Monday, 22 January 2018

Fort William House


This family is supposed to have been originally from Kent, but the period of its settlement in Ireland is unknown.

Ballygarran Castle and Manor, beautifully situated on the River Blackwater, near Lismore, County Waterford, were purchased about 1695 by

RICHARD GUMBLETON, of Castle Richard, otherwise Ballygarran, County Waterford, High Sheriff of County Waterford, 1732, who married, in 1704, Anne Crook, daughter of Wallis Warren (ancestor of Sir Augustus Warren Bt, of Warren's Court), and had issue,
Anne; Elizabeth; Susanna; Mary.
Mr Gumbleton died in 1757, and was succeeded by his only son,

RICHARD JOSEPH GUMBLETON (1721-76), of Castle Richard, High Sheriff of County Waterford, 1772, who wedded, in 1743, Elizabeth, daughter of Daniel Conner, of Bandon, and sister of William Conner, MP for Bandon, 1761-66, and had issue,
Henry Conner;
Richard, of Castle Richard;
George Conner;
ROBERT WARREN, succeeded his brother;
Anne; Susanna; Catherine; Sarah; Jane; Mary; Elizabeth.
The eldest son,

WILLIAM CONNER GUMBLETON (1750-1815), died unmarried, and was succeeded by his brother,

ROBERT WARREN GUMBLETON (c1753-1834), of Glanatore, County Cork, who espoused, in 1787, Margaret, daughter of John Bowen, of Oakgrove, County Cork, and had issue,
Richard, his heir;
Robert, dsp;
JOHN BOWEN, of whom we treat;
George (Rev), of Belgrove; father of WILLIAM EDWARD GUMBLETON;
Diana; Margaret; Mary Anne; Frances Lavinia; Catherine; Jane; Eliza.
The third son,

JOHN BOWEN GUMBLETON (1796-1858), of Fort William, County Waterford, High Sheriff of County Waterford, 1845, married Ann, daughter of Henry Everard, and had issue,
Robert, dsp;
Henry Everard, died in infancy;
John Henry, died at sea; dsp;
Richard, died in infancy;
Mary; Margaret; Anne; Meliora;
FRANCES, of whom hereafter.
The youngest daughter,

MISS FRANCES GUMBLETON (1837-1914), was the last of the family to live at Fort William House.

FORT WILLIAM HOUSE, Glencairn, Lismore, County Waterford, was built in 1836 in the Tudor-Revival style.

About 1695 the Gumbleton family purchased the estate, beside the River Blackwater, a few miles upstream from Lismore.

William Conner Gumbleton inherited a portion of the estate and built a house named Fort William, following the example of his cousin, Robert Conner, who had called his house Fort Robert.

The estate passed to his nephew, John Bowen Gumbleton, who commissioned a new house by James and George Richard Pain, former apprentices of John Nash with a thriving architectural practice in Cork.

The present house is a regular building of two storeys in local sandstone with an abundance of gables, pinnacles and tall Elizabethan chimneys.

The interior is largely late-Georgian in style and Fort William is essentially a classical Georgian house with a profusion of mildly Gothic details.

Mr Gumbleton’s son, John Henry Gumbleton, died at sea, and his daughter Frances eventually leased the house to Colonel Richard Keane, brother of Sir John Keane from nearby Cappoquin House.

The Colonel was much annoyed when his car, reputedly fitted with a well-stocked cocktail cabinet, was commandeered by the IRA so he permitted Free State troops to occupy the servants’ wing at Fort William during the Irish Civil War, which may have influenced the terrorists' decision to burn his brother’s house in 1923.

Colonel Keane died in a shooting accident, the estate reverted to Frances Gumbleton’s nephew, John Currey, and was sold to a Mr Dunne who continued the tradition of letting the house.

His most notable tenant was Adele Astaire, sister of the famous dancer and film star Fred Astaire, who became the wife of Lord Charles Cavendish from nearby Lismore Castle.

In 1944 the Gumbleton family re-purchased Fort William but resold for £10,000 after just two years.

