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Barons Court

Introduction

Barons Court is set in a landscape park incorporating three lakes. The mid-19th-century parterre is gone. There is a maintained woodland garden, and there are terraces at the house with a planted area under development. There are mature trees in the deer park.

The Barons Court estate lies in a valley at the foot of the Sperrin Mountains. The estate is not walled, and is entered by several lodges. The park is large, with part of it set out as a deer park. There are three lakes, Lough Catherine, Lough Mary and Lough Fanny. The house in its present form looks south over terraces towards a lake, with the intervening park scattered with specimen trees. The house is backed by extensive woods, including plantations of commercial timber.

The walled former kitchen garden is in use as a nursery.

Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts

Access contact details

The estate is open by appointment only.

Directions

Three miles south-west of Newtownstewart on the B84.

History

The estate appears to have been established in the 16th century. The Hamilton family have owned it since 1612, when their castle with bawn was built. This survives in ruined form within the present demesne.

A new house on a different site was begun in the early-1740s in the form of a Palladian villa for James, seventh Earl of Abercorn. The project was supervised by the builder-architect James Martin, a local man, but it was not a success and the house was rarely visited.

Work began on a landscape park for the new house in 1746, when James Broomfield planted trees. In 1751 a deer park was established, with deer brought from England.

A new site was chosen for a house in 1767, when foundations were laid. No further progress was made until 1779, when George Steuart was appointed architect and arrived with a team of masons and carpenters. The house was completed by 1782.

While the new house was under construction, the head gardener Thomas Hudson developed the ornamental grounds on a large scale. He was discharged in 1790.

In 1791 Sir John Soane advised and the house was altered again under the supervision of Soane's assistant Robert Woodgate. In 1796 a fire damaged the house. Owing to political instability the damage was not fully repaired.

The house was remodelled between 1836 and 1841 by Richard Morrison and William Vitruvius Morrison.

In the 1840s the park was extended and redesigned by James Fraser. In the 1840s or 1850s William Broderick Thomas designed a large ramped parterre below the west front.

Ninian Niven designed a garden of three balustraded terraces on the south front for the first Duke of Abercorn in 1876. A new stable block was built to the design of the Belfast architect Joseph Bell (1889). In 1913 the parterre was removed.

In 1946, after a fire, Sir Albert Richardson reduced and remodelled the house.

Period

18th Century

Associated People
Features & Designations

Designations

  • Environment and Heritage Service of Northern Ireland Heritage Gardens Inventory

  • Reference: T004

Features

  • House (featured building)
  • Description: Classical house of 1779 with later additions by Sir John Soane and William Vitruvius Morrison.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Lake
  • Description: There are three lakes at Barons Court: Lough Catherine, Lough Mary and Lough Fanny.
  • Terrace
  • Description: The terrace garden was established to the design of Ninian Niven for the first Duke of Abercorn in 1876. It survives in outline form.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Ornamental Bridge
  • Kitchen Garden
  • Description: The walled kitchen garden is now in use as a commercial nursery.
Key Information

Type

Landscape Park

Purpose

Ornamental

Principal Building

House

Period

18th Century

Survival

Extant

Open to the public

Yes

References

References