Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Gloster House


EVAN LLOYD JP DL, of Yale, Denbighshire, a captain-general in the service of CHARLES I, in Ireland, son and heir of Sir John Lloyd, Knight, and grandson of Sir Evan Lloyd, 1st Baronet (c1622-63), the twelfth of his race lineally descended from YNYR of YALE, married Mary, daughter and co-heir of Sir Richard Trevor, Knight, and had issue,
John, his heir;
TREVOR, of whom we treat;
Catherine; Mary; Magdelen.
His youngest son,

TREVOR LLOYD, a captain in the army of CHARLES I, wedded, in 1639, Margaret Rose, daughter and heiress of Francis Medhop, of Gloster and Tonagh, King's County, by whom he acquired estates in the King's County and County Tipperary, and had a son and successor,

MEDHOP LLOYD, of the King's County, who, by his wife Hannah, daughter of Christopher Lovett, Lord Mayor of Dublin, 1676-7, had fourteen children, all of whom dsp with the exception of

TREVOR LLOYD who, inheriting the family estates, became of Gloster, in the King's County.

This gentleman married Miss Waller, of Castletown, County Limerick (a descendant of Sir Hardress Waller, Governor of Limerick, during the Commonwealth), and had, with other issue,
JOHN, his heir;
Hardress, dsp;
Harriet, m F Saunderson, of Castle Saunderson.
Mr Lloyd was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN LLOYD, of Gloster, MP for the King's County, 1768-90, wedded, about 1777, Jane, daughter of Thomas Le Hunt, of Artrammon, County Wexford, and had issue, 
HARDRESS, his heir;
Trevor, died at Cambridge, 1796;
Thomas, lieutenant-colonel;
Alice; Harriet.
Mr Lloyd was succeeded by his eldest son,

HARDRESS LLOYD JP DL MP (c1782-1860), of Gloster, This gentleman, who was for some years Lieutenant-Colonel, South Down Militia, MP for King's County, 1807-16.

Colonel Lloyd died unmarried, and was succeeded by his natural son,

JOHN LLOYD JP DL, of Gloster, High Sheriff of King's County, 1866, who espoused, in 1872, Susanna Frances Julia, second daughter of John Thomas Rosborough Colclough, of Tintern Abbey, County Wexford, and had issue,
JOHN HARDRESS, his heir;
Evan Colclough;
Llewellyn Wilfred Medhop;
Mary Louisa Arthurina Gwendoline Colclough; Susanna Frederica Lillian Mary; Myrtle Susan.
Mr Lloyd died in 1883, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

BRIGADIER JOHN HARDRESS LLOYD DSO JP DL (1874-1952), of Gloster, High Sheriff of King's County, 1906, who wedded, in 1903, Adeline, daughter of Sir Samuel Wilson, MP for Portsmouth, 1886-92, though the marriage was without issue.

GLOSTER HOUSE, Shinrone, Birr, is County Offaly’s most important early 18th century house.

The Lloyd family came to Ireland from Denbighshire to serve in the army of CHARLES I, and acquired the estate by marriage in 1639.

Presumably they lived in the 17th century house until the building was enlarged in the 1720s.

Maurice Craig has remarked that “Gloster has features which can hardly derive from anyone other than Sir Edward Lovett-Pearce”.

Craig feels that Lovett-Pearce may have provided the design for his cousin Trevor Lloyd but left the execution to others, since “for all its charm, it is provincial in almost every respect”.

Gloster is unusually long and low, with thirteen bays and two stories.

The bays to either side of the breakfront have a series of elaborate pilasters, while the pairs of upper storey end-bays have blind niches in place of windows.

The elaborate, double-height entrance-hall has a series of bust-filled niches while there is very grand upper hall on the piano nobile.

This overlooks the entrance-hall though a series of round-headed openings.

Samuel Chearnley may possibly have had a hand in designing the gardens, which contain a canal, a lime avenue and a pedimented arch, flanked by obelisks in the manner of Vanburgh while a series of

later terraces in front of the house descend to a small lake.

Brigadier Hardress Lloyd and his wife had no children, so Gloster House was inherited by their nephew, Major Evan Trevor Lloyd.

Major Lloyd held the estate for several years when, in 1958, he sold it to an order of nuns.

In 1990, the religious order ended their activities at Gloster; and in 1992 the estate was sold to the Macra ne Feirme organization, which intended to operate the estate as a rural training centre.

The project proved to be unsuccessful and, after a few years, they sold it to a pharmaceutical organisation that held it until 2001, when it was purchased by the present owners, Tom and Mary Alexander, who have carried out a thorough and sympathetic restoration.

Famous visitors to Gloster include John Wesley, who preached here in 1749; while the famous Australian “Diva”, Dame Nellie Melba GBE, sang from the gallery in the upper hall in the early 20th century.

Select bibliography: Irish Historic Houses Association.

Thomas Tunnock Ltd


By Appointment to the Rt Hon the Earl of Belmont, 
Purveyors of Tea Cakes,
Thomas Tunnock Limited, Uddingston, Glasgow.

The Tunnock's Teacake, popular in the British Isles, comprises a small round shortbread biscuit covered with a dome of Italian meringue and a whipped egg white concoction similar to marshmallow.

This is then encased in a thin layer of milk or dark chocolate and wrapped in a red and silver foil paper for the more popular milk chocolate variety; or blue, black, and gold wrapping for the dark.

First issued March, 2010.

N.B. Editors: the alter ego, viz. Belmont, simply cannot have enough of these ethereal biccies (!)

Monday, 15 January 2018

Mount Stewart House


This branch of the noble house of STEWART claims a common ancestor with the Earls of Galloway; namely, Sir William Stewart, of Dalswinton and Garlies, from whose second son, Thomas Stewart, of Minto, descended, 

JOHN STEWART, of Ballylawn Castle (the first of the family that settled in Ireland), who received a grant of the manor of Stewart's Court (where he erected Ballylawn Castle) from JAMES I in County Donegal, and erected the said castle.

