Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Manor of Florida: II

 HRH The Duke of Kent visits the Sexton's House, Kilmood, with the
Rev Dr Stanley Gamble, Vicar of Kilmood (Image: Diocese of Down & Dromore)

FROM Florida Manor we drove the short distance, along windy, narrow, country roads, to Kilmood, a historic village or hamlet.

We parked opposite the parish church, in a car park beside the former school-house.

Stanley took me across the road to see the former sexton's cottage, a delightful, tiny, two-room dwelling.

Sexton's House prior to Restoration (Image: St Mary's Kilmood Festival of Flowers)

This stone cottage, restored ca 2019, has pointed windows and door, with Georgian window glazing.

The photograph at the top was taken in 2019 during a visit by His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent, accompanied by the Vicar of Kilmood, the Rev Dr Stanley Gamble.

Stanley pointed out the features in the two rooms, including an open fireplace with griddle.

It was hard to imagine a family of seven once living here, though we can assume that they were almost always out-and-about at work or play during the day.

This rustic cottage was built about the same year as the church, and its architecture isn't dissimilar to a gate lodge at Florida Manor.

Thence we walked across the road to see the old schoolhouse.

The Old Schoolhouse (Image: Timothy Ferres, 2021)

This is a single-storey, whitewashed building with a projecting porch, pointed windows, and Gothic glazing.

This former school was established by the Erasmus Smith institution, and opened in 1822 with the assistance of David Gordon, of Florida Manor, and Lord Londonderrry.

It is believed that the schoolhouse also contained a teacher’s dwelling as well as the schoolroom.

I'm told that as many as 45 pupils were taught here at one stage.

The premises were renovated in 1972 and converted to a parish hall.

Today, 2021, the old schoolhouse serves as a children's playgroup centre.

The Old Courthouse (Image: Timothy Ferres, 2021)

A little further along the road, perhaps 30 yards, is the former manor courthouse, today a private home.

This distinctive building is deceptive in appearance because, although it seems to be single-storey, it has a kind of undercroft at the rear, once used as a coach-house with stabling for horses.

The central bay above the entrance is crow-stepped, with finial-like features at the ends, and a sort of bellcote at the apex.

Crow-stepped Entrance (Image: Timothy Ferres, 2021)

There's also a roundel with the inscription "Florida Manor Court House Date of Patent 1638.

This building was, in fact, built in 1822 and remained in use as a courthouse for almost exactly one hundred years.

In 1922 it became a private dwelling.

In 1984 Nick and Kathy Price purchased the old courthouse from the parish and it was reincarnated as Nick's restaurant.

The Courthouse ca 1984 (Image: Nick Price)

Nick and Kathy closed the restaurant in 1989 and opened a new establishment in Hill Street, Belfast, called Nick's Warehouse.

The old courthouse continued to operate as a restaurant under new management for about three years.

Today the old courthouse is a private home.



PORT BALLINTRAE, a small bay near the mouth of the river Bush, and in the bottom of the bay between Bengore Head and the Skerries, on the north coast of County Antrim.

It has about 14 feet of depth of water, and experiences a rise of about 8 or 9 feet in spring tides.

Portballintrae (Image: Timothy Ferres, 2021)

A small pier and dock, capable of containing two or three small vessels, was built by Mr Spencer for the use of his salt works, is well executed, and admits vessels drawing 7 feet.

The Bay, Portballintrae, with Coastguard Cottages to the Right (Image: William Alfred Green)

"Mr S" reports Mr Nimmo, "has also begun a breakwater of rough stone on the west side of it, which he proposes extending 40 or 50 yards into 10 feet of water."

"This place is likely to be of importance to the fishery or embayed vessels etc, and is the only shelter or landing-place hereabouts."

"The work seems deserving of aid. The expense of the breakwater may be £500 or £600 [about £80,000 in 2020]."

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

Manor of Florida: I

(Image: Florida Manor Estate)

I had never been to Kilmood before.

My cousin Robert was married in the parish church many decades ago; though for some reason I wasn't at his wedding.

Kilmood's former courthouse, in 1984, became Nick's restaurant (Nick Price went on to open a well-known restaurant in Hill Street, Belfast, which is now, I believe, the Harp Bar).

The Vicar of Kilmood, the Rev Dr Stanley Gamble, and I both share a passion for heritage and the preservation of historic buildings; and, cognizant of my passion, Stanley got in touch and suggested that we meet at his parish for a tour.

Naturally I was eager to do this.

Accordingly we arranged to meet at Florida Manor, a private estate near Killinchy, County Down.

I've already written about the manor of Florida and its Georgian mansion house.

Michael Lagan purchased the 250-acre estate in 2005, and has been restoring it to its former glory since then.

The demesne and parkland has already been restored; former paths and drives realigned; ponds and a lake revived; and the 17th century courtyard completely rejuvenated as apartments and living accommodation.

Therese showed us the manor house, which awaits imminent restoration inside.

The exterior of the house has been secured, including major repairs to the roof and new window-frames, and so on.

We saw the extensive basement, the ground floor, and the first floor. 

The second floor also awaits restoration.

Florida Manor and its demesne are one of the most historic properties in County Down, and when the manor house is restored there's no doubt that it will be one of the finest in the county and beyond.

Stanley and I drove throughout the estate roads, past paddocks, rolling hillocks, little lakes, ponds, as far as the East Lodge of ca 1840; ruinous and dilapidated in 1994, though fully restored today. 

Restoration work began on this lodge in January, 2007, a complex structure comprising two hexagonal buildings, with elongated sides adjoined by a quadrilateral.

The stones used for East Lodge were excavated from the grounds of the manor.

THE walled garden is roughly two acres in extent.

The stone walls had to be rebuilt in places, sand-blasted, and pointed in lime mortar.

A small potting-shed within the walled garden was rebuilt and re-roofed.

