The Earls Annesley derive their surname from the manor of Annesley, Nottinghamshire.
They were one of great noble families of County Down.
The vast Annesley estate stretched from Slieve Croob to Slieve Donard (Northern Ireland's highest mountain), including the village of Castlewellan and part of Newcastle.
They owned 25,000 acres of land in County Down, including 783 acres at Donard Park.
Their ancestral seat was Castlewellan Castle (which still, incidentally, looks as well as the day it was built in 1858 by the 4th Earl).
Lord Annesley and his successors also owned a marine residence just outside Newcastle in County Down.
This mansion house predated Castlewellan Castle by twenty-five years and it was called Donard Lodge.
The prospect from the mansion towards the harbour and sea must have been spectacular.
Marine residences were popular amongst the nobility during the Victorian era: Murlough House, not far along the coast towards Dundrum, was Lord Downshire's marine residence.
The entrance front had a central, projecting bay with a strikingly projecting three-sided bow at either side; the centre being joined on each side to the projecting ends by a short Doric colonnade.
The garden front had curved and three-sided bows and round-headed ground-floor windows. There was a fine, semi-circular conservatory at one end of the house.
The little girl standing in the foreground to the right of the conservatory provides an indication the the mansion's size.
The ground floor also joined on to stable buildings and yards.
The pleasure grounds surrounding the mansion included a fountain with a rustic support for the basin; elegant stone bridges; and abundant seats and walks.
|Annesley Estate Office|
The Annesley estate office still stands in the town.
Priscilla, Dowager Countess Annesley, continued to reside at Donard Lodge until her death in 1891.
Following Lady Annesley's death, Donard Lodge was leased to a number of tenants, all of whom failed to maintain the mansion to a satisfactory standard.
Its sad demise continued until demolition in 1966 (one year before Castlewellan Castle was sold to the NI Government).
Annesley arms courtesy of European Heraldry. First published in April, 2009.