Mr Stewart was succeeded at his decease by his eldest son,

CHARLES STEWART, whose grandson,

WILLIAM STEWART, of Ballylawn Castle, had issue,
ALEXANDER, his heir;
Martha, m John Kennedy, of Cultra.
The only son,

ALEXANDER STEWART (1697-1781), of Mount Stewart, County Down, MP for the city of Londonderry, married, in 1737, Mary, only surviving daughter of Alderman John Cowan, of Londonderry (by his aunt, Anne Stewart), and sister and heir of Sir Robert Cowan, Knight, Governor of Bombay, and had, with other issue,
ROBERT, his heir;
Alexander Stewart was succeeded by his eldest son,

ROBERT STEWART (1739-1821), of Ballylawn Castle and Mount Stewart, County Down, who, having represented the latter county in parliament, and having been sworn a member of the Privy Council, was elevated to the peerage, in 1789, by the title of Baron Stewart.

His lordship was advanced to a viscountcy, as Viscount Castlereagh, in 1795; and to an earldom, as Earl of Londonderry, in 1796.

His lordship was further advanced to the dignity of a marquessate, in 1816, as MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY.

He married firstly, in 1766, the Lady Sarah Frances Seymour, second daughter of Francis, Marquess of Hertford, and had issue,
ROBERT, Viscount Castlereagh, 2nd Marquess.
His lordship wedded secondly, in 1775, the Lady Frances Pratt, eldest daughter of Charles, 1st Earl Camden, and sister of the Marquess Camden, by whom he had issue,
CHARLES WILLIAM, 3rd Marquess;
Frances Anne; Caroline; Georgiana; Selina; Matilda; Emily Jane; Octavia.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

ROBERT, 2nd Marquess (1769-1822), KG, GCH, PC; who had already distinguished himself in the political world as Viscount Castlereagh, and filled, under that designation, several high ministerial offices.

His lordship espoused, in 1794, the Lady Amelia (Emily) Hobart, youngest daughter and co-heir of John, 2nd Earl of Buckinghamshire, by whom he had no issue.

The 2nd Marquess died at his seat, North Cray, Kent, in 1822 (at which period he was Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs), and was succeeded by his half-brother, Lord Stewart, as

CHARLES WILLIAM, 3rd Marquess (1778-1854); who was further created Viscount Seaham and Earl Vane in 1823.

He wedded, in 1804, the Lady Catherine Bligh, youngest daughter of John, 3rd Earl of Darnley, by whom he had a son,
His lordship espoused secondly, in 1819, Frances Anne, only daughter and heir of Sir Harry Vane-Tempest, by Anne Catherine, Countess of Antrim in her own right (upon which occasion his lordship assumed the additional surname and arms of VANE), by whom he had issue,
Adolphus Frederick Charles William;
Ernest McDonnell;
A son;
Frances Anne Emily; Alexandrina Octavia Maria; Adelaide Emelina Caroline.
  • Frederick Aubrey Vane-Tempest-Stewart, 10th Marquess (b 1972).
The heir presumptive is his brother Lord Reginald Alexander Vane-Tempest-Stewart (b 1977).The heir presumptive's heir apparent is his son Robin Gabriel Vane-Tempest-Stewart (b 2004).
MOUNT STEWART HOUSE, near Newtownards, County Down, is a long, two-storey, Classical house of the 1820s.

The main interior feature is a vast central hall consisting of an octagon, top-lit through a balustraded gallery from a dome filled with stained glass.

I have written fondly of Mount Stewart's former swimming-pool here.

The estate has one of the most outstanding gardens in the British Isles and has been proposed as a World Heritage Site.

It was formulated within an already established walled demesne on the shores of Strangford Lough on the Ards Peninsula, County Down, with mature shelter tree cover some two hundred years old.

The site benefits from an excellent climate in which a vast range of plants can thrive.

The climatic conditions, the plant collection and the design all combine to make this an outstanding garden in any context; and it is rightfully renowned throughout Europe.
The demesne owes its origin to Alexander Stewart MP (1699-1781), a minor County Donegal landowner and successful linen merchant who, having married his cousin, Mary Cowan, a rich heiress, in 1737, purchased the Colville manors of Comber and Newtownards in 1744 and resolved to build a seat on the present site, then known as Templecrone.
This building, which he initially called Mount Pleasant, was a large, long, low two-storey building, originally painted blue, occupying much the same ground as the present William Morrison house.

Young also mentioned ‘some new plantations, which surround an improved lawn, where Mr. Stewart intends building’ - a reference to landscaping round a planned new house that Alexander Stewart intended to built on the hill lying just south-west of the present walled garden.

His son Robert, later 1st Marquess of Londonderry, advanced his father’s plans once he inherited in 1781.

In June, 1783, the architect James Wyatt was paid for providing plans for ‘New Offices’ and ‘Mansion house intended at Mount Stewart’.

Just south of this house, facing the Portaferry Road running close to the house, he built a small settlement known as Newtown Stewart, which Young described in 1776 as ‘a row of neat stone and slate cabins’ and shown on David Geddas’s Demesne map of 1779 [presently in the house].

The latter was never built, but evidently intended for the same location on Bean Hill near the walled garden.

The walled garden itself was probably completed by 1780-1 for, in 1781, there are payments for the ‘freight for tiles for hothouse’; while, in 1780, the head gardener replanted a vine ‘in the west pine stove’ – apparently the same ancient vine that occupies the west end of the glasshouse today.

The adjacent sprawling farm yard complex, which includes a hexagonal dovecote, was also built around this time, possibly in 1784-5, with the yard being repaired in 1816-17 following a fire.

Further additions were erected here in the 1870s.

The landscape gardener, William King, who may already have been involved in landscaping here in the 1770s, was paid for work in July 1781, May and November 1782.

The park layout as shown on the 1834 Ordnance Survey map is probably largely King’s work, and was laid down sympathetically to the drumlin country, probably assuming the house to be located near the walled garden.

However, most of the demesne plantations were put down over the much longer period, with payments being made between 1785 and 1801.

An important focal point in the park is the Temple of the Winds, reckoned by some to be the finest garden building in Northern Ireland.