There are currently temporary paths within the garden, where a handsome new orangery has been built.

The new orangery will be used to host receptions, catering functions, and weddings. It has a basement with a kitchen and cloakrooms.

This very handsome neo-classical 1½-storey building is clad in sandstone.

The walled garden will have a formal central lawn, with a vegetable garden around its perimeter; fruit trees have already been planted.

THE former land steward's house has been completely restored, work having commenced in 2006.

It was in a parlous condition, though skilled craftsmen have brought it back to its former glory, including the original bell-tower and bell.

Stanley and I caught up with Michael and Therese in the estate courtyard, completely restored in 2007.

(Image: Florida Manor Estate)

This courtyard pre-dates the manor house by about a century, and was built in 1676.

During restoration, many sections of the stone walls needed to be rebuilt and sand-blasted; re-roofing and slating; underpinning; and major mechanical electrical work.

At one stage more than 90 people were working on this site.

DURING 2008 work began on the west gate lodge or West Lodge, and at the moment it awaits restoration.

The old piggery has been restored, and contains a new generator and technical installations.

This was the building where the Florida Yeomanry militia met during exercises in the early 19th century.

The estate perimeter wall, about one mile in length, had fallen into disrepair and needed to be totally rebuilt.

At one stage during 2008, 22 stone-masons and assistants were employed during this project.



ARDSTRAW, a large and important parish in the barony of Strabane, County Tyrone.

The living is a rectory, in the diocese of Derry, and in the patronage of the Provost and Fellows of Trinity College, Dublin; the church is a large and beautiful edifice with a handsome spire, and is situated in Newtownstewart.

A new church, or chapel of ease, is about to be built at Baron's Court, or Magheracreggan; and the glebe  house has a glebe of 681 acres attached to it, of which 461¾ are in a state of cultivation.

The parish contains the town of Newtownstewart, and the villages of Ardstraw and Douglas Bridge.

The ecclesiastical parish is more extensive than the civil parish; it includes a district in the barony of Omagh.

Three considerable rivulets drain the surface; and, becoming confluent, pass away in one stream to pay tribute to the Foyle.

The streams produce both trout and salmon.

Three beautiful and wooded lakes adorn the demesne of Baronscourt, and a fourth, called Creevy [Magheralough], and situated near Magheracreggan, is circular and about a mile in circumference.

The surface of the parish possesses such an aggregate of wood, so general a carpeting of verdure and cereal crop, and such a diversified and strongly-featured contour, as to be rich in the number and not poor in the character of its landscapes.

A mountain, called Douglas, shoots up on the north-east border; two mountains, called Bessy Bell and Mary Grey, rise, the one immediately behind Newtownstewart; and the other about a mile to the east.

Various minor heights finely screen or tumulate the vales; and a beautiful hill range extends westward from Newtownstewart, crowned in the vicinity of the town with a picturesque old castle, and luxuriantly mantled in other places with groves of oak.

Bessy Bell and Mary Gray are bare in the summit and russeted on the sides, but green and arable on the skirts.

How and when Irishmen imposed on these mountains names so thoroughly and nationally embalmed in the pathetic ballad associations of Scotland; but "canny" Scotsmen may be pardoned for regarding the affair as one of the unaccountable freaks which distinguish the workings of Hibernian humour.

Antiquarian conjecture, aided by tradition, suggests that pagan rites called "Baase" were, in heathen times, performed on the summit of the westerly mountain to Bell, Beal, Apollo, or the Sun; and that "Baase-Bell," the "ceremonies of Bell," was a sound which, subsequent to the celebrity of the Scottish ballad, easily glided into Bessy Bell, and suggested the counterpart of Mary Gray.

Bogs, while numerous, are so equally dispersed as rather to serve for an acceptable supply of fuel, than to incumber and dispirit by a display of sterility.

Mountains and bogs jointly occupy about one-third of the parochial area; and arable, pasture, and meadow grounds occupy the remainder, in the proportions to one another of respectively 3, 2, and 1.

Excellent sandstone is quarried near Douglas Bridge, and sent to distant parts of the country.

The principal seat is the noble mansion of Baronscourt.

Other seats are Castle Moyle, an ancient but respectable mansion; Woodbrook, a neat modern house; Altdoghal, on an upland site; and Glenknock Cottage, crowning a hill north of Newtownstewart, and commanding an exquisite view of the vale and hill-screens of the [river] Strule.

Newtownstewart (Image: William Alfred Green). CLICK TO ENLARGE

The castle, already alluded to, as surmounting a shoulder of the hill-range west of Newtownstewart, is an interesting object.

Two extinct castles, traditionally said to have been built by brothers of Henry O'Neill, a king of Ulster in the 5th century, stood, the one near the confluence of the Strule and the Glenelly, on a spot now occupied by a neat circular cottage orné, and the other on an alluvial and river-girt plain, called the Holme, and used as the Newtownstewart parade and racecourse.

The disappearance of the latter has been ascribed to the propensity the vulgar practice of quarrying an architectural antiquity for the construction of a dwelling, on the part of the early inhabitants of the town.

A surviving ancient castle, situated opposite the Holme, was burned by Sir Phelim Roe O'Neill in 1641, rebuilt by Sir William Stewart after he became Lord Mountjoy, and again burned by King James on his retreat from Londonderry.

Another extant old castle crowns a thickly-wooded rising ground on the east side of Baronscourt demesne.

Raths or Danish forts are so numerous that about a dozen may be counted within a mile on the western skirts of Mary Grey.

A cromlech, called by the country people a cloghogle, stands on a hill a mile north of Newtownstewart.

It consists of three upright stones, triangularly placed, and about seven feet high, supporting a horizontal stone.

Monday, 29 March 2021

Derrycarne House


This family derives from a common ancestor with the noble house of GORE, Earls of Arran, the Earls of Ross, and the Barons Annaly; though more immediately from the GORE BARONETS of Magherabegg.