The new owner was Hugh, 2nd Duke of Westminster.

Fort William is in good hunting country with some fine beats on a major salmon river, which allowed the elderly Duke to claim he had purchased an Irish sporting base.

Its real purpose, however, was to facilitate his pursuit of Miss Nancy Sullivan, daughter of a retired general from Glanmire, near Cork, who soon became his fourth duchess.

His Grace made extensive alterations at Fort William, installing the fine gilded LOUIS XV boiseries in the drawing-room, removed from the ducal seat, Eaton Hall, in Cheshire, and fitting out the dining-room with panelling from one of his yachts.

The 2nd Duke died in 1953, but his widow survived for a further fifty years, outliving three of her husband's successors at Eaton Lodge in Cheshire.

Anne, Duchess of Westminster, was renowned as one of the foremost National Hunt owners of the day.

Her Grace's bay gelding, Arkle, won the Cheltenham Gold Cup on three successive occasions and is among the most famous steeplechasers of all time.

Fort William was briefly owned by the Drummond-Wolfe family before passing to an American, Murray Mitchell.

On his widow’s death it was purchased by Ian Agnew and his wife Sara, who undertook a sensitive restoration before he too died in 2009.

In 2013 the estate was purchased by David Evans-Bevan who lives at Fort William today with his family, farming and running the salmon fishery.

Select bibliography ~ Irish Historic Houses Association.

Bellarena House


This is a branch of the ancient family of HEYGATE, seated in the counties of Essex and Suffolk.

THOMAS HEYGATE, of Hayes, Middlesex, Provost-Marshal-General of the army in 1557 which, in alliance with the Spaniards, besieged St Quentin (held by the French), and subsequently Provost-Marshal in Scotland.

He married Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Stonor, of Stonor; and dying in 1576, was succeeded by his eldest son,

THOMAS HEYGATE, of Hayes, Justice of the Peace for Middlesex, Provost-Marshal-General under the Earl of Essex at the capture of Cadiz, 1596, who wedded Margery, daughter of Ralph Skipwith, of Parkbury, Hertfordshire, and had surviving issue,
Thomas, of Hayes, barrister-at-law;
RALPH, of whom presently;
Katherine, m R Tyrwhitt, master of the buck-hounds to CHARLES I;
Letitia, m Dr P Heylin, prebendary of Westminster.
The second son,

RALPH HEYGATE, settled in London and married twice; but had issue by his second wife (Anne, daughter of Nicholas Spicer, of the city of Exeter) only.

His elder son,

NICHOLAS HEYGATE, one of the court of Assistants of Merchant Taylors' Company, and a collector of curious books and writings, espoused Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Cotton, of Loughton, and granddaughter of Edward Shuckburgh, of Naseby, Northamptonshire, by whom he had an only surviving child,

ROBERT HEYGATE, of Husband's Bosworth, Leicestershire, who wedded Anne, daughter of John Freeman, and left at his decease, in 1736, an only surviving son,

NICHOLAS HEYGATE (1705-), of West Haddon, Northamptonshire, who espoused Mary, daughter of John Cooke, of Hill Morton, Warwickshire, and had issue,
THOMAS, of Husband's Bosworth, father of THOMAS;
JAMES, father of
WILLIAM, created a baronet.
Mr Heygate's youngest son,

JAMES HEYGATE (1747-), of Hackney, Middlesex, and Southend, Essex, a banker, married and left issue, his eldest son,

WILLIAM HEYGATE (1782-1844), of Chatham Place, Blackfriars, London, and Holwood, Kent, who married, in 1821, Isabella, fourth daughter of Edward Longdon Mackmurdo, of Upper Clapton, Middlesex, and had issue,
FREDERICK WILLIAM, his successor;
William Unwin;
Edward Nicholas;
Robert Henry John.
This gentleman was created a baronet in 1831, denominated of Southend, Essex.

Sir William held the office of Alderman of London, Lord Mayor of London, 1822, and MP for Sudbury.