Located on a hill on the south side of the park, overlooking the lough, this was begun in 1782 to the designs of James ‘Athenian’ Stuart, who was paid for his work in 1783.

His plans were based on the 1st century BC building of the same name in Athens and sourced from illustrations in the second volume of Stuart and Revett’s Antiquities of Athens (1763).

It is of two storeys over a basement and hipped; an octagonal banqueting house, constructed in Scrabo stone and completed in late 1785, as is evident from payments made to the stonemason David McBlain, the joiner John Ferguson and others (refurbished in 1965 and again in 1994).

It is evident that the temple was formerly a very striking feature in the park-scape, for the plantations around it do not appear to have been established until fifteen or twenty years after its completion.

In the 1790s there was little building activity at Mount Stewart, following the expense of electing Robert’s son, Lord Castlereagh, into Parliament in 1790.

However, in 1802 he decided to modernise part of his existing house and so engaged George Dance, the Younger (1741-1825), who produced plans in 1804 for a Classical Regency replacement of the west wing, which was completed around 1806.

This incorporated grand new reception rooms, complete with a Grecian porte-cochère and gravel sweep on the north front; the wing survives in modified form as the end elevation of the present house.

In the period 1804-18 new approaches were laid down to the house and three gate lodges added.

The new western approach was entered via the Georgian Gothick ‘ink pot’ twin lodges (1808-09), placed on the recently re-aligned Portaferry Road (the road originally ran much closer to the house).

These single-storey twin lodges, notably for their distinctive canted elevations, are probably also the work of George Dance, as is also the nearby contemporary ‘toy fort’ Gothic Clay or Greyabbey gate lodge, notable for its horn-like pinnacles.

At the rear entrance, Hamilton’s Lodge was built in 1817 as part of laying down the new Donaghadee Approach; it was later remodelled.

Other buildings at this time included a single-storey, picturesque "toy fort" hunting lodge of ca 1810, probably by Dance, lying in a wooded area on the north side of the park, and a demesne school house of 1813, formerly a charity school belonging to the Erasmus Smith Foundation; now a house and artist’s studio.

Charles William Stewart (1778-1854) succeeded as 3rd Marquess in 1822, after the suicide of his elder half-brother Lord Castlereagh (who had become 2nd Marquess the previous year); and during the 1820s the family’s resources were focused on building work at Wynyard & Seaham in County Durham and Holdernesse [Londonderry] House in London.

Eventually, in 1835, the 3rd Marquess and his wife, the heiress Frances Anne Vane-Tempest, invited William Vitruvius Morrison to prepare plans to knock down the old house to the east of the Dance Wing at Mount Stewart, with a scheme to rebuild and enlarge the mansion.

Morrison’s plans were not actually implemented until after the architect’s death in 1838, when work was undertaken between 1845-49, supervised by the Newtownards builder, Charles Campbell.

The new block, as wide as the old house was long, created a new south entrance of eleven bays with an Ionic porte-cochère as its central feature; the old porte-cochère on the north was removed and replaced with a tripartite window.

As work was being completed on the house, a U-shaped rubble-built stable yard was added in 1846 to a design of the architect Charles Campbell, while at the same time improvements were being made in the park, most notably work on digging a new lake between 1846-51 in what was formerly a gravel pit to the north of the house.

Water from this lake was subsequently used to supply the house via McComb’s Hill, through the use of a horse-drawn pump and later a hydraulic ram.

A boat house was built on the south shore, whose waters were linked to the house by a ‘lawn’ meadow dotted with trees.

A gas-works was built ca 1859 in the south side of the demesne.

During the second half of the 19th century the house was only occasionally used by its owners, the 4th Marquess (1805-72); his half- brother, the 5th Marquess (1821-84); and Charles Stewart, 6th Marquess (1852-1915), the latter spending much of his time in London.

The parkland consequently remained relatively unchanged, with some minor alterations, such as the extension of the enclosing screen to encompass the whole perimeter in 1901.

The townland boundary was changed in 1906 to encompass the whole demesne.

In 1921 Charles, 7th Marquess, and his wife Edith moved to Mount Stewart, having inherited the property in 1915.

She had once remarked, on a visit prior to 1921, that the property was ‘the dampest, darkest and saddest place I had ever stayed in’.

As soon as she arrived there to live, Lady Londonderry undertook to transform the grounds around the house.

She took advice from expert plants-men and was fortunate to have been able to employ workmen from a post-war labour scheme. She used her resources skilfully.

The result is a lay-out that includes both formal and informal areas, each with their own style and atmosphere.

Compartments are arranged in close proximity to the house around three sides and are separated into differing formal gardens, such as the Italian Garden, the Spanish Garden, the Mairi Garden and the Dodo Terrace.

The latter is decorated with specially made statuary of creatures representing early 20th century British political figures, most of whom formed part of her ‘Ark Club’; these figures were made of moulded chicken wire and cement by Thomas Beattie of Newtownards.

Gertrude Jekyll planned some of the planting for the Sunken Garden.

The north-east front of the house has a rectangular balustraded carriage sweep but, further afield, paths wind past informally planted shrubs, specimen trees and woodland, carpeted with bulbs and drifts of naturalised plants.

These areas contain a great variety of outstanding plant material, particularly of Australasian origin.

Paths and a great deal of planting were focused round the large artificial lake, with the family burial ground, Tir-ña-nOg, built in the 1930s at the north end on high ground.

Like most other demesnes, Mount Stewart was requisitioned by the troops during the war and in the years that followed (until ca 1965) many of the original beech and oak demesne woods were sadly felled and replaced with unsightly conifers.

In 1949 the 7th Marquess died and left the property to his wife for her life-time and then to his youngest daughter, Lady Mairi Bury.

In 1955 the gardens were transferred to the care of the National Trust and two years later, in 1959, Edith, Lady Londonderry died.

The Temple of the Winds was acquired in 1963 and, in 1977, the house plus an endowment were accepted by the National Trust as a generous gift from Lady Mairi.

