Historic Building Details

HB Ref No:

Extent of Listing:

Date of Construction:
1760 - 1779

Address :
Derrymore House Bessbrook Newry Co. Down BT35 7EF

Derry More

Survey 2:

Date of Listing:

Date of De-listing:

Current Use:
Gallery/ Museum

Former Use
Thatched House

Conservation Area:

Industrial Archaeology:





OS Map No:

IG Ref:
J0556 2794

Owner Category


Exterior Description And Setting

A single storey thatched U-shaped building with basement. A central court flanked by wings on the north-east and the south-west side leads by way of a pair of lobbies to the main reception room The demesne lies a short distance to the west of the road that leads to Bessbrook off the Newry/Camlough road about one and a half miles from the former town. The thatch that is hipped sweeps upward over the inner side entrances and at the rear. The ridges are of the block type with four rows of scollops exposed interlaced between the lower pair and the decoration continues below the chimneystacks. The eaves are square cut. There are three stone built chimneystacks with cappings and tall pots on the ridgeline of each of the wings. The hipped roof behind the flat roof of the entrance hall is covered with natural slate and a further stack rises from the front slope to serve the fireplace of the Treaty Room. Central Court An elliptical arched opening with radial fanlight contains double doors each six-paned (2x3) above a raised and fielded panel. The sidelights have three vertical panes above a panel of reduced size. Each inner side of the wings contains three 3/3 vertically sliding windows with, exposed frames, sash stops and sills of traditional depths. A doorway in the north-east wing that leads to the Dining Room is of six panels with the middle two glazed and those above and below are raised and fielded. Opposite a door that gives access to the Sitting Room is of similar profile. The canted north-west end of this wing contains three 6/6 vertically sliding windows with exposed frames and sills of traditional depths. There are no sash stops. The corresponding end of the south-west wing is lighted by three similar windows but with sash stops. The outer elevation of the north-east wing contains three 6/6 vertically sliding windows with exposed frames, sash stops and sills of traditional depths. At the end (south east) of this elevation there is a canted bay window lighting the Lounge made up five twelve pane lights (3x4) with the central panel hinged to open and with five 3/3 vertically sliding windows without sash stops above. The stone sill is deep at the leading face. A further window that is set in the south-east wall of this room consists of a pair of twelve pane panels (3x4) with 3/3 vertically sliding windows above and all surmounted by a label moulding and with a sill of traditional depth. The end walls (north-east and south west) of the Treaty Room and that of the Bedroom in the end (south-east) wall of the south-west wing have fenestration identical to this window. The curved walled lobbies between the wings and the Treaty room are entered by means of single doors with twelve pane (3x4) glazing in the upper parts and plain faced below. These entrances are provided with door blocks and are each surmounted by a recessed rectangular panel The main window lighting the south-east side of the Treaty Room is canted with three panels at the front and two at each side. The middle panel at the front with six panes (2x3) over two plain panels is hinged as an access door. The remaining six lower panels are of eight (2x4) panes. 2/2 vertically sliding windows (seven in total) are placed above each panel. On each side of the widow the wall is pierced by a leaded quatrefoil in a moulded surround and set within a square recess with narrow sill and surmounted by a label moulding. Starting from the south-west corner the exterior elevation of the south-west wing has two 6/6 vertically sliding windows with exposed frames and sills of traditional depths and then a similar window with sash stops. Next a double door in a pain plastered gabled surround is glazed in the two upper panels above raised and fielded panels and is surmounted by a plain rectangular fanlight. The final opening on this elevation contains a window that is similar to those described and is with sash stops. Around the perimeter of the building the service passages and the drainage moats are protected by a series of metal grilles.


Historical Information

The OS maps of 1834-5 and 1861 show the house with the inner court built-up but the general shape with some deviation corresponds to the existing plan form. The style of the house is described by the National Trust as gentrified vernacular or cottage ornee. It was built about 1776 by Isaac Corry who represented Newry in the Irish House of Commons for thirty years from that date and became Chancellor of the Irish Exchequer. Traditionally the Treaty of Union between England and Ireland of 1800 is said to have been drafted in the Treaty Room by Isaac Corry and Lord Castlereagh. Isaac Corry conveyed the property to William Young in 1810 who sold the property to Edward Smyth of Newry about 1828 In 1859 Derrymore was acquired by the Richardson family and Mr J S W Richardson presented it together with the associated buildings and parkland to the National Trust in 1952. A table on a harp-shaped pedestal on which King George V signed the constitution of Northern Ireland is preserved within the building. An entrance hall and other structures enfilling the central court that had been added in the early 19th century by the then owner Sir William Young was cleared away by the Trust. During his tenure he had also made some alterations to the interior. An official opening by Lady Margaret Wakehurst, wife of the Governor of Northern Ireland, took place on 8 June 1957. Thatching with Norfolk reed had not been a success and in 1963 a native appearance using wheat straw and omitting the block ridge was restored. As a victim of the Troubles the house was bombed on five separate occasions between 1972 and 1979. The custodian Edmund Baillie carried out some of the bombs to the garden. When interviewed in February 2000 he confirmed because of the damage suffered by the structure that most if not all of the timbers had been replaced and that some changes had been made to the interior. A re-thatching scheme by Brian Simpson, Skerries, Co. Dublin using water reed with wheat straw for the block ridge was completed in 2003. References – Primary Sources 1. OS map, 1st edition 1834-5, Co. Armagh sheet26 2. OS map, 1st revision 1861, Co. Armagh sheet 26 Secondary Sources First survey report form dated 22 December 1969 Derrymore, published by the National Trust 1963 Fedden and Joekes, The National Trust Guide 1973, pp, 99-100, photograph page 99 Gallagher & Rogers, Castle, Coast and Cottage 1986, pp. 44-7, 144-6,156, 159,176, photograph page 45. Sandford, Ernest 1976, page 163 The National Trust Handbook 2004, page 376

Criteria for Listing

Architectural Interest

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

Historic Interest

V. Authorship Z. Rarity W. Northern Ireland/International Interest


A single storey thatched U-shaped building with basement. A central court flanked by wings on either side leads by way of a pair of lobbies to the main reception room known as the Treaty Room. Derrymore House fulfils all of the criteria for listing. Alterations may have taken place but the original design and detailing have survived including the interior and the historic interest is high. The English style thatched roof is considered to complement the style of the house. The building is unique and of national importance.

General Comments

Date of Survey

Monday, March 15, 2004