Wednesday, 7 October 2020

White House

THE WHITE HOUSE, Newtownabbey, County Antrim, is a roofless 17th century fortified house, surrounded by a late 20th century housing development near the eastern shore of Belfast Lough.

The bawn is defined by large circular flankers, emphasising the defensible origins of the dwelling and representative of the difficult circumstances of 17th century settlement of the eastern shore of the lough.

This significant structure is thought to date from ca 1600.

A timber window lintel in the building was dendro-chronologically dated to between 1589 and 1624.

A map of 1834 shows a number of buildings on the site, arranged on a quadrangular plan around the central courtyard.

Griffiths Valuation of 1859 records the site as "Herd’s house, Office and Lands ... yard and quay, and a coal yard."

John Thomson was the occupant at the time, and the landlord was the Marquess of Donegall.

Photo Credit: Abbey Historical Society

The buildings nearby (mentioned previously) as part of the same collection or "courtyard" are listed as two houses with gardens owned by Robert Joynt and Alexander Mee respectively.

The Ordnance Survey Memoirs of 1839 state that 
"The existing remains of this house not only bear the appearance of great antiquity, but also of great strength. Its original height was either four or five storeys, but has been unroofed and lowered to its present height about 70 years since…. No arch work appears in any part of the building. Strong oak lintels were used in all cases over the doors, windows and fireplaces."
According to the late historian Sir Charles Brett: "King William III spent the night in this house the night of 14th June, 1690."

From the 1930s the building was used as a gospel hall, and it was acquired in 1996 by Ulster Garden Villages on behalf of Abbey Historical Society.

In 2000 it was transferred to the White House Preservation Trust, which has been undertaking major refurbishment works.

First published in October, 2018.

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