Sunday, 21 January 2018

Ballyward Lodge

THE LESLIES OWNED 589 ACRES OF LAND IN COUNTY DOWN

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;
Galdaea.
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;
Elizabeth.
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;
Margaret.
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;
Leslie;
John, JP, of Leslie Hill, Co Donegal;
Philip Grove, died in New Zealand;
James Annesley (Rev), Rector of Drumballyroney;
Elizabeth.
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

THE COUNTESS OF WESSEX is 53 today.

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
CELIA LYTTELON, IN A DAILY TELEGRAPH ARTICLE, SPENT SOME TIME WITH LADY DUFFERIN AT HER COUNTRY SEAT, CLANDEBOYE, COUNTY DOWN


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.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Temple House

THE PERCEVALS OWNED 7,821 ACRES OF LAND IN COUNTY SLIGO

GEORGE PERCEVAL (1635-75), youngest son of Sir Philip Perceval, Knight, the distinguished statesman (great-grandfather of John, 1st Earl of Egmont), by Catherine Ussher his wife, daughter of Arthur Ussher and granddaughter of Sir William Ussher, Clerk of the Council, was Registrar of the Prerogative Court, Dublin.

He married Mary, daughter and heir of William Crofton, of Temple House, County Sligo, and had issue,
PHILIP, his heir;
William, ancestor of PERCEVAL-MAXWELL of Finnebrogue;
Charles;
Catherine.
George Perceval was drowned near Holyhead on his voyage to England with the Earl of Meath and other persons of distinction.

His eldest son and heir,

PHILIP PERCEVAL (1670-1704), of Temple House, County Sligo, wedded, in 1691, Elizabeth, daughter of John D'Aberon, of Wandsworth, Surrey, and left, with other issue, a son and heir,

JOHN PERCEVAL (1700-54), of Temple House, High Sheriff of County Sligo, 1727 and 1742, wedded, in 1722, Anne, daughter of Joshua Cooper, of Markree, County Sligo, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

PHILIP PERCEVAL (1723-87), of Temple House, High Sheriff of County Sligo, 1775, who espoused Mary, daughter and co-heir of Guy Carleton, of Rossfad, County Fermanagh, and was succeeded by his son,

GUY CARLETON PERCEVAL, who dsp 1792, and was succeeded by his brother,

THE REV PHILIP PERCEVAL, of Temple House, who married, in 1783, Anne, daughter of Alexander Carroll, of Dublin, and had issue,
Philip, died unmarried;
ALEXANDER, his heir;
Guy, died unmarried;
Anne; Mary.
The second son,

ALEXANDER PERCEVAL JP (1787-1858), of Temple House, High Sheriff of County Sligo, 1809, MP for County Sligo, 1831-41, wedded, in 1808, Jane Anne, eldest daughter of Colonel Henry Peisley L'Estrange, of Moystown, King's County, and had surviving issue,
PHILIP;
Henry (Rev);
ALEXANDER, of whom hereafter;
Charles George Guy;
Elizabeth Dora; Frances; Sophia; Georgina Sarah; Maria Frances; Emily Jane.
Colonel Perceval's third son,

ALEXANDER PERCEVAL (1821-66), of Temple House, Barrister, espoused, in 1858, Annie E, youngest daughter of George de Blois, and had issue,
ALEXANDER, his heir;
Robert Jardine;
Philip Dudley;
Jeannie; Sophie.
Mr Perceval was succeeded by his eldest son,

ALEXANDER PERCEVAL JP DL (1859-87), of Temple House, High Sheriff of County Sligo, 1882, who married, in 1881, Charlotte Jane, eldest daughter of Charles William O'Hara, of Annaghmore, County Sligo, and had issue,
ALEXANDER ASCELIN CHARLES PHILIP SPENCER, his heir;
Sibyl Annie (1882-84).
Mr Perceval was succeeded by his son and heir,

ALEXANDER ASCELIN CHARLES PHILIP SPENCER PERCEVAL DL (1885-1967), of Temple House,


TEMPLE HOUSE, Ballymote, County Sligo, takes its name from the Knights Templar, the wealthiest of the three military orders founded during the crusades.

Fierce warriors and able administrators, their power stretched across Europe where they operated as a separate sovereign administration within each independent state.

The knights reached Ireland with the Normans and quickly became established, building a castle at Temple House in County Sligo, their most westerly foundation, shortly after 1200.

