Saturday, 1 October 2016

Kiltanon House

THE MOLONY FAMILY WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY CLARE, WITH 10,095 ACRES

JAMES MOLONY, of Kiltanon, second son of JAMES MOLONY, of Kiltanon and Ballynahinch, by his second wife, Mary, daughter of James Lambert, married, ca 1715, Elizabeth, widow of Major Morgan Ryan, and second daughter and co-heir of Thomas Croasdaile, of Clostoken, County Galway, by Mercy his wife, daughter of Colonel Richard Ringrose, of Moynoe House, County Clare, and had issue,
JAMES, his heir;
Croasdaile;
Lambert;
Jane.
Mr Molony was succeeded by his eldest son,

JAMES MOLONY (1717-), of Kiltanon, who married, in 1751, Mary, daughter of Stewart Weldon, of Raheenderry, Queen's County, and had issue,
JAMES, his heir;
Arthur;
Walter Weldon;
Lambert;
Weldon John (Rev);
Charles;
Edmund;
Elizabeth.
Mr Molony was succeeded by his eldest son,

JAMES MOLONY (1752-1823), of Kiltanon, High Sheriff of County Clare, 1802, who married, in 1780, Selina, daughter of the Rev John Mills, of Barford, Warwickshire, and had issue,
JAMES, his heir;
Charles Arthur, b 1790;
Edmund, b 1794;
Selina; Mary; Harriet; Anne; Lucy.
Mr Molony was succeeded by his eldest son,

JAMES MOLONY JP DL (1785-1874), of Kiltanon, High Sheriff of County Clare, 1828, who married firstly, in 1820, Harriet, daughter of William Harding, of Baraset, Warwickshire, and had issue,
James, 1822-34;
WILLIAM MILLS, his heir;
Harriet, died in infancy.
He wedded secondly, in 1828, Lucy, second daughter of Sir Trevor Wheler Bt, of Leamington, Hastings, Warwickshire, and had issue,
Francis Wheler (Rev);Edmund Weldon;Trevor Charles;Frederick Beresford;Charles Mills, CB;Marcus;Mary; Lucy Anne; Harriet Selina.
Mr Molony died at Leamington and was succeeded by his eldest surviving son,

WILLIAM MILLS MOLONY JP DL (1825-91), of Kiltanon, Major, 22nd Regiment, High Sheriff of County Clare, 1865, who espoused, in 1865, Marianne Marsh, elder daughter and co-heir of Robert Fannin, of Leeson Street, Dublin, by his wife Henrietta, daughter of Croasdaile Molony, of Granahan, and had issue,
James Edmund Harding (1873-79);
WILLIAM BERESFORD, his heir;
Henrietta Mary; Iva Kathleen; Selina Charlotte; Maud Alice.
Major Molony was succeeded by his only surviving son,

COLONEL WILLIAM BERESFORD MOLONY (1875-1960), of Kiltanon, High Sheriff of County Clare, 1908, King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, who wedded, in 1905, Lena Maria Annie, only daughter of George Wright, of Heysham Lodge, Lancashire, and of Coverham Abbey, Yorkshire, with no issue.


KILTANON HOUSE, near Tulla, County Clare, was an attractive, pale brick three-storey Georgian mansion with stone facing which overlooked rolling parklands of mature trees of both native and imported variety.  

The house was destroyed by fire in 1920. 

Unique family mementos, including a marble table and an inlaid set of playing cards, perished.  

This classic heirloom was said to have been given to Bishop John O'Molony by LOUIS XIV in atonement for having once lost his temper when playing and tearing up his card.

The top floor was an attic storey. The fenestration was said to be unusual.

A two-storey wing was set back.

The Molonys managed to hold onto Kiltannon House in the 1690s by a fortunate clause in the Treaty of Limerick which exempted serving officers within the city walls.

In 1878, it was estimated that the lands comprising the Kiltannon Estate numbered 10,000 acres with a rateable valuation of £2,500.

It was then owned by Major William Mills Molony.  

His son, Colonel William Molony, was the last of seven generations to own this estate.

Kiltanon was the home of the Molony family for at least two centuries.

The house, built in 1833, had a drive which linked it to the other nearby Molony residences at Bunavory and Cragg.

The house is now ruinous.

In the second half of the 19th century another house, known as the Home Farm House, was built at Kiltanon for Marcus Molony, eighth son of James Molony, and his agent.

This house is still extant.


Kiltanon home farm is on the grounds of the Kiltanon Sport Estate and is 1,000 yards south-west of Kiltanon House and estate.

The folklore history of the Kiltanon Estate is that the lands were given to a Cromwellian soldier as payment for his services in the Cromwellian Army.

