Friday, 26 June 2015

Middleton Park

THE FAMILY OF BOYD-ROCHFORT WERE THE GREATEST LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY WESTMEATH, WITH 16,397 ACRES

THE REV JAMES BOYD (1725-75), Rector of Erris, County Mayo, married, in 1752, Mary, daughter of Abraham Martin and widow of Arthur Vernon, and left an only son,

ABRAHAM BOYD (1760-1822), barrister-at-law and King's Counsel, who wedded firstly, in 1786, Catherine Shuttleworth, widow of John Davies, by whom he had one child, Helena.

He espoused secondly, in 1815, Jane, Countess of Belvedere, daughter and eventually sole heiress of the Rev James Mackay, and by her left at his decease an only son,

GEORGE AUGUSTUS ROCHFORT-BOYD JP DL (1817-87), of Middleton Park, County Westmeath, High Sheriff, 1843, who wedded, in 1843, Sarah Jane, eldest daughter of George Woods, of Milverton Hall, by Sarah his wife, daughter of Hans Hamilton, of Abbotstown, for many years MP for County Dublin.

He had issue by her,
ROCHFORT HAMILTON, his heir;
George, died in infancy;
Charles Augustus, CMG;
George Warren Woods;
Francis;
Alice Jane; Edith Sarah Hamilton; Florence.
Mr Rochfort-Boyd inherited from his mother, the Countess of Belvedere, a great portion of the Rochfort estates situated in County Westmeath, and assumed the surname and arms of ROCHFORT by royal licence in 1867.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

ROCHFORT HAMILTON BOYD-ROCHFORT JP (1844-91), of Middleton Park, who married, in 1875, Florence Louisa, daughter of Richard Hemming, of Bentley Manor and Foxlidiate, Worcestershire, and had issue,
GEORGE ARTHUR, his heir;
Harold;
Cecil Charles (Sir), KCVO;
Ethel Victoria; Alice Eleanor;
Winifred Florence; Muriel.
Major Boyd-Rochfort assumed the surname of ROCHFORT in 1888, on succeeding to the Rochfort estates left by his grandmother, Jane, Countess of Belvedere.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

GEORGE ARTHUR BOYD-ROCHFORT VC (1880-1940), of Middleton Park, who married, in 1901, Olivia Ellis, daughter of Christopher Ussher, of Eastwell, County Galway.


MIDDLETON PARK HOUSE, near Mullingar, County Westmeath, was built by George Boyd-Rochfort in 1850.

He commissioned George Papworth, Architect and President of the Royal Academy, to design and oversee the building of the House. Drawings of part of the interior were exhibited by Mr Papworth during the Royal Hibernian Annual Exhibition of 1850.

Only the very best craftsmen and materials were used in the building and it is a testimony to those craftsmen and materials that Middleton Park House has stood the test of time since then.

It is a fine example of late Georgian architecture favouring the classic Georgian style over the Gothic style evident in other houses of that era.
 

Acclaimed features of the House are its under-floor heating system, stone bifurcated staircase leading to the Gallery Landing and three-storey high atrium lantern located in the Main Hall.

Middleton Park House also boasts one of a few Richard Turner Conservatories to be found in Ireland.

The House and estate remained in the Boyd-Rochfort family until the early 1960s when it was sold.

Since then it has seen many owners, the most colourful of whom was Barney Curly who famously raffled the House in 1986.

In quite a state of disrepair when acquired by its current owners, it took a lot of time, effort and care to attention to bring it back to life, bringing in specialist professionals to ensure that the original aesthetic and atmosphere remained.

Built between 1840 and 1850, it is unusual in that context, as the Irish famine not only reduced the peasant farmers of Ireland to penury and starvation; it also destroyed the economic basis of the large landed estates held by the old Anglo-Irish aristocracy, as rents could not be paid.

It replaced an older house on the site, which was demolished.

The name Middleton comes from a previous owner of the estate, Mr George Middleton Berry, who subsequently lived in Ballingal House.

Middleton Park House was designed by George Papworth to be a technical wonder of its age.

It had its own gas-house where coal was converted to gas to fuel the house boilers, and an extraordinary heating system buried in its walls, which circulated heated air.

It utilised the most modern materials of the time including cast iron beams for structural supports in the vaulted basement, instead of the usual timber.

Although built well into the Victorian era, it was created in a classical Georgian style, as opposed to the prevailing Victorian Gothic.

It has one of only six turner conservatories left in Ireland. Richard Turner also built Kew Gardens In London and the Botanic Gardens in Dublin.

Its entrance hall and sweeping stone, cantilevered bifurcated staircase is regarded as one of the finest of its kind in Ireland, and was famously described as “suitable for Citizen Kane” in Burke's Country Houses.

Middleton Park House was built for George Boyd-Rochfort, whose wife was the eldest daughter of the last Earl of Belvedere. The Rochforts owned vast estates in excess of 25,000 acres.

GEORGE III stood as godfather to one of them, and they were high-ranking members of the peerage.

Mr Boyd was granted permission to change his name to Rochfort-Boyd in 1867 by a petition to the House of Lords.

Although the behaviour of George Boyd-Rochfort was questionable during the Irish famine, being cited by the House of Lords for his actions, his successors are remembered today as having been good, progressive landlords.

The various land acts and subsequently the Irish land commission reduced the estates to a fraction (470 acres) of what they were.

A noted stud was established on the estate and it was the venue for point-to-points, and a starting or finishing point for the Westmeath Hunt.

The Westmeath Hunt Ball was also held at Middleton for many years, as well as hare coursing.

The estate was a large employer in the area. A great many valuable horses were bred here, including Airborne, Winner of the Derby in 1946.

One of the Rochforts (Sir Cecil) also became the royal horse trainer for both KING GEORGE VI and our current sovereign, ELIZABETH II.


*****

THE FAMILY sold the House in the late 1950s, when many of the contents were auctioned, including a Persian rug, now said to be worth in the region of $15m.

A German family bought the estate, which was sold again in the 1960s to the O’Callaghans who, in turn, sold it to Barney Curley, who famously raffled Middleton Park in 1986.

