Sunday, 31 December 2017

Gussie's Predicament


BERTIE: "But what's happened?"

I faltered, if faltered's the word.

JEEVES: "I regret to inform you, sir, that Miss Bassett has insisted on Mr Fink-Nottle [Gussie] adopting a vegetarian diet. His mood is understandably disgruntled and rebellious."

I tottered.

In my darkest hour I had never anticipated anything as bad as this.

You wouldn't think it to look at him, because he's small and shrimplike and never puts on weight, but Gussie loves food.

Watching him tucking into his rations at the Drones [Club], a tapeworm would raise its hat respectfully, knowing that it was in the presence of a master.

Cut him off, therefore, from the roasts and boileds and particularly from cold steak and kidney pie, a dish of which he is inordinately fond, and you turned him into something fit for treasons, strategems and spoils, as the fellow said.

First published in June, 2013.

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Old Invitation

Here's an old invitation to the Brackenber Prize Day in 1971.

First published in January, 2012.

Friday, 29 December 2017

Middleton Park


THE REV JAMES BOYD (1725-75), Rector of Erris, County Mayo, married, in 1752, Mary, daughter of Abraham Martin and widow of Arthur Vernon, and left an only son,

ABRAHAM BOYD (1760-1822), barrister-at-law and King's Counsel, who wedded firstly, in 1786, Catherine Shuttleworth, widow of John Davies, by whom he had a daughter, Helena; and secondly, in 1815, Jane, Countess of Belvedere, daughter and eventually sole heiress of the Rev James Mackay, and by her left at his decease an only son,

GEORGE AUGUSTUS ROCHFORT-BOYD JP DL (1817-87), of Middleton Park, County Westmeath, High Sheriff, 1843, who wedded, in 1843, Sarah Jane, eldest daughter of George Woods, of Milverton Hall, by Sarah his wife, daughter of Hans Hamilton, of Abbotstown, for many years MP for County Dublin, and had issue,
George, died in infancy;
Charles Augustus, CMG;
George Warren Woods;
Alice Jane; Edith Sarah Hamilton; Florence.
Mr Rochfort-Boyd inherited from his mother, the Countess of Belvedere, a great portion of the Rochfort estates situated in County Westmeath, and assumed the surname and arms of ROCHFORT by royal licence in 1867.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

ROCHFORT HAMILTON BOYD-ROCHFORT JP (1844-91), of Middleton Park, who married, in 1875, Florence Louisa, daughter of Richard Hemming, of Bentley Manor and Foxlidiate, Worcestershire, and had issue,
GEORGE ARTHUR, his heir;
Cecil Charles (Sir), KCVO;
Ethel Victoria; Alice Eleanor; Winifred Florence; Muriel.
Major Boyd-Rochfort assumed the surname of ROCHFORT in 1888, on succeeding to the Rochfort estates left by his grandmother, Jane, Countess of Belvedere.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

GEORGE ARTHUR BOYD-ROCHFORT VC (1880-1940), of Middleton Park, who married, in 1901, Olivia Ellis, daughter of Christopher Ussher, of Eastwell, County Galway.

MIDDLETON PARK HOUSE, near Mullingar, County Westmeath, was built by George Boyd-Rochfort in 1850.

He commissioned George Papworth, Architect and President of the Royal Academy, to design and oversee the building of the House.

Drawings of part of the interior were exhibited by Mr Papworth during the Royal Hibernian Annual Exhibition of 1850.

Only the very best craftsmen and materials were used in the building and it is a testimony to those craftsmen and materials that Middleton Park House has stood the test of time since then.

It is a fine example of late Georgian architecture favouring the classic Georgian style over the Gothic style evident in other houses of that era.

Acclaimed features of the House are its under-floor heating system, stone bifurcated staircase leading to the Gallery Landing and three-storey high atrium lantern located in the Main Hall.

Middleton Park House also boasts one of a few Richard Turner Conservatories to be found in Ireland.

The House and estate remained in the Boyd-Rochfort family until the early 1960s when it was sold.

Since then it has seen many owners, the most colourful of whom was Barney Curly who famously raffled the House in 1986.

In quite a state of disrepair when acquired by its current owners, it took a lot of time, effort and care to attention to bring it back to life, bringing in specialist professionals to ensure that the original aesthetic and atmosphere remained.

Built between 1840 and 1850, it is unusual in that context, as the Irish famine not only reduced the peasant farmers of Ireland to penury and starvation; it also destroyed the economic basis of the large landed estates held by the old Anglo-Irish aristocracy, as rents could not be paid.

It replaced an older house on the site, which was demolished.

The name Middleton comes from a previous owner of the estate, Mr George Middleton Berry, who subsequently lived in Ballingal House.

Middleton Park House was designed by George Papworth to be a technical wonder of its age.

It had its own gas-house where coal was converted to gas to fuel the house boilers, and an extraordinary heating system buried in its walls, which circulated heated air.

It utilised the most modern materials of the time including cast iron beams for structural supports in the vaulted basement, instead of the usual timber.

Although built well into the Victorian era, it was created in a classical Georgian style, as opposed to the prevailing Victorian Gothic.

It has one of only six turner conservatories left in Ireland. Richard Turner also built Kew Gardens in London and the Botanic Gardens in Dublin.

Its entrance hall and sweeping stone, cantilevered bifurcated staircase is regarded as one of the finest of its kind in Ireland, and was famously described as “suitable for Citizen Kane” in Burke's Country Houses.

Middleton Park House was built for George Boyd-Rochfort, whose wife was the eldest daughter of the last Earl of Belvedere.

The Rochforts owned vast estates in excess of 25,000 acres.

GEORGE III stood as godfather to one of them, and they were high-ranking members of the peerage.