After arriving in Galway Harbour, he began his journey on foot, and crossing the mountain from Gort, heading south for Tulla with the newly signed property deed on his person, he stopped a member of the Molony clan at Laughan Bridge to ask directions to his estate:
‘Is the lands of Kiltanon as bad as all of the land around here?" the soldier asked. ‘It’s worse’ said Molony, pointing to the snow covered rocks and heather that formed part of the mountain and was many miles from the fertile Kiltanon lands. "Then I have no business being here’ replied the soldier, ‘do you want to buy it from me?’.
Accepting what money Molony had in his pocket as payment, he handed over the deed to Kiltanon Estate and returned to Galway.

Thus, as local folklore has it, the property came into the Maloney family.

A book by Hugh Weir states that the soldier was James Molony, of Ballinahinch and Kiltanon, who served in O’Brien’s regiment of foot in support of King JAMES II.

His property was saved at the Treaty of Limerick by a clause which exempted those from within the city walls.

Kiltanon Home Farm was built for Marcus Molony JP, son of James Molony JP DL, of Kiltanon, who married Christina Emma of neighbouring Tyredah Castle and acted as land agent for the family estate which comprised of 10,095 acres.

Colonel William (Willie) Molony (1875-1960), of Kiltanon, was the last of seven direct descendents to own Kiltanon. 

Friday, 30 September 2016

The Stewart Baronets

THE STEWART BARONETCY WAS CREATED IN 1628 FOR ANDREW STEWART, 2ND BARON CASTLE STEWART.

This is a branch of the royal house of STEWART, springing from Robert, Duke of Albany and Regent of Scotland, third legitimate son of ROBERT II of Scotland.

MURDOCH, 2nd Duke of Albany (1362-1425), succeeded his father Robert as Regent of the Kingdom, but was beheaded, with his two eldest sons, 1425.

His third son, JAMES MOR STEWART, called James the Fat, fled to Ulster, and was father of

ANDREW STEWART, 1st Lord Avondale (c1420-88), who died without issue; and of WALTER, whose son,

ANDREW (c1505-48), succeeding to the titles and estates of his uncle, became 2nd Lord Avondale, and "exchanged" the title for that of OCHILTREE.

His lordship married Margaret, natural daughter of James, 1st Earl of Arran, and had issue,
ANDREW, his successor;
Walter;
Isobel.
He was succeeded by his eldest son,

ANDREW (c1521-91), 2nd Lord Ochiltree, who married Agnes Cunningham, and had a son and heir, Andrew Stewart, styled Master of Ochiltree, who predeceased him in 1578, and was succeeded by his grandson,

ANDREW, 3rd Lord Ochiltree (c1560-1629), who having sold the feudal barony of OCHILTREE to his cousin, Sir James Stuart, of Killeith, was created, 1619, Baron Castle Stewart, of County Tyrone, where he possessed considerable estates.

He wedded, ca 1587, Margaret, daughter of Sir John Kennedy, of Blairquhan, and had issue,
ANDREW, his successor;
JOHN, 5th Baron;
Robert, ancestor of the Earl Castle Stewart;
Margaret, George Crawford, of Crawfordsburn;
Maria, John Kennedy, of Cultra;
Anna.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR ANDREW, 2nd Baron (1590-1629), who had been previously created a baronet.

*****

ARTHUR PATRICK AVONDALE, 8TH EARL CASTLE STEWART is the 15th Stewart Baronet.

Seat ~ Stuart Hall,
 Stewartstown, County Tyrone.

First published in April, 2011.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Hillsborough Castle

 THE MARQUESSES OF DOWNSHIRE WERE THE GREATEST LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY DOWN, WITH 78,051 ACRES

This family, of Norman extraction, was originally called de la Montagne.

In the reign of EDWARD III, its members were styled Hill, alias DE LA MONTAGNE; but in succeeding ages they were known by the name of HILL only. 

SIR MOYSES HILL, Knight, descended from the family of Hill, of Devonshire, two members of which were judges of England in the beginning of the 15th century, went over to Ulster, as a military officer, with the Earl of Essex, in 1573, to suppress O'Neill's rebellion.

Sir Moyses was subsequently nominated governor of Olderfleet Castle, an important fortress at the period, as it protected Larne harbour from the invasion of the Scots.

He represented County Antrim in parliament in 1613, and having distinguished himself during a long life, both as a soldier and as a magistrate, died in 1629/30, and was succeeded by his elder son, PETER HILL; but we pass to his younger son, ARTHUR HILL, who eventually inherited the estates, upon the demise of Peter's only son, Francis Hill, of Hill Hall, without male issue.

