Tag Archives: Anne Casement

Anne Casement: The Buildings of Garron Tower

Anne Casement opened the new season with an informative talk on the buildings of Garron Tower.

Frances Anne Tempest, second wife of Charles Stuart, Marquis of Londonderry, built the castle at Garron Tower 1848-1850, as a summer residence, with monies left to her by her mother, Countess of Antrim.

Plans were drawn by Louis Bouliam and the builder/architect was Charles Campbell and his son William.

The site of the castle is in the townland of Dunmor. The lands had been leased to the MacAllister brothers. There were seven houses and 50 people cleared to make way for the castle. The MacAllisters were compensated with £400 to invest in land elsewhere. The families got work on the building site and in the castle/on the estate, once finished.

The famine hit north Antrim by 1845 – the Marquis established a local relief committee; distributed grains and vegetable seeds.

Work on the castle began in 1848. 15 men were employed. The weekly wage bill was £40. By 1850, 84 men were employed.
Most of the materials – slate, glass, brick, paint, alabaster – were sent to site by sea. Basalt from Glenarm Quarry was used, it was expensive to cut and shape. Sand for mortar came from a local beach owned by a Mr. Turnley. Lime was burnt in a kiln on site. Fuel for the kiln was coal from Glasgow.

1849 – additions such as the service yard and alterations were made.
– there was a partial collapse of the rampart during a sever storm. It was rebuilt with stone arches, not earth.
– a site was found for an ice house in a mound of earth moved for the moat at a cost of £114. It is still there.
1850 – The builder C. Campbell died and John Fitzsimons took over.
– a grotto was built for picnics in an existing cave, fitted with benches, decorated with shells.
1850 – house warming, including a 21 gun salute with the canons for the Lieutenant of Ireland.
1850-52: the public road (1.5km) was moved westwards in two stages to put distance between it and the castle’s windows. The cost was £470 plus £50 for digging up the old road.
1852 – a new ballroom was planned at a cost of £1283 plus £97 for panelling.
– 3 wrought iron gates were built at a cost of £141. The materials came from England.
1853 – contract with Kirkwood to build waterworks at a cost of £422.
1859 – Langon and Lynn, architects, drew up plans for a new stable block at £2000.

5 acres of gardens – formal gardens, rose gardens, fish pond, glass houses (for exotic fruits), walks and drives were developed.
Local people worked as paid domestics in the castle, in the gardens, in the limeworks (established by Lord Londonderry) in Carnlough.
Annual wages bills came to £72 in 1850; £396 in 1853.
Local fishermen and farmers sold their goods and services to the castle.
Bathing lodges and the hotel, The Londonerry Arms, were established by Lady Londonderry.

1865 – Lady Londerry died and left Garron Tower in trust for her grandson, then aged 3.
1887 – the castle was furnished to let.
1899- it was developed into a hotel with golf course by Henry O’Neill. He later converted the stables to provide accommodation at a cheaper rate.
World War 2 saw the end of the hotel.

1957 – St. Mac Nissi’s school was established. It is now known as St. Killian’s.

Bellaghy Historical Society – October 2012

October, Tuesday 9th, 2012
The speaker (related to Roger Casement), a free lance historian, has worked at Mount
Stewart and at Glenarm.
1783, James Wyatt was paid £83 for the intended house and £25 for the offices. The
stable block was built but knocked down to make way for the present house.
The gardens then were of a typical Capability Brown layout, with no lake because of the
position of Strangford Lough.
1781/2- King, landscapist, was paid for work done.
1796-Robert Stewart became Lord Londonderry.
1802-George Dance Jnr., Professor of Archaeology at the Royal Academy, engaged to
replace the western block of 1783 and to retain the existing house to the east.
2001-sketches made in 1811-1815 were shown by a family member to Anne Casement.
1819-works in gardens, drives,lodges,tea house and walled garden,lawns cost £1,700.
The public road was also moved closer to the Lough.
1783-Temple of Winds was built.
1813-3rd Earl, son of Robert Stewart, married Tempest. He engaged architect William B.
Morrison in the 1830s to build the new house. The architect died 1838, the building was
delayed til 1845-6. £22,000 was spent on the building. The estate wall is a famine wall.
1854-the 4th Earl married into the Powerscourt (Wicklow) estate. Andrews (related to
Thomas Andrews of the Titanic), was employed as estate manager and he oversaw the
rebuilding of the house-completed 1848. (Campbell was the builder).
An old gravel pit was flooded 1848ish to create a lake and was used as a water supply.
Anne Casement showed watercolours of the finished house, 1856.
After the famine, a model farm was set up to encourage tenant farmers to improve
1872-5th Earl lived in Wales.
1884-6th Earl lived in London. Employed head gardener, Bolis, who set out the present
1903-Edward VII visited and planted two copper beeches in the front garden.
1915-7th Earl. Employed 20 ex-service men to clear and replant the gardens.
1921-became Minister of Education in the first Ulster Parliament. He worked in earnest on
the gardens.
WW2-troops were billeted there. There was a shortage of gardeners/staff and of nursery
items. The gardens were farmed for fruit and vegetables.
1955-78 acres of garden, house and half of the contents, transferred to the National Trust.
1990-family burial plot, Tír na nÓg, given to the National Trust.
2009- death of Lady Mairi Londonderry.
current project- planting schemes around the house; repairs to the house and contents.
When complete, more rooms will be on show to the public. £6,000,000 will be spent by the
National Trust.
Anne Casement also showed historical photographs 1903-1935 of the grounds and house.
1936-swimming pool built; the National Trust has filled in the pool and boarded up the
changing rooms.