He was a partner in the banking firm of Pares and Heygate, Aldermanbury.

Sir William was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR FREDERICK WILLIAM HEYGATE (1822-94), 2nd Baronet, DL, who was baptized at the Mansion House during the mayoralty of his father and in the presence of HRH The Duke of York (who stood sponsor), and at whose wish the baronetcy was conferred. 

Sir Frederick, MP for County Londonderry, 1859-74, wedded, in 1851, Marianne, daughter of Conolly (McCausland) Gage, of Bellarena, County Londonderry, and had issue,
FREDERICK GAGE, his successor;
Robert Henry Gage;
Arthur Conolly Gage, father of 4th Baronet;
Henrietta Constance; Isabella Mary Anne; Maud Alice; Rosamond Anna.
Sir Frederick was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR FREDERICK GAGE HEYGATE (1854-1940), 3rd Baronet, JP, DL, of Bellarena, who espoused, in 1888, Flora, daughter of John Walter, though the marriage was without issue.

Sir Frederick, Major, Mid-Ulster Artillery, Barrister, Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, 1887-88, died without issue, when the baronetcy reverted to his cousin,

SIR JOHN EDWARD NOURSE HEYGATE, 4th Baronet (1903-76), of Bellarena, who married firstly, in 1930, Evelyn Florence Margaret Winifred, daughter of Herbert, 1st Baron Burghclere of Walden.

He wedded secondly, in 1936, Gwyneth Eliot, daughter of John Eliot Howard Lloyd, and had issue,
GEORGE LLOYD, his successor;
Richard John Gage, 6th Baronet.
Sir John married thirdly, in 1951, Dora Luz, daughter of John Harvey.

He is chiefly remembered for his liaison in 1929 with Evelyn Gardner while she was married to Evelyn Waugh.

Heygate and Gardner subsequently married, then divorced.

He is portrayed as "John Beaver" in Waugh's A Handful of Dust.

By the 1970s, the 4th Baronet was living alone in Bellarena when, in 1976, he took his own life.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR GEORGE LLOYD HEYGATE, 5th Baronet (1936-91), who married Hildegard Mathilde Kleinjohann, and had issue,
Catherine Ellen Rowley; Joanna Elliot Nourse; another daughter.
Sir George died without male issue, when the title devolved upon his brother,

SIR RICHARD JOHN GAGE HEYGATE, (b 1940) 6th and present Baronet.

It is thought that the Heygate family lives in London today.

Former seats ~ Porter's Grange, Southend-on-Sea, Essex; Bellarena, County Londonderry; 43 Eaton Square, London. 

Photo credit: Brian McElherron

BELLARENA HOUSE, near Magilligan, County Londonderry, is a mainly late-Georgian house which developed in several different phases around what is probably a late 17th century core.

The land was settled in 1603 by William Gage, of Northamptonshire, who bought the lease of the estate - then called Ballymargy - from the Lord Bishop of Derry.

It was named Bellarena - the beautiful strand - in the late 18th century by Frederick Hervey, the Earl Bishop.

Marcus McCausland, of Drenagh, Marcus, born in 1755, succeeded under the will of his mother to the Bellarena estates and assumed the name of GAGE.

He extended the house in 1797.

His son, Conolly McCausland-Gage, created the present library and managed to fit in a third storey at the rear of the house in 1822.

In the 1830s, Sir Charles Lanyon was employed to redecorate Bellarena, rearrange the hall and add a porch.

Seemingly there was a degree of rivalry between cousins and in-laws at Bellarena and Drenagh!

A final extension was made by Conolly and Henrietta Gage's daughter, Marianne, who married Sir Frederick Heygate, 2nd Baronet, in 1851.

Bellarena House has a two-storey, five-bay entrance front faced in dark-coloured basalt; a notably wide Venetian window in the centre of the upper storey, which rises into a baseless, floating pediment.

Below this window is Lanyon's semi-circular porch, fronted by a pair of Ionic columns either side of the doorway.

On one side of the entrance front there is a wing, set back.

