Historic Building Details


HB Ref No:
HB06/02/001 A


Extent of Listing:
House


Date of Construction:
1820 - 1839


Address :
Glenarm Castle (off Straidkilly Road) Glenarm Demesne Glenarm Ballymena Co Antrim BT44 0BD


Townland:
Glenarm Demesne






Survey 2:
A

Date of Listing:
5/13/1976

Date of De-listing:

Current Use:
Country House

Former Use
Country House

Conservation Area:
Yes

Industrial Archaeology:
No

Vernacular:
No

Thatched:
No

Monument:
No

Derelict:
No




OS Map No:
45/12

IG Ref:
D3095 1509





Owner Category


Private

Exterior Description And Setting


Grand three storey ‘Jacobethan’ style country mansion with corner turrets crowned with Tower of London-like domelets and weathervanes, gabled parapets, tall chimneys and large entrance porch- which took its present form in 1825 when Richard and William (Vitruvius) Morrison remodelled a double pile Palladian block of 1756 by Christopher Myers. The building, the home of the successive McDonnell Earls of Antrim, stands on the site -and possibly incorporates part of- an early 17th century house, built in stages by Sir Randal McDonnell (later 1st Earl of Antrim) between 1603 and 1636. This original house was burned in 1642, but appears to have been at least partly repaired and used as a residence afterwards. The main portion of the building is basically cube-like and relatively compact, with a large part two, part single storey wing to the E side. This wing was originally much larger, incorporating the servants’ quarters, but these were demolished after a fire in 1966. The front elevation is in sandstone, with the rest in a mixture of sandstone, render and rubble. To the front is a large porch with a mainly glazed arched door screen and a tall pierced parapet with corner pinnacles. The windows throughout are generally flat arch Georgian-paned sashes, though originally many appear to have had gothic openings with gothic headed frames to others The house is set to the N end of a large demesne, with the Glenarm River to the immediate E and the village of Glenarm just beyond this. The front (S) elevation of the main section of the house is symmetrical. To the centre of the ground floor is a large single storey flat roofed porch. The porch is in dressed sandstone and set on a plinth with steps to front. To the front corners are ¾ octagonal corner pier/columns which rise above roof level to form tall pinnacles. The lower portion of each of these pinnacles is fluted, whilst the narrower upper portion has a screw thread pattern and an ogee-like cap. Spanning between the pinnacles (and the wall of the main house) is a relatively tall parapet which is arranged in three gables to the front and two to each side. The parapet has lattice pattern piercing and each of the gables is topped with a small finial. To the front face of the porch there is a large central doorway set within a Tudor arch opening, with large sidelights set in semicircular headed openings. The door opening and sidelights are separated by tapering Tuscan-like pilasters with (mainly) fluted shafts, with similar pilasters to the outer ends of each sidelight. Above the three openings is linked label moulding with [?]lion head stops. The doorway itself has a mainly glazed double timber door with Georgian-like panes and panelled aprons. The Tudor arch fanlight has Y tracery and a margin with five panes. The sidelights are similar in style but with semicircular fanlights. Directly above the doorway is the moulded coat of arms of the Earl of Antrim with two relatively plain ‘quartered’ shield mouldings set in recessed panels above the sidelights. The E and W faces of the porch each have two (relatively narrow) windows, similar to the sidelights but without aprons. There is linked label moulding to each side also (as front) with a moulded shield in a recessed panel above each window (as above sidelights). To either side of the porch (to main house) is a single tall flat arch sash window with Georgian panes (12/12- all windows have sash frames and Georgian panes unless stated). Originally both of these windows had gothic arch openings, but they were altered following the fire of 1929. Below the window to left is an inscribed stone which reads: ‘Rebuilt by Alexander the present Earl in the year 1756’. To the first floor directly above the porch are three semicircular headed windows with Georgian paned fixed light frames (these windows help light the double height hallway). To either side of these windows are pilasters which rise from the intersection of the porch and main elevation. These pilasters are the same as the ¾ columns to the front corners of the porch and rise to form pinnacles above the parapet of the main house, as those to the porch. Beyond these pilasters, to both left and right, is a single square-ish sash window (8/8). To the first floor there are three groups of three small sash windows, (all 4/4), each window in each group separated by a stone mullion. Immediately above these windows is a string course, which also acts a as a label moulding. The front elevation of the main section of the house is topped with a tall parapet arranged in the form of three gables, (of the Irish tower house variety), themselves topped with moulding coping and finials (or pinnacles). To the