WILLIAM GORE (1779-1860), of Woodford, County Leitrim, MP for County Leitrim, 1806-7, married, in 1815, Mary Jane, daughter and heiress of Owen Ormsby, of Willowbrook, County Sligo, and Porkington, Shropshire, whose name he assumed.

Mr Ormsby-Gore was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN RALPH ORMSBY-GORE (1816-76), who wedded, in 1844, Sarah, daughter of Sir John Tyssen Tyrrell Bt, of Boreham House, Essex.

Mr Ormsby-Gore was elevated to the peerage, in 1876, in the dignity of BARON HARLECH, of Harlech, in the County of Merioneth.

His lordship died without issue, and was succeeded by his brother,

WILLIAM RICHARD, 2nd Baron (1819-1904), MP for County Sligo, 1841-52, County Leitrim, 1858-76, High Sheriff of County Leitrim, 1857, who married, in 1850, Emily Charlotte, daughter of Admiral Sir George Francis Seymour, and had issue,
William Seymour, died in infancy;
GEORGE RALPH CHARLES, his successor;
Henry Arthur;
Seymour Fitzroy;
Mary Georgina; Emily.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest surviving son,

GEORGE RALPH CHARLES, 3rd Baron (1855-1938), KCB TD JP, High Sheriff of County Leitrim, 1885, who espoused, in 1881, the Lady Ethel Margaret Gordon, daughter of Charles, 10th Marquess of Huntly, and had issue, an only child,

WILLIAM GEORGE ARTHUR, 4th Baron (1885-1964),
  • Jasset David Cody Ormsby-Gore, 7th Baron (b 1986).
The 3rd Baron was the last Lord-Lieutenant of County Leitrim, from 1904 until 1922.

DERRYCARNE HOUSE, near Dromod, County Leitrim, was built ca 1800 on a promontory in the River Shannon between Lough Boderg and Lough Bofin.

It was of two storeys with a three-bay, bow-ended, late-Georgian front with Wyatt windows and an enclosed Doric porch.

A two-storey, four-bay castellated wing extended back at right-angles.

The house itself had thirty rooms: kitchen, bedrooms, sculleries, library and armoury room ( which later was turned into a hunting room ) and various other rooms.

It was built with three stories at the back with parapets around it, two towers and cellars, which were seven feet under the ground and were used for storing wine and growing mushrooms. 

It also had a two-bay castellated wing extending back at right-angles.

The gardens surrounding the house contained two acres of vegetables and flowers.

The house faced the River Shannon and was in an ideal position to control the river.

The 2nd Lord Harlech purchased Derrycarne in 1858.

Buying Derrycarne was very important to him at that time as he had ceased to be MP for Sligo and was looking for a new political base.

He was known to be a good landlord.

Lord Harlech and his family lived at Willowbrook, County Sligo, before he lived at Annaduff as he had been MP for Sligo from 1841-52.

The family kept their estates in County Leitrim until 1924.

Lord Harlech did not want to sell his lands but increasing pressure at that time from the tenants for land of their own and the fact that many other large estate houses had been burned down led him to believe that he should not keep the land any longer.

Derrycarne changed hands again several times before being acquired by the Irish Land Commission in 1952.

The house was demolished shortly thereafter.

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

Waringstown House


This branch of the ancient family of WARING of Lancashire, whose patriarch,

MILES DE GUARIN, came to England with WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR, was established in Ulster during the reign of Queen MARY, when its ancestor fled to that province to avoid the persecution of the Lollards.

In the reign of JAMES II, the Warings of Waringstown suffered outlawry, and their home was taken possession of by the Irish at the period of the Revolution, and most of their family records destroyed.

JOHN WARING settled within the civil parish of Toome, County Antrim, and married Mary, daughter of the Rev Thomas Pierse, Vicar of Derriaghy, in that county, by whom he had three sons and several daughters.
One of Mr Waring's sons, Thomas, carried on the family tradition of tanning, having settled in Belfast about 1640. Since he was English and not Presbyterian, he had no difficulty in dealing with the Cromwellian regime.

Having become one of its most prosperous citizens, Thomas Waring was appointed Sovereign (mayor) of Belfast, 1652-55. He lived in Waring Street.
The eldest son,

WILLIAM WARING (1619-1703), became possessed (by purchase from the soldiers of Lord Deputy Fleetwood's regiment of horse) in 1656, of the district of Clanconnell (of which the Waringstown estate formed a part), and shortly after built the present mansion house and adjoining church.

He served as High Sheriff of County Down in 1659.

Mr Waring wedded firstly, Elizabeth, daughter of William Gardiner, of Londonderry, and had issue,
SAMUEL, his heir;
Mary, m Richard Close of Drumbanagher.
He espoused secondly, Jane, daughter of John Close, and had further issue, with six daughters, seven sons, of whom THOMAS was High Sheriff of County Down, 1724.

The eldest son,

SAMUEL WARING (1660-1739), of Waringstown, High Sheriff of County Down, 1690, MP for Hillsborough, 1703-15, married, in 1696, Grace, daughter of the Rev Samuel Holt, of County Meath, and had issue,
SAMUEL, his heir;
Richard, died unmarried;
Holt, a major in the army;
Jane, m to Alexander Macnaghten;
Sarah; Frances; Alice.
The eldest son,

SAMUEL WARING, of Waringstown, High Sheriff of County Down, 1734, died unmarried, in 1793, and was succeeded by his nephew (fifth son of Major Holt Waring),

THE VERY REV HOLT WARING (1766-1830), of Waringstown, Dean of Dromore, who married, in 1793, Elizabeth Mary, daughter of the Rev Averell Daniel, Rector of Lifford, County Donegal, and had issue,
Eliza Jane;
Frances Grace, m Henry Waring, of Waringstown;
The Dean's cousin and son-in-law,

MAJOR HENRY WARING JP (1795-1866), of Waringstown, espoused, in 1824, Frances Grace, fourth daughter of the Very Rev Holt Waring, of Waringstown, Dean of Dromore; and had (with three other sons, who died in infancy),
THOMAS, of whom presently;
Mary Louisa; Elizabeth Mary; Frances Jane; Anne; Susan; Selina Grace.
Mr Waring was succeeded by his eldest son, 

COLONEL THOMAS WARING JP (1828-98), of Waringstown, High Sheriff of County Down, 1868-9, MP for North Down, 1885-98, who married firstly, in 1858, Esther, third daughter of Ross Thompson Smyth, of Ardmore, County Londonderry. She dsp 1873.