The rear of the main block consists of four bays, all having Wyatt windows in both storeys.

The hall contains a double staircase with cast-iron balusters, which rise between two Corinthian columns, painted to resemble marble.

The drawing-room ceiling has elaborate plasterwork, remarkably similar to that of Drenagh House.

The most noteworthy room in the house is probably the library of 1822 (below), a tall, spacious room with a coved ceiling, surrounded on three sides by a gallery with a balustrade of exquisite ironwork.

This balustrading might possibly have originated from Ballyscullion, along with the library chimney-piece and that in the smoking-room.

To the rear of the house there is a commodious, cobbled office courtyard, with a central pond and fountain; while the impressive stable block boasts a spire and pediment.

Beyond the courtyard is a complete range of early 19th century farm buildings.

The demesne was founded in the mid 17th century on flat ground on the River Roe.

The site is excellent, with fine views of Binevenagh.

There are lawns round the house and large mature shrubs with requisite shelter trees beyond, both around the house and as shelter belts for the fields.

Sampson, in the Statistical Survey of the County of Londonderry of 1802, noted that it had
‘… been well planted with variety of forest trees and shrubs; considering the lightness of the soil, which, for the most part, is sandy, these plantations succeed remarkably well’.
The walled garden, which is pre-1830s, has been cleared of original planting for modern convenience.

The eastern end was formerly an orchard, with a gardener’s house at the north-east corner.

Glasshouses are gone.

There is a roughly-built folly tower, or look-out, in a field to the north of the house, and an ice house.

There are three gate lodges, the oldest having been built in 1797.

In 1742, Conolly McCausland, of Drenagh, married Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Gage, of Magilligan.

Conolly's son Marcus, under the terms of his mother's will, succeeded to the Bellarena estates and assumed the name of Gage in 1816; hence the proud name of Gage lived on at Bellarena.

Bellarena was acquired by the Heygate baronets when the 2nd Baronet, Sir Frederick, married Marianne Gage in 1851.

Sir John, 4th Baronet, was the last of the Heygates to live at Bellarena.

By the 1970s, he was living alone in the house and, alas, in 1976, he took his own life by shooting himself.

Bellarena is now the residence of Mr Denis Desmond, CBE, and his family.

First published in February, 2010.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Ballyward Lodge


SIR WILLIAM LESLIE (c1400-67), 4th of Balquhain, having descended from a common ancestor with the Earls of Rothes, was knighted at the coronation of JAMES I.

He married firstly, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Alexander Fraser of Lovat, and had issue,
Alexander, ancestor of the Leslies of Balquhain;
WILLIAM, of whom presently;
Sir William wedded secondly, Agnes, daughter of Alexander Irvine, of Drum, and by her was ancestor of the Leslie Baronets of Wardis; Leslie of New Leslie; Leslie of Kininvie; and Leslie, Viscount Balgownie.

He espoused thirdly, Euphemia, daughter of Sir William Lindsay, of Cairney, Fife, and by her was ancestor of Leslie of Pitcaple.

The younger son by his first marriage,

WILLIAM LESLIE, of Kincraigie, married Mary, daughter of Francis Ross, of Auchlossan, Aberdeenshire, and had an only son,

WILLIAM LESLIE, of Kincraigie, who wedded Elizabeth, daughter of Robert Strachan, of Balhousie, Forfar, and had issue,
ALEXANDER, of whom presently;
Patrick, of Loch Tulloch, Aberdeenshire;
James, dsp;
The eldest son,

ALEXANDER LESLIE, of Kincraigie, espoused Margaret, daughter of George Gordon, of Halhead, Aberdeenshire, and had issue,
GEORGE, of whom presently;
John, of Durno;
The elder son,

GEORGE LESLIE, of Kincraigie, married Mary, daughter of Patrick Leith, of Edingarrock, and had issue,
PATRICK (Sir), of whom presently;
Isabella; Margaret; Elizabeth.
The eldest son,