Mr Boyd was granted permission to change his name to Rochfort-Boyd in 1867 by a petition to the House of Lords.

Although the behaviour of George Boyd-Rochfort was questionable during the Irish famine, being cited by the House of Lords for his actions, his successors are remembered today as having been good, progressive landlords.

The various land acts and subsequently the Irish land commission reduced the estates to a fraction (470 acres) of what they were.

A noted stud was established on the estate and it was the venue for point-to-points, and a starting or finishing point for the Westmeath Hunt.

The Westmeath Hunt Ball was also held at Middleton for many years, as well as hare coursing.

The estate was a large employer in the area.

A great many valuable horses were bred here, including Airborne, Winner of the Derby in 1946.

One of the Rochforts (Sir Cecil) also became the royal horse trainer for both KING GEORGE VI and our current sovereign, ELIZABETH II.


THE FAMILY sold the House in the late 1950s, when many of the contents were auctioned, including a Persian rug, now said to be worth in the region of $15m.

A German family bought the estate, which was sold again in the 1960s to the O’Callaghans who, in turn, sold it to Barney Curley, who famously raffled Middleton Park in 1986.

Subsequent owners broke up the estate up into many smaller parcels.

The stud farm ceased to operate around this time as well.

Many of the original fixtures and fittings in the house were sold or removed at this time.

The house, having lost its land, and now existing on only 26 acres, went through a series of owners.

It was, at this stage, in need of major restoration as the roof had deteriorated badly with serous water damage evident throughout the house.

It also lacked modern wiring, plumbing and heating.

The sheer scale of the great mansion, at over 36,000 sq feet, made it impractical as a family home for anybody but the seriously rich.

The current owners purchased it in December 2004.

They set about converting it into a Country House Hotel and planning permission was obtained for this.

The immediate requirement was to repair the roof and make it watertight.

Investigations revealed that the roof in the wing and most of the floors were completely beyond repair, as the roof trusses were rotten and some had been cut in a manner that left the roof liable to collapse.

The Turner conservatory had lost its original glass and the metal work was seriously corroded.

The timber supporting beams in the spectacular entrance hall had also rotted and it was in danger of falling in.

These all had to be replaced also.

A specialist iron working firm from Germany was brought in to repair the conservatory and some new castings to replace those corroded beyond use were sourced in the UK.

Specialist roofers from Austria replaced the wing roof structure.

Bangor Blue slates were used.

The external render on the house had failed and had to be removed and replaced using, as originally, lime plaster.

New Roman cement decorative reveals also had to be cast.

The decorative plasterwork inside the house had to be extensively repaired.

Extensive fire protection works were undertaken.

Three generations of old plumbing and electrics, often surface mounted, were removed and the house completely rewired and re-plumbed.

A new waste treatment plant was installed.

A specialist engineering firm designed the new heating system which includes underfloor heating in the basement to minimise the visual impact of radiators and some elements of the original system are used to duct hot air into the hall.

There are many legends about the house locally most notably that both Napoleon and  T E Lawrence (of Arabia) were conceived here (clearly not true in the case of Napoleon, as the house was not built until 1840 and he had died in 1821!).

The link that Lawrence of Arabia has to the house is that his father was married to one of Mr Boyd-Rochfort’s daughters - Edith - but who also had five illegitimate sons by Miss Sarah Lawrence his children’s Governess.

One of these was T E Lawrence of Arabia.

It is not recorded where he was actually conceived, but he was born in Wales.

Many of the original drawings of the house were lost in the destruction of the RAI archive in 1916, but an extensive file is held by the Irish National Architectural archive in Merrion Square in Dublin, and some of the estate papers and deeds are held by the National Library of Ireland.

First published in July, 2011.

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Ballyscullion House

Ballyscullion House, near Bellaghy, County Londonderry, was one of three grand residences built by the extraordinary Earl-Bishop, Frederick Augustus Hervey, 4th Earl of Bristol and Lord Bishop of Derry.

It is not to be confused with the present Ballyscullion Park, erstwhile seat of the Bruce and Mulholland baronets (still inhabited by descendants of the Mulhollands).

The Earl-Bishop's other seats were at Downhill, also in County Londonderry, and Ickworth, Suffolk.

Ballyscullion was built close to the shore of Lough Beg, a small lough at the north-west corner of Lough Neagh; near the village of Bellaghy in County Londonderry.

Construction on the house began in 1787 and, like Ickworth, its predominant feature was a central, domed rotunda joined by curved sweeps to rectangular pavilions.

Below is an illustration of what the Earl Bishop's palace at Ballyscullion would have looked like, had it been fully completed.

The central rotunda was virtually completed but ca 1803-04, it was almost completely dismantled to avoid the alleged application of the 'window tax'.

The portico at the front entrance door was taken away to Belfast where it can be seen to this day adorning St George's Church in High Street, Belfast.

Ballyscullion House was apparently based on the 1774 house at Belle Isle, Lake Windermere.

Belle Isle house (which still remains) is thought to have been based on the Pantheon in Rome.

The episcopal palace of Ballyscullion was, in its turn, to be the prototype for Ickworth House in Suffolk, the Herveys' principal country seat.

The Earl-Bishop lost interest in the house, afterwards known as the "Bishop's Folly", and it was still uncompleted at the time of his death in 1803, though inhabited and partly furnished.

Ballyscullion and Downhill were bequeathed to the Earl Bishop's kinsman, the Rev Henry Hervey Aston Bruce, immediately afterwards created a baronet.

Unwilling to have to maintain two great houses in the same county, the 1st Baronet demolished Ballyscullion a few years after inheriting it.