Subsequent owners broke up the estate up into many smaller parcels. The stud farm ceased to operate around this time as well.

Many of the original fixtures and fittings in the house were sold or removed at this time.

The house, having lost its land, and now existing on only 26 acres, went through a series of owners.

It was, at this stage, in need of major restoration as the roof had deteriorated badly with serous water damage evident throughout the house.

It also lacked modern wiring, plumbing and heating.

The sheer scale of the great mansion, at over 36,000 sq feet, made it impractical as a family home for anybody but the seriously rich.

The current owners purchased it in December 2004. They set about converting it into a Country House Hotel and planning permission was obtained for this.

The immediate requirement was to repair the roof and make it watertight.

Investigations revealed that the roof in the wing and most of the floors were completely beyond repair, as the roof trusses were rotten and some had been cut in a manner that left the roof liable to collapse.

The Turner conservatory had lost its original glass and the metal work was seriously corroded.

The timber supporting beams in the spectacular entrance hall had also rotted and it was in danger of falling in.

These all had to be replaced also.

A specialist iron working firm from Germany was brought in to repair the conservatory and some new castings to replace those corroded beyond use were sourced in the UK.

Specialist roofers from Austria replaced the wing roof structure. Bangor Blue slates were used.

The external render on the house had failed and had to be removed and replaced using, as originally, lime plaster.

New Roman cement decorative reveals also had to be cast.

The decorative plasterwork inside the house had to be extensively repaired. Extensive fire protection works were undertaken.

Three generations of old plumbing and electrics, often surface mounted, were removed and the house completely rewired and re-plumbed.

A new waste treatment plant was installed.

A specialist engineering firm designed the new heating system which includes underfloor heating in the basement to minimise the visual impact of radiators and some elements of the original system are used to duct hot air into the hall.

There are many legends about the house locally most notably that both Napoleon and  T E Lawrence (of Arabia) were conceived here (clearly not true in the case of Napoleon, as the house was not built until 1840 and he had died in 1821!).

The link that Lawrence of Arabia has to the house is that his father was married to one of Mr Boyd-Rochfort’s daughters - Edith - but who also had five illegitimate sons by Miss Sarah Lawrence his children’s Governess.

One of these was T E Lawrence of Arabia. It is not recorded where he was actually conceived, but he was born in Wales.

Many of the original drawings of the house were lost in the destruction of the RAI archive in 1916, but an extensive file is held by the Irish National Architectural archive in Merrion Square in Dublin, and some of the estate papers and deeds are held by the National Library of Ireland.

First published in July, 2011.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Curraghmore

THE MARQUESSES OF WATERFORD WERE THE GREATEST LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY WATERFORD, WITH 39,883 ACRES


The surname of BERESFORD was assumed from Beresford, in the parish of Alstonefield, Staffordshire, of which manor

JOHN DE BERESFORD  was possessed in 1087, during the reign of WILLIAM II, and was succeeded therein by his son,

HUGH DE BERESFORD, from whom lineally descended

JOHN BERESFORD, Lord of Beresford and Enson, who married Elizabeth, daughter of William Basset, of Blore, Staffordshire, and had, with other issue,
JOHN, his heir;
THOMAS.
Mr Beresford died in 1475, and was succeeded at Beresford by his eldest son; while the second,

THOMAS BERESFORD,
seated himself at Newton Grange, Derbyshire, where he was resident in the reigns of HENRY VI and EDWARD IV; the former of whom he served in his French wars, and according to tradition, mustered a troop of horse at Chesterfield, consisting alone of his sons, and his own and their attendants. 
Mr Beresford wedded Agnes, daughter and heiress of Robert Hassal, of Arclid, Cheshire, by whom he had sixteen sons and five daughters, and was succeeded by his eldest son, Aden; but we pass to the seventh,
HUMPHREY BERESFORD, who eventually became of Newton Grange.

This gentleman espoused Margery, daughter of Edmond Berdesey, or Beresley,  and was succeeded by his second son (the eldest having left a daughter only at his decease),

GEORGE BERESFORD, whose eldest son,

MICHAEL BERESFORD,  was an officer in the Court of Wards, and was seated at Oxford, and The Squerries, in Kent.

This gentleman, who was living in 1574, married Rose, daughter of John Knevitt, and had seven sons and four daughters; of whom

TRISTRAM BERESFORD, the third son,
going into Ulster in the reign of JAMES I, as manager of the Corporation of London, known by the name of the Society of the New Plantation in Ulster, settled at Coleraine, County Londonderry, and was succeeded by his elder son,
SIR TRISTRAM BERESFORD, who was created a baronet in 1665.

He married firstly, Anne, eldest daughter of John Rowley, of Castleroe, County Londonderry, by whom he had one son, RANDAL, his heir, and two daughters; and secondly, Sarah Sackville, and had three sons and three daughters, viz.
Tristram;
Michael;
Sackville;
Susanna; Sarah; Anne.
Sir Tristram died in 1673, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR RANDAL BERESFORD (c1636-81), 2nd Baronet, MP, who married Catherine, younger daughter of Francis, Viscount Valentia, and niece, maternally, of Philip, 1st Earl of Chesterfield; and dying in 1681, left issue,
TRISTRAM, his heir;
Jane; Catherine.
Sir Randal was succeeded by his eldest surviving son,

SIR TRISTRAM BERESFORD (1669-1701)3rd Baronet.

This gentleman commanded a foot regiment against King JAMES II, and was attainted by the parliament of that monarch.

Sir Tristram wedded, in 1687, Nichola Sophia, youngest daughter and co-heiress of  Hugh Hamilton, 1st Viscount Glenawly, and by her had issue,
MARCUS, his heir;
Susanna Catherina;
Arabella Maria;
Jane;
Aramintha.
Sir Tristram was succeeded by his son,

SIR MARCUS BERESFORD, 4th Baronet (1694-1763), who espoused, in 1717, Catherine, BARONESS LE POER, daughter and heiress of James, 3rd Earl of Tyrone, and in consequence of that alliance, was advanced to the peerage, in 1720, as Baron Beresford and Viscount Tyrone.

