Sunday, 7 February 2016

Beardiville House


This family is of Scottish extraction, and settled, it is stated, in County Londonderry, towards the latter end of the 16th century. 

ALEXANDER LECKIE OF THAT ILK, a laird from Stirlingshire, owing to various troubles of that period, had to take refuge in Ulster where he spent the years 1633-40.

He wedded Grizel, daughter of Sir John Murray of Polmais; and dying in 1643, he was succeeded by his younger son, 

CAPTAIN ALEXANDER LECKY, who, like his father, removed to Ulster and settled at Londonderry.

This gentleman was High Sheriff of Londonderry, 1677; Mayor, 1691 and 1695.

Captain Lecky took a considerable part in the siege of Londonderry, being captain of one of the six companies raised for the protection of the city; but on his refusal to accept the Test Act of 1704, he had to relinquish his office of alderman of the city and all his other offices.

His younger son, 

HENRY LECKY (1689-1761), of Agivey, County Londonderry, married, in 1724, Mary, daughter of Randal McColIum, of Limnalary, Glenarm, County Antrim, and had a son,

HUGH LECKY, of Agivey, who married, in 1765, Elizabeth, daughter of the Rev John Gage, of Rathlin, County Antrim.

He died in 1796, having had issue,
JOHN GAGE, his heir;
Hugh, father of HUGH;
Mary; Anne.
The elder son,

JOHN GAGE LECKY (1772-1819), of Agivey, and Bushmills, married, in 1818, Elizabeth, daughter of the Rev Oliver McCausland.

He died without issue, when he was succeeded by his nephew, 

HUGH LECKY (1804-81), of Beardiville, County Antrim, High Sheriff, 1835, who wedded, in 1837, Matilda, daughter of George Hutchinson, of Ballymoney, County Antrim, and by her had issue,
HUGH, his heir;
John Gage;
Mr Lecky was succeeded by his eldest son, 

HUGH LECKY JP (1819-), of Beardiville, High Sheriff, 1835, who espoused, in 1876, Rebecca Mary, daughter of Robert Crookshank, of Glennmanus House, Portrush, and had issue,
HUGH, his heir;
Randall and
James, twins;
Mr Lecky was succeeded by his eldest son,

CAPTAIN HUGH LECKY DL (1880-1962), who married, in 1905, Annie Margaret, daughter of Anthony Traill (divorced 1916).

His second wife, Frances, died in 1965.

BEARDIVILLE HOUSE is situated at Cloyfin, between Coleraine and Bushmills, County Antrim.

This is a mid-18th century house originally inhabited by the Macnaghtens of Dundarave.

It comprises two storeys over a basement, with five bays. The central bay breaks forward.

There is a porch with Tuscan-style columns, which were added afterwards.

The drawing-room was in the single-storey 19th century wing.

There is a simple pedimented archway at the demesne's entrance, flanked by single-storey lodges. Diocletian windows are partly blocked up.

Beardiville passed to the Lecky family in the 19th century.

The demesne was established in the 17th century and the present house dates from around 1710-12.

The property had been leased by Francis Macnaghten from the Earl of Antrim in 1709 and the house, with its steep, hipped roof (which once had dormers), has an armorial plaque over the main door with the date 1715, most likely the coat-of-arms of the 4th Earl.

An earlier survey by Thomas Roe of the demesne in 1712 shows ‘house, orchard, garding, stead and meadow or moss’.

There is part of a shelter belt of trees on the west side, which is most necessary in this area of the county, but a continuation along the road to the south has gone.

Two clumps of trees in parkland to the south of the house, and other trees near the house, remain from late 18th or early 19th century planting.

There is a walled garden, set out as an ornamental garden for a dwelling that is occupied. The building may have originally been an apple store.

The area south of the walled garden was formally an orchard.

There is a pond fed from a spring, mature shrubs, herbaceous border, lawns, a tennis court and wall plants in the walled garden.

It appears that improvements in landscaping took place in the early 19th century, as a winding avenue through parkland was emphasised through the addition of a new gate lodge on the south side.

This is maintained as a folly.