central gable is the Earl’s coat of arms with plain shields to the outer gables. The front elevation is framed with projecting corner turrets which rise a storey above parapet level and are capped with stone faced domelets with finials and weathervanes. These turrets are square at ground and first floor levels and octagonal above this. To each outer face at ground floor level (apart from that to first floor E side of the E turret*) there is a tall narrow window-like recess with label moulding and stops. (*To this face there is a much deeper semicircular headed recess which helps light a window on the wing to E- see below). To first floor there is a similar arrangement. To the second floor there is a similar sized recess (but with a semicircular head) to the S facet of the E turret and S and W of the W turret. To the uppermost level there is a tall semicircular headed recess to all facets. At each floor level there is a narrow string course and to the base of the turrets is a bevelled plinth. Just below the domelet is a decorative lattice pattern (or diamond pattern) course. The W elevation of the main block of the house has a considerably plainer appearance that that to front. Unlike the front this elevation, apart from the turrets, is totally rendered; it is also partly exposed as basement level. To basement level there are four windows. That to far left appears to have a casement opening, the two to the centre are double sash (each 4/4 with a rendered mullion), whilst that to far right is single sash (4/4). To the ground floor there are five large evenly spaced windows, as ground floor front, with three shorter ones to the first floor (8/8). To the far left and to the far right on this floor is a window sized recess. Pre 1929, the ground and first floor windows had gothic openings, and the first floor appears to have had five windows. To the second floor there are five square-ish windows (8/8). All of the windows to this side have plain sandstone dressings, with label moulding to those to the second floor. Above the second floor level is a narrow sandstone string course and above this rises two large shaped (Flemish-like) gables, each topped with a conjoined grouping of four tall stone chimney pots with caps. To the left and right the elevation is bounded by turrets, the left (N) turret is as that to right (described above). The N elevation of the main section of the house is much like that to W though the window spacing is slightly different and there are five windows to the first floor. The basement windows are all of similar size and all appear to have casement openings. The parapet differs from the W in that there are three smaller plainer gables (similar to those to front only smaller), each with a finial (or pinnacle). Between the gables there are broad battlements. That between the left and middle gable is a stepped ‘Irish’ battlement, with the rest plain. The parapet has sandstone coping and there is a sandstone string course below parapet level. The turrets are as before, however, that to left (E) has a sash window at first and second floor level to N, (1/2, 1/1), instead of the recesses, and the E face is blank. The E elevation of the main block of the house is abutted by a large part two part single storey wing to left, whilst to right there is a full height gabled projection. The E elevation itself is only exposed at parapet level (the parapet appears to match that to W elevation). The projection to right (N) is in snecked undressed rubble stone with dressed sandstone to openings. It has a stone coped crow-stepped parapet, out of which rises three tall conjoined stone chimney pots. To the N face of the projection there is a window to ground floor (6/6). Set at an intermediate level above this is a tiny semicircular headed window (1/1). To the first floor proper there is a window as ground floor, with a squatter window to the second floor (8/4). To the (E facing) gable of the projection there is a basement level doorway (with recent door) to right. Directly above this doorway, at an intermediate level between ground and first floor, is a small window (3/3). To the left side of the gable at first floor level is a large semicircular headed window (with Georgian panes). To first floor there is a taller but similar shaped window with decorative geometric tracery (which looks mid to later 19th century). To the second floor is a similar shaped but shorter window, with thick stone tracery forming to semicircular headed lights (with 2/1 frames) and a roundel above. The S face of the projection appears to be wholly blank. In the narrow exposed section of the E façade of the main section of the house, between the projection and the E wing, there is a pair of windows to the basement level with modern frames with a similar sized pair set at a low ground floor level (both 4/4). To first floor (set further to the left), is a larger semicircular headed window (with Georgian panes). Above this is a small (?8/8) window which appears to be set within a small flat roofed dormer. The E wing itself has a complex form. To the W, where it abuts the main house, is a largely rendered two storey gabled section with a battlemented parapet, square bay etc. To the E it merges with a plain single storey hipped roof