Monday, 20 October 2014

Viscount Dungannon (2nd Creation)


This family and the noble house of HILL, Marquesses of Downshire, had a common progenitor in

THE RT HON MICHAEL HILL MP (1672-99), of Hillsborough, County Down,
a privy counsellor to WILLIAM III, and a member of both the English and Irish parliaments, who wedded, in 1690, Anne, only daughter of Sir John Trevor, knight, of Brynkinalt, Denbighshire, Speaker of the House of Commons, and subsequently first Lord Commissioner of the Great Seal; by whom he had two sons, Trevor, created Viscount Hillsborough, founder of the house of Downshire; and
ARTHUR HILL (1694-1771), of Belvoir Park, Newtownbreda, County Down,
MP for County Down in 1727, who inherited the estates of his maternal grandfather, Sir John Trevor, in 1762; upon which occasion he assumed the additional surname of TREVOR, and was created, in 1766, Baron Hill and VISCOUNT DUNGANNON.
His lordship espoused firstly, Anne, third daughter and co-heir of the Rt Hon Joseph Deane, Chief Baron of the Irish Exchequer, but had no issue.

He wedded secondly, in 1737, Anne, daughter and heir of Edmund Francis Stafford, of Brownstown, County Meath, by whom he had,
Arthur, MP (1738-70), predeceased his father;
Anne, m to 1st Earl of Mornington;
Prudence, m to Charles Powell Leslie.
His lordship was succeeded by his grandson, 

ARTHUR (1763-1837), 2nd Viscount, who married, in 1795, Charlotte, eldest surviving daughter of Charles, Lord Southampton, and by her ladyship had two sons,
Charles Henry (1801-23).
This nobleman was succeeded by his eldest son, 

ARTHUR (1798-1862), 3rd Viscount, who wedded, in 1821, Sophia, fourth daughter of George D'Arcy Irvine, of Castle Irvine, County Fermanagh.

The titles expied on the death of the 3rd Viscount in 1862.

The Dungannon estates, including Brynkinalt, passed to the latter's kinsman, Lord Edwin Hill, third son of 3rd Marquess of Downshire, who assumed the additional surname of TREVOR and was created Baron Trevor, of Brynkinallt, Denbighshire, in 1890.

Of particular interest is the fact that Lord and Lady Dungannon had one son and two daughters, one of whom, the Hon Anne Hill-Trevor, married Garrett, 1st Earl of Mornington, by whom she had issue Richard, 1st Marquess Wellesley; and Arthur, 1st Duke of Wellington.

Of course this makes Lord Dungannon the grandfather of "The Great Duke" of Wellington; and it can be supposed that the Great Duke would have been familiar with the Belvoir demesne and spent time there during his childhood.

Below is the 1st Viscount's memorial:-

First published in February, 2010.  Dungannon arms (2nd Creation) courtesy of European Heraldry.

Lisheen House

Phibbs of Lisheen


The earliest record of this family is found in a list of names of subscribers to a loan raised in 1589, during the reign of ELIZABETH I, to defray expenses incurred during the arming of the country at the time of the threatened Spanish Armada.

The name there appears as PHILLIPS, as it also does in the official list of High Sheriffs for County Sligo, as late as 1716, where Matthew Phibbs, of Templevaney, is styled Matthew Phillips.

Of this family two brothers came over to Ireland, as soldiers, about 1590.
From records now existing in Trinity College, Dublin, they are found on half-pay, in 1616 and 1619, under the name of PHIPPS, a name that some of the younger branches of the family resumed about 1765. Of these two, William settled in County Cork.
The elder of the two,

RICHARD PHIPPS, who served under Sir Tobias Caulfeild, and was pensioned as a maimed soldier in 1619.

He settled at Kilmainham, Dublin, where he died in 1629, and was buried at St James's Church.

His eldest son,

RICHARD PHIPPS or PHIBBS, of Coote's Horse, who was granted land in County Sligo, in 1659, and served in Captain F King's troop of horse in Lord Collooney's regiment.