It was built ca 1810 in basalt rubble, with two rooms and a joining arch, possibly by Richard Elsam.

Another matching pair of lodges, ca 1790 at the north entrance, probably flanked the original entrance and are now derelict.

The property passed hands in 1845 to Hugh Lecky, whose son, also Hugh, went to live in the Apple House in the walled garden just before the start of the 2nd World War.

Beardiville House remained empty until sold in 1965.

It has subsequently been restored.

First published in August, 2011.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Brackenber House Annual Dinner

Given that the weather was somewhat inclement in Belfast yesterday, I took a cab into town for the annual Old Brackenbrian dinner at the Ulster Reform Club.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Brackenber, it was a prep school at Cleaver Avenue in Belfast.

I was there from about 1971 till 1973 or 74.

The Reform Club is one of Belfast's most venerated institutions: heavy oak panelling; thick, opulent carpets; vaulted ceilings; decent plasterwork; leather armchairs.

You get the idea.

This is the last remaining Victorian gentlemen's club in the city (actually ladies are very welcome now, too).

The Club used to have accommodation for members, though I think this ceased in the 1970s.

Gordon Harvey greeted me on the top floor and I entered the dining-room, overlooking Royal Avenue.

Johnny Knox hailed me as I entered, "Ah, it's Lord Belmont!"

There was a 1970s cine film being shown on the television screens of the school and games days, several teachers, viz. Mr McQuoid, Mr Bull, Miss Rankin, and so on.

I relished the grub, as ever.

We tucked in to spiced parsnip soup with chive oil and freshly baked bread; lamb shank braised with vegetables and red wine, served with a gravy of pan juices; Chef's selection of vegetables and potatoes; home-made deep-filled apple pie with cinnamon cream; and tea or coffee.

I was fortified with a glass of port for the speeches.

There were sixty-two old boys this year, a very commendable turnout given that the school closed down and was demolished many years ago.

I have another old boys' bash next Friday, this time at Campbell.

I must give the old DJ an airing.

Accession Day


On the 6th February, 1952, Her Royal Highness The Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh, learnt that the life of her gravely ill father, GEORGE VI, had ebbed away and that she had acceded to the Throne.

On the 3rd February, 1952, the royal couple arrived at Sagana Hunting Lodge in Nyeri, in the foothills of Mount Kenya.

Their Royal Highnesses spent the night at Treetops Hotel; and it was here that Princess Elizabeth received the sad news of the death of her dearly beloved father, The King, on 6th February.

Royal gun salutes are customarily fired throughout the United Kingdom on Accession Day, including Hillsborough Castle, County Down.

Friday, 5 February 2016

The Stewart Baronets


CAPTAIN ANDREW STEWART, a native of Scotland, settled in Ulster about the year 1627, and marrying Sarah, eldest daughter of Andrew, 3rd Baron Castle Stewart, and sister to Mary, Countess of Suffolk, had three sons.
Captain Stewart obtained from his father-in-law the greater part of the manor of Castle Stewart; but he afterwards built, and resided on, another seat called Gortigal, near Stewartstown, County Tyrone, immediately adjoining the residence of the Castle Stewart family.
He served with Colonel Robert Stewart, of Fry, in defence of the forts of Dungannon and Mountjoy, in 1641; and at the rising of the rebels at Artree, County Tyrone, for the purpose of destroying the Protestant families of that county, his house was attacked; but with a few Scots' followers he defended it for two days, when assistance was sent to him from Mountjoy Fort.
Captain Stewart, having long been an object devoted to vengeance for the zeal and loyalty he evinced in the royal cause, was, at length, put to death by rebels about the year 1650. 
His second son,

HUGH STEWART, married Margaret, daughter of Thomas Morris, of Mountjoy Castle, and was succeeded by his elder son,

THE REV HUGH STEWART, rector of Termon, County Tyrone, who wedded Sarah, daughter of the Rev Andrew Hamilton, by his wife, the only daughter and heir of Sir William Conyngham Bt, and had issue,

JOHN, his successor;
Andrew, an officer in the East India Company;
Henry (Rev), Rector of Loughgilly, Co Armagh;
Ann; Sarah; Amelia.
The Rev Hugh Stewart was succeeded by his eldest son,

THE RT HON JOHN STEWART (c1758-1825), of Ballygawley, who having attained eminence at the Bar, was appointed attorney-general for Ireland in 1799, and sworn of the privy council of that kingdom.