section, also largely rendered. To the rear (N) it links to a tall, rubble faced two storey hipped roof block which is canted to the N side. To the E end of the wing, there was originally a substantial, L-shaped, one and a half storey gabled portion (with gabled half-dormers etc.) which used to contain servants’ quarters. This was badly damaged by fire in 1966 and demolished the following year. The present single storey portion (the original kitchen) is all that remains of this section. To the N and E of the E wing the ground level is much lower, exposing the basement level. The front (S) elevation of the two storey portion of the E wing is largely in render (with in-out sandstone quoins). To the centre of the elevation is a shallow full height square bay in sandstone. To the ground floor of the bay are three tall pointed arch lights separated by narrow stone mullions. Each light has a Georgian paned sash frame with Y tracery to upper most frames (7/6, 5/8, 7/6). To the first floor are three similar but shorter lights (all 5/4). Between ground and first floor the bay has a decorative moulded frieze course (with small shields etc.) with a similar sized course (with lattice decoration), above the first floor windows. The bay is topped with regular battlements with decorative panels thereon. To the left of the bay there is a small-ish first floor window (3/6). To the right of the bay there is a small semicircular headed window (4/2), with label moulding, to the ground floor. To the first floor there is a similar, but taller and narrower, window (4/4). The battlemented parapet continues in plainer form to either side of the bay. The small exposed portion of the N elevation of this section is rendered. Basement and ground floor level are contained within a lean-to. To the basement level there are two windows, (both 6/6), set close together to the left. To ground floor are two more widely spaced windows (as before), with a single window to first floor (again, as before). The E gable of the two storey portion of the E wing is largely in render. To the right on the ground floor the gable is abutted by a small single storey gabled section which links to the larger single storey hipped roof section to E. This small link has a window to its S face, (8/8), with label moulding. A pier stretching up the gable from this small link suggests that the link itself was originally two storey. To the right on the first floor of the gable there is a small semicircular headed window (?4/4). The upper most portion of the gable is in undressed rubble rising to a crow-stepped parapet. The parapet is topped with two tall conjoined stone chimney pots. The S elevation single storey portion of the E wing is in render. To left is a large Georgian-paned window, (24 panes), with label moulding over. The E elevation of this section one and half storey in scale and rendered. To right there is a segmental arch headed recess. To the left of this a set of stone steps leads (through a timber sheeted doorway set within a high screen wall) to the forecourt. The rear (N) elevation, (which is also one and a half storey in scale), is mainly in rubble and has a very large tripartite window (6/8, 12/16, 6/8) set in a segmental headed opening. This section has a stone chimneystack to the E side. The tall two storey (with basement) hipped roof section to the rear (N) side of the E wing is largely in rubble with alternating sandstone quoins. To the N side this section is canted. The central (broader) facet of this side has a small three pane window at basement level. This facet and the outer ones are all rendered at this level, with large segmental headed, door-like, recesses to the outer facets. To the ground floor of the central facet is a triple light window with sandstone mullions (frames all 6/4). To the first floor is a similar window (only slightly taller- 6/6). To the E face there is a window at basement level with a nine-pane fixed frame and sandstone surround. There is a similar window to basement level on the W face, with another window to the first floor (6/6). The S face (which is only exposed at first floor level) is blank. The first floor windows are set on a narrow sandstone sill course. The E face and the broad N facet both rise above eaves level into a small gable. The gable to N has a small shield thereon. The S face rises into a chimneystack with three conjoined pots (as before). Behind the parapets of the main section of the building is a double pile (gabled) roof which appears to be wholly slated. The S section of the roof has two conjoined chimney pots to the E of centre of the ridge, with a single pot to the W of centre. The N section of the roof appears to have three conjoined pots to the W of centre. The roofs of the different sections of the E wing are all slated also. Cast iron rw goods. To the immediate E of the house the ground level drops sharply. Looking westwards from the lower ground to the immediate E is a relatively tall retaining wall which also acted as the base of the walls of the NE section of the former service wing. These are in rubble and are battered and to the S end is a small projecting section which was once a stairwell tower. To the S of this there is a stone flight of steps with decorative balustrade.