Tir-ña-nOg was acquired by the Trust from Lady Mairi in 1986.

The gardens are beautifully maintained by the National Trust.

During his many years as head gardener, Nigel Marshal, (retired 2002) continued successfully to build up the garden’s important plant collections. The walled garden is not currently on public display.

 20,222 acres in County Durham; Wynyard Hall, and elsewhere.

They also maintained a grand London residence in Park Lane, Londonderry House, which was demolished to make way for the Hilton Hotel. 

Londonderry arms courtesy of European Heraldry.   First published in June, 2010.

Lowry of Pomeroy


This is a junior branch of the Earl of Belmore's family.

JAMES LOWRY or LAURIE, sprung from an ancient Scottish family, settled at Ballymagorry, County Tyrone, before 1641.
The Lowry coat-of-arms contains a garland of laurel branches.
Ballymagorry lies several miles north of Strabane, County Tyrone, and has been a settlement since Plantation times, being founded in the early 17th century by Sir George Hamilton, of Greenlaw, brother to James, 1st Earl of Abercorn.
He died in 1665, and was succeeded by his son,

JOHN LOWRY, who settled at Aghenis, County Tyrone, and married firstly, Jane, daughter of William Hamilton, of Ballyfallow, by whom he had issue,
William, died unmarried;
Elizabeth; Margaret; Mary.
Mr Lowry wedded secondly, Miss Mary Buchanan, a Scottish lady, and had issue,
John, died unmarried;
ROBERT, succeeded his brother;
Catherine; Rebecca; Anne; Jane.
Mr Lowry died at the celebrated Siege of Londonderry, 1689, and was succeeded by his surviving son,

ROBERT LOWRY, of Aghenis, espoused Anne, daughter of the Rev James Sinclair, of Hollyhill, County Tyrone, Rector of Clogherny, and afterwards of Desertcreat, County Tyrone (second son of Sir James Sinclair, of Caithness, and had issue,
Robert, of Melbury, dsp;
Galbraith, ancestor of THE EARLS OF BELMORE;
JAMES, of whom we treat.
Mr Lowry died in 1729, and was succeeded in his principal estates by his elder surviving son, while the younger,

THE REV JAMES LOWRY (1707-87), of Tullyhogue, County Tyrone, founded the branch seated at Pomeroy House.

He married Hester, daughter of William Richardson, of Richhill, MP for Armagh, and sister of Mary, Viscountess Gosford, and had issue,
ROBERT, of Pomeroy;
John (Rev);
James, from whom the
ROCKDALE branch;
The eldest son,

ROBERT LOWRY (1748-1802), of Pomeroy, wedded, in 1777, Elizabeth, daughter of Major William Tighe, of Ballyshannon, and had issue,
James, died unmarried;
William, of Drumreagh, Commander RN;
Everina; Hester; Elizabeth; Maria.
The eldest surviving son,

ROBERT WILLIAM LOWRY JP DL (1787-1869), of Pomeroy, High Sheriff of County Tyrone, 1812, espoused, in 1815, Anna, eldest daughter of Admiral Samuel Graves, the elder brother of of Rear-Admiral Sir Thomas Graves KB, and had issue,
John Fetherstonhaugh;
Anna Jane.
Mr Lowry was succeeded by his eldest son,

ROBERT WILLIAM LOWRY JP DL (1816-99), of Pomeroy House, Barrister-at-Law, High Sheriff of County Tyrone, 1849, who married, in 1852, Frances Elizabeth, youngest daughter and co-heir of Benjamin Humphrey Geale Brady, of Mount Geale, County Kilkenny, and had issue,
Robert Geale, died in infancy;
ROBERT THOMAS GRAVES, of whom hereafter;
Mary Anna Catherine; Letitia Maria Isabella.
He wedded secondly, in 1880, Dorothea Elizabeth, second daughter of George Folliott, of Vicar's Cross, Cheshire.

The surviving son,

ROBERT THOMAS GRAVES LOWRY JP DL (1857-1947), of Pomeroy House, High Sheriff of County Tyrone, 1896, Major, 1st Dragoon Guards, was succeeded by his sister,

MARY ANNA CATHERINE LOWRY (d 1951), who wedded Colonel Charles Murray Alexander, and had issue, a son and heir,  

MAJOR CHARLES ADAM MURRAY ALEXANDER MC JP DL (1889-1958), Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, High Sheriff of County Tyrone, 1936.

Major Lowry fought in 1st World War, was wounded and mentioned in despatches, and was awarded the Military Cross in 1917.

He was a director of the Ulster Bank; on the board of the Pigs Marketing Board, Northern Ireland, the Great Northern Railway, and the Electricity Board, Northern Ireland; Ferguson Ltd, Dublin; Bessbrook Spinning Company Ltd; Harry Ferguson Motors Ltd; J N Richardson Sons & Owden Ltd.

Former estates ~ The Manor of Chichester and Leggin, including Pomeroy; and property at Baskine, County Westmeath, acquired by marriage. 

POMEROY HOUSE, near Pomeroy, County Tyrone, was built ca 1780 by Robert Lowry.

It consisted of three storeys over a basement, the top storey treated as an attic, above the cornice. 

The entrance front had a central, three-sided bow, one bay on either side of it.

Later there was a projecting porch added to the bow, with Ionic corner-pilasters.

The garden front (above) was of five bays, prolonged by a single-storey dining-room wing of 1815, with Wyatt windows in a three-sided bow and a polygonal lantern on the roof.

The main reception rooms were at the garden front.


Following Major Alexander's death, Pomeroy House was sold in 1959 to the Northern Ireland Forest Service, which swept it away.

The site is now largely a forest.

There is, however, a very fine stand of Scots pine within the forest.

There are other old demesne trees and the management is replacing hard-woods. 

The walled garden remains and the offices are extant.

Pomeroy Forest School is in modern buildings.

Shoots and Christmas trees add to the commercial use. 

On land not owned by the forestry service, now outside the demesne on the south side of the road, is the Alexander Vault, which is listed, with the last few specimens of a monkey puzzle avenue to the vault.