He subsequently represented counties Down and Tyrone in parliament, and was created a baronet in 1803.

Sir John espoused Mary, daughter of Mervyn Archdale, of Castle Archdale, and by her had issue,

HUGH, his successor;
Sir John was succeeded by his elder son,

SIR HUGH (1792-1854), 2nd Baronet, who represented Tyrone in parliament from 1830-34.
  • Sir Hugh, 2nd Baronet (1792–1854);
    Sir John Marcus, 3rd Baronet (1830–1905);
    Sir Hugh Houghton, 4th Baronet (1858–1942);
    Sir George Powell, 5th Baronet (1861–1945);
    Sir Hugh Charlie Godfray, 6th Baronet (1897–1994);
    Sir David John Christopher, 7th Baronet (b 1935). 
Sir Hugh, 6th Baronet, of Loughmacrory Lodge, County Tyrone, was a major in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers; High Sheriff, 1955, and DL for County Tyrone in 1971.

The 7th and present Baronet, Sir David, lives in Somerset.

Nick Stewart, whose half-brother is the present baronet, has kindly sent me two old photographs of Ballygawley House taken by Sir Hugh in the winter of 1914.

At that time the demesne was known as Greenhill.

Photo credit: Kenneth Allen

BALLYGAWLEY HOUSE, near Ballygawley, County Tyrone, was set in its own parkland, was a Classical mansion of two storeys, with a two-storey portico supported by two giant Doric columns and a shallow dome.

It was built for the 2nd Baronet between 1825 and 1833, to the design of John Hargrave.

Seemingly, the mansion suffered an accidental fire during the 1920s and the Stewart family never returned to it. 

First published in December, 2010.

Rossmore Park


THE WESTENRAS, descended from the family of VAN WASSENAER, of Wassenburg, were of great antiquity in Holland, and they bore the augmentation of the SEAHORSE, in reference to the valour of an ancestor who, during the Duke of Alba's campaigns, was actively employed against the enemy, and undertook to swim across an arm of the sea with important intelligence to his besieged countrymen.

WARNER WESTENRA settled in Ireland during the reign of CHARLES II, and with his brothers, Derrick and Peter Westenra, became a free denizen of that kingdom, by act of parliament, in 1662.

In 1667, Colonel Grace sold the town and lands of "Clonlee, Brickanagh, and Lyagh" [sic], in the King's County, to this Warner Westenra, merchant, of the city of Dublin.

He married Elizabeth Wyhrantz, and had issue,
HENRY, his successor;
Elizabeth, m Rt Rev Simon Digby.
Mr Westenra died in 1676, and was succeeded by his son,

HENRY WESTENRA, who inherited likewise the estates of his cousin, Peter Westenra, MP for Athboy.

Mr Westenra wedded, in 1700, Eleanor, second daughter of Sir Joshua Allen, Knight, and sister of John, 1st Viscount Allen, by whom he had surviving issue,
WARNER, his successor;
Elizabeth; Jane; Penelope.
Mr Westenra died in 1719 and was succeeded by his eldest son,

WARNER WESTENRA, MP for Maryborough in 1728, who espoused, in 1738, Lady Hester Lambert, second saughter of Richard, 4th Earl of Cavan, and had issue,
HENRY, his successor;
Castilinna; Eleanor.
Mr Westenra was was succeeded by his eldest son,

HENRY WESTENRA, MP for Monaghan, and seneschal of the King's manors in Ireland, who married, in 1764, Harriet, daughter of Colonel John Murray, MP for County Monaghan, and had issue,
Mary Frances; Harriet Hesther.
He was succeeded by his eldest son,

WARNER WILLIAM WESTENRA (1765-1842), of Rossmore Park, County Monaghan, who wedded firstly, in 1791, Mary Anne, second daughter of Charles Walsh, of Walsh Park, County Tipperary, by whom he had issue,
HENRY ROBERT, his successor;
John Craven;
His lordship espoused secondly, in 1819, Augusta, fourth daughter of of Francis, Lord Elcho, and sister of Francis, 7th Earl of Wemyss.

