Sunday, 23 October 2016

Brackenber In The 1950s

A fellow Old Brackenbrian, Tom Graham, has kindly sent me three photographs of staff and pupils at Brackenber House prep school, Belfast, during the mid-fifties.

Many thanks, Tom, for such a wonderful contribution. If you click on the image below, it ought to enlarge.

Tom describes these pictures in his own words:-

"Above is a school photo from about 1956/57. So few pupils, so many teachers!. A student/teacher ratio which would bring a tear to the eye of any modern educator.

On Mr Craig's left is the famous Miss Rankin. I can't name any of the young women to her left.

To his right is Mr Henry, Deputy Principal .

He left to become an actor with the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford-upon-Avon; then Mr Hunter, next, I believe is the Sport/PE master, whose name escapes me".

"Mr Ferguson and two unknown trainee teachers complete the line-up.

They were all good teachers. Their skills greatly eased the transition to Secondary education".

The photo above suggests that not all reds are equal.

Substantial differences in the blazers are clearly visible. The BHS monogram is missing from many pockets.

My guess is that many families must have struggled financially, and economised by not buying blazers from the approved supplier".

"My parents managed to outfit my brother as well as myself from the approved supplier, but only just, I suspect.

The parents at my daughter's private school ran a thriving a second hand uniform shop. I can't remember any such thing at Brackenber.

I do not recall an overcoat being part of the uniform. It's cost might have been the final straw which would have deterred some parents".

PS That's me, Tom, in the top left corner!

"Above is the football team from 1956/57. We tried hard, but rarely succeeded. The school was small,  so the talent pool was shallow.

We played against Rockport and Cabin Hill, but not against nearby Inchmarlo. The school supplied the shirts, but not the socks, shorts,or boots.

As you can see, the sports budget did not stretch to providing more than one size of shirt! For away matches, Mr Craig took all 12 of us in his car!"

First published in 2009.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Castlecoote House


This is the parent stock, whence the noble houses of COOTE, Earls of Mountrath, and COOTE, Barons Castle Coote, both now extinct, emanated.
The first settler of the Cootes in Ireland, descended from a very ancient English family, was Sir Charles Coote, 1st Baronet, Knight, who served in the wars against O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone, at the head, as captain, of 100 foot-soldiers, with which he was at the siege of Kinsale.
Sir Charles was appointed, by JAMES I, provost-marshal of the province of Connaught for life.

In 1620, he was constituted vice-president of the same province; and created, in 1621, a baronet.

Sir Charles distinguished himself, subsequently, by many gallant exploits; but the most celebrated was the relief of Birr, in 1642.
The surprising passage through Mountrath woods justly caused the title of Mountrath to be conferred upon his son; and the Coote Baronetcy, of Castle Cuffe, Queen's County, one of the oldest creations (1621) in the Baronetage.
Sir Charles Coote, 1st Baronet, Provost-Marshal and Vice-President of the Province of Connaught, greatly distinguished himself at the relief of Birr, 1642.

The 2nd Baronet, also called Sir Charles, was created, in 1661, Earl of Mountrath, when the baronetcy merged in the peerage.

The 7th Earl and 8th Baronet, having no heir, obtained, in 1800, a new creation, that of Baron Castle Coote

This title became extinct in 1827, when the baronetcy reverted to the great-great-grandson of the 2nd son of the 1st Baronet.

The 14th Baronet, Rear-Admiral Sir John Coote CB CBE DSC, was Director of Naval Ordnance, 1955-58.

CASTLECOOTE HOUSE, near Castlecoote, County Roscommon, is situated on the site of a medieval castle, thought to have been built between 1570 and 1616.

It was a strategic site, and may have been the base of the Chieftains of Fuerty, the MacGeraghty clan. 

In 1616, it fell into the hands of Sir Charles Coote, who improved and re-fortified the castle.

The castle was attacked three times by the confederate forces in the 1640s.

Castlecoote House was built in the second half of the 17th century, within the enclosure of the old castle, which had by now fallen into ruins.

In the basement tower rooms, musket chambers still overlook the entrance steps.

In the 18th century the property passed into the ownership of the Gunnings, rumoured to have won it in a poker game.
The two Gunning sisters (one of whom was later to become Duchess of Hamilton and then Duchess of Argyll) were renowned for their beauty. Their portraits, painted by Joshua Reynolds, can be viewed in the main hall.
In the 20th century, the house was owned by Henry Strevens, a noted equestrian.

The present owner bought Castlecoote House in 1997,
The house was a cavernous ruin, with no floors, no ceilings, no stairs, no windows and crumbling interior walls. The entire basement was submerged beneath the earth and the main entrance steps had collapsed.
The restoration work took five years to complete, and included underpinning the foundations, consolidating the castle towers, rebuilding the mill race walls, landscaping the grounds and restoring the ceilings and ballroom to their former splendour.
First published in October, 2012.