His lordship was further advanced advanced to an earldom, as EARL OF TYRONE, in 1746.

The 1st Earl had surviving issue,
GEORGE DE LA POER, his successor;
John;
William (Most Rev), created BARON DECIES;
Anne; Jane; Catherine; Aramantha; Frances Maria; Elizabeth.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

GEORGE, 2nd Earl (1735-1800), KP, who married, in 1769, Elizabeth, only daughter and heiress of Henry Monck, of Charleville, and Lady Isabella Bentinck, daughter of Henry, 1st Duke of Portland, by whom he had issue,
GEORGE DE LA POER, his successor;
John George (Most Rev), Lord Archbishop of Armagh;
George Thomas (Rt Hon), Lt-Gen, GCH;
Isabella Anne; Catherine; Anne; Elizabeth Louisa.
Lord Tyrone inherited the ancient Barony of de la Poer at the decease of his mother in 1769.

His lordship was enrolled amongst the peers of Great Britain, in 1786, as Baron Tyrone; and created MARQUESS OF WATERFORD, in 1789.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

HENRY, 2nd Marquess (1772-1826), who wedded, in 1805, Susanna, only daughter and heiress of George, 2nd Earl of Tyrconnell, by whom he had issue,
HENRY, his successor;
William;
John;
James;
Sarah Elizabeth.
His lordship, who was a Knight of St Patrick, a Privy Counsellor in Ireland, Governor of County Waterford, and Colonel of the Waterford Militia, was succeeded by his eldest son,

HENRY, 3rd Marquess.
The heir apparent is the present holder's son, Richard John de la Poer Beresford, styled Earl of Tyrone, a polo professional who is known as Richard Le Poer.
*****

The Waterfords were a Patrick family, four members of whom were Knights of the Most Illustrious Order of St Patrick.


CURRAGHMORE, near Portlaw, County Waterford, is the ancestral seat of the 9th and present Marquess of Waterford.

Some 2,500 acres of formal gardens, woodland and grazing fields make this one of the largest private demesnes in Ireland and one of the finest places to visit.

A Sitka Spruce planted on the estate in the 1830s is among the tallest tree in Ireland and stands guard over King John's Bridge.

Built in 1205, this stone-arched structure, spanning the Clodagh River, is the oldest bridge in Ireland.

Twelve miles of famine relief boundary wall and four sturdy wrought iron gates surround the estate.

Gnarled pink chestnut trees line the approach to the big house and original castle tower.

St Hubert's stag with crucifix between its antlers - genuine horns on the de la Poer family emblem - gazes across the large Courtyard from atop the old castle.

Today, the formal gardens surrounding Curraghmore House are open for the public to visit on Thursday afternoons from 2pm to 5pm between Easter and mid-October.

Group tours of the main reception rooms of Curraghmore House can be arranged by prior appointment.


This tour takes in some of the finest Neo-Classical rooms in Ireland which feature the magnificent plaster work of James Wyatt and grisaille panels by Peter de Gree.

Curraghmore, near Portlaw, meaning great bog, is the last of four castles built by the de la Poer family after their arrival in Ireland in 1167.

The Castle walls are about 12 feet thick and within one, a tight spiral stairway connects the lower ground floor with the roof above.


Of the many curious and interesting features of Curraghmore, the most striking is the courtyard front of the house, where the original castle is encased in a spectacular Victorian mansion with flanking Georgian ranges.

The combination of architectural features from several periods around the ancient core of the original castle produces a most striking composition; "immediately recognizable and undeniably moving", as it was described by Country Life magazine.

In more than 800 years the property has passed through the female line only once, and that was prior to Catherine de la Poer marrying Sir Marcus Beresford Bt in 1715, when she was a mere teenager.

Together with her husband, it was she who carried out much of the remodelling of the house and grounds and it was Catherine, Lady Beresford, who created the unique Shell-house herself.

The quality of the craftsmanship employed on the developments on Curraghmore through the ages, has secured the House's reputation as one of the most important country houses in Ireland.

In the late 18th century, the 2nd Earl, afterwards 1st Marquess of Waterford, secured the famous architect James Wyatt to design the next phase of modernisation of Curraghmore.

Here he created a series of rooms, with decoration considered by many to be among his most successful.

After Wyatt's Georgian developments, work at Curraghmore in the 19th century concentrated on the gardens and the Victorian refacing to the front of the house.

Formal parterre, tiered lawns, lake, arboretum and kitchen gardens were all developed during this time and survive to today.

At this time some of Ireland's most remarkable surviving trees were planted in the estate's arboretum.

Today these trees frame miles of beautiful river walks.

Developments in the gardens are still under-way and a Japanese garden has been laid out by the present Lady Waterford.

The present day Beresfords are country people by tradition.

Farming, hunting, breeding hounds and horses and an active social calendar continues as it did centuries ago.

Weekly game-shooting parties are held every season (November through to January); and in spring, calves, foals and lambs can be seen in abundance on Curraghmore's verdant fields.

Polo is still played on the estate in summer.

Throughout Ireland's turbulent history, this family have never been 'absentee landlords' and they still provide diverse employment for a number of local people.

Change comes slowly to Curraghmore - table linen, cutlery and dishes from the early 19th century are still in use.

Other former seat ~ Ford Castle, Northumberland.

I am grateful to Lord Waterford for the information provided from Curraghmore's website.

First published in July, 2011.  Waterford arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Evans of Portrane

THE EVANS FAMILY WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY OFFALY, WITH 6,035 ACRES

THEY OWNED A FURTHER 1,456 ACRES OF LAND IN COUNTY DUBLIN

The family of EVANS is originally from Wales, and claims descent from the renowned Elystan Glodrydd.

In the 16th century, two of the family settled in Ireland, JOHN EVANS, ancestor of the Barons Carbery; and ROBERT EVANS, from whom derived the family of Evans of Baymount, County Dublin, and Robinstown, County Westmeath.