He wedded secondly, in 1874, Fanny, fourth daughter of Admiral John Jervis Tucker, of Trematon Castle, Cornwall, and had issue,
HOLT, his heir;
Ruric Henry, Lieutenant RN;
Esther Marian; Mary Theresa; Frances Joan Alice.
Colonel Waring espoused thirdly, in 1885, Geraldine, third daughter of Alexander Stewart, of Ballyedmond, Rostrevor, County Down.

The eldest son, 

HOLT WARING JP DL (1877-1918), married, in 1914, Margaret Alicia (1887–1968), youngest daughter of Joseph Charlton Parr, of Grappenhall Heyes, Warrington, Cheshire,  banker, industrialist, and landowner, though the marriage was without issue.


When her husband was killed in action at Kemmel Hill, France, she chose to remain at the Waring family's 17th century home, Waringstown House, and became active within the local community.
Mrs Waring took a keen interest in Orangeism, serving as Deputy Grand Mistress of Ireland, County Grand Mistress of Down, and District Mistress of Down Lodge No. 4 in the Association of Loyal Orangewomen of Ireland in 1929.
In 1929, she was elected to the Northern Ireland parliament as the official Unionist candidate for the single-seat constituency of Iveagh in County Down.

Mrs Waring  was one of only two women standing for election and, as the only one to be elected, became the third female member of the Northern Ireland parliament (her two predecessors being Dehra Parker and Julia McMordie).

In 1933, she was appointed CBE for Political, Philanthropic, and Public Services.

Following her retirement from parliament, Mrs Waring continued to participate in public affairs.

From the mid-1930s, she was a member of the Northern Ireland war pensions committee, and in 1934 became a member of the Northern Ireland unemployment assistance board.

A longstanding enthusiast for cricket, in 1923 she was the first woman elected onto the committee of the Northern [Ireland] Cricket Union, and in 1954 became its president.

Failing health in later life having caused her to withdraw from wider public activities.

Mrs Waring died at Waringstown House, Waringstown, County Down, on the 9th May, 1968.

The Waringstown estate was inherited by her nephew, Michael Harnett, his wife Anne, and their children, Jane and William.

WARINGSTOWN HOUSE, Waringstown, County Down, is said to be one of the earliest surviving unfortified Ulster houses.

It was built by William Waring - who also erected the adjacent church -  in 1667.

The house seems to have been originally of two storeys with an attic; with pedimented, curvilinear gables along the front, still existent at the sides.

The front was swiftly raised to form three storeys, thus providing a late 17th or early 18th century appearance.

The centre block is of six bays, with a pedimented doorcase flanked by two narrow windows.

The two central bays are enclosed with rusticated quoins, as are the sides of the centre block and wings.

The front is elongated by two short sweeps, ending in piers with finials.

There are lofty, Tudor-Revival chimneys.

Waringstown House lay empty for a period, when Mrs D G Waring died in 1968.

The Waring family used to own a town house at 13 Victoria Square in London.

THE DEMESNE grounds here have their origin in the late 17th century and are surprisingly modest, considering the considerable architectural importance of this house, built on rising ground (apparently on the site of a rath) by William Waring (1619-1703), who founded the village, formerly Clanconnel.

In 1689, the extension was added to the south by the Duke of Schomberg, who occupied the house before the battle of the Boyne.

Pineapple-topped gate pillars are in the yard, possibly of early 18th century date.

The original house had a bawn, outside of which lay, as shown on a map of 1703, a series of regular enclosures, some of which were gardens and orchards.

These formal grounds, evidently expanded by William's son, Samuel Waring MP (1657-1739), contained some fine trees: In 1802, the Rev John Dubourdieu noted that there were then oaks of great size, a notable walnut in the ‘yard adjoining the house’ and ‘some of the largest beech in this county’.

Some of these were evidently lost in the "Big Wind" of January, 1839, when it was reported that ‘a row of noble beeches were prostrated’.

Although in the later 18th century the grounds were naturalised and extended with additional shelter belt plantations by Samuel Waring (1697-1793), much of original early 18th century planting survived into the 19th century.

In 1837, for example, Lewis remarked on the ‘ancient and flourishing forest trees’ that then existed at Waringstown, noting also that ‘the pleasure grounds, gardens and shrubberies are extensive and kept in the best order’.

The Ordnance Memoirs, also written in the 1830s, noted that the early Victorian gardens here included an ‘ornamental ground very tasteful’ and a flower garden ‘reckoned the best in the county’; this were located to the south of the house.

To the northwest lay the kitchen garden, which was 18th century in origin and enclosed with clipped beech hedges rather than walls. It was approached by a long path from the house court and contained kitchen stuff and orchards; this is no longer used as originally intended.

To the west of the house there is a Victorian rockery, made of massive flints from Magheralin, with a pond and rustic stone arch, built sometime after 1834 and before 1860.

In the 1980s, Alan Mitchell made a list of the present collection of flora, now in possession of the owner of the house.

The UAHS publication for the area (1968) noted that the grounds and planting here associated with the building, were not just ‘of equal value as a setting and an amenity’, but were also important to the village of Waringstown itself - a self-evident observation perhaps, but worth re-stating.

