Monday, 28 June 2021

The Argory: Coach Yard

Prospect of the Coach Yard from the Porte-Cochère

Yesterday (Sunday, 27th June, 2021) I spent a lovely day at The Argory in County Armagh.

It's only just in County Armagh, because the River Blackwater, which naturally divides counties Armagh and Tyrone, runs past it.

I was waiting patiently at the main entrance when the gates were opened at 11am.

Since we are all gradually recovering from the ghastly pandemic, The Argory is slowly returning to a degree of normality: the tearoom serves beverages, scones, cakes, and snacks; the shop seems to have closed down indefinitely; and house tours are unguided, and only on the ground floor.

The beautiful grounds are fully open, however; so I took the opportunity to walk round the perimeter of the estate, along the river bank, to Bond's Bridge.

At the coach yard I sat outside in the sunshine, below the porte-cochère, and enjoyed a salted caramel caffè latte.

The National Trust heritage records apprise us that the stable yard or coach yard lies immediately east of the domestic yard.

"Brownlees’ drawing is a proposal and includes a large complex of additional spaces to the east, or behind, what remains today, his main block of stable and double coach house."

"This building now sports an iron and glass port-cochère dating probably from the 1880s."

"The difference now is that the building that connects the stable to the main gate and, rather than storage, it is now a harness room."

"The south side of the Coach Yard was to have been open in both Williamson's and Brownlees’ designs."

"The ordnance survey maps show that it was not until the late 19th century that the present coach house and open sheds were constructed, perhaps at the same time as the port-cochère as part of a general improvement of the yard."

Of interest today are "drawings and instructions left on the wall by the American army billeted at The Argory during the early 1940s."

"The west end of the Coach Yard is now occupied by the Dairy; this must have been built as part of the late-19th century improvement campaign."

"It is possible that the function of dairy was carried out in the fold yard until this time; once it was shifted the loose boxes would have replaced it."

"Creating the dairy meant that the Coach Yard and the Flagged Yard were separated by a substantial building rather than a wall as before."

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