Its fine portico is now at St George's Church, Belfast; some marble columns and chimney-pieces are at Portglenone House; and other chimney-pieces adorn Bellarena House.

Some of the stone was later used to build the present mansion house, also known as Ballyscullion Park.

St George's Church
The part-walled demesne was established about 1787 and the old palace is now denoted by a heap of rubble in woodland, having been partly demolished in 1813.

Nearby stands the present house designed by Charles (later Sir Charles) Lanyon in the 1840s for Admiral Sir Henry Bruce, 2nd son of the 1st Baronet.

Until recent years this house was the home of the late Sir Henry Mulholland, Bt, Speaker of the Northern Ireland Parliament.

It overlooks Lough Beg and distant mountains beyond, affording fine views and incorporating the spire of a church on an island in the lough.

This was added as a folly tower to provide an eye-catcher from the original house.

The Earl Bishop chose the spot for his late 18th century building as he considered it, ‘… not to be inferior to any Italian scenery’.

The foreground to the lough is in the manner of parkland with stands of trees.

There are effective shelter belts in what is flat, exposed land.

Near to the stable yard lies the part-walled garden, which is cultivated as an ornamental and productive garden for present-day family use.

During Victorian times, the Bruce Baronets were the largest landowners in County Londonderry, with 20,801 acres.

The history of the Hervey/Bruce families can be read in the Hervey/Bruce Papers deposited at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.

Bristol arms courtesy of European Heraldry.  First published in February, 2010.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Burrenwood Cottage


JOHN PERCY MEADE JP DL (1847-1919), of Burrenwood, County Down, and Earsham Hall, Norfolk, High Sheriff of County Down, 1897, Captain, Oxfordshire Light Infantry, married, in 1894, Helena Frances, daughter of Sir Allen Johnson Walsh Bt, and had issue,
JOHN WINDHAM, his heir;
Robert Percy, b 1896;
Helena Theodosia Kathleen.
Captain Meade was the elder son of John Meade, of Burrenwood, County Down, and grandson of General the Hon Robert Meade, of Burrenwood, second son of the 1st Earl of Clanwilliam.

The eldest son,

JOHN WINDHAM MEADE JP (1894-1984), of Burrenwood, wedded, in 1932, Grace Dorothea, daughter of Sir Cecil Fane de Salis, and had issue,
Francis Windham, b 1941;
Theodosia Frances, b 1932.

BURRENWOOD, near Castlewellan, County Down, is a 6,170 square foot, horseshoe shaped, rustic villa and cottage ornée, built in the late 18th century.

It stands on land, which, in the mid 1700s, belonged to Sir John Hawkins Magill, of Gill Hall, near Dromore.

When Sir John died all of his estate passed to his daughter, Theodosia.

Theodosia, who married Sir John Meade (later 1st Earl of Clanwilliam) in 1776, was a very able woman, who, unusually for the era, managed all of her estates personally.

Theodosia, Countess of Clanwilliam, died in 1817, and left her personal estate to her second son, General the Hon Robert Meade.

General Meade is believed to have extended the original house ca 1820, adding the new ornée cottage front section and the wing to the west, as well as increasing the planting around the house.

The newly extended "Burrenwood Cottage" is shown on a map of 1834.

General Meade lived mainly in London, using Burrenwood as a summer residence.

After his death, in 1852, the Meade family largely abandoned Burrenwood and the property left to the care of trusted tenants.

It was reoccupied by a Meade descendant in 1934 who, during the 2nd World War, removed the thatch for safety reasons.

The house appears to have remained occupied until ca 1980s.

The Clanwilliam Papers are held at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.

First published in May, 2010.

1st Baron De La Warr

The founder of this family,

SIR THOMAS WEST, Knight, lived in the reign of EDWARD II, and was in high favour with that monarch and his successor.

He married Eleanor, daughter and heiress of Sir John de Cantilupe, of Hempston Cantilupe, Devon, by whom he obtained the manor of Snitterfield, in Warwickshire.

Sir Thomas was subsequently summoned to parliament as Baron West in 1342, and participated in the wars of EDWARD III.

He died in 1342, and was succeeded by his son,

THOMAS, 2nd Baron, who was not summoned to parliament, though served at Crécy in 1346.

His son,

THOMAS, 3rd Baron, was summoned to parliament in 1402; and dying three years later, in 1405, was succeeded by his son, 

THOMAS, 4TH BARON, who took a distinguished part in the French wars of HENRY V.

Dying without issue, in 1415, he was succeeded by his brother, 

REGINALD, 5TH BARON, who, in the reign of HENRY VI, on the death of Thomas, Lord la Warr, his uncle, had livery of the lands of his mother's inheritance, and was summoned to parliament as 6th Baron De La Warr, on the death of his uncle in 1426.

Dying in 1451, he was succeeded by his son,

RICHARD, 7th Baron, a staunch supporter of the house of LANCASTER in the war of the Roses.

Following his decease in 1497, he was succeeded by his son,

THOMAS (c1457-1525), KG, 8th Baron.

His lordship's lineal descendant, 

WILLIAM WEST, having served in the English army, at the siege of St Quintin, in Picardy, was knighted at Hampton Court in 1568; and created, at the same time, Baron De La Warr (2nd creation).

He had also, by act of parliament, a full restitution in blood. His only son, 

THOMAS, 2nd Baron, was succeeded by his son, 

THOMAS, 3rd Baron (1577-1618). This nobleman was governor and captain-general of Virginia.