The said

RT HON ARTHUR HILL (c1601-63), Constable of Hillsborough Fort, County Down, was colonel of a regiment in the service of CHARLES I, and he sat in parliament under the usurpation of CROMWELL, as well as after the Restoration, when he was sworn of the Privy Council.

He married firstly, Anne, daughter of Sir Richard Bolton, LORD CHANCELLOR OF IRELAND, by whom he had, with other issue, Moyses, who wedded his cousin Anne, eldest daughter of Francis Hill, of Hill Hall, and left three daughters.

Mr Hill espoused secondly, Mary, daughter of Sir William Parsons, one of the Lords Justices of Ireland, and had three other sons and a daughter; the eldest of whom,

THE RT HON WILLIAM HILL, succeeded to the estates at the decease of his half-brother, Moyses, without male issue.

This gentleman was of the Privy Council to CHARLES II and JAMES II, and was MP for County Down.

He married firstly, Eleanor, daughter of the Most Rev Michael Boyle, Lord Archbishop of Armagh, LORD CHANCELLOR OF IRELAND, by whom he had an only son, MICHAEL.

Mr Hill wedded secondly, Mary, eldest daughter of Sir Marcus Trevor, who was created Viscount Dungannon, 1662, for his signal gallantry in wounding OLIVER CROMWELL at Marston Moor, and had two other sons.

He died ca 1693, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

THE RT HON MICHAEL HILL (1672-99), of Hillsborough, Privy Counsellor, MP for Saltash, MP for Hillsborough, Lieutenant of County Down.

This gentleman espoused Anne, daughter and heir of Sir John Trevor, of Brynkinalt, Denbighshire, Master of the Rolls in England, and First Lord Commissioner of the Great Seal, and had two sons,
TREVOR, his heir;
Arthur, cr 1st Viscount Dungannon.
Mr Hill was succeeded by his elder son,

TREVOR HILL (1693-1742), of Hillsborough, who was created, in 1717, Baron Hill, of Kilwarlin, and Viscount Hillsborough, both in County Down.

His lordship married Mary, eldest daughter and co-heir of Anthony Rowe, of Muswell Hill, Middlesex; and dying in 1742, left (with a daughter, Anne, wedded to John, 1st Earl of Moira), an only son, his successor,

WILLS (1718-93), 2nd Viscount; who was created Viscount Kilwarlin and Earl of Hillsborough, in 1751, with remainder, in default of male issue, to his uncle Arthur Hill; and enrolled amongst the peers of Great Britain, in 1756, as Baron Harwich, in Essex.

His lordship was advanced to an English viscountcy and earldom, in 1772, by the titles of Viscount Fairford and Earl of Hillsborough.

Lord Hillsborough was further advanced, in 1789, to the dignity of a marquessate, as MARQUESS OF DOWNSHIRE.

His lordship was a Privy Counsellor, and, in 1763, he was constituted First Commissioner of Trade and Plantations; in 1776, appointed Joint Postmaster-General; and in 1768, nominated Secretary of State for the Colonies, which post he resigned in 1772.

In 1779, he was re-appointed Secretary of State, and became one of the leaders of the administration which had to bear the unpopularity of the American war.

His lordship was Registrar of the High Court of Chancery in Ireland.

He married firstly, in 1747, the Lady Margaretta FitzGerald, daughter of Robert, 19th Earl of Kildare, and sister of James, 1st Duke of Leinster, and had surviving issue,
ARTHUR, his successor;
Mary Amelia; Charlotte.
His lordship wedded secondly, Mary, 1st Baroness Stawell, daughter and heir of Edward, 4th Baron Stawell, and widow of the Rt Hon Henry Legge, son of the 1st Earl of Dartmouth, by whom he had no issue.

He was succeeded by his son,

ARTHUR, 2nd Marquess (1753-1801), who wedded, in 1786, Mary, daughter of the Hon Martin Sandys, and his wife Mary, daughter of William Trumbull, of Easthampstead Park, Berkshire, and had issue,
ARTHUR BLUNDELL, his successor;
Arthur Moyses William, 2nd Baron Sandys;
Arthur Marcus Cecil, 3rd Baron Sandys;
Arthur Augustus Edwin;
George Augusta;
Charlotte; Mary.
His lordship died in 1801, and Lady Downshire having subsequently succeeded to the estates of her uncle Edwin, Baron Sandys, was created Baroness Sandys, with remainder to her second and younger sons successively.

His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

ARTHUR BLUNDELL SANDYS TRUMBULL WINDSOR, 4th Marquess.
The heir apparent is the present holder's son, Edmund Robin Arthur Hill, styled Earl of Hillsborough.