The former, JOHN EVANS, settled in the city of Limerick, where he was living in 1628.

Mr Evans left at his decease two sons and three daughters, viz.
GEORGE, his heir;
John;
Deborah; Catherine; Eleanor.
The elder son,

COLONEL GEORGE EVANS MP, of Ballygrennan Castle, served in the army raised to supress the rebellion of 1641, and at the restoration of tranquillity, settled at Ballygrennan Castle, County Limerick, where, and in the adjacent county of Cork, he acquired large estates by grants from the Crown, and by purchase.

He wedded Anne, daughter of Thomas Bowerman, of County Cork, and had issue,
GEORGE, his heir;
John, of Milltown Castle;
Anne.
Colonel Evans, who represented County Limerick for many years in parliament, died in 1707, at a very advanced age, having passed a most eventful life, and was succeeded by his elder son,

THE RT HON GEORGE EVANS MP (1658-1720), of Caherass and Bulgaden Hall, County Limerick.

This gentleman was bred to the Bar, but following the example of his father and brother, became an active partisan of the revolution, and after the establishment of the new government in Ireland, was sworn of the Privy Council and returned to Parliament by the borough of Charleville

He wedded, in 1679,  Mary, daughter of John Eyre MP, of Eyre Court Castle, County Galway, and sister of the 1st Lord Eyre, and had issue,
GEORGE, 1st Baron Carbery;
EYRE, of Portrane, of whom we treat;
Thomas, of Milltown Castle, County Cork;
Jane, m Chidley Coote, ancestor of the Barons Castle Coote;
Elizabeth, m Hugh Massy, father of 1st Baron Massy and Clarina;
Dorothy; Emilia; Catherine.
The Right Hon George Evans, who was a distinguished public character, refused a peerage on the accession of GEORGE I, when the honour was conferred upon his eldest son.

He died in 1720, and his body, embalmed, lay in state in the parliament house until the next month, when it was removed for interment at Ballygrennan.

His second son,

EYRE EVANS, of Portrane, County Dublin, MP for County Limerick, 1717, espoused Sarah, second daughter and co-heiress (with her sister, Mrs Waller, of Castletown)  of Thomas Dixon, of Ballylackin, County Cork, and had six sons, all who dsp except the fourth; and three daughters, of whom the youngest, Elizabeth, the wife of William Evans, of Ardreigh, County Kildare, left issue.

The fourth son,

HAMPDEN EVANS, of Portrane, an officer in the army, succeeded his eldest brother, George Evans, MP for Queen's County.

He married, in 1769, Margaret, daughter of Joshua Davis, and had issue,
GEORGE, his heir;
JOSHUA;
Eyre Dixon, of Liverpool;
Mary; Anne Dorothea; Sydney Elizabeth.
Mr Evans died in 1820 and was succeeded by his eldest son,

THE RT HON GEORGE HAMPDEN EVANS, of Portrane, MP for County Dublin, who wedded, in 1805, Sophia, only daughter of the Rt Hon Sir John Parnell Bt, of Rathleague, Queen's County, but had no issue.

He died in 1842 and was succeeded by his brother,

JOSHUA EVANS, one of the commissioners of the Court of Bankruptcy, who wedded Eleanor, only child of Robert Harrison.

His next brother,

EYRE DIXON EVANS, a merchant in Liverpool, inherited his brother's estate.

Dying in 1862, he was succeeded by his only son,

GEORGE EVANS (1831-73), of Portrane, who married though died without issue and was succeeded by his only sister,

MARGARET EVANS, who inherited the Portrane property on the death of her brother, George, without issue in 1873.

She married, in 1852, John Donald MacNeale.

Dying in 1874, she left three daughters, joint heiresses of her property, of whom the eldest,

MARGARET MacNEALE, married, in 1889, Captain S G Rathborne or Rathbourne, Royal Engineers, and had issue,

St George Ronald MacNeale Rathborne, born in 1893.


DESPITE owning a substantial amount of land in County Offaly, it would seem that the family of Evans never any notable residence in the county.

The family seat was Portrane House, or Mount Evans, Donabate, County Dublin.

When George Hampden Evans died in 1842, his widow erected an Irish round tower in his memory, at Portrane.

The Rev Patrick Comerford has written an article about Portrane Castle.

First published in June, 2013.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Balrath Bury House

THE FAMILY OF NICHOLSON WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY MEATH, WITH 7,693 ACRES

This family came originally from Yorkshire.

GILBERT NICHOLSON, of Bare and Poulton, of Lyndall, in Lonsdale, and of Baton and Easterton, in Westmorland, married Grace, daughter and co-heir of Gyles Curwen, of Poulton Hall, and had issue,
FRANCIS, dvp leaving a son, HUMPHRY;
Giles;
Grace.
Gilbert Nicholson died in 1605, and was succeeded by his grandson,

HUMPHRY NICHOLSON, who was father of

GILBERT NICHOLSON (1620-1709), formerly of Poulton, Lancashire, and of the city of Dublin;
A lieutenant in the royal army before 1649, and one of the Forty-nine Officers, whose arrears of pay were paid up after the Restoration, "for service done by them to His Majesty, or to his royal father, as commissioners in the wars of Ireland, before the 5th day of June, 1649." 
By the Act of Settlement he received grants of land in County Monaghan, which he sold, and bought Balrath Bury in 1669. He afterwards resided in Dublin, and died, in 1709, aged 89. 
He and his wife Mary, daughter of Sir Thomas Worsopp, Knight, are buried in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, and on their tomb-stone appear the arms and crest still used by the family.
The issue of the marriage were,
Christopher;
THOMAS, of whom presently;
John.
The second, but eldest surviving son,

THOMAS NICHOLSON, of Balrath Bury, born in 1662, inherited Balrath Bury in 1709.

In 1692, he was a commissioner for County Meath, during the reign of WILLIAM & MARY, and High Sheriff, 1704.

He married firstly, in 1691, Mary, daughter of John Beauchamp, and had, with other issue, a daughter, Anne, whose daughter, Margaret, was second wife of Sir Richard Steele Bt, of Hampstead.