Architects


Myers, Christopher Imrie & Angell Morrison, Richard & William Vitruvius Insall, Donald

Historical Information


The McDonnells of Antrim to the early 1600s From at least the 6th century (and probably long before this) the north-east of Ireland and the western seaboard of Scotland witnessed much in the way of population movement in both directions. As a result strong ties developed between both regions, and, on a wider scale, Scotland and Ireland came to share a common Gaelic culture and language. The particularly close relationship between the areas immediately bordering on the North Channel was maintained during medieval times, even though (in theory at least) both halves belonged to rival kingdoms, England and Scotland. In 1399 a de facto political link between the regions was created when Hebridean lord John Mor McDonnell married the heiress to The Glens of Antrim, Margery McEoin Bisset. The McDonnells were a branch of the Clan Donald, the descendants of Somerled, lord of Argyle, who had wrested the southern Hebrides from Norse overlordship in the mid 1100s. By the late 1300s the head of the clan, the Lord of the Isles, was the ruler of much of the western seaboard of Scotland- an area which had become a semi-autonomous kingdom. When the King of Scots, James IV, finally quashed the Lordship of the Isles in 1493, many Hebrideans fled across the North Channel to the ‘safe’ McDonnell haven in The Glens, and during the next century the balance of McDonnell power gradually shifted from the Hebrides to Antrim. This shift, however, resulted in much wrangling between the family and the Tudor government, with the latter taking the view that the former were agents of the King of Scots and the vanguard of a much larger Scots invasion of Ireland. For most of the period this fear was groundless, (the Scots crown, after all, was not exactly friendly to overmighty subjects such as the McDonnells), but the fact that by the mid 1500s the McDonnells had overrun much of Antrim, forcing out neighbouring lords such as the McQuillans in the process, gave an impression of sinister, grander intent and succeeded in stifling the lawful McDonnell claims to formal recognition as Lords of The Glens. Their position was only finally recognised by Queen Elizabeth I in the 1580s and only became secure after the unification of the English and Scottish crowns in 1603, when King James VI and I formally granted The Glens and The Route (the former McQuillan lordship in north Antrim) to Sir Randal McDonnell. Glenarm Castle Sir Randal’s royal grant of The Glens and the Route stipulated that he should construct a respectable residence befitting his status in each of the four baronies comprising his estate. Three baronies were already provided for by Dunluce Castle, Clare Park (at Dunaynie in Cary barony) and Clough Castle in Kilconway. In the remaining barony of Glenarm there had been a castle (possibly a glorified tower house) since the mid 1200s, but in 1597 this was ‘broken’. The castle, which is believed to have stood within the village near the south end of Toberwine Street, (roughly where the former court house now stands), was left as ruin and in or shortly after 1603 Sir Randal commenced the building of a new house a short distance to the west, on the other side of the Glenarm River. This new residence appears to have been added to right up until the death of Sir Randal, (by now Viscount Dunluce and Earl of Antrim), in 1636. In 1642 Monro’s covenanting army burnt the ‘pleasant house’ but for much of the next century its fate is uncertain. Most accounts suggest that it was largely abandoned and remained ruinous, however, Richard Dobbs, who wrote a short description of Glenarm in 1683, implies that at least part of the building was still fit for occupation at that date and had a slated roof. By 1752 (at least) it appears to have been abandoned again for Dr Pococke refers to it as ‘an old house with good room in it, without a roof’. The story of Glenarm Castle as we see it today begins in 1756 when Alexander McDonnell, the 5th Earl, following the decay / destruction of his other abodes at Dunluce etc., decided to make the village his principal residence, commissioning Christopher Myers to ‘rebuild’ the house. What this ‘rebuild’ entailed and how much remained of the original dwelling is uncertain, for there are no known extant plans or drawings of the pre 1750s structure. Of the house that emerged after 1756, however, we have ample illustrations- all showing a large three storey double pile block with Palladian windows and quadrant wings in matching Palladian style. Alterations were made to this ‘rebuilt’ house in 1783 by the 6th Earl, which evidence suggests included the building of much of the east wing. Hector McDonnell has argued that it may have also involved the ‘gothickisation’ of the north façade, in Castle Ward fashion, (see secondary source no.6), if so, this could explain visitor Charles Abbott’s description of the house as ‘in bad