He died in 1670, and was interred in St James's Church, Dublin. His elder son,

MATTHEW PHIBBS, of Templevaney, afterwards of Rockbrook, County Sligo, was High Sheriff in 1716, and died in 1738. His eldest son,

WILLIAM PHIPPS or PHIBBS, of Rockbrook and Rathmullen; born in 1696; whose second surviving son,

WILLIAM PHIBBS, of Hollybrook; high sheriff, 1781; whose only surviving son,

OWEN PHIBBS, of Merrion Square, Dublin; high sheriff, 1804; whose eldest son,

WILLIAM PHIBBS, of Seafield, County Sligo; high sheriff, 1833; sometime 11th Light Dragoons; born in 1803. His eldest son,

OWEN PHIBBS JP DL (1842-1914), of Lisheen (name changed in 1904); high sheriff, 1884; late lieutenant, 6th Dragoon Guards. His eldest son,

BASIL PHIBBS, of Corradoo Lodge, and of Lisheen; married, in 1899, Rebekeha, youngest daughter of the late Herbert Wilbraham Taylor, of Hadley Bourne, Hertfordshire, and had, with other issue, a son,

GEOFFREY BASIL PHIBBS (1900-56), of Lisheen,
born in Norfolk; Irish Guards; worked variously as demonstrator in College of Science; librarian; factory-worker in London and school-teacher in Cairo;worked with Nancy Nicholson at the Poulk (Hogarth) Press.
Mr Phibbs married Norah McGuinness in London.

He subsequently changed his name to TAYLOR, following his father’s refusal to "allow his wife over the threshold".

He lived in a Georgian house in Tallaght, County Dublin.

Denis William Phibbs inherited the house and some of the lands, which he sold to Isaac Beckett of Ballina for £1,400 ~ less than one third of the original construction price.

Beckett later sold the house to a builder, John Sisk.

In 1944, the Becketts sold the lands they owned to George Lindsay.

Other lands on the Phibbs estate were bought by the Lindsay and McDermott families.

LISHEEN HOUSE (formerly Seafield), near Ballysadare, County Sligo, although now in a ruinous state, casts an impressive presence on the landscape.

Many clues as to its original state survive, including some fine stonework to the facades, chimneys, and openings. This was clearly a house rich in history and skillfully designed.

The Sligo architect John Benson, who designed the house, was knighted for designing the building at the Dublin Exhibition of 1853.

Lisheen is a two-storey rendered house, built ca 1842, now ruinous.

Symmetrical main elevations, extensive vegetation growth internally and externally; roof collapsed; remains of chimney-stacks survive; section of moulded eaves cornice survives.

Painted smooth-rendered walling, horizontal banding between floors, plain pilasters to corners, moulded dado, ashlar limestone plinth.

Square-headed full-height window openings, moulded architraves, entablatures supported on console brackets, all evidence of timber windows missing.

No evidence of entrance doors survive; all internal finishes and features removed; remote location in fields.

First published in November, 2012.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Mount Stewart Pool


The family's private swimming-pool was located at the edge of Mount Stewart estate, between the main Portaferry Road and Strangford Lough.

The swimming-pool was kidney-shaped

A wooden gazebo structure overlooked Strangford Lough. It stood on a revolving mechanism.

Parts of the retaining wall and foundations remain.
The salt-water, kidney-shaped pool was surrounded by exotic trees and tropical flowers.

The small figures in the pool are Charles and his sister Charlotte, being watched by their long-suffering Lancastrian nanny, Sheila.
Charles's parents were invariably present too and, on this occasion, Charles's godfather, Edward Biddulph (1934-2001) was present. 

First published in November, 2010.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Valete: Mount Stewart Pool

If, at Mount Stewart, you stroll along the coast-line to the south of the main road and between two of the gate lodges on the other side of the road, you shall find the remains of a low, stone wall with a sort of tower further along.

This part of the estate is across the main Portaferry Road, opposite the demesne itself.

There's a circular concrete base in the ground, with a rusty, iron rail within it.

Look inland and you will see a sunken wilderness, overgrown with gorse and long grass.

The concrete base was constructed for a wooden, revolving gazebo. 

The sunken wilderness is all that remains of Lord and Lady Londonderry's lovely salt-water, kidney-shaped swimming-pool.

It was the most picturesque, splendid pool I have ever seen; tranquil and heavenly, surrounded by luxuriant flora, including palm trees.

On the patio beside the pool there were changing-rooms and a little fountain.

The base of the fountain and pool was painted aquamarine.

