Historic Building Details

HB Ref No:
HB02/09/002 A

Extent of Listing:

Date of Construction:
1780 - 1799

Address :
Bellarena House Seacoast Road Limavady Co Londonderry BT49 OHZ


Survey 2:

Date of Listing:

Date of De-listing:

Current Use:
Country House

Former Use
Country House

Conservation Area:

Industrial Archaeology:





OS Map No:

IG Ref:
C6639 2985

Owner Category


Exterior Description And Setting

The house is a triple pile structure. The main facade, facing south, is five bays wide with a central projecting doorway set in a semi-circular sandstone porch with side windows, two storeys high with two tall Georgian sash windows on either side. The sashes are of 12 panes each. Above the entrance porch there is an ill proportioned wide Venetian window. It has two Georgian sash windows on either side with nine panes each. The walls are of roughly coursed basalt terminated with plain and chamfered quoins. A sandstone cornice with two running mouldings rises above the central venetian window to form an open pediment. Above there is a low plain sandstone parapet which stops at either side of the pediment and does not return round the sides of the building. The semi-circular porch in ashlar sandstone is crowned with plain frieze and moderately projecting cornice with low parapet above. The frieze and cornice steps forward slightly to rest on single ¾ engaged Ionic columns on either side of the double entrance doors. The side windows of the Venetian ensemble have a flat pilaster on either side with frieze and cornice above. A semi-circular architrave crowns the central window. The whole is painted white. The Georgian windows have delightful slender astragals giving an elegant air to the sashes particularly those of the ground floor. All the cills are of sandstone. The east facade has five bays the centre of which is a forceful canted bay, two storeys high in ashlar sandstone. The remainder of the walling is similar to the south face without the parapet wall except over the canted bay. On the west side there is a variation in the window punctuation because of floor level changes and the projection of the north pile of the house. The centre pile on this facade contains the library which begins at first floor and rises through two floors. The north pile has three floors throughout. Headroom is achieved in this pile by the introduction of square headed dormers. The windows on the east and west facades are similar to the front except that those of the library are taller with 15 panes and have segmental heads. The coursed basalt stonework is used on all facades and on the rear. The five bay width is contained by similar sandstone quoins as the front and the west wing. This is not so defined, but it does have the sandstone cornice which disappears on the west and south of the wing. From the west it is easy to discern the triple pile roofs with the two valleys and the hips. The front pile is wider than the others and the west wing a little narrower. On the east side the slated roof is returned in one plane not displaying the individual hips giving a heavy appearance as the pitch is at least 30º and the ridge line of the south front is maintained. The east facade is presently screened with scaffolding and netting. On the west side between the wing and the library there is a small projecting block, which contains toilets on ground and first floor and an exit door. Fortunately the dark basalt helps to blur the number of black downpipes. On the roofs there are numerous chimneys some in ashlar stonework, others smooth rendered. Those on the south front are symmetrically arranged on either side of the staircase hall. The north facade is asymmetrical because of the three bay wing nevertheless the original block here is only four bays wide and there are two back doors in each end bay. The difference in ridge line can also be observed here. The whole house has been completely restored and renovated in the last five years and subtle changes have been made, the roofs being one. These have been completely re-slated and most likely the roof timbers altered. Ridges and hips are in lead and slates are grey throughout. The complex consists of a number of parts - first the house, second the rear courtyard with enclosing outbuildings including the splendid two storey gateway edifice opposite the house with its five segmental brick arches, the centre one being the access and above a white wood clad clock pedestal crowned with a copper clad steeple, third, an L-shaped byre and boiler block, ice house a little removed from the courtyard, fourth the landscaped lawns reaching to the River Roe, the walled garden, main avenue, gates and principal gate lodge. The latter is listed separately. The house is set in flat terrain on the banks of the river Roe and has a long sweeping avenue approach from the east and the Seacoast Road. In front of the house and to both sides wide expanses of flat smooth pacifying lawns handsomely planted with trees and shrubs in variety. The size of the estate has been greatly reduced and what is retained is in the main pleasure gardens. In the rear courtyard there is a small pond with fountain and some planting. The two storey range of buildings to the west was the oldest but has recently been completely rebuilt. All the outbuilding roofs have been re-slated and timbers renewed where necessary. Likewise the clock tower and steeple. (See HB02/09/002B). The barn, boiler and byre block likewise too (see HB02/09/002C). At the western extremity of the complex is a brick built ice house with brick domed interior and at the apex the hatch that once received the ice(See HB02/09/002D). The whole has been given a new lease of life by the new owner. (The main gate house still part of the estate is recorded in HB02/09/002E.) Other buildings, formerly part of the estate, are described in records : HB02/09/040 (Tower, racecourse plantation); HB02/09/004 (Gate house, Scotstown Road); HB02/09/005 (Plantation Lodge, Seacoast Road).