Brackenber Memorabilia

A fellow Old Brackenbrian has kindly conveyed several nostalgic illustrations which, I hope, are of considerable interest to others.

I have sought old photographs of the School for some time, so it gives me great pleasure to share these illustrations with readers.

Brackenber House Preparatory School (above) was located at Cleaver Avenue in Belfast.

The scarlet cap and striped tie are on the right. 

First published in June, 2009.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Culloden House

William Auchinleck Robinson JP (c1816-98), originally from Scotland, married, in 1847, at St Anne's Shankill, Belfast, Elizabeth Jane (1819-89), daughter of Patrick Culloden (1768-1843), of Stranmillis, Belfast.
Mr Robinson was a stockbroker, and initially settled on the Antrim Road, Belfast. He conducted his business at 67 High Street. His commercial prowess and acumen were such, that he purchased land at Craigavad, County Down.

CULLODEN HOUSE, Cultra, County Down, was built in 1876 by the Belfast firm, Young & Mackenzie.

Most of the stone came from Scotland by boat, landed at Portaferry, and was conveyed by horse and cart to the Craigavad site.

The mansion took two years to build, during which time the Robinsons lived in a modest cottage within the grounds.

Culloden House, named after his widow, Elizabeth Jane Robinson (née Culloden) was presented to the representative body of the Church of Ireland.

At the end of the 19th Century, Culloden House duly became the official residence of the Lord Bishop of Down, Connor and Dromore, and was known as The Bishop’s Palace.
Ardtullagh, Knocknagoney, near Holywood, was the previous episcopal palace, but this property was acquired in 1886 by the War Department (Ministry of Defence) for use as a military barracks. The barracks is still in use today by the Army and is known as Palace Barracks.
The Rt Rev Thomas James Welland was the first prelate to live at Culloden, in 1898.

In subsequent years, three further bishops lived at Culloden.

During the tenure of Bishop Crozier (later Archbishop of Armagh), a private chapel, the Jeremy Taylor Memorial Chapel, was dedicated within the house.

During this period, the celebrated songwriter and entertainer Percy French often stayed there (Bishop Crozier was godfather to French’s second daughter).

In the 1920s, the Church of Ireland sold Culloden House to Sir John Campbell MD FRCS LL.D, a well-known Belfast gynaecologist and MP.

In 1959, Culloden was purchased from Sir John’s son, Robert, for £10,000, by Thomas C Reid, sometime chairman of the Northern Ireland Ploughing Association.

Mr Rutledge White, proprietor of White’s Home Bakery, purchased Culloden in 1962.

It was opened as a hotel, comprising eleven bedrooms, the following year, under the management of Mr White’s son-in-law, Mr Roberts.

The hotelier Sir William Hastings, CBE, purchased the premises in 1967, and Culloden House is now the Culloden Estate and Spa,  Northern Ireland's longest-established five-star hotel.

First published in October, 2012; revised.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Post Tardiness

Fret not, dear readers. The posting this morning was later than usual because I'm not using my normal BT connection.

The wifi where I happen to be can be, shall we say, hit or miss.

I shall try to post articles during the evening, when I tend to have a more reliable connection.

I dined at an old favourite earlier: Avenida Restaurant, Corralejo, Fuerteventura.

The food is relatively simple and unpretentious, as is the restaurant.

The standards, however, are first-rate.

My chicken escalope, served with crisp and dry chips, lettuce and tomato slice, was as enjoyable as ever.

Always order a half portion, lest you have the appetite of a hippopotamus.

One is brought a complimentary basket of fresh bread and strong alioli (my preference).

The bill came to a mere €5.90: a bargain.

Legge of Malone House

Legge of Malone House


In 1676,

WILLIAM LEGG or LEGGE, an officer in the army, with recommendations from JAMES II, then Duke of York, served under the Duke of Schomberg in Flanders, and accompanied him to Ireland in 1690.

His son,

WILLIAM LEGGE, settled at Malone, County Antrim,
purchasing land from Lord Donegall, where he operated a farm and built houses.
He died in 1723, leaving, with other sons,

WILLIAM LEGGE, who died in 1750; whose eldest son,

ALEXANDER LEGGE (1706-77), then succeeded and served as high sheriff of County Antrim in 1770. Dying in 1777, he left issue,
WILLIAM, his heir;
Elinor, m Hill Wallace;
Marcella, m Anthony Semple.
The son and heir,

WILLIAM LEGGE, High Sheriff of County Antrim, died in 1721, and was succeeded by his nephew,

WILLIAM WALLACE-LEGGE JP DL LL.D, born in 1789, of Malone House, Belfast, and of Sidney College, Cambridge; High Sheriff, 1823.

