It is unclear who originally built Mount Panther or who lived in it prior to 1740, when it was known to be the residence of the Rev Dr Matthews.
One theory is that the original owner was the Rev Bernard Walsh, rector of Loughinisland in 1743.
There is no such ambiguity about how the historic house got its name: local legend associates the name Mount Panther with the Great Cat of Clough – a beast that is said to have prowled the area in ancient days.
They stayed at the house for long periods every year from 1744 until 1760, as the Dean’s duties made his presence necessary in the diocese.
A niece of George, 1st Baron Lansdowne, confidante of GEORGE III and Queen Charlotte, a friend of the composer Handel and wooed by John Wesley, Mrs Delany was described in some quarters as “the highest-bred woman in the world.”In 1765, Mount Panther was sold by Bernard Ward to John Smyth of County Louth; and five years later it was put up for sale again, when Mr Smyth was appointed British Resident at Christianstadt, Norway.
The Moore family lived at the house until 1822, its most notable resident during this time being Hugh Moore, a captain in the 5th Dragoon Guards.John Reed Allen JP, of Dunover, bought the property from the representatives of Major William Henry Rainey in 1832 for £12,000.
Major Rainey had acquired Mount Panther from the Moore family in 1822.
When J R Allen died in 1875 his son George, high sheriff of the county, inherited the estate, which comprised 2,585 acres of land at that time.
"He had very nice silver and china, and his high teas were good. Apart from the housekeeper, he lived alone, and only used two rooms in the house. His land steward was Hugh Killen."
His Excellency the Lord Wakehurst (Governor of Northern Ireland) stepped out of the leading car and enquired if Princess Margaret and her husband, Lord Snowdon, might come in to see the famous ballroom. Teresa Fitzpatrick recalled,
“I got the shock of my life when I opened the door. I brought the royal party through the kitchen and down the passage to the ballroom. They only stayed about 20 minutes chatting, and admiring the plasterwork, and then drove away. It was all over before I realised what had happened!”
The house lies looking down on pasture decorated with well disposed clumps of trees that made up the fashionable surrounding for houses of that era. There are fine views of Dundrum Bay beyond.
Shelter belts and an avenue add to the planting. These trees have never been renewed and are coming to the end of their days, as most are beech.
A road now cuts through the parkland and a bungalow has been built in front of the house.
There are extensive walled gardens to the rear of the house to the south-west, no part of which is cultivated. The Gardener’s House and offices are ruinous and the glasshouses have gone.
An ornamental garden on the south side of the house shows vestiges of planting and an earlier Pleasure Ground was formerly laid out on the north side of the house, as shown on the demesne map of ca 1800.
Stone walls are used within the demesne and reach the high ground of Cloughram Hill to the south-west of the demesne, where there is a collecting pond.
Water supply to the farm is controlled from here by a sluice gate.
A pond on the north side is associated with a corn mill and later used for flax.
The School House is in the part to the north-east that is severed by the road.
The two remaining gate lodges, Newcastle Lodge and Side Lodge, both of ca 1830, are in poor condition.
First published in April, 2008. Annesley arms courtesy of European Heraldry.