Loughbrickland House and gardens 1983 (before the development of the Coach House).
Loughbrickland House, according to one source, was built by John Whyte in the early 1700s on land brought as a dowry by his wife Mary Purcell, a direct descendant of Sir Marmaduke Whitchurch. But another source dates the central part of the house to the period 1780-1790, which means that it would probably have been built by his grandson, another John Whyte born in 1754 who succeeded to the lands on the death of his father, Charles Whyte in 1784.
At that time the house stood in the middle of an extensive lawn. There were some architectural features worth noting about it which are still there. The two ground floor windows were low silled of the type favoured by the architect William Wyatt in several of the houses he designed. You could walk straight into the garden from them. The house had a basement where the kitchens and cellars were located and there are still cellars. There was access by a stairs from inside the house and also very probably an entrance around at the side of the house, now blocked up.
Subsequent additions were made by Nicholas Charles who succeeded to the estate in 1814
In 1814 (Battle of Waterloo?) a porch was added to the front door to provide an airlock so that the wind would not blow directly through the house.
In 1826 a wing with three bay windows upstairs and downstairs was added to the NW side. It had a great drawing-room downstairs and a huge bedroom upstairs with windows from floor to ceiling. The upstairs room was subsequently divided into a big bedroom to the front and a smaller bedroom to the back. The windows had small panes.
In 1840 a three-sided bow again with an upstairs and a downstairs was added to the SE side. It had a formal dining room downstairs and again a huge bedroom subsequently divided upstairs, and two-storeyed servants’ quarters behind it to the South.
Nicholas Charles died in 1844 and was succeeded by John Joseph who extended the house even further to cater for his family of thirteen children.
In 1860 an office was added at the back (with an entrance from the side) and a new curving staircase was constructed in the hall. This is possibly when the entrance to the basement was blocked off.
In 1870 a new kitchen with scullery, pantry and storerooms was added behind the office and above it were more bedrooms, a nursery wing and a bathroom. A spiral staircase led up from the kitchen at the back of the house to the upper floor and to the attics where there were servants’ bedrooms.
By this stage the roof was getting very complicated with all the additions in different directions. And by the 1970s when John Henry Whyte succeeded, it was also very leaky so it was decided in 1978 to demolish the kitchen wing at the back, with the attics and spiral staircase and to put on a new simplified roof. We also installed a few comforts like a modern (1970s) kitchen, central heating, carpets and bathrooms. And we made the two separate units within the house more self-sufficient.
Finally, in 2011, the main kitchen was re-modernised!
And that is how you see it today.
In the early 2000’s Jean decided to try and do something to keep the Barn, Coach House and byres in the Farmyard behind the House ‘above ground’ as they were all crumbling, the roofs were falling in and it looked as though they would have to be demolished (see photo at the beginning of this article).
She initially wanted to develop the whole farmyard as “the Courtyard” with six self-catering units. The entrance was to be via what is currently the paddock behind the barn with the current ‘tack room’ providing an entrance lobby and kitchen to service the barn which would function as a meeting room/ restaurant.
The design took ages to perfect and get planning permission etc. Then we applied for grant aid from the Heritage Lottery Fund but were turned down on the grounds that the project appeared to lack sustainability. It was make or break time. The Loughbrickland Buildings Preservation Trust had been formed, with charitable status attained, to manage the proposed development and apply for grant-aid.
It was decided to proceed with a smaller development – the Coach House alone to be turned into two self-catering units. Grant-aid was secured from Invest Northern Ireland and the Department of the Environment and the rebuilding began in September 2006.
It was very exciting watching the dream take shape and monitoring the progress of the building, not to mention the choices that had to be made re décor furnishing etc. The opening party was in April 2007 with another more official launch in July 2007 with local Councillors and people from the area and we started welcoming guests in August 2007.
The project is managed on the ground by Evelyn Robb whose friendly welcome is now legendary (see references on TripAdvisor). Jean Whyte is overall director with ultimate responsibility for marketing and finance, Caroline Whyte is the web dragon, Margaret Lennon and her team do the housekeeping, Kenny Campbell looks after the grounds, and Sean Lally acts as general factotum.
Enjoy your stay!