died in London, leaving a fine collection of books, drawings, prints, and medals, as well as his estates at Shelton and Seskin, County Wicklow, to his only surviving brother,

THE RT REV ROBERT HOWARD (1670-1740), Lord Bishop of Elphin, who inherited, in 1728, the estates of his family at the decease of his elder brother Hugh, of Shelton, County Wicklow.

His lordship married, in 1724, Patience, daughter and sole heiress of Godfrey Boleyne, of Fenner, by Mary his wife, sister of the Rt Hon Henry Singleton, Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, and had issue,
RALPH, his heir;
Catherine, m to John, 1st Earl of Erne.
Bishop Howard was succeeded by his eldest son,

THE RT HON RALPH HOWARD, (1726-89), MP for County Wicklow, 1761-76, Privy Counsellor, who was elevated to the peerage, 1778, by the title of Baron Clonmore, of Clonmore Castle, County Carlow; and advanced to a viscountcy, in 1785, as Viscount Wicklow.

His lordship wedded, in 1755, Alice (who was raised to the peerage, 1793, as COUNTESS OF WICKLOW), only daughter and heiress of William Forward MP, of Castle Forward, County Donegal, and had issue,
WILLIAM, successive peers;
Stuarta; Isabella; Katherine; Mary.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

ROBERT (1757-1815), 2nd Viscount; who, in 1807, became EARL OF WICKLOW at the demise of his mother; but died unmarried, when the honours devolved upon his brother,

WILLIAM (1761-1818), 3rd Earl; who had assumed the surname and arms of FORWARD upon inheriting the estate of his maternal relatives; but resumed his family name of HOWARD on succeeding to the peerage.

His lordship espoused, in 1787, Eleanor, only daughter of the Hon Francis Caulfeild, and granddaughter of James, 3rd Viscount Charlemont, and had issue,
WILLIAM, his heir;
Francis (Rev); father of
Isabella Mary; Eleanor; Mary; Alicia.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

WILLIAM (1788-1869), 4th Earl, KP, who wedded, in 1816, the Lady Cecil Frances Hamilton, daughter of John James, 1st Marquess of Abercorn; though his lordship had no male issue, and was succeeded by his nephew,
On the death of the 8th Earl, the titles became extinct.

SHELTON ABBEY, near Arklow, County Wicklow, was the splendid demesne of the Earls of Wicklow.

The mansion, built in 1770, comprises two storeys and eleven bays.

It was remodelled in the Gothic style, in 1819, to the designs of Sir Richard Morrison.

The intention was to represent an ecclesiastical structure of the 14th century, transmuted into a baronial residence.

The building is finished with lined render and granite dressings.

The decorative panelled front door has a blind fanlight and is set within a pointed-arched opening.

This is recessed within a projecting triple arched flat-roofed porch.

The front is lavishly embellished with reducing buttresses with tall pinnacles.

To the north and rear large two-storey wings were later added.

The mainly pitched roof is finished with natural slate and has cast-iron rainwater goods.

The building is set within a large wooded demesne. Internally the elaborate plasterwork is still intact.

This remains an important early 19th century country house which has been very well preserved.

During the Victorian era, the 'Abbey style' was considered appropriate to secluded settings such as this.

It has been converted to institutional use with no loss of character.

The town residence of Lord Wicklow used to be 56 Upper Brook Street, London (now part of the US Embassy).

In 1947, the 8th Earl opened Shelton as an hotel in a vain attempt to meet the cost of upkeep; but he was obliged to sell it in 1951, owing to taxation.

Shelton Abbey operated as a school for a period.

The mansion has, since the early 1970s, been used as an open prison for males aged 19 years and over who are regarded as requiring lower levels of security.

Wicklow arms courtesy of European Heraldry.   First published in January, 2012.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

The Belmont Stew

You might recall the traditional recipe I shared for proper Irish stew?

Well, I'm cooking it today.

Here is my method and list of ingredients:-
1 lb lean lamb pieces;
1 lb onions;
1 lb carrots;
1 lb potatoes;
salt & pepper;
pinch of thyme.

  1. Place mutton with thyme in pot and add cold water to cover.
  2. Bring slowly to the boil and simmer for one hour.
  3. Add vegetables, all peeled and roughly chopped.
  4. Season (I add one teaspoon of salt at first, and pepper).
  5. Continue cooking until vegetables are tender.
  6. Adjust seasoning. 
The lamb - which I trim well - is cut into pieces, placed in the sauce-pan with about half a teaspoon of thyme, covered with cold water, brought to the boil, and simmered for one hour.

Next I add the roughly chopped vegetables.

This has to be one of the tastiest, simplest, healthiest, most nutritious stews.

Using this method the lamb is very tender, and the water it is simmered in becomes a liquid stock, in fact.

I do cover cover the pot initially, though prefer to keep the lid off because condensation generates too much water (though this can be reduced at a later stage).

Simply simmer the stew and turn the ingredients occasionally.

It takes several hours.

Don't rush it.

First published in January, 2014; modified 2018.

Monday, 5 March 2018

Four-Way Tie

I inherited several ties from my father, one of which is cherished.

It's unashamedly old-fashioned, classic, tweedy and a la Bertie Wooster.

This ancient little sartorial number is called the Four-Way.

It has four sides, depending on how it's tied.

The length is 48 inches; the width, 2¾.

Four woollen ties for the value of one!

This cloth tie was made by J G Wilson, of Callander, Perthshire.

Quite frankly I'd dearly covet a few more checked tweed ties.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Londonderry City Lieutenancy



GARVEY, Dr Angela J,


KEYS, Mr Stuart C, DL


HILL, Mr Donald A, JP DL


KEEGAN, Dame Geraldine, DBE DL

DAVIDSON, Mrs Margaret J, DL

SHARMA, Mr Naresh, DL





GUCKIAN, Mr Gerard, DL

MORTON, Very Rev William, DL

WATT, Dr Lucinda, DL

QUIGLEY, Mrs Helen, DL

KILLEEN, Mr Gavin Joseph, DL

MZIMBA, Mr Zola Sipo, DL

Please advise me of any retirements or deaths.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Belfast Lieutenancy



JAY-O’BOYLE, Mrs Fionnuala, CBE




SMYTH, Mrs Anthea Linda, DL


ELDER, Colonel Mervyn, MBE TD JP DL

DEENY, The Hon Mr Justice (Sir Donnell), DL

CAMPBELL, Mrs Jennifer, DL



CAMPBELL, Colonel Mark, CBE DL

CORBETT, Mr Joseph Garth, MBE DL


CARR, Dr Nigel J, DL

HILL, Dame Judith, DBE DL FRCN

McGARRY, Dr Philip J, DL

BRADLEY, Professor Martin E J, OBE DL FRCN

PRICE, Nicholas (Nick) W N, DL

SHARMA, Mukesh, DL

MARKEN, Mrs Michelle, OBE DL

ADAIR, Professor Alastair Samuel, CBE DL

EVE, Mrs Judith Mary, CBE DL

SHERIDAN, Dr Mark Christopher, DL

SELLAR, Very Rev Dr Francis Paul, DL

CORBETT, Mrs Patricia Sarah, DL

LOGAN, Mr Robert Alan, DL

RADAR, Mr Walter, OBE DL

GREER, Prof. Ian Andrew, DL


Please advise me of any retirements or deaths.