Monday, 30 November 2015

1st Duke of Westminster

This noble family traces its descent in the male line to an illustrious house which flourished in Normandy for a century and a half before the conquest of England, and obtained its surname from having held the high and powerful office in that principality of LE GROVENOUR, from which they took their surname, variously written Grosvenor, Le Grosvenour, Grovenor, Le Groveneur, and Le Grovenour.

The founder of the English Grosvenors,

GILBERT LE GROSVENOR, came over in the train of WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR, and was nephew of Hugh (Lupus) d'Avranches (c1047-1101), afterwards 1st Earl of Chester, uncle of the victorious monarch.

ROBERT, son of Gilbert, obtained lands in Cheshire from the said Hugh, Earl of Chester, and was lineal ancestor, through six generations, of

SIR ROBERT GROSVENOR, who proved his pedigree before a court of chivalry in defence of his arms, azure, a bend or, against Richard le Scrope, who challenged them.

The descent of Sir Robert was fully admitted, but the arms were adjudged to Scrope, and in conclusion Sir Robert Grosvenor was recommended to bear azure, a garb or, from the arms of the ancient Earls of Chester, which has ever since continued the cognizance of his descendants.

The immediate ancestor of the ennobled family before us,

SIR THOMAS LE GROSVENOR, Lord of Hulme, married a daughter of Sir William Phesant, Knight, and had three sons, viz.
ROBERT, Lord of Hulme;
RALPH, of whom presently;
The second son,

RALPH LE GROSVENOR, wedded firstly, Joan, only daughter and heiress of John Eton (now Eaton), of Cheshire, and had, with other issue, his heir,

ROBERT GROSVENOR, who espoused Catherine, daughter of Sir William Norris, of Speke, Lancashire, and was succeeded by his second, but eldest surviving son,

RICHARD GROSVENOR. This gentleman married, in the first year of HENRY VIII, Catherine, third daughter and one of the co-heiresses of Richard Cotton, of Hamstall Ridware, Staffordshire, and had issue,
THOMAS, his heir;
Elizabeth; Eleanor; Catherine;
Anne; Margaret; Maud; Dorothy;
Mary; Ursula.
Richard Grosvenor was succeeded at his decease, in 1542, by his eldest son,

SIR THOMAS GROSVENOR, Knight, who wedded Maud, daughter of Sir William Pole, Knight, of Poole, Cheshire, and by her had issue,
THOMAS, his heir;
Elizabeth; Catherine; Grace.
Sir Thomas was succeeded, in 1549, by his eldest son,

THOMAS GROSVENOR, of Eaton. This gentleman married Anne, daughter of Roger Bradshaigh, of Haigh, Lancashire, and had,
RICHARD, his heir;
Mary; Anne;
Thomas was succeeded at his decease, in 1579, by his eldest son,

RICHARD GROSVENOR, of Eaton, who served the office of High Sheriff of Chester, 1602.

He wedded Christian, daughter of Sir Richard Brooke, of Norton Priory, Cheshire, and had issue,
RICHARD, his heir;
Anne; Christian; Frances;
Catherine; Eleanor; Margaret.
Mr Grosvenor was succeeded at his decease, in 1619, by his only surviving son,

SIR RICHARD GROSVENOR, Knight (1585-1645), who was created a baronet in 1622.

He married firstly, in 1600, Lettice, second daughter of Sir Hugh Cholmondeley, Knight, and had by her,
RICHARD, his heir;
Christian; Mary; Grace.
Sir Richard wedded secondly, in 1614, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Thomas Wilbraham, of Woodhey; aand thirdly, in 1621, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Peter Warburton, of Grafton, both in Cheshire, but had no other issue.

The 1st Baronet was succeeded at his decease by his eldest son,

SIR RICHARD GROSVENOR, 2nd Baronet (1604-64), who espoused, in 1628, Sydney, daughter of Sir Roger Mostyn, Knight, of Mostyn, Flintshire, and had several children.