SIR PATRICK LESLIE, Knight, of Kincraigie, Provost of Aberdeen, wedded Jane, daughter of John Leslie, 10th of Balquhain, and had issue,
George, of Kincraigie;
JOHN, of whom we treat.
The younger son,

JOHN LESLIE, of the city of Aberdeen, espoused Margery, daughter of William Strachan, of Tippartie, Banff, and had issue,
PATRICK, of whom presently;
William, settled & died in America;
Isabella; Margery.
The elder son,

PATRICK LESLIE, settling in Ulster, married Mary, daughter of John Forbes, of the city of Aberdeen, and had issue, a son,

JOHN LESLIE, of Kincraigy, County Donegal, and had issue (with a daughter, Margaret), a son,

CHARLES LESLIE, of Kincraigy, who wedded Elizabeth, daughter of John Griffith, of Dublin, and had issue, a son,

THE VEN DR CHARLES LESLIE, Archdeacon and Vicar-General of the Diocese of Raphoe, who espoused Elizabeth, daughter of James Grove, of Grove Hall, County Donegal, and had issue,
Charles, dsp;
John (Rev), of Kincraigy, died unmarried;
Robert Grove, died unmarried;
JANE, of whom presently.
The Archdeacon died in 1781, and was succeeded by his only daughter,

JANE LESLIE (c1764-1833), heiress in her issue to her brothers, who married, in 1795, William Beers, of Ballygorian and Ballyward, County Down, son of William Beers, and grandson of Philip Beers, and had issue,
FRANCIS CHARLES, of whom presently;
William Philip, died in infancy;
William, JP, of Brook Cottage, Newcastle;
John, JP, of Leslie Hill, Co Donegal;
Philip Grove, died in New Zealand;
James Annesley (Rev), Rector of Drumballyroney;
The eldest son,

FRANCIS CHARLES LESLIE, formerly Beers (1796-1866), of Ballyward, County Down, and Kincraigy, County Donegal, assumed, in 1850, the surname and arms of LESLIE in lieu of his patronymic.

He wedded, in 1837, Hannah Theodosia, daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Thompson, 27th Regiment, and had issue,
JOHN, his successor;
Harriet Jane.
The only son,

JOHN LESLIE (1839-), of Ballyward Lodge, Lieutenant, 5th Fusiliers, Captain, Donegal Militia, espoused, in 1862, Harriet Anne, daughter of Sir David William Barclay Bt, and had issue,

MAY FLORENCE DE RUNE LESLIE, who married, in 1888, Colonel Frank Robert Lowth CB, Lincolnshire Regiment, and had issue,
Francis Robert Leslie, b 1889;
John Leslie, b 1890;
Norman Charles Leslie, b 1891;
William Barclay Leslie, b 1893;
Doris May Leslie.
Photo credit: David Byers

BALLYWARD LODGE, near Castlewellan, County Down, has been described as a "gentleman's cottage" of ca 1800.

This house, situated picturesquely beside a lake, was originally the residence of William Beers.

Ballyward comprises two storeys, the upper storey being partly in the attic; dormer gables; projecting single-storey porch.

There is a large, elegant fan-lighted doorway.

Several upstairs windows are pointed, with Georgian-Gothic astragals.

The library has a low ceiling, with columns which formerly graced Downhill Castle; and a spacious bedroom landing.

The formal garden to the south of the house is equally impressive, with statuary and urns.


Ballyward estate was purchased in 1954 by WING-COMMANDER JOHN SYDNEY HIGGINSON CBE JP DL RAF, Honorary ADC to His Excellency the Governor of Northern Ireland, 1952, who farmed it himself until 1985.

At that time the grounds comprised 134 acres, of which 63 were agricultural land, 3 acres were garden, and 68 acres were woodland and wetland.

Many improvements to the house and grounds were initiated by Wing-Commander Higginson.

Wing-Commander Higginson died in 2000, when the estate devolved upon his nephew,

ANDREW HIGGINSON OBE, who sold Ballyward in 2001 for £1.15 million.