By and large, the layout of the demesne has changed little from 1834.

The southern end is taken up by the cricket ground, which includes a rath.

First published in March, 2013.

Sunday, 28 March 2021

Kilmood Hearse House

The Hearse House (Image: Rev Dr Stanley Gamble, 2020)

Hearse houses are a rarity these days, I'm told.

These modest buildings were built within the grounds of churches to house horse-drawn hearses.

Parishioners were permitted the use of the hearse, though they had to supply the horse.

Hearse houses became redundant shortly after the arrival of the motor car.

How many hearse-houses still exist in Northern Ireland?

The charming little hearse house of St Mary's parish church, Kilmood, County Down, was restored in 2019-20.

It stands at the back of the church, at the rear wall in the grounds.

Remains of the Hearse House before Restoration
(Image: Parish of Killinchy, Kilmood, and Tullynakill)

The building dates from the time the church was built, 1821-22.

Michael Lagan, of Florida Manor, has been a great supporter of the parish (once part of the historic manor of Florida); and seeing the ruinous tiny building, suggested that a worthy use could be made of it for the community.

This generous offer was welcomed by the parish, and work began: stonemasons rebuilt the walls; a new slate roof was erected; electricity installed; new doors and windows; and landscaping of the immediate vicinity.

Interior in 2020 (Image: Rev Dr Stanley Gamble)

As a result of this project the former hearse house is today transformed into a quiet room for private prayer and contemplation.

Individuals and families can now spend some time in a safe and comfortable setting while visiting the church grounds.



TULLYNAKILL, a parish on the eastern border of the barony of Lower Castlereagh, 3¼ miles south-east by south of Comber, County Down.

It contains the village of Ardmillan.

Its length, south-south-eastward, is 2¾ miles; its breadth, exclusive of its portion of Strangford Lough, is 2 miles; but its breadth, inclusive of its portion of Strangford Lough, becomes its length, and is 3 miles; and its area, 2,923 acres.

The surface lies along the west shore of Strangford Lough; consists, in general, of prime land; and is traversed across the west wing by the road from Newtownards to Killyleagh.

Some large limestone quarries, in which fossil remains abound, are extensively worked; the stone resembles porphyry, and is conveyed both by land and water to all parts of the surrounding country.

Tullynakill Rectory or Vicarage (Image: Rev Dr Stanley Gamble)

A manorial court with extensive jurisdiction and peculiar privileges was formerly held here, but it has fallen into disuse for many years.

The breadth of the strand of Strangford Lough within Tullynakill, or of the portion of its bed which is alternately covered and forsaken by the tide, varies from ½ mile to very nearly 2 miles; and the isles and islets either within this strand, or on its seaward margin, are Wood Island, Watson's Island, Gull Rock, Downey's Rock, Bird Island, Duck Rock, Long Island, Rolly Island, Reagh Island, Calf Rock, Horse Island, and Mahee Island - the last inhabited and comparatively large.

In the northern district, adjacent to the strand, are some limestone quarries.

Tullynakill Parish Church; demolished in 1970 (Image: Rev Dr Stanley Gamble)

This parish is a vicarage, and a separate benefice, in the diocese of Down.

The incumbent also holds the united benefices which constitute the corps of Kilroot prebend in the cathedral of Connor; and is non-resident in Tullynakill.

The rectorial tithes belong to the see of Down; but the whole parish being bishop's land, no composition for these tithes appears to have been made.

A curate receives a salary of £69 4s 7½d [about £8,500 in 2020].

Tullynakill Old Church (Image: Ards & North Down Borough Council)

The [new] church was built in 1825, by means of a gift of £830 15s 4½d [about £103,000 in 2020] from the Board of First Fruits.

The ruins of the old church, built, or according to some accounts rebuilt, in 1636 [1639], are still visible.

In 1868 the parishes of Tullynakill and Kilmood were united.

The united parishes of Kilmood and Tullynakill were combined with that of Killinchy in 1923.

The Georgian church was deconsecrated and demolished in 1970 due to dwindling congregations; so, ironically, the ruins of the 17th century church have outlived its successor.

The graveyard contains the grave of John McWilliams, killed at the Battle of Ballynahinch.

Saturday, 27 March 2021

Roxborough Gates

I spent a most agreeable day in 2010 at The Argory (former home of the MacGeough-Bonds) and Loughgall Manor (the Copes), County Armagh.

I picnicked in the grounds of The Argory, then went for a walk along the River Blackwater.

This river divides the counties of Tyrone and Armagh.

Later on I enjoyed a delightful tour of the House at 2pm with a charming and informative guide.

She alluded to the wooden Jamaican carvings, and Tommy MacGeough-Bond's fondness for Jamaica.

I wonder if he was acquainted with Ian Fleming.

The MacGeough-Bonds would doubtless have been well acquainted with other landed families in County Armagh, including the Stronges, Verners and Copes.

Roxborough Gates

Later in the afternoon I motored on to the village of Moy, where the Charlemonts had their impressive country seat, Roxborough Castle.

All that's left to remind us of its greatness are the equally impressive gates (above and top).

An earl's coronet and crest adorn them.

The mansion house itself was maliciously burnt ca 1922.

Loughgall Manor

At Loughgall, I wandered up the steep incline to the manor-house, erstwhile seat of the Cope family.

Its gates, too, are impressive.

Loughgall Manor Gates
First published in August, 2010.