taste’. The building remained in its late 18th century form until 1824-25, when Anne Katherine, Countess of Antrim in her own right, and her husband, Edmund [Phelps] McDonnell, commissioned Richard and William (Vitruvius) Morrison of Dublin, to remodel the façade on the present ‘Jacobethan’ lines, adding the dome-capped turrets, gabled and battlemented parapets, gothic window openings, the porch and part of the service wing to the east. The so-called ‘barbican’ gate was also erected next to the bridge just east of the castle at this time also, as well as the towers over looking the river. The Morrisons’ original proposals (now at PRONI) show that they had initially intended all of the windows to be flat arch, (much more in tune with the mid to late 16th / early 17th century style of the façade), but that this was later amended. In 1929, following an accidental fire, much of the interior of the house (including the double height hallway) was gutted. Reconstruction work was carried out to designs by Imrie & Angell of London, with artistic touches added to the hallway and other rooms by Angela, Lady Antrim. It was at this stage that many of the windows were altered to their present flat arch Georgian style (in line, somewhat ironically, with the Morrisons’ original intention). Another accidental fire in 1966 lead to the demolition of most of the service wing to the east, with remodelling of what remained of the wing (mainly the large kitchen) carried out by Donald Insall. References- Primary sources 1 PRONI D.2977 Antrim Papers 2 Richard Dobbs’ description of Glenarm, 1683, reprinted in Rev. George Hill’s ‘An historical account of the MacDonnells of Antrim…’ (Belfast 1873), p.382 3 Dr Pococke’s Irish tour, 1752 (?Dublin), p.25 4 Ulster Museum A view of Glenarm Castle (painting dating from some time between 1768 and 1812) 5 View of Glenarm c.1769-c.1812 (painting in possession of Viscount Dunluce) 6 Thomas Milton ‘The seats and demesnes of the nobility and gentry in Ireland’ (1783) [Includes an illustration of Glenarm Castle.] 7 PRONI D.3560/3/1-7 Plans and elevations for proposed alterations to Glenarm Castle by Richard and William Vitruvius Morrison, c.1824 [This collection also includes watercolours of the castle by Morrison and plans for the ‘Barbican’ entrance.] 8 “The town and castle of Glenarm, Co. Antrim” [1830] by T.M. Baynes in ‘Ireland illustrated’ (London 1831) 9 ‘Ordnance Survey Memoirs of Ireland…’ vol.13 [c.1830-35] ed. Angelique Day and Patrick McWilliams (QUB 1992), pp.123, 129-30 10 PRONI OS/6/1/29/1 OS map, Co Antrim sh 29, 1832-33 11 PRONI VAL/1B/149 First valuation, Tickmacrevan parish, 1833 12 Samuel Lewis, ‘A topographical dictionary of Ireland’ vol.1 (London 1837), p.658 13 William Makepeace Thackery, ‘Irish sketchbook’ (1843), p.238 14 Mrs and Mrs S.C. Hall, ‘Ireland: Its scenery, character etc., vol.III (London 1843), p.130 15 PRONI VAL/2D/1/11 Valuation town plan of Glenarm, 1859 [with later annotations- ?c.1900] 16 PRONI VAL/2B/1/41B Second valuation [notebook], village of Glenarm, 1859 17 PRONI OS/8/103/1 OS town plan of Glenarm, 1903 18 PRONI VAL/12E/31/1 Valuation town plan of Glenarm, 1907-[1935] 19 PRONI VAL/3G/20/1 Valuation town plan of Glenarm. 1936-57 Secondary sources 1 Rev. George Hill, ‘An historical account of the MacDonnells of Antrim…’ (Belfast 1873) 2 A and A MacDonald, ‘The Clan Donald’ 3 vols (Inverness 1896-1904) 3 C.E.B. Brett, ‘Historic buildings…Glens of Antrim’ (Belfast 1971), pp.11-13 4 E. Malins and The Knight of Glin, ‘Lost demesnes: Irish landscape gardening 1660-1845’ (London 1976), pp.109-110 5 Eileen Black, “A view of Glenarm Castle” in ‘The Glynns- Journal of The Glens of Antrim Historical Society’ vol.7 (1979), pp.29-30 6 Jimmie Irvine, “A map of Glenarm- 1779” in ‘The Glynns- Journal of The Glens of Antrim Historical Society’ vol.9 (1981), pp.52-61 7 Hon. Hector McDonnell, “The building of the parish church at Glenarm” in ‘The Glynns- Journal of The Glens of Antrim Historical Society’ vol.10 (1982), pp.31-36 8 M. Webster, “Wheatley’s Lord and Lady Antrim” in ‘Irish arts review’, vol.1, no.1, (spring 1984), pp.42-45 9 Felix McKillop, ‘Glenarm- A local history’ (Glenarm 1987) 10 Mark Bence-Jones, ‘A guide to Irish county houses’ (London 1988), pp.117, 135-36 11 ‘The architecture of Richard Morrison and William Vitruvius Morrison (Irish Architectural Archive, Dublin 1989) 12 Cathal Dallat, ‘The road to The Glens’ (Belfast 1989), p.9 13 Jane Ohlymeyer, ‘Civil war and restoration in three Stuart kingdoms: The career of the Randal MacDonnell, Marquis of Antrim,1609-1683’ (Cambridge University Press 1993) 14 Philip Smith, ‘Hebridean settlement and activity in Ireland c.1470-1565 (QUB MA Thesis 1993) 15 Philip Smith, “On the fringe and in the middle: The MacDonnells of Antrim c.1260-1565” in ‘History Ireland’ vol 1 no.3 (Autumn 1993) 16 C.E.B. Brett, ‘The buildings of County Antrim’ (Belfast 1996), pp.100-102 17 S. Watson, ‘Inside Glenarm Castle’ (Antrim Estates Company, 1998)