THE ESTATE today is spread over 300 acres, consisting of mature woodland, surrounded by sloping hills.

There are also significant wetlands thus attracting a wide variety of game.

Ballyward has recently established itself as a shoot.

First published in November, 2013.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

The Firewood Poem

Clandeboye, County Down, residence of the Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava, operates a thriving sawmill which sells logs for firewood.

Their firewood is harvested from the estate’s 600 acres of woodland.

It is the largest area of broadleaved woodlands in Northern Ireland, thereby ensuring an excellent source of ready-split logs for sale.

The sawmill operates a ‘pick your own’ system, whereby you can fill recycled bags with logs to suit your requirements.

You can also bring a trailer to fill from one of their builders’ bags if you need to stock up at home.

The estate sawmill  is open on Fridays between 9am and 4pm (closed 12-1pm for lunch).

They have published a charming piece of poetry entitled The Firewood Poem, by Lady Congreve.

It is believed to have been published in The Times newspaper on the 2nd March, 1930:

Beechwood fires are bright and clear
If the logs are kept a year,
Chestnut's only good they say,
If for logs 'tis laid away.
Make a fire of Elder tree,
Death within your house will be;
But ash new or ash old,
Is fit for a queen with crown of gold

Birch and fir logs burn too fast
Blaze up bright and do not last,
it is by the Irish said
Hawthorn bakes the sweetest bread.
Elm wood burns like churchyard mould,
E'en the very flames are cold
But ash green or ash brown
Is fit for a queen with golden crown

Poplar gives a bitter smoke,
Fills your eyes and makes you choke,
Apple wood will scent your room
Pear wood smells like flowers in bloom
Oaken logs, if dry and old
keep away the winter's cold
But ash wet or ash dry
a king shall warm his slippers by.

The Countess of Wessex


Her Royal Highness's full style is as follows,
Her Royal Highness The Princess Edward Antony Richard Louis, Countess of Wessex, Viscountess Severn.

HRH received the Royal Family Order of QUEEN ELIZABETH II in 2004.

She was appointed Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO) in 2010.

The badge of the Royal Victorian Order features on The Countess of Wessex's armorial bearings.

When the Prince of Wales accedes to the throne, The Countess of Wessex shall become Baroness Greenwich, Countess of Merioneth and Duchess of Edinburgh.

Friday, 19 January 2018

Belvoir House: Demise

West front

I have already posted an article and several images of Belvoir House Newtownbreda, near Belfast.

Belvoir Park was built in the mid-18th century by the Arthur, 1st Viscount Dungannon, though it had a number of tenants of lessees during its existence.

The former demesne now forms part of Lagan Valley Regional Park.

The Batesons, afterwards Barons Deramore, purchased Belvoir from Lord Dungannon in 1818.

Belvoir House was razed to the ground on behalf of the Northern Ireland forestry service on the 18th February, 1961.

The car park is now on the site of the house.

Here are some images of the house prior to its demolition.

The image above shows the west entrance front, looking towards the River Lagan.

The apex of the pediment can just be seen on the left side, two-thirds of the way up; with a flag-pole above the ballustraded west porch.

West front from the south

The image above shows the south front of the house with its extensive courtyard buildings.

The courtyard faced the stable-yard, which still stands today.

At the apex of the pediment the Bateson baronets' coat-of-arms was prominently displayed, their crest being a bat's wing; and their motto Nocte Volamus.

The pediment was at the garden front of the house, which faced northwards towards the motte, walled garden and glass-houses.

North front

Belvoir House - or Hall - dated from the mid-18th century and would have been, possibly, the oldest building in Belfast at the time of its demolition.

Above, probably the final image of the once-great mansion before its ignominious end, in 1961, with preparation for demolition: The stately garden front, which faces northwards.

East front

Despite its undoubted historical importance, its associations with several notable families, and having once been the focal point of a great demesne, Belvoir House suffered its ultimate fate when it was swept away in 1961 by the forest service.

Last published February, 2010. 