Sir Richard was succeeded by his grandson,

SIR THOMAS GROSVENOR, 3rd Baronet (1656-1700), who wedded, in 1677, Mary, only daughter and heiress of Alexander Davies, of Ebury, Middlesex, by which alliance the Grosvenor family acquired their great estates in London and its vicinity.

Sir Thomas was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR RICHARD GROSVENOR, 4th Baronet (1689-1732), who espoused firstly, Jane, daughter of Sir Edward Wyndham, of Orchard Wyndham, Somerset, by whom he had no surviving issue.

He married secondly, Diana, only daughter of Sir George Warburton, of Arley, Cheshire, but had no issue.

Sir Richard was succeeded by his brother,

SIR THOMAS GROSVENOR, 5th Baronet (1693-1733), MP for Chester, who died unmarried and was succeeded by his brother,

SIR ROBERT GROSVENOR, 6th Baronet (1695-1755), who espoused, in 1730, Jane, only surviving child and heiress of Thomas Warre, by whom he had issue,
RICHARD, his successor;
Mary; Elizabeth; Dorothy.
Sir Robert was succeeded by his elder son,

SIR RICHARD GROSVENOR, 7th Baronet (1731-1802), twentieth in descent from Gilbert le Grosvenor, the companion-in-arms of WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR.

Sir Richard was elevated to the peerage by the title of Baron Grosvenor, in 1761; and advanced to the dignities of Viscount Belgrave and Earl Grosvenor, in 1784.

His lordship wedded, in 1764, Henrietta, daughter of Henry Vernon, of Hilton Park, Staffordshire, and his wife, Henrietta, daughter of Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford, by whom he left an only surviving child,

ROBERT, 2nd Earl (1767-1845), who espoused, in 1794, Eleanor, only daughter of Thomas, 2nd Earl of Wilton, by whom he had issue,
RICHARD, his successor;
THOMAS, Earl of Wilton;
Robert, 1st Baron Ebury.
His lordship was advanced to the dignity of a marquessate, in 1831, as Marquess of Westminster.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

RICHARD, 2nd Marquess (1795-1869), KG, PC, who wedded, in 1819, Elizabeth, younger daughter of George, 1st Duke of Sutherland.

His second and eldest surviving son,

HUGH LUPUS, 3rd Marquess (1825-99), KG, PC, JP, was advanced to the dignity of a dukedom, as DUKE OF WESTMINSTER, in 1874.

GERALD, 6th and present Duke, was born at Omagh, County Tyrone.

Grosvenor House, London

Ancestral and former seats ~ Eaton Hall, Cheshire; Halkin Castle, Flintshire; Motcombe House, Dorset; Moor Park, Hertfordshire.

Former town residence ~ Grosvenor House, London.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Museum Trip

Once Upon A Time, by Arlene McPadden

I visited the Ulster Museum briefly this afternoon.

Stranmillis Road was as busy as ever, so I drove across to College Gardens, almost opposite Deane's at Queen's restaurant.

There was an exhibition by the Royal Ulster Academy at the museum.

A painting of Paddy Mackie at Castle Espie, County Down, by Julian Friers particularly impressed me; as did an exhibit by Arlene McPadden.

Thereafter I went for a stroll at the University quarter.

Almost all of Upper Crescent is for sale or to let.

It's such a shame that the present owners allowed this fine terrace to deteriorate to such a degree.

Nevertheless, let us hope that new owners shall be more sympathetic to one of the city's finest terraces.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Princess Royal in Belfast

The Princess Royal, Patron, the Mary Peters Trust, accompanied by Vice-Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, attended a Fortieth Anniversary Dinner at City Hall, Donegall Square, Belfast, on Saturday, 28th November, 2015, and was received by Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of the County Borough of Belfast (Mrs. Fionnuala Jay-O'Boyle CBE).

The Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava

When the 5th and last Marquess of Dufferin and Ava died in 1988, without issue, Clandeboye estate passed to his widow Serena Belinda (Lindy) Rosemary, Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava.

The marquessate itself is now, sadly, extinct.

Photo credit: Katybird

Lady Dufferin inherited a considerable fortune at the time, not least due to the Guinness connection.

She also inherited the beautiful Clandeboye Estate, near Bangor in County Down, and a London residence in Holland Park.

Clandeboye Estate comprises about 2,000 acres of prime Ulster woodland and gardens, making it one of the finest private country estates in Northern Ireland.

Lady Dufferin has a continuing interest in the Arts, painting and conservation.

Clandeboye Golf Club has now become an integral part of the estate.

There is a memorial to the 1st Marquess in the grounds of Belfast City Hall.

I have written an article in April, 2009, entitled The Four Great Ulster Marquessates.

First published in August, 2009.  Dufferin arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Blarney Castle


The founder of this family in Ireland was Colonel John Colthurst, who was murdered by native Irish rebels in 1607.

His lineal descendant,

JOHN COLTHURST, of Ballyally, County Cork, married Eliza, daughter of Sir Nicholas Purdon.

In 1684, this gentleman was granted extensive land in County Cork. He had issue,
Nicholas, a colonel in the army, High Sheriff of Cork, 1736;
JOHN, of whom presently.
His younger son,

JOHN COLTHURST, of Ardrum, MP for Tallagh, 1734-57, High Sheriff of County Cork, 1738, who married firstly, Alice, daughter of James Conway; and secondly, Mahetabel, daughter of William Wallis.

Dying in 1756, he was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN CONWAY COLTHURST, who wedded, in 1741, Lady Charlotte FitzMaurice, daughter of Thomas, 1st Earl of Kerry, by whom he had five sons.

Mr Colthurst was created a baronet in 1774.

He died in 1775, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR JOHN CONWAY COLTHURST, 2nd Baronet (c1743-87), who was killed in a duel by Dominick Trant; and dying unmarried, the title devolved upon his brother,

SIR NICHOLAS COLTHURST, 3rd Baronet, who wedded Harriet, second daughter of the Rt Hon David la Touche, by whom he had issue,
Elizabeth; Catherine.
Sir Nicholas died in 1795, and was succeeded by his only son,

SIR NICHOLAS CONWAY COLTURST, 4th Baronet (1789-1829), Colonel of the Cork Militia, trustee of the linen manufacture, MP for the city of Cork.
The heir apparent is the present holder's only son John la Touche Conway Colthurst (b 1988).

BLARNEY CASTLE, Blarney, County Cork, is an unusually large tower-house of 1446 which incorporates the famous Blarney Stone, high up beneath the battlements.

The 4th Earl of Clancarty had supported JAMES II, with the result that his forfeited estate was granted to the Hollow Swords Company at the end of the Williamite wars.

In 1704 the Mayor of Cork, Sir James St John Jefferyes, purchased the estate and built a new house attached to the original castle.

This was greatly enlarged by his descendants and developed into large Georgian Gothic building with a central bow, rows of lancet windows and pinnacled battlements.

In 1820 this house was destroyed by fire and not rebuilt, though its remains can still be seen today.

In 1846 Louisa Jane, the Jefferyes heiress, married a neighbour, Sir George Colthurst, of Ardrum near Inniscarra.

He was a man of property, with another large estate at Ballyvourney near the border with County Kerry, along with Lucan House in County Dublin.

He also inherited Blarney on his father-in-law’s death.

When her first children died, Lady Colthurst demanded a new house at Blarney on an elevated site.

This was built in the Scots Baronial style, to the designs of Sir Thomas Lanyon of Belfast who, rather surprisingly, incorporated a number of classical details from Ardrum into the design.

Their high quality shows that this must have been an important building.