One gate lodge remains.

First published in January, 2012.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Brackenber Day


Here is the final correspondence I received from Brackenber's last headmaster, Mr John Craig, following his retirement.

It is clearly valedictory in nature.

Click on the image to read it.

It reflects Mr Craig's feelings about Brackenber; his profound devotion and deep affection for what became his home and his life; his dedication, care and passion for our school:-

click to enlarge
First published in February, 2011.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Bertie and Spode

Roderick Spode, Earl of Sidcup


"Oh, hullo, Spode, hullo. There you are, what? Splendid."

"Can I have a word with you, Wooster?"

"Of course, of course. Have several."

He did not speak for a minute or so, filling in the time by subjecting me to close scrutiny.

"I can't understand it", he said. "How Madeline can contemplate marrying a man like you ... as far as I can see, Wooster, you are without attraction of any kind. Intelligence? No. Looks? No. Efficiency? No".

"She is marrying you in the hope of reforming you, and let me tell you, Wooster, that if you disappoint that hope, you will be sorry ...

... you will probably think you are safe from me when you are doing your stretch in Wormwood Scrubs for larceny, but I shall be waiting for you when you come out, and I shall tear you limb from limb. And," he added ... "dance on the fragments in hobnailed boots".

"All that can be said of you is that you don't wear a moustache. They tell me you did grow one once, but mercifully shaved it off. That is to your credit, but it is a small thing to weigh in the balance against all your other defects".

First published in August, 2013.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Benburb Manor

This is a scion of the Bruces of Stenhouse, a suburb of Edinburgh, springing from

SIR ALEXANDER BRUCE, of Airth, Stirlingshire, who wedded Janet, daughter of Alexander, 5th Lord Livingston, and had issue,
WILLIAM, his heir;
Robert, of Kinnaird;
John (Sir), of Kincavil;
Alexander (Sir), of Bangour;
Robert, of Garvel;
Marion; another daughter.
Sir Alexander died in 1600, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

WILLIAM BRUCE, who wedded Jean, daughter of John, 5th Lord Fleming, and sister to John, Earl of Wigtown, and had issue,
John, his heir, male line extinct;
William (Sir), of Stenhouse; cr a baronet;
PATRICK, of whom we treat.
The youngest and third surviving son,

PATRICK BRUCE, had the estate of Newton and Bothkenner, and espoused, in 1627, Janet, daughter of John Jackson, a merchant in Edinburgh, and had issue,
Patrick, dsp;
William, his heir;
MICHAEL, of whom we treat.
The youngest son,

THE REV MICHAEL BRUCE (1635-93), settled as a presbyterian minister at Killinchy, County Down, but was driven, with other ministers, thence into Scotland by Colonel Venables and the parliamentarians, for his fidelity to the King.

He returned to Killinchy, however, in 1669, after undergoing great hardships, and a long imprisonment in England and Scotland.

The Rev Michael Bruce married Jean, daughter of Robert Bruce, of Kinnaird (and sister of Colonel Robert Bruce, of Kinnaird, and of the Life Guards of CHARLES I, who died of wounds received at Worcester); he suffered much persecution of religious grounds; and had issue,
JAMES, his heir;
He was succeeded by his eldest son,

THE REV JAMES BRUCE (c1660-1730), Minister of Killyleagh, County Down, who espoused, in 1685, Margaret, daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel James Traill, of Tolychin, County Down, and had issue,
MICHAEL, his heir;
Patrick (Rev), Minister of Killyleagh; ancestor of THE BRUCE BARONETS;
Mary; Eleanor; Magdalen.
The eldest son,

THE REV MICHAEL BRUCE (1686-1735), Minister of Holywood, County Down, married, in 1716, Mary Ker, and had issue,
The second, but eldest surviving son,

THE REV SAMUEL BRUCE (1722-67), Minister of Wood Street Presbyterian Church, Dublin, married, in 1751, Rose, daughter of Robert Rainey, of Magherafelt, County Londonderry, and had issue,
Michael, drowned at Carrickfergus, 1779;
WILLIAM, of whom presently;
Elizabeth; Mary; Eleanor.
The eldest surviving son,

THE REV WILLIAM BRUCE (1757-1841), Minister of First Presbyterian Church, Belfast (whose portrait hangs in the Linenhall Library, Belfast), wedded Susannah, daughter of Robert Hutton, and had issue,
SAMUEL, his heir;
William (Rev), Minister of 1st Presbyterian Church, Belfast;
Eliza; Emily; Maria; Susannah.
The eldest son,

SAMUEL BRUCE (1789-1845), of Thorndale, County Antrim, wedded Annette, daughter of James Ferguson, of White Park, County Antrim, and had issue,
William Robert, of Rockford, County Dublin;
JAMES, of whom we treat;
Samuel, of Norton Hall, Campden, Gloucestershire.
The second son,

JAMES BRUCE JP DL (1835-1917),  of Benburb, County Tyrone, High Sheriff of County Tyrone, 1886, married, in 1877, Mary, daughter of Dr William Thompson, of Lisburn, and widow of George Mitchell, though the marriage was without issue.

Mrs Bruce dsp 1893.

THE MANOR HOUSE, Benburb, lies between Armagh and Dungannon in County Tyrone.

It was built in 1888-90, to the designs of the architect William Henry Lynn, for James Bruce, a Belfast businessman who had bought the Benburb estate from the Viscount Powerscourt a few years previously.

Lord Powerscourt owned 9,230 acres of land in County Tyrone.

In order to make way for the new house Bruce had to demolish many of the dwellings on the south side of the village’s Main Street, including Benburb House, a large residence previously occupied by a Mr Brush, Lord Powerscourt's agent.

The new dwelling (which is generally similar in style to other Lynn compositions of this period, such as Riddel Hall and Campbell College), was constructed by the Belfast firm of James Henry & Sons.

James Bruce died childless in 1917 and the manor house and remaining lands (307 acres in all) were sold to a consortium of three men, Robert Pollock and James Cooper of Enniskillen and James Smith of Liverpool.