The Downshire Papers are deposited at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.

In 1870, Lord Downshire owned 115,000 acres, mostly, though not entirely, in County Down; and a further 5,000 acres at Easthampstead Park in Berkshire.

These estates generated an income of £80,000 per annum, or £3.6 million in today's money.


The Downshires also maintained a grand residence in London, Downshire House (above) at 24 Belgrave Square, now part of the Spanish embassy, it is thought.


HILLSBOROUGH CASTLE, County Down, has been described by the late Sir Charles Brett as, "by far the largest and grandest house in north County Down."

It was, for 150 years, the home of the Marquesses of Downshire and has provided accommodation for royalty, ministers and high-level dignitaries from home and abroad, as well as being a venue for less formal occasions, such as charitable events.

Moses Hill obtained extensive estates through conquest of Irish chieftains and built a fortified house at Hill Hall in the early 1600s.

His younger son, Arthur Hill, was the first of the family to live at Hillsborough and reconstructed Hillsborough Fort which had been destroyed in the 1641 rebellion.

The village of Hillsborough was given borough status after the restoration in 1660 and had a corporation and the right to elect two MPs to the Irish parliament.

The village subsequently became the residence of the Hill family, who increased in prominence and prosperity, Trevor Hill being elevated to the peerage as Baron Hill and Viscount Hillsborough in 1717.

In the late 17th century Trevor Hill built a house close to the terrace of the present Castle.

No drawings or plans survive, but Harris described it as "a noble large house built within the area of a regular fortification."

This house was burnt down in an accidental fire in the late 1730s.

Wills Hill, 1st Marquess of Downshire (1718-93), built a mansion house to the south-east of the present house, the remains of which are still present.

It is evident from Mrs Delaney’s observations of 1758 that Lord Hillsborough had in mind the construction of a new mansion at that time, but an estate map of 1771 shows only a schematic representation of a terrace of houses on the western side of the square.

The 1st Marquess was Secretary of State for the Colonies during the American independence struggle, and Hillsborough was visited by Benjamin Franklin in January, 1772.

Unfortunately Franklin and Hill disliked each other, Hill being unable to countenance American independence.

GEORGE III later blamed Lord Hillsborough for the loss of America.

Arthur, 2nd Marquess (1753-1801), was able to make additions and alterations to the house due to the wealth of his heiress wife and again engaged Brettingham, who added a library to the south-east of the original house, and then a thirteen-bay south front ca 1795.

An estate map of about 1800 shows the house with its new south front, and the wing to the north that was present on the 1780 map, now gone.

The 3rd Marquess (1788-1845), oversaw further changes to the estate.

The main road to Moira ran across the south front of the house at this time and it is clear that by 1810, Lord Hillsborough was planning to re-route the road in order to enhance the appearance of his new house.


Lord Downshire presided over alterations and additions to the house by Thomas Duff in the late 1820s and by William Sands, who was resident in the town during the works and for the remainder of his life, in the 1840s.

Plans made by Henry Murray in 1833 and 1839, showing that between these two dates the library was extended and given a giant portico.

William Sands, working with his relative James Sands, made several changes to the house and demesne in the 1840s, giving the house much of the appearance that it assumes today.

The south front was extended to the east and a large Ionic portico added.

In order to achieve symmetry, a single bay was demolished to the west.

In 1846, the Parliamentary Gazetteer set out both what were perceived to be the shortcomings of the house at this time, and its charm:-
“Criticism has remarked that the...beauty of the town would have been greater if...the mansion, with its picturesque home-view, had been removed a little farther from the public road. 
Yet whatever may be said about the demesne, the town acquires an almost aristocratic air from the proximity of the mansion and seems as if caressed between the lawn and the park.”
In 1867 it was recorded that a new billiards-room had been added to the mansion house, a two-storey room of cut stone measuring approximately 20' x 17'.

The 5th and 6th Marquesses tenuous connections with Hillsborough, preferring to live elsewhere.

During the last quarter of the 19th century, Lord Arthur Hill, younger brother of the 5th Marquess, lived at the Castle, managing the estates and representing County Down in parliament.

The 6th Marquess (1871-1918), who succeeded to the title in 1874 while still a small child, was easily the largest landowner in Ulster at the end of the 19th century.

However, at the beginning of the 20th century, his estates began to be sold off under the Land Acts.

Given the huge reduction in Lord Downshire's tenanted holdings in County Down, Lord Arthur retired to his London residence.

As a consequence of this, the house was let to Sir Thomas Dixon, son of Sir Daniel Dixon, a former Lord Mayor of Belfast.