He wedded secondly, in 1700, Elizabeth, daughter and co-heir of John Wood, of Garclony, and had issue,
CHRISTOPHER, of whom we treat;
John; Thomas; Gilbert.
He espoused thirdly, Rose, widow of Simeon Pepper, of Ballygarth, but by her had no issue.

The eldest son,

CHRISTOPHER NICHOLSON, of Balrath Bury, High Sheriff of Meath in 1735, espoused firstly, in 1723, Elinor, only daughter of Simeon Pepper, of Ballygarth, by Rose his wife, daughter of the Hon Oliver Lambart, of Plainstown, and granddaughter of Charles, 1st Earl of Cavan, and had issue,
JOHN, of whom hereafter;
Thomas;
George;
Christopher;
Hampden;
Rose; Christian; Emilia.
He wedded secondly, in 1751, Mary, daughter of Oliver Lambart, of Plainstown, but by her had no issue.

His eldest son,

JOHN NICHOLSON (1724-82), of Balrath Bury, captain, Coldstream Guards, wedded, in 1766, Anna Maria, daughter of Sir Samuel Armytage Bt, of Kirklees, Yorkshire, widow of Thomas Carter, of Shaen, and had issue,
CHRISTOPHER ARMYTAGE, his heir;
John.
He was succeeded by his elder son,

CHRISTOPHER ARMYTAGE NICHOLSON JP DL (1768-1849), of Balrath Bury, High Sheriff, 1791, who married firstly, in 1796, Catharine, daughter of the Most Rev William Newcombe DD, Lord Archbishop of Armagh, by Anna Maria his wife, daughter and co-heir of Edward Smyth, of Callow Hill, County Fermanagh, second son of the Ven James Smyth, Archdeacon of Meath, and had issue,
JOHN ARMYTAGE, his heir;
Christopher Hampden;
William (Rev);
Gilbert Thomas, JP;
Anna Maria.
He wedded secondly, in 1826, Anna, daughter of George Lenox-Conyngham, of Springhill, County Londonderry, by Olivia his wife, daughter of William Irvine, of Castle Irvine, County Fermanagh, and had issue,
Armytage Lenox, JP;
Olivia; Sophia Elizabeth.
He was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN ARMYTAGE NICHOLSON JP DL (1798-1872), of Balrath Bury, High Sheriff of Meath, 1827, who married, in 1824, Elizabeth Rebecca, daughter of the Rt Rev and Rt Hon Nathaniel Alexander, Lord Bishop of Meath (nephew of James, 1st Earl of Caledon), by Anne his wife, daughter and heir of the Rt Hon Sir Richard Jackson, of Forkhill, by Anne his wife, sister of John, 1st Viscount O'Neill, and had issue,
CHRISTOPHER ARMYTAGE, his heir;
Nathaniel Alexander;
John Hampden (Rev);
William Newcome;
Gilbert de Poulton;
Katharine; Anne.
Mr Nicholson was succeeded by his eldest son,

CHRISTOPHER ARMYTAGE NICHOLSON JP DL (1825-87), of Balrath Bury; High Sheriff, 1856, who espoused, in 1858, Frances Augusta, eldest daughter of the Hon Augustus Henry Macdonald Moreton, and had issue,
GILBERT MORETON, died unmarried;
JOHN HAMPDEN, succeeded his brother;
Mary Jane; Elizabeth Katharine; Enilia Olivia.
His only surviving son,

JOHN HAMPDEN NICHOLSON JP (1871-1935), of Balrath Bury, High Sheriff, 1895, married, in 1894, Florence Isabel, third daughter of Thomas Rothwell, of Rockfield, Kells, and had issue,
CHRISTOPHER HAMPDEN;
John Armytage;
Joyce Frances.
His elder son,

CAPTAIN CHRISTOPHER HAMPDEN NICHOLSON (1903-), of Balrath Bury, married Stephanie Adelaide Edwards in 1928.

His only son,

JOHN WARREN NICHOLSON, born in 1931, inherited Balrath House in the 1960s.

Photo credit: New York Social Diary

BALRATH BURY HOUSE, near Kells, County Meath, is a two-storey, pedimented, 18th century house.

It has seven bays with a curved bow at either end of the front.

Three more bays were added to the right; and seven more bays with another pediment plus two further bays to the left side.

Photo credit: New York Social Diary

Today, the front extends to nineteen bays and two bows.

The mansion suffered damage during the 2nd World War, having been used by the military.

It was subsequently reduced in size, in 1942, to the original block.

Balrath Bury is now in the American-Colonial style.

The principal rooms are on either side of a large hall, with a bifurcating staircase.

There is a long, Georgian, pedimented stable block.

It is thought that the most recent owners have been Frank and Carol Mallon.

First published in June, 2013.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Ballyfin House

THE COOTE BARONETS WERE THE GREATEST LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY LAOIS, WITH 47,451 ACRES

This is the parent stock whence the noble houses of COOTEEarls of Mountrath, and COOTE, Lords Castlecoote, both now extinct, emanated. 

This noble family derives its origin from

SIR JOHN COOTE, a native of France, who married Isabella, the daughter and heir of the Seigneur Du Bois, of that kingdom, and had issue,

SIR JOHN COOTE, Knight, who coming into England, settled in Devon, and married a daughter of Sir John Fortescue, of that county.

His lineal descendant,

JOHN COOTE, heir to his uncle, 28th Abbot of Bury St Edmund's, wedded Margaret, daughter of Mr Drury, by whom he had four sons,
Richard;
FRANCIS, of whom we treat;
Christopher;
Nicholas.
Mr Coote's second son,

FRANCIS COOTE, of Eaton, in Norfolk, served ELIZABETH I; and by Anne, his wife, had issue,

SIR NICHOLAS COOTE, living in 1636, who had two sons,
CHARLES, his heir;
William (Very Rev), Dean of Down, 1635.
Sir Nicholas's elder son,

SIR CHARLES COOTE (1581-1642), Knight, of Castle Cuffe, in the Queen's County, who served in the wars against O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone, at the head, as captain of the 100th Foot Regiment, with which corps he was at the siege of Kinsale, and was appointed, by JAMES I (in consequence of the good and faithful services he had rendered to ELIZABETH I), provost-marshal of the province of Connaught for life.