THE STATE of Delaware takes its name from Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr.
In the United States, Thomas West, 3rd (or 12th) Baron, is often named in history books simply as Lord Delaware. He served as governor of the Jamestown Colony, and the Delaware Bay was named after him.
The state of Delaware, Delaware River and Delaware Indians were so called after the bay, and thus ultimately derive their names from the barony. Many other US counties, townships and the like derive their names directly or indirectly from this connection.
His lordship died, in 1618, at Virginia and was succeed in the title by his son, 

HENRY, 4th Baron; whose grandson,

JOHN, 6th Baron, one of the tellers of the exchequer, and afterwards treasurer of the excise, married and was succeeded by his only son,

JOHN, 7th Baron, KB, a general in the Army, and Governor of Guernsey.

His lordship marred twice, firstly to Lady Charlotte, daughter of the Earl of Clancarty.

In 1761 this nobleman was created Viscount Cantelupe and EARL DE LA WARR.

He died in 1766 and was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN, 2nd Earl, was an officer of high rank in the army and appointed, in 1766, Master of the Horse to The Queen.


William Herbrand [Sackville], 11th Earl De La Warr, is seated at Buckhurst Park, Withyham, Sussex.

Former town residence ~ 14 Bourne Street, London.
First published in June, 2012.   Coat-of-arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Wodehouse Gems: II

Stiff Upper Lip Jeeves by Sir P G Wodehouse, KBE, published  in 1963

Bertie Wooster's arch-adversary, Roderick Spode, Earl of Sidcup, features heavily in this book.

Spode, as Bertie calls him, is a character we all love to hate.

Here is one of my favourite passages that always makes me laugh:-

'...Spode pivoted round and gave me a penetrating look. He had grown a bit, I noticed, since I had last seen him, being now about nine foot seven. ...I had compared him to a gorilla, and what I had had in mind had been the ordinary run-of-the-mill gorilla, not the large economy size'. 

...'To ease the strain, I asked him if he would have a cucumber sandwich, but with an impassioned gesture he indicated that he was not in the market for cucumber sandwiches..."a muffin?" 

No, not a muffin, either. He seemed to be on a diet.

"Wooster", he said, his jaw muscles moving freely, "I can't make up my mind whether to break your neck or not."

And so on. Wodehouse's command of the English language was supreme. Brilliant.

Wodehouse's character, Spode, is believed to be modelled on the war-time fascist leader, Sir Oswald Mosley Bt.

The Mosleys had a connection with Staffordshire, the county where Spode pottery is made; hence the Spode name.

First published in March, 2009.

Monday, 25 December 2017

Sunday, 24 December 2017

1st Earl Castle Stewart


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

ANDREW STEWART, 1st Lord Avondale, was the natural son of JAMES THE FAT (sole surviving son of Murdoch Stewart, 1st Duke of Albany).

He wedded Margaret, sister of David, 1st Earl of Cassillis, and had issue,
ANDREW, his successor;
Henry, 1st Lord Methven;
Barbara; Agnes; Anne.
His lordship fell at the battle of Flodden, 1513, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

ANDREW (c1505-49) succeeding his uncle as 2nd Lord Avondale, who exchanged the title for that of OCHILTREE.

He married Margaret, natural daughter of James, 1st Earl of Arran, and had issue,
ANDREW, his successor;
This nobleman 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 thus divested himself of that title, was created a peer, in 1619, by the title of Baron Castle Stewart.

His lordship 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, m George Crawford, of Crawfordsburn;
Maria, m John Kennedy, of Cultra;
He was succeeded by his eldest son,

ANDREW, 2nd Baron, who espoused, ca 1604, the Lady Anne Stewart, fifth daughter and co-heiress of John, 5th Earl of Atholl, by which lady he had issue,
ANDREW, 3rd Baron;
JOSIAS, 4th Baron.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

ANDREW, 3rd Baron (-1650), who married Joyce, daughter and heiress of Sir Arthur Blundell, by whom he had issue, an only child, MARY, who wedded Henry 5th Earl of Suffolk.

His lordship died without male issue, and the honours devolved upon his brother,

JOSIAS, 4th Baron (c1637-62), who espoused Anne, daughter of John Madden, of Enfield, Middlesex, by his wife Elizabeth, daughter and co-heiress of Charles Waterhouse, of Manor Waterhouse, County Fermanagh.

This marriage was without issue and the family honours reverted to his lordship's uncle,

JOHN, 5th Baron, after whose decease without issue, the title remained in abeyance until 1774, when it was claimed by, and allowed to,

CAPTAIN ROBERT STEWART, de jure 6th Baron, who married Anne, daughter of William Moore, of Garvey, County Tyrone.

He died ca 1685, and was succeeded by his son,

ANDREW, de jure 7th Baron (1672-1715), who wedded Eleanor, daughter of Robert Dallway, of Bellahill, County Antrim, and had issue,

ROBERT, de jure 8th Baron (1700-42), who wedded, in 1722, Margaret, sister and co-heiress of Hugh Edwards, of Castle Gore, County Tyrone, and had issue,

ANDREW THOMAS, 9th Baron (1725-1809), who was created Viscount Castle Stewart in 1793; and advanced to an earldom, in 1800, as EARL CASTLE STEWART.

His lordship wedded, in 1781, Sarah, daughter of the Rt Hon Godfrey Lill, judge of the Court of Common Pleas in Ireland, and had issue,
ROBERT, his heir;
Caroline; Sarah.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

ROBERT, 2nd Earl (1784-1854), who espoused, in 1806, Jemima, only daughter of Colonel Robinson, and had issue,
EDWARD, 3rd Earl;
Andrew Godfrey, in holy orders, father of 6th Earl.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

EDWARD, 3rd Earl (1807-57), who married, in 1830, Emmeline, only surviving daughter and heir of Benjamin Bathurst, though the marriage was without issue.