Lanyon, Charles

Historical Information

Situated within the parish of Ardmagilligan alias Tamlaghtard, the land of the Bellarena Estate was leased from the Bishop of Derry in 1603 by William Gage followed by John Gage and remained in this family though names changed through marriage to Heygates in 1851. The 4th Baronet died in 1976, and shortly after that the property and contents were sold. The present owners acquired the place in c 1990. The amount of land has been greatly reduced and apart from the major outbuildings, main gate lodge and the dispensary all other parts of the estate and tenants building including Bellarena School, have been acquired by others. The Ordnance Survey Memoirs in 1835 record ‘Bellarena, the residence of Conolly Gage - the present dwelling house has been erected at two different periods: one part being built in 1797 and the other in 1822. The demesne is kept in the most exact order and with great taste. The garden and orchard consists of two acres and is in the highest state of cultivation and abounds with all kinds of fruits and flowers with extensive hothouses for grapes’. The work of 1797 was carried out by Marcus McCausland, son of the heiress of Bellarena, who changed his name to Gage. Conolly Gage created the library and manipulated the third floor at the rear of the house in 1822. In the late 1830s Charles Lanyon (1812-89) remodelled the hall, created the billiard room bay and remodelled the main reception rooms and added the projecting porch. All this at the request of Conolly Gage’s wife Henrietta whose sister Marianne, married to Marcus McCausland, had engaged the same Lanyon to rebuild Drenagh. The daughter of Conolly Gage, another Marianne, married Sir Frederick Heygate in 1851. The clock tower, steeple and associated buildings are not indicated on the Ordnance Survey Sheet of 1831 nor are the outlying barn and byres nor cart shed. The rear entrance gate lodge (HB02/09/004) was built c1860 while the main gate lodge at Seacoast Road (HB02/09/002E) around 1920 replaced a pair of gate lodges of 1797. The gates and railings were probably updated at this time. The land steward’s house, walled garden and viewing gazebo (now not within the present estate) are all pre 1831. Sir John Heygate, 4th Bart was a novelist and journalist who married first Hon Evelyn, daughter of the Lord Burghclere who was first wife of Evelyn Waugh, writer. Thearchitect for the recent restoration was Caroline Dickson. The contractor was Sidney Gamble of Strabane. References: The Civil Survey 1654-56 Simington Ordnance Survey Memoirs Vol. 11 p.85 A Guide to Irish Lodges of Ulster Victorian Architecture Dixon & Muthesius Buildings of North Derry by Girvan Mrs A Desmond Historic Gardens Ref: L/029

Criteria for Listing

Architectural Interest

A. Style B. Proportion C. Ornamentation D. Plan Form E. Spatial Organisation H+. Alterations enhancing the building H-. Alterations detracting from building I. Quality and survival of Interior J. Setting

Historic Interest

V. Authorship W. Northern Ireland/International Interest X. Local Interest Y. Social, Cultural or Economic Importance


A fine example of a late Georgian country house architecture and early Victorian additions by Charles Lanyon set in complimentary landscape on a historic site.

General Comments

Date of Survey

Tuesday, September 30, 1997