Sir Thomas lived at Hillsborough Castle from 1910-19, when he purchased Wilmont, near Dunmurry.

In 1922, the Castle was purchased by the Ministry of Works in London as a residence for the His Excellency the Governor of Northern Ireland.

Following three years of preparation, the 3rd Duke of Abercorn took up residence at the new Government House in 1925.

It would seem that the Ministry of Works in London (as the Department of the Environment) retained responsibility for upkeep of the fabric of the building until 1990, when ownership passed to the Northern Ireland Office.

Following a fire in 1934, the house was refurbished internally and the gatescreen (from Richhill Castle) was added to the market square entrance.

The 3rd Duke of Abercorn was succeeded as Governor by the Earl Granville, the Lord Wakehurst, the Lord Erskine of Rerrick, and the Lord Grey of Naunton.

The office of Governor was abolished when direct rule was introduced in 1972.

In 1987, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, the Rt Hon Tom King MP, set up a committee to advise on ‘the structure, decoration, furnishing and maintenance of Hillsborough Castle and the planting and maintenance of its grounds’.

It was felt that the 1930s refurbishment of the house had not been entirely successful and the committee concluded that the house should reflect ‘the appearance and atmosphere of an Irish Country Mansion’ while being decorated in a manner befitting its ceremonial purposes.

John O’Connell of Dublin was appointed as architect and interior design consultant and the refurbishment was completed in 1993.

Since 2014, Hillsborough Castle has been managed by Historic Royal Palaces.



The Downshires also had a holiday home, Murlough House, near Dundrum, in the same county.

Lord Downshire sold Hillsborough Castle to the Government about 1921, I think, and Murlough remained with the family till the 1940s or 50s.

There are references to the building of demesne walls around the "Large Park" at Hillsborough in 1668.

This was the site of a former house and surrounding ornamental grounds, now much altered.

 It contains a lake, parkland, an artillery fort, mature trees and forest planting.

The Small Park, on the west side of the village of Hillsborough, is the site of the present house of ca 1797.

This area was totally enclosed by walls during the 1840s, after the main road to Moira was re-routed away from the house.

The property has had the advantage of being in the hands of one family until the 1920s, when it was acquired by HMG.

Atkinson, in 1823, observed that the Hills paid more
‘… attention to the profitable results of a good estate, than to the fanciful decorations of a picturesque landscape.’
Yet handsome lakes were created in both Parks and early 19th century maps show extensive walks, rides and tree- planting.

The Small Park is described in the Ordnance Survey Memoirs of 1837 as, 
‘… beautifully wooded and the walks tastefully laid out. The garden is extensive, in it are green houses, hot houses and a pinery.’ 
The ‘garden’ referred to is the walled garden, which was cultivated until the 1970s.

It is now grassed but retains a summer house.

After the enclosure of the Small Park it was further enhanced in the vicinity of the present house.

Terracing was added to the south front, the Yew Walk going west towards Lady Alice’s Temple and the Lime Walk with north-south orientation leading to a pinetum belonging to the late 19th century improvements.

There are some notable plants, including a very large Rhododendron arboretum hybrid, which is in the Guinness Book of Records.

An impressive feature is the Downshire Monument of 1848.

Following the departure of the Downshire family, the Large Park, of almost 1,000 acres, was divided for use by the Department of Agriculture for NI, half for farming and half for forestry.

The latter part (northern) is open to the public and both areas have been developed as such for the last seventy years.

The Small Park has been used by the former Governors of Northern Ireland and latterly by Secretaries of State.

Some have had an interest and impact on the gardens, such as Lord and Lady Wakehurst, who developed a glen on the west side and Lady Granville, who created a Rose Garden.

The cast-iron gates from Richhill House at the main entrance to the Castle, are a feature.

Other buildings of note are:- Lodge and Guard House; Ice House; and Garden Store.

Boundary walls and gates in the "Small Park" are included with the house.

The house and grounds of the Small Park are private, used by the Royal Family and as the official residence of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland; and sometimes open for official functions.

There is public access to the northern half of the Large Park.

The Most Honourable Arthur Francis Nicholas Wills [Hill] is the 9th and present Marquess of Downshire, Earl of Hillsborough, Viscount Kilwarlin, Viscount Fairford, Baron Hill of Kilwarlin and Baron Harwich.

Lord and Lady Downshire live with their family at Clifton Castle, near Ripon in Yorkshire.

In 2005, when Royal Ascot re-located to York race-course, the Daily Telegraph published this about the Castle:
"Clifton Castle, a Georgian country house in Masham belonging to the Marquess and Marchioness of Downshire - or Nick and Janey to guests - has seven bedrooms and sleeps 14. It costs £40,000."
That was for one week, incidentally.
  