Criteria for Listing


Architectural Interest

A. Style B. Proportion C. Ornamentation H+. Alterations enhancing the building H-. Alterations detracting from building I. Quality and survival of Interior K. Group value

Historic Interest

V. Historical Association/Authorship W. National/International Interest X. Local Interest Z. Scarcity



Evaluation


Grand three storey ‘Jacobethan’ style country mansion- with corner turrets crowned with Tower of London-like domelets and weathervanes, gabled parapets, tall chimneys and large entrance porch - which took its present form in 1825 when Richard and William (Vitruvius) Morrison remodelled a double pile Palladian block of 1756 by Christopher Myers. The building, the home of the successive McDonnell Earls of Antrim, stands on the site (and possibly incorporates part of) an early 17th century house, built in stages by Sir Randal McDonnell (later 1st Earl of Antrim) between 1603 and 1636. This original house was burned in 1642, but appears to have been at least partly repaired and used as a residence afterwards. The main portion of the building is basically cube-like and relatively compact, with a large two part single storey wing to the east side. This wing (dating from c.1783 and enlarged in 1824-5) was originally much larger, incorporating the servants’ quarters, but these were demolished after a fire in 1966. The front elevation is in sandstone, with the rest in a mixture of sandstone, render and rubble. To the front is a large porch with a mainly glazed arched door screen and a tall pierced parapet with corner pinnacles. The windows throughout are generally flat arch Georgian-paned sashes, though originally many appear to have had gothic openings or gothic headed frames.

General Comments




Date of Survey


Friday, May 11, 2001