Friday, 26 March 2021

Leslie of Leslie Hill


This family springs from

THE REV PETER LESLIE (1686-1773), born at Westminster, Rector of Ahoghill, County Antrim, who married, in 1718, Jane, daughter of the Rt Rev Anthony Dopping, Lord Bishop of Meath, and had issue,
HENRY (Rev),1719-1803;
EDMUND, of whom hereafter.
The younger son,

THE VEN EDMUND LESLIE (1735-90), Archdeacon of Down, 1782, and also a prebendary of Connor, wedded firstly, Jane, daughter of John Macnaghten, of Benvarden, County Antrim, and had issue,
Peter, died in London;
Bartholomew, died in India;
JAMESof whom we treat;
Edmund, died in India;
Archdeacon Leslie espoused secondly, Eleanor, daughter of George Portis, of London, and had issue,
Henry (Very Rev), Dean of Connor;
Samuel, Rear-Admiral, of Donaghadee;
The Archdeacon's eldest surviving son, 

JAMES LESLIE JP DL (1768-1847), of Leslie House, County Antrim, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1799, succeeded to the estates on the demise of his uncle, James Leslie, in 1796.

He wedded, in 1795, Mary, daughter of Adam Cuppage, of Donaghcloney, County Down, by whom he had issue,
Henry, JP, of Seaport Lodge, Portballintrae;
Frances Seymour, of the Home Office;
Bartholdus George Albert (1812-15).
The eldest son,

JAMES EDMUND LESLIE JP DL (1800-81), of Leslie Hill and Seaport Lodge, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1854, wedded, in 1823, Sarah, youngest daughter of the Rt Rev Daniel Sandford DD, Bishop of Edinburgh, and by her had issue,
James Sandford, 1824-29;
Henry Erskine, 1825-29;
EDMUND DOUGLASof whom hereafter;
Daniel Sandford, died in infancy;
Seymour Montague, b 1835; father of JAMES GRAHAM;
Francis Macnaghten, b 1837; in the army;
Erskine Douglas, died in infancy;
Frances Mary; Mary Wilhelmina; Sarah Agnes; Jane Elizabeth.
LIEUTENANT-COLONEL EDMUND DOUGLAS LESLIE was granted the honorary rank of Colonel in 1877. 

He was succeeded by his third son,

EDMUND DOUGLAS LESLIE JP DL (1828-1904), of Leslie Hill and Seaport Lodge, Lieutenant-Colonel and Honorary Colonel, 4th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, who died unmarried, and was succeeded by his nephew,

JAMES GRAHAM LESLIE JP DL (1868-1949), of Leslie Hill and Seaport Lodge, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1907, Barrister, some time head of a department in the Office of the Crown Agents for the Colonies, who espoused, in 1901, Grace, only daughter of J Lamont Brodie, of Wimbledon, and had issue,
Grace Margaret Hester, b 1905;
Mary Etheldritha (Audrey), b 1908.

THE CREST of this family has traditionally been an angel, though a gryphon is sometimes used by some portions of the family. 

The motto, Grip Fast, has remained unchanged since the time of QUEEN MARGARET of Scotland, by whom it was given to Bartolf (Bartholomew), under the following circumstances:
In crossing a river swollen by floods, the Queen was thrown from her horse, and in danger of being drowned, when the knight, plunging into the stream, seized hold of Her Majesty's girdle; and as he brought her with difficulty towards the bank, she frequently exclaimed grip fast, and afterwards desired that he should retain the words as his motto, in remembrance of the occurrence.
LESLIE HILL, near Ballymoney, County Antrim, was built by James Leslie ca 1750, on the site of an older castle. 

The house originally consisted of a gable-ended main block of three storeys over a high basement, joined to two-storey office wings by single-storey links.

The principal block has a seven-bay front with a three-bay pedimented breakfront; doorway, with two Doric columns and a fanlight under a baseless pediment.

There is a lunette window in the pediment which lights the attic. The former wings were of three bays and the links of two.

There is a flagged hall with screen; principal rooms have modillion cornices and doors with shouldered architraves.

The attic room has a convex-coved ceiling and central roundel containing a portrait which may be of the James Leslie who built the House. 

Alas, the wings and connecting links were demolished in 1955.

The present owner is directly descended from the Rt Rev Henry Leslie (chaplain to CHARLES I, Bishop of Down & Connor, 1635) and the 4th Earl of Rothes, by his marriage to Agnes Somerville. 

Leslie Hill has been occupied continuously by the Leslie family for more than 350 years.

In 1778, while the United States was trying to retain the independence it had declared in 1776, the American frigate "Ranger", under John Paul Jones, opened fire on Carrickfergus Castle and attacked HMS Drake, putting it out of action.

This attack, and the fact that the French had allied themselves to the colonists in the American revolution, caused alarm in Ireland which, at that time, was practically bereft of Crown forces.

This led to a demand for the local volunteers, a citizen's militia, recruited mainly from the protestant middle class and led by the nobility, at their own expense, to defend the Irish coast and guard life and property.

Leslie Hill was used as a bivouac and for drilling purposes.

The estate was of considerable acreage, comprising 7,428 acres, with a progressive farm, but much of the land was sold to the tenants under the Land Act of 1903.

Not all the Leslies in Ulster remained there: in 1718 a James Leslie of the Coleraine area came to New England, USA, to settle with the Scots Presbyterians in Londonderry, New Hampshire.

Later in 1729, another James Leslie and his wife Margaret Sheerar, left Coleraine to settle in Topsfield, Massachusetts, he also is a lineal descendant of the 4th Earl of Rothes and his wife Agnes Somerville. 

There is a book published by the Essex Institute about the members of this family.

It is of significance that another James Leslie and his family left Ballymoney for the long voyage to America.

They left the linen mills of Balnamore, near Leslie Hill to join forces with the large working world of the great Amoskeag Cotton Mills of Manchester, New Hampshire.

James Seymour Leslie (1958-2009) was a NI politician, a Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

His father owns Leslie Hill estate at Ballymoney. He was married with a daughter.

The Castle Leslie demesne, adjacent to Ballymoney, lies in a ridge above the Bann Valley. Continuous ownership of the Leslie family adds interest in the property.