His lordship was succeeded by his brother,

CHARLES ANDREW KNOX, 4th Earl (1810-74), who wedded, in 1835, Charlotte Raffles Drury, only daughter of Acheson Quintin Thompson, of County Louth, and had issue,
HENRY JAMES, his heir;
Mary; Ella Sophia; Alice Maude; Margaretta.
His lordship was succeeded by his son,

HENRY JAMES, 5th Earl,

The heir apparent is the present holder's son, Andrew Richard Charles Stuart, styled Viscount Stuart (b 1953).

Castle Stewart arms courtesy of European Heraldry. First published in December, 2015.

Saturday, 23 December 2017



The surname of BERESFORD was assumed from Beresford, in the parish of Alstonefield, Staffordshire, of which manor

JOHN DE BERESFORD  was possessed in 1087, during the reign of WILLIAM II, and was succeeded therein by his son,

HUGH DE BERESFORD, from whom lineally descended

JOHN BERESFORD, Lord of Beresford and Enson, who married Elizabeth, daughter of William Basset, of Blore, Staffordshire, and had, with other issue,
JOHN, his heir;
THOMAS, of whom hereafter.
Mr Beresford died in 1475, and was succeeded at Beresford by his eldest son; while the second,

THOMAS BERESFORD, seated himself at Newton Grange, Derbyshire, where he was resident in the reigns of HENRY VI and EDWARD IV; the former of whom he served in his French wars, and according to tradition, mustered a troop of horse at Chesterfield, consisting alone of his sons, and his own and their attendants.

Mr Beresford wedded Agnes, daughter and heiress of Robert Hassal, of Arclid, Cheshire, by whom he had sixteen sons and five daughters, and was succeeded by his eldest son, Aden; but we pass to the seventh,

HUMPHREY BERESFORD, who eventually became of Newton Grange.

This gentleman espoused Margery, daughter of Edmond Berdesey, or Beresley,  and was succeeded by his second son (the eldest having left a daughter only at his decease),

GEORGE BERESFORD, whose eldest son,

MICHAEL BERESFORD,  was an officer in the Court of Wards, and was seated at Oxford, and The Squerries, in Kent.

Mr Beresford, who was living in 1574, married Rose, daughter of John Knevitt, and had seven sons and four daughters; of whom

TRISTRAM BERESFORD, the third son, going into Ulster in the reign of JAMES I, as manager of the Corporation of London, known by the name of the Society of the New Plantation in Ulster, settled at Coleraine, County Londonderry, and was succeeded by his elder son,

SIR TRISTRAM BERESFORD, who was created a baronet, denominated of Coleraine, County Londonderry, in 1665.

He married firstly, Anne, eldest daughter of John Rowley, of Castleroe, County Londonderry, by whom he had one son, RANDAL, his heir, and two daughters; and secondly, Sarah Sackville, and had three sons and three daughters, viz.
Susanna; Sarah; Anne.
Sir Tristram died in 1673, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR RANDAL BERESFORD (c1636-81), 2nd Baronet, MP, who married Catherine, younger daughter of Francis, Viscount Valentia, and niece, maternally, of Philip, 1st Earl of Chesterfield; and dying in 1681, left issue,
TRISTRAM, his heir;
Jane; Catherine.
Sir Randal was succeeded by his eldest surviving son,

SIR TRISTRAM BERESFORD (1669-1701)3rd Baronet, who commanded a foot regiment against JAMES II, and was attainted by the parliament of that monarch.

Sir Tristram wedded, in 1687, Nichola Sophia, youngest daughter and co-heiress of  Hugh Hamilton, 1st Viscount Glenawly, and had issue,
MARCUS, his heir;
Susanna Catherina; Arabella Maria; Jane; Aramintha.
He was succeeded by his son,

SIR MARCUS BERESFORD, 4th Baronet (1694-1763), who espoused, in 1717, Catherine, BARONESS LE POER, daughter and heiress of James, 3rd Earl of Tyrone, and in consequence of that alliance, was advanced to the peerage, in 1720, as Baron Beresford and Viscount Tyrone.

His lordship was further advanced advanced to an earldom, in 1746, as EARL OF TYRONE.

He had surviving issue,
GEORGE DE LA POER, his successor;
William (Most Rev), created BARON DECIES;
Anne; Jane; Catherine; Aramintha; Frances Maria; Elizabeth.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

GEORGE, 2nd Earl (1735-1800), KP, who married, in 1769, Elizabeth, only daughter and heiress of Henry Monck, of Charleville, and Lady Isabella Bentinck, daughter of Henry, 1st Duke of Portland, and had issue,
GEORGE DE LA POER, his successor;
John George (Most Rev), Lord Archbishop of Armagh;
George Thomas (Rt Hon), Lt-Gen, GCH;
Isabella Anne; Catherine; Anne; Elizabeth Louisa.
His lordship inherited the ancient Barony of de la Poer at the decease of his mother in 1769.

He was enrolled amongst the peers of Great Britain, in 1786, as Baron Tyrone; and created MARQUESS OF WATERFORD in 1789.

His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

HENRY, 2nd Marquess (1772-1826), who wedded, in 1805, Susanna, only daughter and heiress of George, 2nd Earl of Tyrconnell, and had issue,
HENRY, his successor;
Sarah Elizabeth.
His lordship, who was a Knight of St Patrick, a Privy Counsellor in Ireland, Governor of County Waterford, and Colonel of the Waterford Militia, was succeeded by his eldest son,

HENRY, 3rd Marquess.
The heir apparent is the present holder's son, Richard John de la Poer Beresford, styled Earl of Tyrone, a polo professional who is known as Richard Le Poer.

The Waterfords were a Patrick family, four members of whom were Knights of the Most Illustrious Order of St Patrick.

