Thursday, 8 April 2021

Ardnalea House

ARDNALEA HOUSE, Craigavad, County Down, is a two-storey Victorian house of ca 1845 with basement, now divided into four separate dwellings.

The original subdivision took place in the mid-20th century and Number 69 has been a single dwelling since then, comprising the east side of the original house.

Two gate lodges are also marked, as are a "landing place" and "flag staff".

Griffith’s Valuation of the same period describes it as a ‘house, offices and land’ occupied by LADY BATESON and leased from William S Mitchell, a linen merchant and minor landowner who lived at "Olinda" nearby.

The Crawfords, of CRAWFORDSBURN, who lived there subsequently, remarked that the interior decoration was executed by Italian artists in the 1840s, at the time the house was first built.

It would appear that this was a bathing lodge or dower house for Lady Bateson, the widow of Sir Robert Bateson, a conservative politician and significant landowner, who was to die in 1863 at his home in Belvoir Park, Newtownbreda, County Down.

By 1875 the house was occupied by William Crawford, a director of the Belfast Bank in Waring Street, the Bank having been founded by Hugh Crawford in 1808.

Crawford’s alterations to the house give it much of the external appearance it assumes today.

He raised the house by a storey and built additional outbuildings by 1877, shortly after taking over the house.

In 1891, ‘labourers’ houses’ were added to the site.

Crawford died in 1907 leaving a considerable fortune, and the property passed to his son, Robert J Crawford.

The house was supplied with water from a well, with a gas engine pump and lighting from Holywood gas.

There was a 1½ horsepower gas engine for driving the water pump.

At this period Ardnalea had "painted walls".

The accommodation comprised, on the ground floor, a dining-room, reading room, inner hall, two drawing-rooms, an outer hall, cloakroom, WC, WB, pantry, study and lavatory.

On the first floor there were five principal bedrooms, two dressing rooms, bathroom, a sewing-room, four maids’ bedrooms and a lavatory.

In the basement there was a larder, scullery, kitchen, maid’s bathroom, three store rooms, three lumber rooms, boiler house, cellar, dairy and disused kitchen.

Various outbuildings included a boat house, fowl houses, byres and hay barns.

In 1940 the mansion house and three acres of curtilage were requisitioned by the armed forces, Crawford retaining 6½ acres.

Family notes indicate that the house was sold in 1948 and converted into apartments, the conversion possibly being carried out by Henry Lynn, architect, who was working in Belfast between 1930 and 1972 and whose drawings of the outbuildings survive.

The house had been converted into "a house and two flats" by 1949.

In November, 1949, the main house was occupied by Colonel Vinycomb, Flat 3 was let to Air Commodore Allan Robert Churchman CB DFC DL, and Flat 2 was let to Mrs V Grainger.

First published in April, 2019.

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