*Select bibliography: NI Department of the Environment Historic Buidlings Section; Downshire arms courtesy of European Heraldry.  First published in July, 2010.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Island Taggart Visit

Island Taggart is one of the largest islands on Strangford Lough, County Down.

Today we all mustered at Balloo, Killinchy, and motored the short distance, via Rathcunningham Road, to the quay.

This is a cul-de-sac which terminates at Rathcunningham Quay.

From here, Simmy Island and Ringdufferin are adjacent.


About ten of us boarded the little motor-boat from the quay and made the five-minute trip over to Taggart in two runs.


This island has been a property of the National Trust since 1985, when it was donated by Patrick and Kathleen Mackie.

There is a derelict farmstead in the middle of the island, which was used for the film production of The December Bride (by the Ulster author, Sam Hanna Bell).

Taggart is about 85 acres in extent.

Old orchard at back of farmhouse

Today we were cutting down gorse bushes.

I had my favourite cheese-and-onion sandwiches for lunch.

Royal County Down Golf Club


The Royal County Down Golf Club, Newcastle, County Down, was established in 1889 by a group of Belfast businessmen.

The Club has two eighteen-hole links courses, viz. The Championship Course and The Annesley Links.

The clubhouse was built in 1896, to designs by Vincent Craig (brother of Sir James Craig, later 1st Viscount Craigavon), and opened in September of the following year.


The building cost of £2,200 and was partly funded by the Belfast and County Down Railway, which ran a Golfers' Express train from Belfast every Saturday.

The railway company and its successor, the Ulster Transport Authority, maintained formal links with the club until 1968.

Slieve Donard Hotel in early 20th century

The Slieve Donard Hotel, adjacent to Royal County Down, has always had close associations with the club, having originally opened, in 1898, as a railway hotel.

Royal patronage was conferred on the Club in 1908 by EDWARD VII.


In 1965, the clubhouse was extended at a cost of £60,000, with additional changing-room facilities added to the ground floor and extensive remodelling of rooms to the first floor.

The Centenary Extension, added in 1989, provided a visitors bar to the first floor and ladies toilets to the ground floor.

The most recent extension and refurbishment occurred in 2005.

The original two-storey Clubhouse is in the Domestic-Revival style.

It has a rosemary clay tile roof, dormers, gables and bays, with a battered Scrabo stone finish to the ground floor which rises to the first floor cill level.


The Clubhouse was extended in 1965, with a sympathetic additional extension ca 1992, the latter to designs by Hobart & Heron.

In the middle of the south elevation an external timber stair ascends to a gabled timber porch with recessed central double doors and a segmental fanlight.


The porch has glazed sides each with three large panes surmounted with a small decorative fanlight.

The Irish Open golf championship will be held at Royal County Down from the 28-30th May, 2015.

A number of Old Brackenbrians (a degree of partiality here!) have served the office of Captain, namely: Michael Harkness; Dr Peter Brown; and Kenneth McCaw.

Royal County Down is widely reputed as being one of the finest golf links in the British Isles and beyond.

First published in June, 2014.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Rowallane House

THE MOORE FAMILY OWNED 510 ACRES OF LAND IN COUNTY DOWN

This family claims to be a branch of the very ancient Scottish house of MURE, or MUIR, of Rowallan, Ayrshire.

COLONEL MUIR, of WILLIAM III's army, obtained a grant of lands in Ulster.

His son, 

CAPTAIN HUGH MOORE (1696-1777), of the 9th Regiment of Dragoons, married, in 1720, Elizabeth Clarke, of Clough House, County Down.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN MOORE (1724-1800), of Clough House, land agent to the Annesley estate, who wedded Deborah, daughter of Robert Isaac, of Holywood, County Down, and Anne his wife, daughter of James Bailie, of Inishargie, in the same county, a descendant of John Knox.

Mr Moore was succeeded by his son,

HUGH MOORE (1762-1848), of Eglantine House, and Mount Panther, County Down, Captain, 5th Dragoon Guards, Colonel of the Eglantine Yeomanry (which he raised) in the Irish Rebellion.

He was ADC to General Needham during the Irish rebellion, and raised and commanded the Eglantine Yeomanry.

Colonel Moore married, in 1798, Priscilla Cecilia, daughter of Robert Armytage, of Kensington, London, and widow of Robert Shaw, of Terenure, County Dublin, and had issue,
JOHN ROBERT, his heir;
William Armytage (1806-83); father of HUGH ARMYTAGE;
Jane Deborah, died unmarried;
Priscilla Cecilia, m 3rd Earl Annesley;
Caroline Anne Elizabeth, m Rev J P Garrett;
Maria Clarissa, m W Humphrys.
He was succeeded by his eldest son, 

THE REV JOHN ROBERT MOORE (1801-88), of Rowallane, County Down, Vicar of Kilmood, 1830, who wedded, in 1850, Jane, daughter of R Morris, of Carmarthen, and widow of Henry Davidson.