The changing-rooms were adjacent, their back against a high, stone wall.

I seem to recall a small stone plaque, or lozenge, between the cabins with Charles and Edith Londonderry's monogram.

This wall surrounded three sides of the pool area; and there was an elevated bank at the seaward side with stone steps and various features, like stone benches.

I think there was a diving-board, but I cannot be certain. It felt like another world, within these walls; a true haven, sheltered from the sea breeze.

The pool was designed and built, it is believed, in the 1930s by Edith, Marchioness of Londonderry DBE, whose husband was the 7th Marquess.

They were really the last of the Londonderrys to live at Mount Stewart.

Their daughter, Lady Mairi, lived at Mount Stewart till her death in 2009.

The pool lasted barely sixty years.

This was a haven where family members, including Lady Jane (The Lady Rayne), Lady Annabel (Goldsmith), their brother Alastair, Lord Castlereagh, and other friends spent many happy summers in the 1940s, playing games, swimming and picnicking.

It was still serviceable, though a bit decrepit, by the mid-eighties. 

We did our best to restore it and even managed to get water from the lough flowing in and out again.

By the 1990s, however, gangs of beer-swilling vandals had requisitioned the pool.

Its location across the main road cut it off from the rest of the estate, so it became vulnerable. 

Alas everything, including the walls, was completely demolished thereafter. It is now a wilderness.

Imagine the scenario: The owner is advised, in the strongest terms, that, were one of the trespassers to injure themselves, fatally or otherwise, the owner could be held liable.

Either secure the swimming-pool and its environs from trespassers; risk prosecution; or remove the problem entirely.

Obviously the latter, simplest solution was chosen, and a decision was taken at the highest level.

Given such a beautiful creation, it cannot have been taken lightly.

I have taken a few pictures, including a stone memorial cross to some staff on the estate who perished at sea.

I adored this place. I still miss it. I cherish fond memories of it before it was spoiled.

This is my tribute.

First published in April 2009.   Londonderry arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Dromantine House


This family claims descent from that of INNES of Leuchars, a younger branch of the ancient house of INNES, proprietors of the lands of that name in the year 1160; when by a crown charter of MALCOLM IV of Scotland,

BEROWALD, styled of Flanders, became first feudal baron or lord of Innes. His lineal descendant, 

JAMES, 16th feudal Baron of Innes,
held the appointment of Esquire to JAMES III of Scotland; and among the family papers is still preserved a charter of some lands granted to him by that monarch, "for faithful service to us of our beloved Esquire, James Innes of that Ilk."
JAMES INNES, laird of Innes, who, in 1490, had the honour of entertaining JAMES IV of Scotland, and many distinguished personages of his court, at his mansion of Innes, married Lady Janet Gordon, daughter of Alexander, 1st Earl of Huntly, and had two sons,
Alexander, whose line subsequently failed;
ROBERT, of Cromy and Rathmackenzie, m the daughter of W Meldrum, Baron of Fyvie.
This Robert was succeeded by his younger son,

ALEXANDER INNES, of Blackhills, ancestor of the family of INNES of Leuchars, Fife. His grandson,

and afterwards on the death of his half-brother in 1619, of Leuchars, and Baillie of the Regality and Constable of the Castle of Spynie, known in the family by the quaint sobriquet of Craig-in-Peril, married his cousin, Marjory, eldest daughter of William Gordon, Baron of Gight, great-great-grandson of George, 2nd Earl of Huntly, and his Countess, the Princess Annabella Stewart, youngest daughter of JAMES I of Scotland.
Mr Innes died in 1634, leaving with other issue, his eldest son,

JOHN INNES, of Leuchars, Baillie of the Regality and Constable of the Castle of Spynie (offices confirmed to him by Act of Parliament, 1641).
In 1625, this gentleman joined the Scots Guards in the service of the King of France. He married, in 1622, Elizabeth, only daughter of Archibald Douglas, of Pittendreich.
Dying in 1645, he left issue,
JOHN, of Leuchars, imprisoned by the Covenanters; his estate sequestered until the Restoration;
Robert, killed by the Covenanters at Leuchars;
The last named,

ALEXANDER INNES, is said to have gone to Ulster at the Restoration, and from him is traced the Irish branch of the family.