CURRAGHMORE, near Portlaw, County Waterford, is the ancestral seat of the 9th and present Marquess of Waterford.

Some 2,500 acres of formal gardens, woodland and grazing fields make this one of the largest private demesnes in Ireland and one of the finest places to visit.

A Sitka Spruce planted on the estate in the 1830s is among the tallest tree in Ireland and stands guard over King John's Bridge.

Built in 1205, this stone-arched structure, spanning the Clodagh River, is the oldest bridge in Ireland.

Twelve miles of famine relief boundary wall and four sturdy wrought iron gates surround the estate.

Gnarled pink chestnut trees line the approach to the big house and original castle tower.

St Hubert's stag with crucifix between its antlers - genuine horns on the de la Poer family emblem - gazes across the large Courtyard from atop the old castle.

Today, the formal gardens surrounding Curraghmore House are open for the public to visit on Thursday afternoons from 2pm to 5pm between Easter and mid-October.

Group tours of the main reception rooms of Curraghmore House can be arranged by prior appointment.

This tour takes in some of the finest Neo-Classical rooms in Ireland which feature the magnificent plaster work of James Wyatt and grisaille panels by Peter de Gree.

Curraghmore, near Portlaw, meaning great bog, is the last of four castles built by the de la Poer family after their arrival in Ireland in 1167.

The Castle walls are about 12 feet thick and within one, a tight spiral stairway connects the lower ground floor with the roof above.

Of the many curious and interesting features of Curraghmore, the most striking is the courtyard front of the house, where the original castle is encased in a spectacular Victorian mansion with flanking Georgian ranges.

The combination of architectural features from several periods around the ancient core of the original castle produces a most striking composition; "immediately recognizable and undeniably moving", as it was described by Country Life magazine.

In more than 800 years the property has passed through the female line only once, and that was prior to Catherine de la Poer marrying Sir Marcus Beresford Bt in 1715, when she was a mere teenager.

Together with her husband, it was she who carried out much of the remodelling of the house and grounds and it was Catherine, Lady Beresford, who created the unique Shell-house herself.

The quality of the craftsmanship employed on the developments on Curraghmore through the ages, has secured the House's reputation as one of the most important country houses in Ireland.

In the late 18th century, the 2nd Earl, afterwards 1st Marquess of Waterford, secured the famous architect James Wyatt to design the next phase of modernisation of Curraghmore.

Here he created a series of rooms, with decoration considered by many to be among his most successful.

After Wyatt's Georgian developments, work at Curraghmore in the 19th century concentrated on the gardens and the Victorian refacing to the front of the house.

Formal parterre, tiered lawns, lake, arboretum and kitchen gardens were all developed during this time and survive to today.

At this time some of Ireland's most remarkable surviving trees were planted in the estate's arboretum.

Today these trees frame miles of beautiful river walks.

Developments in the gardens are still under-way and a Japanese garden has been laid out by the present Lady Waterford.

The present day Beresfords are country people by tradition.

Farming, hunting, breeding hounds and horses and an active social calendar continues as it did centuries ago.

Weekly game-shooting parties are held every season (November through to January); and in spring, calves, foals and lambs can be seen in abundance on Curraghmore's verdant fields.

Polo is still played on the estate in summer.

Throughout Ireland's turbulent history, this family have never been 'absentee landlords' and they still provide diverse employment for a number of local people.

Change comes slowly to Curraghmore - table linen, cutlery and dishes from the early 19th century are still in use.

Other former seat ~ Ford Castle, Northumberland.

I am grateful to Lord Waterford for the information provided from Curraghmore's website.

First published in July, 2011.  Waterford arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Friday, 22 December 2017

Montalto House

SIR JOHN RAWDON (1720-93), 4th Baronet, 1st Baron Rawdon and 1st Earl of Moira, established the Montalto estate.

The market town of Ballynahinch in County Down, like Moira, was laid out by the Rawdon family in the first half of the 17th century.

The Montalto Estate is located on the edge of Ballynahinch.

MONTALTO HOUSE, described by Sir Charles Brett as "a mansion of the utmost interest and with features of considerable importance..." was constructed around the mid-1750s, when Lord Moira moved there and made it his home.

The name Montalto derives from the Italian for High Mountain and in the original construction, Italian plasterers were employed, and from the grounds the Mourne Mountains can clearly be seen.

The house has had a history of alterations and extensions and it was during the 19th Century that a ballroom and service wing were added by the grandson of the original owner.

The ballroom, servants' and kitchen wing were all demolished in 1952.

In the mid-1980s the house was damaged by fire.

The damage caused - contained in the east wing and the rear apartments - was so severe that this part of the house had to be demolished.

The present owners appointed Hobart & Heron to restore the house as a private residence.

Major works were undertaken and this included the rebuilding of the east wing.

The house is now fully reinstated to its former Italianate glory with all details of both internal and external adornment.

Original plastered ceilings, the work of Robert West of Dublin, carried out in 1758, still remain to this day and have also been restored.

Of the original two-storey house, only the small sitting-room (called the Lady's sitting-room) remains largely unaltered; while the imposing long gallery could once have been the original entrance hall.

The sitting-room ceiling contains plasterwork of exceptional quality.

Amidst the fiddle-shaped arabesques there are birds modelled in high relief, a squirrel and bunches of grapes.

At one end of the room is a triple niche, the side arches framing plaster scallop-shells, the central one containing a curious stucco relief of a fox driving a cockerel harnessed into an oval curricle.

The 2nd Earl of Moira, afterwards 1st Marquess of Hastings, who distinguished himself as a soldier in the American War of Independence and was subsequently Governor-General of India, sold Montalto in 1802 to David Ker.