Mr Legge adopted the surname of LEGGE.

He wedded, in 1838, Eleanor Wilkie, third daughter and co-heiress of Thomas Forster, of Adderstone, Northumberland, and by her had issue,
Florence Wallace, m 1861, to 6th Viscount Harberton.
Mr Wallace-Legge died in 1868, and was succeeded by his son and heir,

WILLIAM WALLACE-LEGGE (1841-68), of Malone House; on whose decease, Malone House was acquired by Lord Harberton through marriage.
Harberton Avenue, Drive and Park, Belfast, are all named after Lord and Lady Harberton, who owned the land.

Finaghy House


The family of CHARLEY, or CHORLEY, passing over from the north of England, settled in Ulster during the 17th century, at first in Belfast, where they were owners of house property for two hundred years; and afterwards at Finaghy, County Antrim, where

JOHN CHARLEY (c1659-1743), of Belfast, left a son,

RALPH CHARLEY (1674-1756), of Finaghy House, County Antrim, who wedded Elizabeth Hill, and had an only child,

JOHN CHARLEY (1711-93), of Finaghy House, who married Mary, daughter of John Ussher, and had issue,

Matthew, died unmarried;
JOHN, of whom hereafter;
Hill, died unmarried;
Jane, died unmarried.
The eldest surviving son,

JOHN CHARLEY (1744-1812), of Finaghy House, married, in 1783, Anne Jane, daughter of Richard Wolfenden, of Harmony Hill, County Down, and had issue,
JOHN, his heir;
MATTHEW, succeeded his brother;
William;Edward;Hill;Annabella; Eliza Jane.
Mr Charley was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN CHARLEY (1784-1844), of Finaghy House, who died unmarried, and was succeeded by his brother,

MATTHEW CHARLEY (1788-1846), of Finaghy House and Woodbourne, who married, in 1819, Mary Anne, daughter of Walter Roberts, and had issue,
JOHN STOUPPE, his heir;
Walter Matthew;
William Thomas (Sir);
Cecilia Anna; Suzanne Caroline; Letitia.
Mr Charley was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN STOUPPE CHARLEY JP DL (1825-78), of Finaghy House, High Sheriff of County Donegal, 1875, who espoused, in 1851, Mary Stewart, daughter of Francis Forster, and had issue,
John Francis Ralph (1853-55);
John Francis William (1857-99), k/a;
Walter Roberts Matthew, emigrated to Canada;
Ralph Mansfield, died in infancy;
Mary Grace Leader; Constance Stewart; Charlotte Elizabeth Forster.

FINAGHY HOUSE, Belfast, was purchased from Mr Richard Woods, in 1727, by Ralph Charley, a prosperous Belfast merchant.

In 1727, it is recorded that Finaghy House was imposing mansion in a large park with extensive outhouses and stables.
The Charley family's armorial bearings were on the outside gables and on a landing half-way up the wide, oak banister stairs.

The coat-of-arms is still engraved on the landing window.

At the time of the house sale in 1885, one of the conditions of sale was that, if the house was demolished, the coat-of-arms was to be returned to the Charley family.

The Charleys were pioneers in the linen industry and it is said that looms were set up in this house in the 18th century.

The new process of bleaching linen cloth with chlorine was perhaps discovered and first used here.

Every 12th of July for about 150 years, until 1972, the Belfast Orangemen used to walk to The Field at Finaghy.

This field was owned by the Charleys, who granted it in perpetuity on the Twelfth to the Orange Order, the "rent" being that the lesson should always be read from the Charley bible during the religious part of the ceremony. 

Finaghy House, originally known as Ballyfinaghy House, was built in 1727.

In 1729, it was sold by Richard Woods to Ralph Charley.

The house became known as Finaghy House, which means “fair fields”, as it was then surrounded by green fields.

Five generations of the Charley family lived at Finaghy.

As pioneers in  the linen industry, it is said that the looms were set up in this house.

The Charleys developed the linen industry at Seymour Hill in 1822 and Mossvale in 1830.

In 1885, Major and Mrs Brewis purchased Finaghy House from Mrs Mary Stewart Charley, widow of John Stouppe Charley.
The Brewises bred corgi dogs: They named one of their corgis “The Queen Mother”. The first corgi owned by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother was bred in this house. 
In 1930, Major and Mrs Tyler were the owners of Finaghy House; and in 1960, the house was acquired by the trustees and converted into a residential home to accommodate twenty-four residents.

Finaghy House is now Faith House Eventide Home, a comfortable retirement home in the middle of a large housing estate.

First published in March, 2011.