Clandeboye House Guest

Photo credit: Katybird

CLANDEBOYE, County Down, home to the Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava, is filled with memorabilia collected by the 1st Marquess, a 19th-century diplomat, and provides a dramatic glimpse into his life.

As you pass between the cannons that flank its gates, Clandeboye seems to rise over the mist on the lake like a Chinese watercolour.

This romantic early-Georgian mansion and its 2,000-acre estate in County Down, Northern Ireland, is home to Lindy, the Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava, and is sustained by a series of enterprises.

'We are free of foundations and trusts,’ Lady Dufferin says proudly.

Helping to keep the estate self-sufficient is its golf course, the Ava art gallery, a banqueting hall used for weddings, a classical music festival and Clandeboye’s own brand of yogurt, courtesy of the estate’s award-winning herd of Holstein and Jersey cows.

The settlement dates from the 17th century, but the building we see today was built in the early 1800s by Robert Woodgate (formerly an engineer to Sir John Soane), who was commissioned by the politician Sir James Blackwood, 2nd Baron Dufferin and Clandeboye.

Incorporating elements of an earlier building, Woodgate created two wings at right angles to each other.

About 50 years later, it became home to Frederick Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood, the 5th Baron and 1st Marquess of Dufferin and Ava (Lindy is the widow of the last Marquess, Sheridan; the title is now extinct).

The great-grandson of the playwright Richard Sheridan, Frederick travelled widely as Governor-General of Canada and then Viceroy of India, and put his own stamp on Clandeboye.

Like many of his generation he was a passionate collector, and the interior at Clandeboye (sometimes known by its original name, Bally­leidy) is a reflection of the countries he served.

The breadth of this passion is evident the moment one enters Clandeboye through its Doric portico.

In the outer hall the walls are decorated with symmetrical displays of weaponry: daggers, pistols and cutlasses presented to the 1st Marquess.

In the pistachio-green Long Gallery there are more surprises.

The grand staircase is flanked by a pair of narwhal tusks and on either side lie two ornate daybeds.

These belonged to King Tibor of Burma.

Frederick bought them when the contents of the palace at Mandalay were auctioned off after he annexed Upper Burma. 

Upstairs the names of the bedrooms recall the many places that he served as a diplomat: France, St Petersburg, Canada, Rome.

France is the most exquisite, decorated in neoclassical gilt motifs copied from a Pompeiian fresco.

The mythological Europa and the bull are pictured on the bed head.

The gilt empire furniture complements the theme.

The house was designed to take maximum advantage of the light: the south-facing corner of the L-shaped layout is made up of 16 bay windows.

Frederick also had a mania for glass roofing and skylights.

The Simla corridor on the upper floor – named after the hill station in India where the British went on holiday – illuminated by oculi, small hemispherical skylights.

'Clandeboye needs constant attention,’ Lady Dufferin, a successful artist who works using her maiden name, Lindy Guinness, says.

On the day I visited, the Rev Ian Paisley was scheduled to come and see a portrait she had painted of him.

'The studio is somewhere I feel safe,’ she says.

Several chiaroscuro black-and-white gouaches in the studio, destined for a show in Paris, are studies of light in the rooms at Clandeboye – a subject she returns to often.

Outside is a walled garden with its thousands of saplings.

It has been planted over the past 25 years by Conservation Volunteers Northern Ireland, which has brought Protestant and Catholic communities together to work in tandem.

Deeper in the woods is Helen’s Tower, a turreted folly with views over the rolling parkland, immortalised in Tennyson’s poem of the same name.

Commissioned by Frederick and completed in 1861, it was designed by the Scottish architect William Burn, its name in honour of Dufferin’s mother.

Lady Dufferin and her late husband, who died in 1988, have worked tirelessly to restore Clandeboye to its former glory and have created a lasting memorial to Frederick’s unique vision.

It has been a major project, and the work continues.

'This is a real, living estate with no dead hand of institutional discipline,’ she says. 'I look upon Clandeboye as a gift.’
First published in November, 2011.