In 1312 the Pope suppressed the order, citing their alleged heretical and blasphemous practises in justification.

In France, Templars were burnt at the stake and their land seized by the crown, but other countries adopted a more measured approach, transferring their property to the Knights Hospitallers, known today as the Knights of Malta.

As English influence waned in the remote west of Ireland, Temple House was reoccupied by the O’Haras, the principal sept in that region, who built a new castle in 1360.

In 1565 William Crofton was appointed Auditor and Escheator General, and used his position to amass extensive estates in Counties Leitrim, Roscommon and Sligo.


These included Temple House, or Tagh-temple, which passed with his great-granddaughter Mary on her marriage to George Perceval, the younger son of another distinguished Irish administrator, and grandson of Richard Perceval, ‘confidential agent’ to Queen Elizabeth’s minister, Lord Burleigh, who correctly identified preparations for the Spanish Armada and was rewarded with Irish estates.

By the 1760s George and Mary’s descendants had replaced her parent’s thatched dwelling of ca 1630 and their new house was further extended in 1825.

Unfortunately the Irish famine ruined the family and the estate was sold to a Mr Hall-Dare along with the town of Ballymote.

Happily, a younger son, Alexander Perceval, went to seek his fortune in China and amassed vast riches in the development of Hong Kong as Tai-Pan for the great trading house, Jardine Matheson.


He returned to Ireland, repurchased the estate and tripled the size of the house in 1864, cladding it in cut-stone in a strict classical style, with three formal fronts and a porte-cochere, always a convenient feature in the wet West of Ireland.

The result is broadly symmetrical, with the Georgian house still clearly evident in the centre of the east front.

The interior has a superb suite of large, grand rooms, lit by serried ranks of vast plate-glass windows.

There are lofty ceilings, the vestibule rises to some thirty-two feet, and decoration of a very high order, reminiscent of the grander London clubs, while much of the furniture was specially commissioned for the house.

The house reputedly contains more than ninety rooms.

Alexander’s neighbours suggested he might be over-spending but he assured them of his imminent return to make an even larger fortune in Hong Kong.

Unfortunately, he caught sun-stroke fishing on Temple House Lake and died in 1866, leaving a widow with a large young family and rather less capital than his heirs would have liked to maintain their vast new home.

But they did survive and today the estate comprises 1,200 acres of pasture, woodland, lake and bog, and is home to Alexander’s great-great-great grandson Roderick, along with his wife Helena and their family, the thirteenth and fourteenth generations in almost continuous occupation since the late sixteenth century.

Select bibliography: Irish Historic Houses Association.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Tullylagan Manor

THE GREERS OWNED 1,192 ACRES OF LAND IN COUNTY TYRONE


SIR JAMES GRIER (c1604-66), Knight, of Capenoch, Dumfriesshire, and Rock Hall, Alnwick, Northumberland, fifth son of Sir William Grier, succeeded his brother, John, in Capenoch.

This gentleman married Mary, daughter of the Rev John Browne, of Glencairn, first minister after the Reformation, and widow of Thomas Grier, of Bargarg Tower, Dumfriesshire.

His eldest son, 

HENRY GRIER (c1625-c1675), of Rock Hall, and afterwards of Redford, near Grange, County Tyrone, came to Ulster in 1653.

He married, in 1652, Mary Turner, of Northumberland, and had issue,
JAMES;
Robert;
Thomas.
Mr Grier, who joined the Society of Friends (Quakers) ca 1660, was succeeded by his eldest son,

JAMES GREER (1653-1718), of Liscorran, County Armagh, who wedded, in 1678, Eleanor, daughter and co-heir of John Rea, of Liscorran, and had issue,
Henry, ancestor of the GREERS of Grange, Co Tyrone;
JOHN, ancestor of the GREERS of Tullylagan and Seapark, of whom we treat;
Thomas;
James, of Liscorran;
Mary.
The second son,

JOHN GREER (1688-1741), of Grace Hill, County Armagh, and Tullyanaghan, near Lurgan, espoused, in 1717, Mary, daughter of Jeramiah Hanks, of Birr, and widow of John Chambers, of Dublin, and had several children, of whom the second son,

THOMAS GREER (1724-1803), of Rhone Hill, Dungannon, County Tyrone, became, on the extinction of the male line of his elder brother John, the head of the second house of Ulster Greers.