Soon Cooper sold out to Pollock and Smith to William Todd, who was in partnership with Robert Boyd.

They then bought out Pollock’s share and planned to turn the house into a hotel, but by 1935 Todd was declared bankrupt and much of the outlying, remaining lands were sold.

The building appears to have remained vacant until the beginning of the 2nd World War, when it was requisitioned by the War Office for use as a military hospital.

When the war ended Boyd put the estate up for sale, and in 1946 it was acquired for by the Catholic Parish of Clonfeacle for £12,000.

Local clergy originally intended the building to be used as an orphanage or a collegiate, but in 1949 they sold it (for £26,000) to an American branch of The Servite Fathers.

The Order retains the property to this day.

In the 1950s the large great hall extension was added to the west end of the house, on the site of a large conservatory or greenhouse.

The south wing of the stable yard was rebuilt at this time, too.

James Bruce built a new police station in the village, the Post Office and a number of houses, one of which is the present Church of Ireland rectory.


In the 1980s the Servites decided to release the buildings, which had been used by the students, for use by the wider community.

A new community group, the Benburb Centre, was established in 1985.

The Benburb Centre is a registered charity and has become a company limited by guarantee.

It is managed by a voluntary Board, composed of representatives of both communities.

Benburb was originally a Plantation period demesne incorporating a 17th century bawn set on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Blackwater River.

It had been built from 1611 on the site of an earlier castle by Sir Richard Wingfield, 1st Viscount Powerscourt.


William Haldane (1858-1929) was the head gardener at the Manor for about thirty years.

While waiting for a house to be prepared for him in the village, he lived for a short while in the cottage within the walls of the manor-house.

The village house was a substantial three-storey affair, now demolished, more in keeping with the landscape gardener/architect that he was, though the term was not in common parlance at  the time.

William's youngest son was born in Benburb in 1910 (the last of eleven children) and remembers walking with Mr Bruce in the greenhouses and being given a peach to eat.

His trademark was golden yew, which he is said to have planted in prominent positions in every garden he developed, with one over the family grave in St Mark's parish church, Armagh.


The main estates of the Wingfields, Viscounts Powerscourt, were based on the lands granted to Richard, 1st Viscount of the 1st creation.

As part of the plantation of Ulster he received 2,000 acres in County Tyrone, including the Benburb estate.

The demesne features mature trees and lawns; a hermitage; pinetum; walled garden and glasshouses disused across the road.

Gate lodges: east lodge, 1887, also by Lynn; and West Lodge.

First published in January, 2012.

Grand Opera House

I happened to be in Belfast yesterday, in the vicinity of the Grand Opera House in Great Victoria Street.

Anybody who knows Belfast will be aware that the opera house remains one of its favourite, cherished and even iconic buildings (despite its bombing during the Troubles).

After City Hall, the Grand Opera House boasts the most exquisite and opulent interior in the city.

The history of this esteemed theatre is so well known that to dwell upon it here becomes unnecessary.

Its exterior has had a major restoration recently.

The minarets, towers, Mercury and many other features have been restored to their former glory.

It was particularly gratifying to see the newly-gilded statue of Mercury, standing aloft, brandishing the Caduceus in his left hand.

At the theatre's entrance front we have the masks of Comedy and Tragedy to each side as we enter or vacate the former front doors below the elevated Crush Bar above the street.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Ballykilcavan House


ALLEN JOHNSON, of Kilternan, County Dublin, son of Christopher Johnson, of the same place, married firstly, Anne _____, and had a son,
ALLEN, his heir.
He wedded secondly, Abigail, daughter of Benjamin Burton, and had issue,
The eldest son,

ALLEN JOHNSON, of Kilternan, wedded, in 1740, Olivia, daughter of John Walsh, of Ballykilcavan, Queen's County, and had issue,
JOHN ALLEN, his heir;
Henry (Major-General Sir), 1st Baronet, GCB;
Mr Johnson died in 1747, and was succeeded by his elder son,

JOHN ALLEN JOHNSON (c1745-1831), High Sheriff of Queen's County, 1792, MP for Baltinglass, 1740-90, who espoused, in 1783, Sackvilla, eldest daughter of Edward Brereton, and had issue,
John Allen, dsp;
EDWARD JOHN, of whom hereafter;
HUNT HENRY, heir to his brother;
Mr Johnson was created a baronet, in 1775, denominated of Ballykilcavan.

Sir John assumed, in 1809, upon the demise of his maternal uncle, the Very Rev Raphael Walsh, Dean of Dromore, the surname and arms of WALSH.

He was succeeded by his eldest surviving son,

SIR EDWARD JOHN JOHNSON-WALSH, 2nd Baronet (c1785-1848), of Ballykilcavan, High Sheriff of Queen's County, 1825, who died unmarried, and was succeeded by his brother,

THE REV SIR HUNT HENRY JOHNSON-WALSH, 3rd Baronet (1787-1865), Rector of Stradbally, who was succeeded by his son,

SIR JOHN ALLEN JOHNSON-WALSH, 4th Baronet (1829-93), who married, in 1859, Harriet Anne, daughter of the Rev Brownlow William Forde, and had issue, a son,

SIR HUNT HENRY ALLEN JOHNSON-WALSH, 5th Baronet (1864-1953), of Ballykilcavan, who espoused, in 1910, Grace, daughter of the Rt Hon Henry Bruen, of Oak Park, County Carlow, and had issue, an only child,

OONAGH JOHNSON-WALSH, who married (William) Frederick Kemmis, of Shaen House.

Thereafter the family name was changed to WALSH-KEMMIS.

The baronetcy expired on the decease of the 5th and last Baronet.

BALLYKILCAVAN HOUSE, near Stradbally, County Laois, is a two-storey, seven-bay house with a dormer attic, with a centre gable and projecting end bays.

It was built about 1680 in wooded parkland just east of Stradbally.

The estate was acquired by Oliver Walsh in 1639 and the house was probably built by his son, also Oliver, who died in 1697.

The house has full-height wings like flanking towers at the corners of the entrance front; while similar towers on the rear of the house are now hidden by later extensions.