In 1620, he was constituted vice-president of the same province; and created, in 1621, a baronet.

Sir Charles distinguished himself, subsequently, by many gallant exploits; but the most celebrated was the relief of Birr, in 1642.

Being dispatched, with Sir Thomas Lucas and six troops of horse, to relieve that garrison, and some other fortresses, it was necessary, in order to effect the objective, to pass the causeway broken by the rebels, who had thrown up a ditch at the end of it.

Sir Charles, leading thirty dismounted dragoons, beat the enemy, with the loss of their captain and twenty men; relieved the castles of Birr, Borris, and Knocknamase; and having continued almost forty hours on horseback, returned to the camp with the loss of only one man.

This is the surprising passage through Mountrath woods which justly caused the title of MOUNTRATH to be entailed upon his son,

Sir Charles, who married Dorothea, youngest daughter and co-heir of Hugh Cuffe, of Cuffe's Wood, County Cork, and had issue,
CHARLES, his heir;
Chidley, of Killester, Co Dublin;
Richard, ancestor of the EARL OF BELLAMONT;
Thomas, of Coote Hill;
Letitia.
Sir Charles being slain in a sally to protect the town of Trim, in 1642, was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR CHARLES COOTE (c1610-61), 2nd Baronet, who was elevated to the peerage, in 1661, as Baron Coote, Viscount Coote, and EARL OF MOUNTRATH; and the baronetcy merged in the superior dignity, until the demise of

CHARLES HENRY (1725-1802), 7th Earl, without male issue, when the earldom expired.

A new barony, that of Castle Coote, which his lordship obtained, passed accordingly and ceased likewise, in 1827; while the ancient baronetcy reverted to 

SIR CHARLES HENRY COOTE, 9th Baronet (1792-1864), of Ballyfin, great-grandson of the Rev Chidley Coote DD, lineal descendant of Chidley Coote, by his second wife, Eliza Anne.


*****

Sir Algernon Charles Plumptre Coote, 12th Baronet (1847–1920), was Lord-Lieutenant of Queen's County, 1900-20.

Sir Ralph Algernon Coote (1874-1941), 13th Baronet, was the last representative of his line to occupy Ballyfin House.

Thereafter the estate was purchased by the Irish Land Commission, while the noble mansion and portion of the demesne were acquired in 1930 by the Patrician Order, a distinguished Irish teaching brotherhood long associated with successful educational work in the district.

The 14th Baronet, Rear-Admiral Sir John, CB CBE DSC, was Director of Naval Ordnance, 1955-58. 

Sir Christopher John Coote, 15th Baronet (b 1928) is married and lives in Wiltshire.


BALLYFIN HOUSE, situated at the foot of the Slieve Bloom mountains near Mountrath in County Laois, is stated to be "the grandest and most lavishly appointed early 19th century Classical house in Ireland", according to Mark Bence-Jones. 

The mansion was built between 1821-26 for Sir Charles Coote, 9th Baronet, replacing a house of 1778 which belonged to William Wellesley-Pole, 3rd Earl of Mornington and brother of the 1st Duke of Wellington.



Sir Charles purchased the estate from Wellesley-Pole about 1812 and apparently employed an architect called Madden to design the initial phase of Ballyfin; then switched to the Morrisons.

Ballyfin is a two-storey maansion house with a long library running at one side from front to back, extending into a curved bow in the centre of the side elevation, containing a top-lit rotunda.

The library wing is of one bay on either side of the central curved bow, fronted by a colonnade of large Ionic columns. 

The side elevation is prolonged by an elegantly-curving glass and iron conservatory of about 1850.




The principal front consists of thirteen bays with a massive Ionic, pedimented portico; the two end bays on either side being stepped back.

The interior is quite magnificent and exquisitely furnished, with a riot of notable effects and a wealth of heavy, opulent plasterwork; Scagliola columns in Siena, porphyry, green and black; inlaid parquetry floors.




The saloon is flanked by the rotunda (above), which is surrounded by Ionic columns and has a coffered dome.

The entrance hall is said to be more constrained, with a coffered ceiling and a mosaic Roman floor. 

This leads into the splendid top-lit saloon in the centre of the mansion, which boasts a coved ceiling adorned with superlative plasterwork and a screen of Corinthian columns at either end.

The drawing-room has a typical Morrison ceiling and gilded Louis Quinze on the walls of ca 1840s.

Today the demesne comprises 600 acres of parkland, a lake and ancient woods, delightful garden buildings, follies and grottoes.

The landscape, laid out in the 18th century, is among the finest examples in Ireland of the natural style of gardening inspired by ‘Capability’ Brown.

Ballyfin House was formerly the Patrician College. Patrician College Ballyfin operated from 1930 to 2009.

Sir Ralph Algernon Coote (1874-1941), 13th Baronet, was the last representative of his line to occupy Ballyfin House.

Thereafter the estate was purchased by the Irish Land Commission, while the noble mansion and portion of the demesne were acquired in 1930 by the Patrician Order, a distinguished Irish teaching brotherhood long associated with successful educational work in the district. 

Its architectural beauty has, however, been carefully preserved, and nothing has been lost in the change of ownership to deteriorate from the graceful lines of the building that Sir Charles Coote, 9th Baronet, expended a fortune in perfecting.

The Patrician Order sold the estate in 2009.

Among other features are a medieval-style tower, built as a folly in the 1860s and said to command a view of seven counties; and walled gardens.

First published in May, 2011. Images of Ballyfin House courtesy of Ballyfin Demesne.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Caledon Estate Fête

Shortly after breakfast this morning I got my stuff together, started the two-seater, and drove to the Earl of Caledon's splendid estate in County Tyrone.

My first stop, however, was in the village of Caledon itself, a place of considerable character and charm.