He dsp and was succeeded by his nephew,

HUGH ARMYTAGE-MOORE JP (1873-1954), of Rowallane, County Down, who married, in 1910, Jane Christian, eldest daughter of Kenneth Mathieson, of 50 Prince's Gate, London;
2nd lieutenant, 3rd Battalion, the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, 1891; manager of the Annesley Estate, 1909-17; chairman, County Down section, Ulster Volunteer Force.
*****

Charles James Eglantine Armytage-Moore (1880-1960), son of William Armytage-Moore and Hugh Armytage-Moore's cousin,
was a founding partner of the London stockbrokers Buckmaster & Moore and owned an estate called Winterfold, a Queen Anne style residence with 219 acres near Cranleigh in Surrey, with a remarkable collection of furniture and art.

ROWALLANE HOUSE, near Saintfield, County Down, is a long, low, plain house of two storeys, with a higher block at one end.

It was built in 1861 by the Rev John Moore, who had purchased the property as a farm.  

In 1858 he had bought a townland called Creevyloughgare

After this initial acquisition, Mr Moore then acquired the neighbouring townland, Leggyowan, in the early 1870s and named it Rowallane, meaning Beautiful Cleanrig, after the ancestral home of his Scottish forebears.

He gradually enlarged the farmhouse, added the walled garden and stable block and planted The Pleasure Grounds.

The house has irregular fenestration, with a few first-floor windows having little, iron balconies.


The grounds contain various turrets; an obelisk made of spherical stones from the river bed; and other 20th century follies.

The house and grounds, comprising ca 220 acres, were walled-in and converted from farmland to the fifty acre layout as seen today.

The land has pockets of good acid soil and much rock near the surface, so planting is mitigated by these conditions.

The planting is informal, for the above reason, and it also reflects the style of the era.

Initially shelter trees were planted, and the Pleasure Grounds developed to the west of the house.


Ornamental plants were added, but the important plant collection that can be appreciated today occurred between 1903-55 by Hugh Armytage Moore ~ whose sister, incidentally, was the first wife of Percy French.

This has become one of the greatest gardens in Northern Ireland and is appreciated for the fine variety of plant material, which can be enjoyed at all times of the year.

The size is not intimidating ~ fifty acres; and the layout is varied by being in compartments, often using earlier stone-walled field boundaries.


There is the Spring Ground (above), Stream Ground, and the New Ground, to name some of the areas.

The Rock Garden Wood lies at the southern end of the garden and, as a large natural rock outcrop, provides an ideal spot to grow a wide range of alpines and unusual shrubs.


The walled garden, originally a conventional fruit, vegetable and flower garden, became a focus for the plant collection and, at the present time, is fully maintained and contains many interesting species, including the national collection of penstemons.

Rhododendrons are a speciality and they can be seen in many parts of the grounds.

Wild flowers are encouraged in the Pleasure Ground.

A great deal has been written about Rowallane in horticultural journals.

Rowallane demesne was acquired by the National Trust in 1955 and, since then, the gardens have been improved and the plant collection added to.

The ground floor of Rowallane House is now open to visitors with a new café, shop, and exhibition on the ground floor.


The house has recently undergone internal alterations and visitors can now enjoy new enhanced facilities.
Alterations include: the formation of structural openings to the ground floor to provide a new café, shop and interpretation area; a new tea room, designed to bring the outdoors indoors, with the colour scheme depicting the four seasons; while customers can also enjoy a new outdoor patio area.
There is also a pottery.

First published in September, 2012.

Henderson of Norwood Tower

THE HENDERSON FAMILY OWNED 52 ACRES OF LAND IN COUNTY DOWN

JAMES HENDERSON (1766-1834), of Castlereagh, County Down, married Amelia Magill, and had a son,

JAMES HENDERSON (1797-1853), of Newry, County Down, Proprietor of the Newry Telegraph, who wedded Ann Peacock, and had issue,
JAMES ALEXANDER, his heir;
William;
George, b 1814;
Henry, b 1820;
Isabella; two other daughters.
Mr Henderson was succeeded by his eldest son,