Ker enlarged the house by undertaking what must have been an exceedingly difficult operation: he excavated the rock under the two-storey house and round the foundations, thus forming a new, lower ground floor, the structure supported by many arches and pillars.

Consequently, the new ground floor was much higher than any basement would be and the operation made the mansion fully three-storey.

Close to the front of the mansion, and overlooking the ornamental lake, there is a substantial mound said to have been built with the spoil from the excavation of the under-storey of the house, which contains a peculiar grotto or bath-house.

The entrance front is of two bays on either side of a three-sided bow; the front also having end-bows.

There is a shallow Doric porch at the foot of the central bow, the original portico having been removed during the Irish famine because neighbouring paupers caused inconvenience to the Ker family by taking shelter under it.

The right-hand side of the house is of ten bays, plus the end bow of the front.

The original ground floor is now the piano nobile.

In the ground floor of 1837 there is an imposing entrance hall with eight paired Doric columns, flanked by a library and dining-room.

A double staircase leads up to the piano nobile, where there is a long gallery running the entire width of the house, which could have been the original entrance hall.

Montalto was bought ca 1912 by the 5th Earl of Clanwilliam, whose bride refused to live at Gill Hall, the family seat a few miles to the west, on account of a regrettable infestation of ghosts.

The demesne is largely walled with 17th century origins.

It extends to roughly 470 acres today though in 1872 the estate comprised 20,544 acres.

As Lord Moira was a noted botanist, planter and improver, it is likely that Montalto once boasted many exotic specimens dating from his time.

In 1770, he expended £30,000 (£4.08 million in 2010) in planting over 100,000 timber trees between that date and his death in 1793. There are good stands of mature trees on the undulating site.

The Battle of Ballynahinch in 1798 was fought within the demesne, which suffered damage in the conflict.

It is said that many thousands of forest trees were uprooted or broken in the ‘Big Wind’ of 1839.

There is no walled garden at Montalto, but there was a productive area enclosed by a beech hedge and an orchard. Some of this still survives.

There is a lake with an artificial shape of a fish, which can be glimpsed across the lawns from the house.

A 1960s eye-catcher gate and clumps of flowering shrubs lie beyond.

An arboretum was added to the south-west of the house, beyond a hillock which contains the spoil from the basement of the house when it was dug out.

The arboretum is small but has a good representation of exotic trees from all over the temperate world. There was a summer house in this area.

The ‘Ladies Garden’ is on the north-east of the house.

Since the property had been acquired by Lord Clanwilliam in 1912, it became somewhat neglected in the second half of the 20th century.

It was sold in 1979 and became part of a business partnership which replanted the demesne in 1986-89.

The house has been in private hands since 1995.

Main Entrance

Other listed buildings on the property include the 1830s schoolhouse; the 1840s farm complex; the Spa Gate Lodge ca 1825, possibly Morrison; West Gate Lodge, pre-1834; and the Ballynahinch Gate Screen, 1870.

The Town Lodge is demolished and several grand designs exist for un-executed gate lodges and screens.

The mansion has been available as accommodation since March, 2010.

It has eight double bedrooms, a chef and concierge.

In about 1840 one in every twenty acres in County Down belonged to the Ker family of Portavo and they owned a further 6,000 acres in County Antrim.

They were amongst Ireland's thirty wealthiest families.

David Stewart Ker continued from 1844 as an ideal and successful landlord, but the burning down of Portavo House in the same year led to his removal to his Montalto estate at Ballynahinch.

However, expenditure on relief work and the loss of rents during the Famine meant borrowing and sales of the library and Old Master paintings.

David was returned as one of the Conservative MPs for Down in the violent election of 1852, but at great financial cost to himself.

As a Liberal, he lost the 1857 election to the Conservative candidates.

His estate debts then exceeded a quarter of a million pounds, and his personal extravagance quickly disposed of the annual balance of about £6,500 available to him out of an estimated income of £31,600, once all outgoings had been paid.

He began selling off land in the Landed Estates Court in 1863. By 1867 the estate debts had risen to £371,000 and David had taken to drink.

To add to his woes, his second wife and his 23-year old second son, Charley, ran off together in 1871 (Charlie committed suicide five years later).

In 1872, he was declared bankrupt, and management of the estates was placed in the hands of trustees, while he himself was pensioned off and his eldest son succeeded to the heavily encumbered estates.

Downpatrick had to be sold off in 1873 to one of the trustees, John Mulholland.

The surviving estates were in reality now run for the benefit of the creditors rather than the Kers. (Nevertheless, a modest replacement house was finally built at Portavo in 1885.)

In 1886, the current Ker incumbent of Montalto, the incorrigibly spendthrift Richard, ardent huntsman and womaniser, was receiving only £910 out of a gross income of £17,490.

In spite of the supreme efforts of his trustees and of his solicitor, William Wallace, he too ended up in the bankruptcy courts in 1898 at the age of forty-seven.

The agricultural part of the entire Ker estate was sold off in 1911 under the Wyndham Land Act and Montalto itself went to the Earl of Clanwilliam in 1912.

The house in the demesne at Portavo was to be the final Ulster home of the Kers. However, by the 1970s the rejuvenated trust fund had been exhausted, and the overdraft had again risen to £80,000.

Home farm, demesne, house and its furnishings were sold off in 1980, and the resident Ker moved to Wiltshire, only to lose everything as a Lloyd's 'name' in 1992. 

First published in June, 2010. Hastings arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Thursday, 21 December 2017

1st Baron Bloomfield


BENJAMIN BLOOMFIELD or BLUMFIELD, of Eyre Court, County Galway, made his will in 1737, which was proved the following year.

