Sunday, 18 February 2018

Altinaghree Castle

THE OGILBYS OWNED 7,050 ACRES OF LAND IN COUNTY TYRONE

WILLIAM OBILBY JP (1808-73), of Altinaghree Castle, Donemana, County Tyrone, reputed to be a scion of OGILBY OF ARDNARGLE AND PELLIPAR, High Sheriff of County Tyrone, 1873, married, in 1851, Adelaide Charlotte, daughter of the Hon and Rev Charles Douglas (brother of George Sholto, 17th Earl of Morton), by his first wife, the Lady Isabella Gore, daughter of Arthur Saunders, 2nd Earl of Arran, and had issue,
CLAUD WILLIAM LESLIE, his heir;JAMES DOUGLAS, succeeded his brother;
William Charles (1855-6);
Adelaide Charlotte; Isabella Caroline; Beatrice Emma Elizabeth; Louisa; Edith Sophia.
Mr Ogilby was succeeded by his eldest son,

CLAUD WILLIAM LESLIE OGILBY (1851-94), who wedded, in 1875, Bessie Henrietta, daughter of Captain William Grant Douglas, in a childless marriage.

Mr Ogilby was succeeded by his brother,

JAMES DOUGLAS OGILBY (1853-1925), who espoused, in 1884, Mary Jane Jameson (d 1894) at Donagheady parish church, County Tyrone, though the marriage was without issue.


ALTINAGHREE CASTLE, near Donemana, County Tyrone, was built by William Ogilby ca 1860, though abandoned about thirty years later.

Despite its short existence, nevertheless, it was associated with two significant figures in natural history, and survives in the folk memory of the locality.

A house first appears on the location about 1853, captioned ‘Liscloon House’.

By the third edition, this has been replaced by a different structure, captioned ‘Altinaghree Castle’, surrounded by a wall.

‘Liscloon Cottages’ and a ‘Lodge’ are also shown nearby.

On the fourth edition the castle is shown in ruins.

Buildings listed include stables, a garden house, stables, granary, cow house, steaming house and piggery.

In 1861, Annual Revisions note, ‘This house is throwing down. Mr Ogilby is building a very fine new house, value when completed’.

William Ogilby married Adelaide Charlotte Douglas, daughter of the Rev Charles Douglas of Earls Gift in 1851.

He died in 1873, not long after completing Altinaghree Castle, when it then passed to his son Claude William Leslie Ogilby who is listed as the occupier in 1876.

Claude also married a Douglas, Bessie Henrietta, daughter of Captain William Grant Douglas, in 1875.

However, from 1888, when the house is listed as ‘vacant’ and leased from the Trustees of Claude W Ogilby, the building deteriorates and decreases in value.

In 1889, when the house is first described as a castle.

In 1892 it was described as ‘dilapidated’ and the value is reduced to £5.

Samuel Eaton becomes the lessor in 1905.

A note of 1909 reads, ‘floors and windows gone, a ruin’; and in 1910 it is deleted from the record altogether, although the gate lodge continues to be occupied.

The Strabane Weekly News of 4th January, 1975, reports on some of the local stories surrounding the castle, which was built entirely of cut stone and surrounded by a wall of the same type.

The stones were brought by horse and cart from Dungiven, County Londonderry.

Stonecutters from the Barons Court Estate were employed at the castle.

Masons were paid one shilling per day, and labourers, 10d.

According to the Natural Stone Database, the stones used are local Dalriadan schist and Barony Glen sandstone.

When finished, its banqueting room was said to be unequalled throughout the county.

Ogilby was known locally simply as a successful farmer and proprietor who entertained on a lavish scale, bringing in cooks from Belfast and Dublin for his banquets, although it is not clear whether it is the older or the younger Ogilby that is remembered in this way.

The Ogilby’s second son, James, is remembered locally as falling in love with a factory girl that he met when returning from a hunt meeting at Donemana.

Folklore has it that, following his family’s opposition to their marriage, James vanished from the area in 1875.

He returned, however, seven years later, in 1882, to marry his sweetheart who had waited for him.

The older son, Claude, died at the early age of 43, but apparently left the house six years before his death.

The fact that his affairs were in the hands of trustees suggests that he was bankrupt.

A contemporary newspaper article implies that the upkeep of a large castle had perhaps proved overwhelming, following Gladstone’s land reforms.

Hugh Dixon writes that the castle
Would have been regarded as wildly unfashionable by many contemporaries. 
It looks more like the sort of castellated factory which Pugin derides than the naturally planned, colourfully designed country houses then in vogue under Ruskin’s influence. 
It is no surprise to me that it had a very short active life – dinner at 3pm was definitely a very late hangover from Georgian times.


Jeremy Williams writes that
The architect responsible is unrecorded, but there are many parallels with the Londonderry Apprentice Boys’ Hall of 1873 by J. G. Ferguson before bomb damage—the same segmental mullioned windows and shallow oriels, Ferguson is more admired today for his industrial architecture, and, despite its appellation, Altnachree is more castellated mill than castle.
It is referred to as a castle for the first time in 1872, a year before Claud William Ogilvy’s inheritance at the age of twenty-three.

Entered through a porte-cochere on the side along the axis of the central corridor, with the three main rooms strung out along the garden front.

Main staircase set into triple-arched composition, but taking up the minimum of space, all like an office block.

Four-storeyed towers in the centre of each front; three floors elsewhere.

Today only a shell survives in a denuded park.

The mansion was said to be splendidly appointed and had a banqueting room.

It is constructed from cut stone.

Altinaghree was abandoned in 1885, a mere twenty years after its construction.

It cannot be listed because it is roofless.

First published in February, 2014.

2 comments :

Anonymous said...

Hats off to the stonemasons. Remarkable stonework condition after 130 years of abandonment! VC

brian.cousins@hotmail.co.uk said...

Beautiful stonemasonary- as a photographer I would really love to chronicle the building before it falls into complete ruin.