These towers were a feature of fortified houses of the 17th century and lingered on into the early 18th century as decorative features.

The house is comprised of a ground floor (unusually at ground level), an upper floor and an attic storey, where the dormer windows have been replaced by skylights.

It has been altered and extended many times over the centuries but many rooms retrain their late-17th century dimensions, though the decoration is later.

In the 18th century Ballykilcavan was given a more Georgian aspect with a ‘floating’ pediment-gable, a fine cut-stone doorcase and sash windows with thin glazing-bars.

There is decorative 1730s plasterwork on the hall ceiling, and even finer work above the staircase and landing.

The landing is Ballykilcavan's finest room and originally extended from front to back as a gallery before the main staircase was installed.

The first prominent member of the family was Major-General Sir Henry Hunt Walsh GCB, who commanded the 28th of Foot at the siege of Quebec.

He was awarded a valuable estate in Prince Edward Island in a lottery of lands after the Seven Years’ War before succeeding his uncle at Ballykilcavan and becoming MP for Maryborough.

General Walsh is likely to have commissioned the magnificent 18th century U-shaped stable block.

The next owner was the Major-General's brother Raphael, Dean of Dromore, who began an ambitious remodelling of the house.

He planned a new front at the rear with a classical cornice and parapet, and a suite of south-facing rooms.

Unfortunately, work was disrupted by the 1798 Rebellion, and Dean Walsh only completed half the building vertically, leaving the remainder blank.

This provides a single, very large drawing room, entered at the half level from the staircase, and a pair of bedrooms overhead.

The drawing-room is particularly beautiful, with fine late-18th century woodwork, mahogany doors and a finely modelled cornice.

Dean Walsh was succeeded by his sister’s son, Sir John Allen Johnson-Walsh, 1st Baronet, who assumed the name Walsh and the estate passed in turn to his two sons.

The second son, Sir Hunt, Rector of Stradbally, was a keen gardener and built a tunnel to his walled garden at the far side of the Stradbally-Athy road.

He also employed a promising local man, William Robinson, to oversee his garden and plant collection.

The story is that master and servant fell out and Robinson doused the hot-house fires before quitting his position on a particularly cold winter’s night.

Nobody noticed his absence and, by the time the fires were re-lit, many precious plants had perished.

In Dublin and later in London, Robinson’s career took-off and he became the doyen of late 19th century garden designers, influencing a whole school of gardening with his ‘natural’ plantings.

Sir Hunt was succeeded by his son and grandson, whose only child Oonagh married a neighbour, William Kemmis of Shaen.

They subsequently changed their name to Walsh-Kemmis and their grandson, David, and his wife Lisa, are the thirteenth generation of the family to live at Ballykilcavan.

The 1700s layout and avenues were rearranged in the nineteenth century when a new road was built from Stradbally to Athy.

A distant section of this road is now on axis with the front door, and acts almost as an avenue with the spire of a First Fruits Church as an eye-catcher in far distance.

Much of the estate is given over to woodland, with some spectacular specimen oaks and Spanish chestnuts, and the record Irish black walnut.

Select Bibliography: Irish Historic Houses Association.

1st Viscount Valentia


This family derives its surname from the lordship of Annesley, Nottinghamshire, where its patriarch,

RICHARD DE ANNESLEY, was seated at the time of the general survey in 1079.

From this Richard descended

SIR JOHN ANNESLEY, Knight, of Headington, Oxfordshire, MP for Nottinghamshire during the reigns of EDWARD III and RICHARD II.

This gentleman married Isabel, sister and co-heir of Sir John Chandos, one of the Knights of the Garter at the institution of that noble order, Viscount of Saint Sauveur in the Cotentin, Normandy, Seneschal of Poitou, Constable of Aquitaine, etc.

Sir John died in 1410, and was succeeded by his son,

THOMAS ANNESLEY, of Annesley, MP for Nottinghamshire, whose great-grandson,

WILLIAM ANNESLEY, of Rodington, had, with other children,

ROBERT ANNESLEY, of Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire; who died in 1553, and was succeeded by his son,

GEORGE ANNESLEY, of Newport Pagnell, whose eldest son,

ROBERT ANNESLEY, was a naval officer in the reign of ELIZABETH I, and also a captain in Her Majesty's army raised to suppress the Earl of Desmond's rebellion; after which he became an undertaker in the plantation of Munster.

He wedded Beatrice, daughter of John Cornwall, of Moor Park, Herefordshire, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR FRANCIS ANNESLEY (c1585-1660), Knight, who filled for forty years several of the highest situations in Ireland.

In 1612, he was constituted constable of Mountnorris Castle; and in 1614, Sir Francis represented County Armagh in parliament.

This gentleman was a protagonist in the plantation of Ulster.

Upon the institution of the order of Baronets of Ireland, Sir Francis was the second person upon whom that dignity was conferred, in 1620, denominated of Mountnorris, County Armagh.

In 1621, he obtained a reversionary grant of the viscountcy of VALENTIA, at the decease of the then viscount (first creation), Sir Henry Power.

He was put, however, into the more immediate possession of a peerage by the title of Baron Mountnorris, of Mountnorris, County Armagh.

His lordship married firstly, Dorothea, daughter of Sir John Philipps Bt, of Picton Castle, Pembrokeshire, by whom he had ARTHUR, his successor, and other children.

He wedded secondly, Jane, daughter of Sir John Stanhope, by whom he had several children, the eldest of whom, FRANCIS, espoused Deborah, daughter of the Most Rev Henry Jones, Lord Bishop of Meath, and was father of FRANCIS, of Thorganby, Yorkshire, who married had issue,
FRANCIS, ancestor of the Annesleys of Bletchingdon;
Martin, in holy orders;
William, ancestor of the EARLS ANNESLEY.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

ARTHUR, 2nd Viscount (1614-86); who was enrolled amongst the peers of England, in 1661, as Baron Annesley, of Newport Pagnell, and EARL OF ANGLESEY.