JAMES ALEXANDER HENDERSON JP (1823-83), of Norwood Tower, Strandtown, Belfast, Mayor of Belfast, 1873-74, Proprietor of the Belfast Newsletter, who wedded Agnes, daughter of Alexander Mackay, Junior, of Mountcollyer Park, Belfast, Joint Proprietor of the Belfast Newsletter, and had issue,
JAMES, of whom presently;
Alexander Mackay, b 1850; Major, RIR;
William, 1852-75;
Trevor (Sir), KBE, of Norwood Tower (1862-1930);
Charles Westbourne (1865-1935);
Jane; Anne; Agnes; Catherine Mackay; Florence Elizabeth.
Mr Henderson was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR JAMES HENDERSON JP DL (1848-1914), of Oakley House, Windsor Park, Belfast, who married Martha Pollock and had issue,
David, 1881;
James, 1889;
OSCARof whom hereafter;
George York, MC (1893-1917); k/a;
Richard Lilburn, 1895;
Mary Agnes Florence Elizabeth, 1899.
Sir James served the office of Lord Mayor of Belfast, 1898, and was the first High Sheriff of the city.

He was credited with the building of the new City Hall.

James Henderson was born at Mountcollyer Park, Belfast, the home of his grandfather, Alexander Mackay; took a law degree at Trinity College, Dublin; called to the Irish Bar, 1872; editor of the Newry Telegraph, 1873-83. 

He became managing proprietor of the Belfast News-Letter and Belfast Weekly News; was appointed President of the Master Printers’ Federation of Great Britain and Ireland; was made a Freeman of the City of Belfast in 1912; and was knighted by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland at Viceregal Lodge, Phoenix Park, Dublin, in January, 1899.

Sir James's younger son,

COMMANDER OSCAR HENDERSON DSO CVO CBE RN (1891-1969), married, in 1920, Alicia Mary Henry.
Commander Henderson served in a destroyer during the 1st World War and he was second-in-command of HMS Iris at the famous Battle of Zeebrugge, in April 1918, when a British force blocked the Mole by sinking a ship across the entrance.
Commander Henderson assumed command when the Captain was killed, and he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his part in this epic He became Comptroller and Private Secretary to the 3rd Duke of Abercorn, 1st Governor of Northern Ireland, and was awarded a CVO and CBE for his services. 

© 2011 Lord Belmont in Northern Ireland


During the 19th century, the Hendersons lived at Norwood Tower, Strandtown, County Down, a large mansion in its own grounds.


This rambling Tudor-Revival mansion had two gate-lodges, each about a quarter of a mile apart.

The first lodge was a little beyond the entrance to Clonaver House, the Hendersons' former dower house, which was sold to James Girdwood; while the second lodge was almost opposite the entrance to Ardvarna House.

The gate lodges were both battlemented; while the house, set in a landscaped park, was dominated by a lofty, castellated tower.

The grounds of fifty-two acres extended to the top of Circular Road and Sydenham Avenue. 

It was assumed that Norwood Tower or its dower house, Clonaver, would pass to Oscar Henderson when Florence Elizabeth, his aunt, died.

She decided, however, to leave the estate, together with a majority holding in Belfast News Letter shares, to the Musgrave (baronets) side of the family. 

Drawing by the Rev McC Auld

This was a bitter blow to Oscar and his family.

They could do nothing about the property, but they did succeed in buying back the News-Letter shares. 

Commander Henderson and his wife Alicia had two sons,

1. Captain Oscar William James (Bill) Henderson OBE DL (1924-2010); educated at Brackenber House School and Bradfield; married Rachel Primrose Forrest, daughter of Colonel John Forrest CMG, of Belfast, in 1949. They had three daughters.

2. Robert Brumwell (Brum) Henderson CBE DL (1929-2005); educated, like his brother, at Brackenber House School, Belfast, and Bradfield; took his degree at Trinity College Dublin.

Commander Henderson's first wife was Joy Duncan whom he married in 1952.

Brum Henderson became a career journalist in the Belfast News Letter from 1951-59; was appointed general manager of Ulster Television in 1959; managing director, 1961; and Chairman, 1983-92.

He was appointed CBE in 1979 and received an honorary doctorate of Literature at the Ulster University, 1982.

Brum published a number of books, including Midnight Oil (1961), A Television First (1977) and Amusing (1984). He was a director of ITN from 1964-66; a Deputy Lieutenant of Belfast; a director of Reuters and of the Press Association; and gave many years of service to the Newspaper Society.

A golfer of distinction, he was once runner-up in the Irish Open Championship. They had two daughters. 

In 1970 Brum married, secondly, Patricia Ann, daughter of Matthew Davison, of Belfast.

They lived at Ballynahinch, County Down.

Illustration of gate lodge courtesy of the Rev McConnell Auld.    First published in March, 2011.