The house of ca 1760 – now minus two wings – has landscaped parkland to the north, with fine trees and a small, artificial, late 19th century lake complete with island and boat-house.

ha-ha separates the south front lawns from parkland and exposes the fine distant views.

There are stands of mature trees and mixed woodland. A late 19th century, ‘Robinsonian’ garden is no longer distinguishable.

A small enclosed garden to the east of the house has two lily ponds constructed ca 1891 of unusual shape.

These are listed, together with the enclosing walls and a nearby ice house.

Ornamental shrubs and trees, with under-planting of wild flowers, decorate the access route to the walled gardens.

The walled garden has a rectangular western part, which is partially cultivated and under restoration to be attractive and productive for modern usage.

The Melon House has been restored. Remnants of other glasshouses are exposed.

The garden is divided into two by a brick wall and the smaller eastern part is uncultivated.

The outbuildings are notable, fully restored and open to view.

A disused gate lodge at the main entrance is of ca 1911 and replaced a pair removed when the road was realigned in the 1850s.

The house is private and grounds are private.

The family formerly had a marine residence, Seaport Lodge, at Portballintrae.

First published in January, 2012.


Have you wondered what the difference is between vicars and rectors?

Frankly I've been unsure myself; my trusty Nuttall's dictionary, however, explains it neatly.

Vicar; Vicarage; Vicarial; Vicarship.

Vicar: the incumbent of a parish who, not being a rector, is remunerated by a stipend, not directly by tithes.

A stipend, as if you didn't know, is an annual payment or salary.

Vicars were practically employed by landowners, lords of the manor, nobility, and gentry.

The title of Vicar is today virtually synonymous with that of Rector, though possibly some very grand ducal or noble houses still employ them in estate churches.

In the Church of Ireland, many vicarages have been united or amalgamated with rectories; for instance, the Rector of Killinchy is also today the Vicar of Kilmood (St Mary's parish church, Kilmood, County Down, was the estate church of Florida Manor, and vicars were appointed by the Gordons, lords of the manor).

The Vicar of Belfast's patron used to be Lord Donegall; whereas today the Dean of Belfast is also Vicar of Belfast.

Castlerea House


THEOPHILUS SANDFORD, descended from a good family in Yorkshire, obtained grants of land in Ireland for his services during the civil wars, as a captain in Reynolds' regiment.

He settled at Castlerea, County Roscommon; and from him lineally descended

COLONEL HENRY SANDFORD, of Castlerea, MP for Roscommon Borough, 1692-1713, who married, in 1692, Elizabeth, daughter of the Rt Hon Robert FitzGerald, and was succeeded at his decease by his eldest son,

ROBERT SANDFORD, MP for County Roscommon, 1768-76, who wedded, in 1717, Henrietta, second daughter of William, 3rd Earl of Inchiquin, and had issue,
HENRY, his heir;
Robert, major-general, Governor of Galway;
Mr Sandford died in 1777, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

HENRY SANDFORD (1719-97), MP for Roscommon County, 1741-5, who married, in 1750, Sarah, eldest daughter of Stephen, 1st Viscount Mount Cashell, and had issue,
HENRY MOORE, of whom we treat;
William (Rev); father of HENRY, 2nd Baron;
GEORGE, 3rd Baron;
Mr Sandford was succeeded by his eldest son, 

HENRY MOORE SANDFORD (1751-1814), MP for Roscommon Borough, 1776, 1791-99, who was elevated to the peerage, in 1800, in the dignity of BARON MOUNT SANDFORD, of Castlerea, County Roscommon, with remainder, in default of male issue, to his brothers and their male descendants.

His lordship espoused, in 1780, Catherine, eldest daughter of the Rt Hon Silver Oliver, of Castle Oliver, County Limerick; but dying childless, in 1814, the barony devolved, according to the limitation, upon his nephew,

HENRY, 2nd Baron (1805-28); who, being brutally slain in a riot at Windsor, and dying unmarried, the barony reverted to his uncle,

GEORGE, 3rd Baron (1756-1846), MP for Roscommon, 1783-97.

The title became extinct in 1846 following the death of the 3rd Baron.

CASTLEREA HOUSE, near Castlerea, County Roscommon, was a large 17th century (ca 1640) block of three storeys over a basement, with 19th century wings of two storeys over a basement.

The main block of seven bays was plain; while the wings had balustraded parapets.

The three-bay side of the left wing served as the entrance front.

The house is now demolished and the demesne serves as a public park.

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

Thursday, 25 March 2021



STRANGFORD, a small post, market, and seaport town, in the parish of Ballyculter, barony of Lecale, County Down.

It stands on the west shore of the sound or entrance of Strangford Lough, five furlongs south-west, by water, of Portaferry, six miles east-north-east of Downpatrick, 7¾ north-north-east of Ardglass, 27 south-east of Belfast.

It is a neat little town, and occupies a beautiful situation.

The Square, Strangford (Image: Robert French)

Adjoining and almost embracing it is the Viscount Bangor's improved and charmingly situated demesne of Castle Ward.

Of 27 castles which were built by John de Courcy on the shores of Strangford Lough, four are in the vicinity of the town - Kilclief Castle, Portaferry Castle, Audley's Castle, and Walsh's Castle.

The public buildings are the chapel of ease to the parish church, a small Methodist meeting-house, a custom-house, and a quay - the last chiefly for the accommodation of fishing vessels, and of the boats employed in the ferry across the sound.

The chief items of exports were corn, meal, flour, potatoes; cows and oxen; miscellaneous goods; butter; horses; kelp; linen.

The chief items of imports were coals, culm, cinders; miscellaneous goods; corn, meal, and flour; unwrought iron; oak bark for tanners; herrings and other fish; corn and malt; unwrought lead.

Strangford is alleged to have derived its name from the strong ford or current of the tide in the sound.

Area of the town, 30 acres.