He married the daughter of the Rev Edward Brice, minister of Ballycarry, County Antrim, and by her had issue, his youngest son,

WILLIAM INNES, of Belfast and of Dublin, who married his cousin Jane, daughter of Robert Brice, of Castle Chichester, County Antrim, and had, with two daughters, five sons.

The eldest son,

WILLIAM INNES, of Glen Manor, then of Dromantine, County Down, married, in 1744, Dorothea, daughter of Charles Brice, of Castle Chichester, County Antrim.

He died in 1785, having had issue, his eldest son,

CHARLES BRICE INNES, of Dromantine, High Sheriff of County Down, 1775, who died unmarried in 1804 and was succeeded by his brother,

ARTHUR INNES (1755-1820), of Dromantine; Captain, Dragoon Guards; High Sheriff of County Down, 1814.

Captain Innes married, in 1796, Anne, daughter of Major Edward Crow, of Tullamore, King's County, and had issue, a son and heir,

ARTHUR INNES JP DL (1805-35), of Dromantine; High Sheriff, 1832; Lieutenant, 3rd Dragoon Guards;

Mr Innes married, in 1829, Mary Jervis, daughter and heir of William Wolseley, Admiral of the Red.

He died in 1835, leaving issue,

ARTHUR CHARLES INNES-CROSS JP DL (1834-1902), of Dromantine, MP for Newry, 1865-68.

This gentleman's second wife, Jane Beauchamp Cross, of Dartan, was daughter of Colonel Cross DL, of Dartan, County Armagh (whose name he assumed by Royal Licence).

He died in 1902, having had further issue,

ARTHUR CHARLES WOLSELEY INNES-CROSS MC, born in 1888, of Dromantine; Captain, 4th Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers; married, in 1915, Etta, daughter of William Bradshaw, of 1 Wilbraham Place, London.

DROMANTINE HOUSE, near Newry, County Down, was described as new in 1834, replacing a former dwelling of 1741; and was re-modelled from 1860-64, to the designs of McCurdy.

In the 1860s, Arthur Charles Innes-Cross extended the original house, making it even more stately and imposing.

In the early 20th century, the fortunes of the Innes family waned and they decided to sell Dromantine estate.

THE SOCIETY of African Missions (SMA), based in County Cork, was looking for a suitable property in which to prepare their students for missionary work in Africa.

They bought Dromantine House and the 320 acre estate in 1926.

Paying special attention to a harmonious blend with the original architecture, work on St Patrick's wing on the east side commenced in 1931.

St Brendan's wing on the west side was built in 1935 and a new Chapel, which was added to the end of this wing, was consecrated by Bishop Mulhern in 1937.

St Colman's wing, with 62 study-bedrooms for students, and a new assembly/lecture hall, was opened in 1959.

In 1996, major renovation work was completed.

In 2004, the original 19th century courtyard building was sensitively and completely renovated to provide additional conference rooms and facilities.

The 320 acre, part-walled demesne is in a beautiful situation, in undulating drumlin country, and is well maintained.

In 1806 Arthur Innes built the original part of the existing house in Neo-classical style.

When he died in 1820 he left a magnificent house within a beautifully landscaped demesne complete with a newly formed lake.

Parkland and stands of trees occupy most of the ground, which is laid out in the style of a landscape park, possibly designed for the present house.

There is a good deal of woodland. One area, known as Racecourse Wood, possibly used as such, has now gone.

Terracing at the house is now in lawns but a decorative fountain remains.

There is a modest, late 19th century arboretum to the northeast of the house.

The gardens are mentioned in the Garden Annual & Almanac of 1908.

The walled garden is some distance from the house, to the southwest. It is no longer cultivated and ruinous glasshouse can be seen. The head gardener’s house has been modernised.

The site has been a missionary college since 1928.

There were two gate lodges, of which one remains. One was built pre-1834; the other, late Victorian.

First published in October, 2012.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Stormont House

STORMONT HOUSE, built in 1926, is a neo-Georgian, Queen Anne-style, two-storey, red-brick building located within the Stormont Estate to the south-east of Parliament Buildings, Belfast.

It was formerly known as Speaker's House and served as the official residence of the Speaker of the NI House of Commons until 1945, when the present Lord Dunleath's grandfather, Sir Harry Mulholland Bt MP, retired.