Successive Earls have stamped their mark on the village.


There is a water fountain dedicated to the 4th Earl, KP, on the main street.

I stopped opposite a little café called Café Rose, where I had a beaker of tea.

Afterwards I took a stroll along the village. The Caledon Arms Hotel is, sadly, closed down.

Alexander House, Main Street

It's a pity that such a pretty village cannot sustain a good inn or guest-house.

The main entrance to Caledon Estate is just outside the village, through a very grand entrance gate and lodges. It is unmistakable, especially since there are gleaming, gilded earl's coronets attached to the railings.

The drive must easily be a mile in length.


Caledon Park is one of the finest private estates in Northern Ireland, undoubtedly.

The garden fête today was in aid of the local parish church.

Caledon crest outside the portico porch

I arrived early. However,  when I departed in the afternoon, there were hundreds of cars parked in fields within the 3,000 acre estate.

The atmosphere was most agreeable. Lord and Lady Caledon were outside the house in the grounds.

I chatted briefly with Lady Caledon about an item for sale, viz. a pair of black and gold mini skis, presumably for children, which were emblazoned with the Bentley Motors motif.


The Lord-Lieutenant's official flag flew from the Castle's flag-pole.

Prospect from the garden front

At about twelve forty-five I was taken on a guided walk of the arboretum, yew-tree garden, stables and the grounds within the immediate vicinity of the Castle.


There were lots of displays on the lawns outside the Castle, including stalls in marquees, military displays, and police dog-handler demonstrations.

Stables

Of course there was no shortage of nosh, either. I could not resist the hog-roast stall.


For a fiver, you received a generous helping of roasted hog, baby roast potatoes, apple sauce, and stuffing.

Former head gardener's cottage

The fête was officially opened by Captain Dame Mary Peters CH DBE RNR, erstwhile Lord-Lieutenant of Belfast (obviously acquainted with Lord Caledon, KCVO, Lord-Lieutenant of County Armagh).


I left at about three-thirty.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Castleboro House

THE BARONS CAREW WERE THE GREATEST LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY WEXFORD, WITH 17,830 ACRES
The CAREWS are one of the few families now remaining who can trace their descent without intermission from the Anglo-Saxon period of English history. For a long series of years, they maintained an elevated position among the landed proprietors of Devon.
A scion of the English stock settling in Ireland was ancestor of the CAREWS of that kingdom, of whom,

ROBERT CAREW, the immediate ancestor of the family before us, married, in 1710, Elizabeth, daughter and co-heir of John Shapland, a wealthy merchant of Wexford; and dying in 1721, had issue,
Robert, MP for Waterford, dsp;
SHAPLAND;
Thomas, of Ballinamona;
Elizabeth.
The second son,

SHAPLAND CAREW (1716-), of Castleboro, County Wexford, a barrister and MP for Waterford, wedded Dorothy, daughter and co-heir of Isaac Dobson, and had issue,
ROBERT SHAPLAND, his heir;
Elizabeth; Eleanor; Dorothea;
Mary; Dobson.
The son and heir,

ROBERT SHAPLAND CAREW (1752-1829), of Castleboro, espoused Anne, daughter and heir of the Rev Richard Pigott DD, of Dysart, Queen's County, and had issue,
ROBERT SHAPLAND, of whom hereafter;
Dorothea; Elizabeth Anne; Ellen.
Mr Carew was succeeded by his son,

ROBERT SHAPLAND CAREW (1787-1856), of Castleboro, who married, in 1816, Jane Catherine, daughter of Major Anthony Cliffe, of Ross, by Frances his wife, eldest daughter of Colonel Deane, MP for County Dublin, and had issue,
ROBERT SHAPLAND, his heir;
Shapland Francis;
Anne Dorothea; Ellen Jane.
Mr Carew was elevated to the peerage, in 1838, as BARON CAREW.

His lordship was installed, in 1851, as a Knight of the Most Illustrious Order of St Patrick (KP).
The heir apparent is the present holder's son, the Hon William Patrick Conolly-Carew.

CASTLEBORO, near Enniscorthy, County Wexford, was a very large, imposing, Classical mansion of about 1840, built for the 1st Baron Carew.

The main block was of three storeys, the top storey used as an attic; a central, three-sided bow with Corinthian columns at the angles supporting the entablature; two bays on either side of the centre and a pair of Corinthian pilasters at each end.


The grand centre of the building presented the appearance of a Venetian palace, about ninety feet in length and, at the front, extended a façade of elegant and elaborate workmanship.


A projection of a semi-hexagon figure occupied about one third of the garden front (above), while the mansion extended a similar distance on each side
A highly ornamental entablature ran along the entire building above the second story and was supported in the centre by four Corinthian columns with very rich capitals and by two pilasters of the same order on the right and left extremities.
A very rich and highly ornamental cut stone string course ran above the first storey with rosettes and scrolls.

The entrance front (below) displayed a lofty and magnificent portico supported by six columns of the Corinthian order.


The architect, Robertson, suffered from gout and, whilst the building was in progress, it was said he was pushed around sitting in a wheelbarrow with the plans in one hand and a bottle of fine wine in the other!

Castleboro was laid out with four stepped terraces, with a manicured grass bank on each side desending to an artificial lake.

In the centre of the third bank stood a magnificent fountain flanked by two smaller fountains with pools on the immediate upper terrace.

During the Irish Troubles of the 1920s, the Carews sold off the prize cattle heards and furniture and effects and lived full time in England.

The entrance front was of seven bays, with a deep, two-storey Corinthian portico.

The wings and pavilions, two-storey, were mainly neo-Classical; the garden front (below) being more plain.

A lengthy article in The People of 1923 entitled "Castleboro Burned: Lord Carew's Mansion In Flames: Now A Mass Of Debris" states:

'Castleboro, the ancestral home of the Right Hon. Lord Carew was burned to the ground on Monday night, and all that remains now of the palatial mansion are smoke begrimed roofless walls and a heap of debris.