Population in 1831, 583; in 1841, 571.

Holyhill House


THE REV JOHN SINCLAIR, son of James Sinclair of the Caithness family, was the first of the family who settled at Holyhill, County Tyrone.

Mr Sinclair, Rector of Leckpatrick, 1665-6, was succeeded by JOHN his son, father of JOHN, whose son,

WILLIAM SINCLAIR, who died before his father, married Isabella, daughter of Thomas Young, of Lough Eske, County Donegal, and had issue,
JAMES, his heir;
The eldest son,

JAMES SINCLAIR DL (1772-1865), of Holyhill, wedded, in 1805, Dorothea, daughter and heir of the Rev Samuel Law, and had issue,
WILLIAM, his heir;
Alexander Montgomery;
Mary; Dorothea; Marion; Rebecca; Ann; Isabella; Caroline Elizabeth.
Mr Sinclair was succeeded by his eldest son,

WILLIAM SINCLAIR JP DL (1810-96), of Holyhill, County Tyrone, and Drumbeg, County Donegal, High Sheriff of County Tyrone, 1854, Barrister, who espoused Sarah, daughter of James Cranborne Strode, and had issue,
William Frederic;
William Frederic;
Donald Brooke;
Alfred Law, Lt-Col, DSO;
Jemima Sarah; Dorothea Mary.
Mr Sinclair was succeeded by his eldest son,

JAMES MONTGOMERY SINCLAIR JP (1841-99), of Holyhill and Bonnyglen, Inver, County Donegal, High Sheriff of County Donegal, 1899, who married, in 1868, Mary Everina, youngest daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel Hugh Barton, of The Waterfoot, County Fermanagh, and had issue,
Everina Mary Caroline; Rosabel.
Mr Sinclair was succeeded by his only son,

WILLIAM HUGH MONTGOMERY SINCLAIR (1868-1930), of Holyhill and Bonnyglen, called to the Irish Bar, 1897; Vice-Consul at Manilla, 1900-02; at Boston, 1902-4; Buenos Aires, 1904-7; Emden, 1907-9; Consul for the States of Bahia and Sergipe, 1909.

Mr Sinclair wedded, in 1924, Elizabeth Elliot (Bessie) Hayes, of Philadelphia, USA, though the marriage was without issue.

HOLYHILL HOUSE, near Strabane, County Tyrone, is a plain, three-storey, five-bay Georgian house.

The demesne and house, located in the townland of Hollyhill and the parish of Leckpatrick, date from the late 17th century.

Holyhill House, whitewashed, three-storey with five bays, seems be ca 1736, when William Starratt surveyed of the estate.

It was originally attached in front of an earlier house, which was removed in the early 19th century and replaced with the present building.


William Hugh Montgomery Sinclar served from 1900 in the consular service in Manilla, Boston and Buenos Aires, during which time his mother sold off most of the estate to its tenants between 1904-05 under the terms of the 1903 Land Act.

William Sinclair married the American heiress Elizabeth Elliott Hayes.

Upon her death in 1957, the estate was left to a distant Sinclair relation, Major-General Sir Allan Adair Bt, who sold many of the heirlooms and burned a lot of the estate records.

Sir Allan sold the property in 1983 to Hamilton Thompson, a Strabane pharmacist.

During the Plantation of Ulster, the lands were held by the 1st Earl of Abercorn, who granted them sometime before 1611 to his younger brother, Sir George Hamilton, of Greenlaw, who built a timber house that year.

A document of ca 1680 records that
“Ballyburny alias Holihill” belonged to “James Hamilton Esq. a Minor Sonne to Sir George Hamilton ye Elder” before 1641 and was distributed to Sir George Hamilton afterwards. 
This first house was burned in 1641, and at some time thereafter the property was granted to the family’s agent in the Strabane barony, David Maghee, whose son, Captain George Magee, sold the house to the Rev John Sinclair, who came to Ulster from Caithness and was instituted in the parish of Leckpatrick (in which Holyhill is located), in 1665-66, and to Camus, 1668”.
The residence purchased was rebuilt after 1641, either by James Hamilton or one of his immediate descendants.

The Rev John Sinclair purchased Holyhill with incomes from two parishes: his 1703 memorial re-erected in Leckpatrick Parish Church lauds his staunch defence of the established church and persecution of dissenters.

The Abercorn Papers contain numerous letters about and between Lord Abercorn and Mr Sinclair going back as early as 1749.

In 1756, Lord Abercorn wrote to his agent, Nathaniel Nisbitt,
“When you chance to see Mr Sinclair of Hollyhill, tell him I have not the counterpart of his deed of Holyhill; and that I therefore desire he will give me a copy of it. If he seems to think his title called in question, you may say you know of no such thing, but that you believe I am desirous of having my privileges ascertained.”
On his retirement in 1757, Nisbitt recommended to Lord Abercorn that Sinclair take his place as he was “a rough honest man.

With income as Abercorn's agent, John expanded his demesne in the late 1760s.

He was succeeded at Holyhill by son George, who had been apprenticed to a linen merchant.

George Sinclair died in Limerick between 1803-04, with his body being buried in the old parish graveyard in 1804.

George was succeeded by his nephew, James, who later served as JP in counties Donegal and Tyrone, and took part in parliamentary inquiries in the 1830s and 1840s, including the Devon Commission and the inquiry into the Orange Order, which he held in very low regard, and spoke in favour of Catholic Emancipation at a public meeting of “the nobility, gentry, clergy and freeholders of the County of Tyrone”.


The house is set in a maintained ornamental garden with herbaceous borders and lawns.

A water garden was added in the 1970s.

There are mature trees beyond, in what was described by Young in 1909 as a, ‘… richly wooded park.’

These form a shelter belt round this fine parkland, together with and stands of woodland.

The walled garden is partly cultivated and retains glasshouses.

First published in February, 2017.