He married, in 1746, Sarah, daughter of Thomas Greer, of Redford, his second cousin, and died at Rhone Hill, leaving issue,
THOMAS, his heir;
Robert (1766-1808), died unmarried in USA;
Eleanor; Mary; Jane; Sarah; Ann.
The elder son,

THOMAS GREER (1761-1870), of Rhone Hill, wedded, in 1787, Elizabeth, only child of William Jackson, and had issue,
Thomas, of Tullylagan;
William Jackson, of Rhone Hill, father of
THOMAS FERGUS;
John Robert;
Alfred, of Dripsey House, Co Cork;
Sarah; Mary Jackson; Elizabeth; Caroline; Louisa Jane; Priscilla Sophia.
The eldest son,

THOMAS GREER JP (1791-1870), of Tullylagan, married, in 1826, Wilhelmina, daughter of Arthur Ussher JP, of Camphire, County Waterford, and had issue,
FREDERICK, his heir;
Usher;
Martha Usher; Elizabeth Jackson; Wilhelmina Sophia Priscilla.
The eldest son,

FREDERICK GREER JP (1829-1908), of Tullylagan, late Royal Navy, wedded, in 1874,  Cecilia, eldest daughter of Sir Nathaniel Alexander Staples Bt, of Lissan, County Tyrone, by Elizabeth Lindsay his wife, only child of James Head and Cecilia his wife, third daughter of the Hon Robert Lindsay, of Balcarres, and had issue,
THOMAS, of Tullylagan;
Nathaniel Alexander Staples;
Elizabeth Lindsay; Mary Ussher.
The eldest son,

THOMAS GREER JP (1875-1949), of Tullylagan, espoused, in 1907, Constance Clara Annie, daughter of Edward Cochrane Palmer, of Beckfield House, Queen's County, and had issue,

FREDERICK WILLIAM USHER GREER, of Tullylagan, born in 1915, who died unmarried.


TULLYLAGAN MANOR, (formerly New Hamburgh), near Cookstown, County Tyrone, was built ca 1830.

It consists of two storeys over a basement, which was subsequently excavated to become a ground floor.


The house has a three-bay front; a two-bay projecting porch; an eaved roof on bracket cornice.

There is a side wing, originally one storey over a basement.

Frederick Greer inherited Tullylagan following the decease of his father, Thomas, in 1870, though he leased the estate to his cousin, Thomas MacGregor Greer ca 1898.

Thomas MacGregor Greer, the only son of Thomas Greer, MP for Carrickfergus, was responsible for much of the development of the estate thereafter.

Mr Greer was a talented man who had many diverse interests.
Thomas MacGregor Greer of Seapark near Belfast came, after his marriage to Dorinda Florence Lowry in 1892, to Tullylagan Manor, near Cookstown, which he leased from Thomas Usher Greer. He had two daughters. 
Sylvia married Major Alexander (Pomeroy); Betty married Colonel Percival, Commander at Singapore during the 2nd World War. 
The Greers returned to Seapark after the 1st World War, where Mrs Greer died in February 1930. 
In 1931, Thomas married Miss Leonie Caroline Handcock (Dublin) returning to Tullylagan. Thomas owned one of the first motor cars in this part of Tyrone. He sponsored the work of Harry Ferguson (of Ford Ferguson fame) who often stayed at Tullylagan. 
The ancient church of Desertcreat in the 1930s was beautified by an Oak Reredos, Pulpit, communion table and rails, all of which had been carved by Thomas, also two oak Jacobean chairs and a silver salver. 
Later he donated a reading desk and a lectern made from Austrian Oak. He was Church Warden for 25 years, Parochial nominator, a member of the Diocesan and General Synod, Hon. Treasurer and Secretary and read the lessons throughout the year. 
He had a keen interest in Tullylagan prize pipe band, presenting them with kilts in MacGregor tartan. 
In 1941 the parish of Desertcreat and people of the district were greatly saddened by the death of its most generous benefactor and paid tribute to the great interest that he had taken in the welfare of Church and district during his lifetime.
Mr Greer considered the Manor House inadequately proportioned for a country residence, so rather than risk spoiling the architecture by adding to the house, he decided to excavate the basement.

This was a substantial task at the time, depending heavily on manual labour, with the soil removed from the basement, the house became three-storey.

In the farmyard he installed carpentry facilities and here many fine examples of chairs, tables and other items were produced.

Thomas MacGregor Greer remained in Tullylagan until his death in 1941.

The house is now privately owned.

Other former residence ~ Curglasson, Stewartstown, County Tyrone.

First published in January, 2012.