Thereafter, it became the official residence of the NI Prime Minister (Sir Basil Brooke Bt, Sir Harry Mulholland's brother-in-law).
Sir Harry purchased Sir Basil's town house, Storbrooke, on Massey Avenue; thereby effectively doing a house-swap!
The House was the first building to be erected as part of the redevelopment of the Stormont Estate.

Following the Government of Ireland Act (1920), Stormont Castle and its grounds (former seat of the Cleland family) was selected as the home of the newly-formed Northern Ireland Government and Parliament.

The Stormont Estate was acquired by the Commissioners of Public Works and Buildings of the Imperial Government in 1921 at a cost of £20,334 (£870,000 in today's money).

However, the Parliament Buildings were not completed and opened until 1932.
The architect chosen to design Speaker's House was Ralph Knott, an English architect and a partner in Knott & Collins. Knott is best known for designing London County Hall opposite Westminster, and was originally selected by the Board of Works to design the Parliament Buildings.
Knott was, however, subsequently replaced as architect by Arnold Thornely.

Nevertheless, Mr Knott was able to complete Speaker's House in 1926.

Speaker's House was first recorded on the fifth edition of the Ordnance Survey maps (1938-39) which depicted the building along its current layout (excluding the two-storey administration block to its east).

It was subsequently listed in 1987.

Since the devolution of government, Speaker's House is no longer utilised as the official residence of the Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

It is currently occupied by the Northern Ireland Office.

It was extended in the 1970s when a large two-storey administration complex was added to the eastern side of the former dwelling.

I am grateful to The Lord Dunleath for information regarding Speaker's House.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Castlecoote House


This is the parent stock, whence the noble houses of COOTE, Earls of Mountrath, and COOTE, Barons Castle Coote, both now extinct, emanated.
The first settler of the Cootes in Ireland, descended from a very ancient English family, was Sir Charles Coote, 1st Baronet, knight, who served in the wars against O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone, at the head, as captain, of 100 foot-soldiers, with which he was at the siege of Kinsale.
Sir Charles was appointed, by JAMES 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.
The surprising passage through Mountrath woods justly caused the title of Mountrath to be conferred upon his son; and the Coote Baronetcy, of Castle Cuffe, Queen's County, one of the oldest creations (1621) in the Baronetage.
Sir Charles Coote, 1st Baronet, Provost-Marshal and Vice-President of the Province of Connaught, greatly distinguished himself at the relief of Birr, 1642.

The 2nd Baronet, also called Sir Charles, was created, in 1661, Earl of Mountrath, when the baronetcy merged in the peerage.

The 7th Earl and 8th Baronet, having no heir, obtained, in 1800, a new creation, that of Baron Castle Coote

This title became extinct in 1827, when the baronetcy reverted to the great-great-grandson of the 2nd son of the 1st Baronet.

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

CASTLECOOTE HOUSE, near Castlecoote, County Roscommon, is situated on the site of a medieval castle, thought to have been built between 1570 and 1616.

It was a strategic site, and may have been the base of the Chieftains of Fuerty, the MacGeraghty clan. 

In 1616, it fell into the hands of Sir Charles Coote, who improved and re-fortified the castle.

The castle was attacked three times by the confederate forces in the 1640s.

Castlecoote House was built in the second half of the 17th century, within the enclosure of the old castle, which had by now fallen into ruins.

In the basement tower rooms, musket chambers still overlook the entrance steps.

In the 18th century the property passed into the ownership of the Gunnings, rumoured to have won it in a poker game.
The two Gunning sisters (one of whom was later to become Duchess of Hamilton and then Duchess of Argyll) were renowned for their beauty. Their portraits, painted by Joshua Reynolds, can be viewed in the main hall.
In the 20th century, the house was owned by Henry Strevens, a noted equestrian.

The present owner bought Castlecoote House in 1997,
The house was a cavernous ruin, with no floors, no ceilings, no stairs, no windows and crumbling interior walls. The entire basement was submerged beneath the earth and the main entrance steps had collapsed.
The restoration work took five years to complete, and included underpinning the foundations, consolidating the castle towers, rebuilding the mill race walls, landscaping the grounds and restoring the ceilings and ballroom to their former splendour.
First published in October, 2012.