His lordship was treasurer of the Royal Navy, 1667, and Lord Privy Seal, 1673.

He married Elizabeth, daughter and co-heiress of Sir James Altham, of Oxey, Hertfordshire, one of the Barons of the Exchequer, and had issue,
Altham, cr Baron Altham;
Richard (Very Rev);
Dorothy; Elizabeth; Frances; Philippa; Anne.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

JAMES, 2nd Earl (c1645-90), who wedded Elizabeth, daughter of John, 8th Earl of Rutland, and had issue,
JAMES, 3rd Earl;
JOHN, 4th Earl;
ARTHUR, 5th Earl;
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

JAMES, 3rd Earl (1670-1702), who espoused the Lady Catherine Darnley, natural daughter of JAMES II by Catherine Sedley, Countess of Dorchester, and left an only daughter and heir,

CATHERINE, married to William Phipps, son of Sir Constantine Phipps, LORD CHANCELLOR OF IRELAND, and had a son, CONSTANTINE PHIPPS, who was created Baron Mulgrave.

His lordship was succeeded by his brother,

JOHN, 4th Earl (1676-1710), who wedded, in 1706, the Lady Henrietta Stanley, eldest daughter and co-heir of William, 9th Earl of Derby, by whom he had no surviving issue.

He was succeeded by his brother,

ARTHUR, 5th Earl, who espoused Mary, daughter of John Thompson, 1st Baron Haversham; but dying issueless, in 1737, the honours devolved upon his kinsman,

RICHARD, 6th Earl (c1693-1761), 5th Baron Altham, as 6th Earl of Anglesey (revert to descendants of Altham, second son of 1st Earl).

This nobleman was not left, however, in uninterrupted enjoyment of the honours; for soon after his accession, a claimant arose in the person of Mr James Annesley, who asserted that he was himself the son of Arthur, 4th Lord Altham, and a publication entitled "The Adventures of an Unfortunate Young Nobleman" gave a very interesting and extraordinary narrative of his case.

In that statement it was alleged that Mr Annesley was the true and lawful son and heir of Arthur, Lord Altham, and that he had been kidnapped and transported by his uncle RICHARD, to make room for his own accession to the honours and estates of the family.

Mr Annesley followed up the matter, instituted a suit at law for the recovery of the estates, and after a trial in the Court of Exchequer in Ireland, James Annesley versus Richard, called Earl of Anglesey, begun in 1743, and continued daily, obtained a VERDICT.

It is believed, however, that he did not live long after, as the uncle, notwithstanding this decision, continued to enjoy the honours and fortune.

The conduct of that person throughout the whole course of his iniquitous career, fully sustained the presumption that he had been very capable of committing the foul crime thus laid to his charge.

He is said to have married three wives, two of whom he heartlessly abandoned; and the offspring of the third was unable but partially to establish his legitimacy.

The second lady, Miss Simpson, he wedded when a half-pay officer, without title or fortune, and for some years afterwards was maintained chiefly by her father and friends.

After his accession to the barony of Altham, and subsequently to the earldom of Anglesey, this lady was received at the viceregal court in Dublin as the consort of his lordship, and so introduced by himself.

He cohabited with her for several years, during which time he had three daughters, and these, with their mother, he eventually left to starve.

His third wife was a Miss Donovan, whom he espoused in the lifetime of the second, under the allegation that he had a wife living when he married Miss Simpson, and that his marriage with that unhappy lady was therefore illegal.

To Juliana Donovan he appears to have been married in 1741, immediately after the decease of Ann Prust, the first wife, by his own chaplain, the Rev L Neil, at his seat, Camolin Park, County Wexford.

By her had an only son and three daughters,
ARTHUR, his successor;
Richarda; Juliana; Catherine.
When the 6th Earl died, the legitimacy of his son was contested by the heir-at-law, John Annesley, of Ballysack, who petitioned the Irish parliament to be admitted to the honours of the family.

The matter excited great public interest, and was pending in the Irish House of Lords for almost four years, when their lordships came to a decision, establishing the marriage with Miss Donovan , and confirming the right of her son,

ARTHUR (1744-1816), as 8th Viscount, to the viscountcy of Valentia and the other Irish honours.

His lordship on coming of age, in 1765, and taking his seat in the Irish House of Lords, applied for as writ as EARL OF ANGLESEY to the English parliament; by there the decision was against him, and the writ was, of course, denied.

He continued, however, to sit as Viscount Valentia (his claim being a second time investigated and confirmed in Ireland), and was created, in 1793, EARL OF MOUNTNORRIS.

His lordship married firstly, in 1767, Lucy, only daughter of George, 1st Baron Lyttelton, by whom he had,
GEORGE, his heir;
Juliana Lucy; Hester Annabella.
He wedded secondly, in 1783, Sarah, third daughter of the Rt Hon Sir Henry Cavendish Bt, and the Baroness Waterpark, by whom he left at his decease,
Henry Arthur;
Catherine; Frances Caroline; Juliana.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

GEORGE, 2nd Earl and 9th Viscount Valentia (1770-1844), who married, in 1790, Anne, daughter of William, 2nd Viscount Courtenay, and had issue,
GEORGE ARTHUR (1793-1841);
William (Rev), 1796-1830.
His lordship died without surviving male issue, when the earldom of MOUNTNORRIS expired.

The viscountcy of VALENTIA and the other Irish titles, however, passed to his lordship's third cousin twice removed,

ARTHUR, 10th Viscount,
  • Caryl Arthur Annesley, 12th Viscount (1883–1949);
  • William Monckton Annesley, 13th Viscount (1875–1951);
  • Francis Dighton Annesley, 14th Viscount (1888–1983);
  • Richard John Dighton Annesley, 15th Viscount (1929–2005);
  • Francis William Dighton Annesley, 16th Viscount (b 1959).
The heir presumptive is the present holder's brother, the Hon Peter John Annesley.
CAMOLIN PARK, County Wexford, was a square house dating from the 18th century, sold by Lord Valentia in 1858.

It stood ruinous for many years until it was demolished completely about 1974.

First published in January, 2016.