The reason for the destruction of one of the finest residences in Leinster remains a mystery to all but those who were responsible for the destructive work which will only add more thousands to the bill that the Co Wexford will have to foot when the time of reckoning comes.

The work of destruction was perpetrated shortly after ten o'clock on Monday night. Between nine and ten the farm steward, Mr. Robert Richardson…was knocked up at his residence by armed men.

On answering the knock he was compelled to hand over the keys of a store in which some barrels of paraffin oil were stored.

These the armed men took possession of and rolled them from the farm yard to the main building and brought with them hay, which they also got in the farm yard.

Then it would appear that they soaked the hay in the paraffin and scattering it through the main building set it alight with the result that in a short time the whole place was ablaze…

Entrance to the house was gained through the French bay windows which would appear to have been broken by the butt end of rifles.

The noise of the breaking of the glass was plainly audible in the farm yard and tongues of flames leaping up to the sky after a short space of time conveyed the first intimation of what the advent of the armed men breaking in on their peaceable surroundings meant while they were left powerless to attempt to save their master's property…

It was impossible to do anything to extinguish the conflagration which had taken a complete hold of the building and which appeared to have been fired in several places. The fire raged furiously for some hours and completely destroyed the fine building'

'The building of the mansion cost, it is stated, £200,000 [£16 million in 2011], so that a claim which will undoubtedly be lodged is likely to run into a very big sum.

Castleboro was always famous for its gardens and through the liberality of the present Lord Carew visitors were allowed to stroll through the grounds, a privilege that was largely availed of in the summer months.

The scene of Monday night's fire was visited by large numbers of people on Tuesday and the terrible work was condemned on all sides.

The people of the district were always liberally treated by the Carew family and the wanton destruction of their beautiful home was learned with feelings of horror and dismay' (The People 10th February 1923).

Lord Carew did not live to see his claim for compensation satisfied and died on the 29th April 1923, less than three months following the destruction of his home.

Castleboro House survives as an impressive ruin in a somewhat bleak setting, the parkland to the north now used for grazing and the truncated terraces to the south – once second only to those at Powerscourt House, County Wicklow.

Other former seat ~ Woodstown, County Waterford;
Former town residence ~ 28 Belgrave Square, London.

Carew arms courtesy of European Heraldry.   First published in July, 2011. 

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Belvedere House

THE EARLS OF BELVEDERE WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY WESTMEATH, WITH 9,059 ACRES
THE ANCIENT AND NOBLE FAMILY OF ROCHFORT, IN OLD DEED AND WRITINGS STYLED DE RUPE FORTI, IS STATED TO HAVE BEEN ESTABLISHED IN IRELAND SINCE ITS FIRST CONQUEST BY THE ENGLISH. 
SIR RICHARD DE ROCHFORT WAS LORD OF CROM AND ADARE IN 1243; SIR MAURICE ROCHFORT WAS LORD JUSTICE OF IRELAND IN 1302. 
THOMAS ROCHFORT (c1450-1522) WAS MASTER OF THE ROLLS IN IRELAND AND DEAN OF ST PATRICK'S CATHEDRAL, DUBLIN 
JAMES "PRIME-IRON" ROCHFORT, Lieutenant-Colonel in the army of CROMWELL, youngest son of James Rochfort, of Agherry, County Wicklow (9th in descent from Sir William Rochford, Lord of the Manor of Kill at the beginning of the 14th century), was executed, under a court-martial, for killing Major Turner in a duel in 1652.

By Thomasina his wife, daughter of Colonel Pigott, he left three daughters and two sons.

The youngest son,

ROBERT ROCHFORT (1652-1727), chosen Speaker of the Irish house of commons in 1695, and constituted Chief Baron of the Exchequer, 1707, wedded Hannah, daughter of William Handcock MP, of Twyford, County Westmeath.

He died in 1727 and left two sons, the elder of whom,

THE RT HON GEORGE ROCHFORT MP,
Chief Chamberlain of the Court of Exchequer, wedded, in 1704, Elizabeth, daughter of Henry, 3rd Earl of Drogheda, and had issue,
ROBERT, his heir;
Arthur;
George;
John;
William;
Mary; Hannah; Elizabeth;
Alice; Thomasina; Anne.
His eldest son,

ROBERT ROCHFORT (1708-74), was created Baron Bellfield, in 1737; Viscount Bellfield, in 1751; and advanced to the dignity of an earldom, as EARL OF BELVEDERE, in 1756.

His Lordship married, in 1736, Mary, eldest daughter of Richard, 3rd Viscount Molesworth, and by her had issue,
GEORGE, his heir;
Richard;
Robert, MP;
Jane.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

GEORGE, 2nd Earl (1738-1814), who married firstly, in 1775, Dorothea, second daughter of John Bloomfield, of Redwood; and secondly, in 1803,  Jane, daughter of the Rev James Mackay.

The 2nd Earl died without issue, in 1814, when the titles became extinct.


BELVEDERE HOUSE, near Mullingar, County Westmeath, is an exquisite villa of about 1740, by Richard Castle, on the shores of Lough Ennell.

It was built for Robert Rochfort, 1st Earl of Belvedere, whose original seat was Gaulston, about five miles away.

The house comprises two storeys over a basement; a long frontage; and curved end bows.


The front has a three-bay recessed centre between projecting end bays.

Belvedere itself has only a few rooms, though they are well-proportioned, with rococo ceilings on the ground floor of exceptional quality, including cherubim gazing down from the clouds.

Belvedere House passed, by inheritance, to the Marlay family; thence to Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Howard-Bury DSO JP DL, leader of the 1921 Mount Everest expedition.

In the period following the 2nd World War, Colonel Howard-Bury restored the house and gardens.

He never married and, on his death in 1963, the estate was inherited by Rex Beaumont, who had been Howard-Bury's friend and companion for 30 years.

Mr Beaumont sold the estate to Westmeath County Council in 1982.

Following a multi-million pound restoration the house and gardens have been opened to visitors.

Belvedere also hosts weekend music festivals and intimate garden theatre performances.

First published in June, 2013.   Belvedere arms courtesy of European Heraldry.