He succeeded to the barony of ROSSMORE at the decease of ROBERT CUNINGHAME, 1st Baron Rossmore, in 1801


GENERAL ROBERT CUNINGHAME  fought in the Battle of Culloden in 1746, with the 14th Foot.

He was aide-de-camp to the Lord Archbishop of Armagh in 1751, when the latter was Lord Justice of Ireland.

General Cuninghame was elevated to the peerage, in 1796, by the title of  BARON ROSSMORE, of Rossmore Park; and having no issue by his wife, Elizabeth, daughter of John Murray, and co-heir of her mother Mary, Dowager Lady Blayney, sole heir of Sir Alexander Cairnes Bt, the patent of creation contained a reversionary clause conferring the Barony, at his lordship's decease, upon the heirs male, at the time being, of two of her ladyship's sisters successively; namely, Anne, the wife of the Rt Hon Theophilus Jones; and Harriet, the wife of Henry Westenra.

His lordship died in 1801, and the only son of Mrs Jones, Alexander Jones, having predeceased him, unmarried, the barony devolved upon Mrs Westenra's eldest son, WARNER WILLIAM WESTENRA, 2nd Baron Rossmore.

The heir apparent is the present holder's only son, the Hon Benedict William Westenra (b 1983).

ROSSMORE CASTLE, County Monaghan, was a very large and complex building, constructed on the outskirts of Monaghan town in Tudor-Gothic style in 1827 by the the 3rd Lord Rossmore, to the designs of William Vitruvius Morrison.

An extension was added in 1858 in Scottish-Baronial style, designed by William Henry Lynn.

A main feature of the original building was a large square tower and turret with crow-step battlements.

The extension also featured two towers, one with a polygonal turret and cupola, the other a smaller square tower with a spire.

The building underwent further smaller changes, a number of which were inspired by a competition which had developed over the years between Lord Rossmore and Mr Shirley of Lough Fea, as to which of them could claim to have the largest room in County Monaghan.

The remarkable consequence was that the drawing-room in Rossmore Castle was enlarged five times.

Eventually the combined changes and additions resulted in a building with three towers and over 117 windows in 53 different shapes and sizes.

After the 2nd World War, the house developed a severe case of dry rot, and the 6th Baron and his family were forced to leave the castle and take up residence in Camla Vale, a Georgian house owned by the family and situated within the estate grounds.

The castle was demolished in 1974.

The former demesne is now a forest park.

First published in January, 2012.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Wodehouse Gems: I


Of course P G Wodehouse was master of the English Language.

He was, to my mind, supreme beyond measure when it came to English prose and literature.

Here's Bertie Wooster's description of Lady Malvern in Carry On, Jeeves:-
Lady Malvern was a hearty, happy, healthy, overpowering sort of female, not so very tall but making up for it by measuring about six feet from the O. P. to the Prompt Side.

She fitted into my biggest arm-chair as if it had been built round her by someone who knew they were wearing arm-chairs tight about the hips that season.

She had bright, bulging eyes and a lot of yellow hair, and when she spoke she showed about fifty-seven front teeth. She was one of those women who kind of numb a fellow's faculties.
Remind you of anybody who's had media exposure lately?

First published in  July, 2011.

Ballymacormick Day

We (National Trust Strangford Lough Group) spent a good part of yesterday at Ballymacormick again.

Ballymacormick is a stretch of coastline near Groomsport, County Down.

Once again, we were burning and cutting gorse.

There's a considerable amount of it. Much of it has become so well established that the stumps are large enough for firewood.

A dozen of us made good progress; it was dry with sunny intervals; and the stonechats were never far away.

As usual, we had a good natter at lunchtime. I had my favourite cheese & onion sandwiches with tea.