By Dorothy his wife he left four sons and two daughters,
JOHN, his heir;
Joseph, b 1710;
Benjamin, of Meelick, grandfather of
Dorothy; Anne.
Mr Bloomfield's third son,

BENJAMIN BLOOMFIELD, of Meelick, County Galway, had a son,

JOHN BLOOMFIELD, of Newport, County Tipperary, who married Charlotte, daughter of Samuel Waller (by Anne Jocelyn, sister to Robert, Viscount Jocelyn, Lord Chancellor of Ireland),  by whom he had issue,
BENJAMIN, of whom hereafter;
Anne, m Thomas Ryder Pepper;
Charlotte, m Very Rev T B Gough.
Mr Bloomfield was succeeded by his son,


Sir Benjamin married, in 1797, Harriett, daughter of Thomas Douglas, of Grantham, Lincolnshire.

He was raised to the peerage in 1825 as BARON BLOOMFIELD, of Ciamhaltha, County Tipperary.

His lordship died in 1846, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN ARTHUR DOUGLAS (1802-79), 2nd Baron, GCB, PC, DL, who wedded, in 1845, the Hon Georgiana Liddell, daughter of Thomas, 1st Lord Ravensworth.

He dsp 1879, when the title expired.


CASTLE CALDWELL passed to the Bloomfields through the marriage of Frances Arabella, daughter and co-heiress of Sir John Caldwell, 5th Baronet, of Castle Caldwell, to John Colpoys Bloomfield, in 1817. 

Bloomfield arms courtesy of European Heraldry.  First published in January, 2012.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Mooresfort House


CHARLES MOORE JP MP (1804-69), son of Arthur Moore, of Crookedstone, County Antrim, by Mary O'Hara his wife, purchased Mooresfort, County Tipperary.

He married, in 1835, Marian Elizabeth, daughter of John Story, and had issue,

Charles Henry O'Hara, deceased; 
ARTHUR JOHN, of Mooresfort;
Marian Edith;
Helena Blanche, a nun;
Laura Mary, m  G A Vaughan, nephew of 3rd Earl of Lisburne.
Mr Moore's second son, 

COUNT ARTHUR JOHN MOORE JP DL MP (1849-1904), of Mooresfort, MP for Clonmel, 1874-85; and for Londonderry, 1899-1900; High Sheriff, 1877, wedded, in 1877, Mary Lucy, daughter of Sir Charles Clifford, 1st Baronet, of Hatherton Hall, Staffordshire, and had issue,
Arthur Joseph Clifford, 1878-1900;
Edith Mary.
Mr Moore, Commander of the Order of St Gregory, Chamberlain to Pope LEO XIII, was created a Count by His Holiness in 1879.

His second son,

CHARLES JOSEPH HENRY O'HARA MOORE MC JP (1880-1965), of Mooresfort, and of Aherlow Castle, married, in 1917, Lady Dorothie Mary Evelyn Feilding MM, daughter of 9th Earl of Denbigh.

He was awarded the Military Cross; Captain, the Irish Guards.

MOORESFORT HOUSE, near Lattin, County Tipperary, was built in 1725 as a three-storey structure.

The house was remodelled in the 1850s by Charles Moore MP, converting the house to a two-storey building in order to have higher rooms.

The Italianate remodelling of the house included the addition of an ornate portico and pediment to the front elevation and canted-bay windows flanked by classically influenced pilasters giving the building an overall Victorian character.

The decorative stained glass window is due to the addition of a chapel designed by George Ashlin also added about this time.

The house retains notable interior features including timber shutters and graceful plasterwork to the drawing room depicting musical instruments.

The extensive ranges of outbuildings adjoining the house are still used to serve a working farm, and contribute positively to the over all setting of the house.

AHERLOW CASTLE, near Bansha, County Tipperary, was also a seat of Arthur Moore MP.

This small castle stands in the Glen of Aherlow.

It has a polygonal tower with loops at one end; a square tower at the other.

Former town residences ~ 64 Prince's Gate, London; 10 Grafton Street, Dublin.

First published in August, 2013.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Tynan Abbey

TYNAN ABBEY, County Armagh, was built in 1750 and enlarged in the Tudor-Gothic style around 1820-30.

It had an imposing two-storey entrance front, battlemented and pinnacled; a battlemented central tower and doorway too, with pointed Gothic windows.

Photo credit: Stuart Blakely

The Rt Hon Sir Norman Stronge, 8th Baronet, MC JP, and his only son, James, were murdered by the IRA in the Abbey, which was burnt to the ground, in 1981.

I have written about the Stronge Baronets elsewhere on this blog.

Photo credit: Stuart Blakely

Originally the estate extended to some 8,000 acres. 

The late Douglas Deane OBE recalled the 8th Baronet's passion for wildlife at Tynan Abbey:
He went to live and farm at Tynan Abbey in 1928 and always his interest was in wild things; often he told me about the wildfowl which visited the lake in winter; the groups of Bewick swans; the flocks of white-fronted geese...

...he showed me an incubating woodcock, hidden in a pool of brown leaves by the edge of the main drive at Tynan and told me that his gamekeeper had seen a woodcock carry one of its young, held between its legs, from an open patch in the woods in to cover; and many times had watched a woodcock feed its young in the same fashion as pigeons.

Every year Sir Norman would invite me to Tynan to see the azaleas in colour and the seas of bluebells in the woods and always there was talk of butterflies, painted ladies, peacock and the rest. Sir Norman was the envy of his friends, being an excellent shot.

He would often finish a day's shooting with close to 200 pigeons...his cousin, Sir Basil Brooke [1st Viscount Brookeborough], had the edge on him and always seemed to finish the day with more.
First published in September, 2013.