BLARNEY HOUSE is typical of its type, with pinnacles, crow-stepped gables and a profusion of turrets with conical roofs.

The interior has a double height inner hall, lit from above, a pair of interconnecting drawing rooms and a massive oak staircase.

The style varies from faux Jacobean to Adam Revival, and the rooms have tall plate-glass windows which overlook the lake.

Nearby, the Jefferyes family created the unique Rock Close, an early 18th century druidic garden layout of large rocks, boulders and yew trees; with dolmens, a stone circle and a druid’s altar.

Today Blarney House is the home of Sir Charles Colthurst, 10th Baronet.

In 2009, Sir Charles donated the family papers of the Colthurst family to the Cork City and County Archives, adding to a previous legal collection relating to this family already in the Archives.

First published in November, 2011.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Island Taggart Trip

I've spent the day with seven other National Trust volunteers on Island Taggart, one of the largest islands on Strangford Lough, County Down.

We met in Killyleagh and took the little boat from an old quay across to Taggart.

Today we were mainly gathering gorse and brambles for burning.

We have a new trolley cart. It is black, with collapsible sides, and can carry up to about 300 kilogrammes.

This cart, which has four pneumatic tyres, proved useful for the logs and tools.

I lunched on tuna and sweetcorn sandwiches today.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

1st Marquess Conyngham


The family of CONYNGHAM was originally of Scottish descent, and of very great antiquity in that part of the United Kingdom.

WILLIAM CUNNINGHAM, Bishop of Argyll, a younger son of William, 4th Earl of Glencairn, in 1539, left a son,

WILLIAM CONYNGHAM, of Cunninghamhead, Ayrshire, who had two sons,

WILLIAM, who succeeded at Cuninghamhead, and was created a baronet; and

ALEXANDER CONYNGHAM, who, entering into Holy Orders, and removing into Ireland, was appointed, in 1611, the first protestant minister of Enver and Killymard, County Donegal.

Mr Conyngham was appointed to the deanery of Raphoe on the consecration of Dean Adair as Lord Bishop of Killaloe, in 1630.
Dean Conyngham settled at Mount Charles, County Donegal, which estate he held, by lease, from the Earl of Annandale, and wedded Marion, daughter of John Murray, of Broughton, by whom he had no less than 27 children, of which four sons and five daughters survived infancy.
He died in 1660, and was succeeded by his eldest surviving son,

SIR ALBERT CONYNGHAM, Knight, who was appointed, in 1660, Lieutenant-General of the ordnance in Ireland.
This officer fought on the side of WILLIAM III at the Boyne, Limerick etc, and fell in a rencounter with the Rapparees, near Colooney in County Sligo.
He espoused Mary, daughter of the Rt Rev Robert Leslie, Lord Bishop of Raphoe, and was succeeded by his only surviving son,

MAJOR-GENERAL HENRY CONYNGHAM, of Slane Castle, MP for Coleraine, and for Donegal, who served during the reign of JAMES II as a captain in Mountjoy's Regiment.
When King JAMES II desired his army to shift for itself, Conyngham prevailed upon 500 of his regiment to remain united, and with them offered his services to WILLIAM III. He became subsequently a major-general, and fell, in 1705-6, at St Estevan's, in Spain.
He wedded Mary, daughter of Sir John Williams Bt, of Minster Court, Kent, and widow of Charles, Lord Shelburne, by whom he got a very considerable property, and had issue,
WILLIAMhis successor;
General Conyngham was succeeded by his elder son,

WILLIAM CONYNGHAM, of Slane (an estate forfeited, in 1641, by Lord Slane), who was succeeded at his decease by his brother,

THE RT HON HENRY CONYNGHAM (1705-81), captain of horse on the Irish establishment, and MP from 1727 until raised to the peerage by the title of Baron Conyngham, of Mount Charles, in 1753.
His lordship was created Viscount Conyngham, in 1756; and Earl Conyngham, in 1781, the barony to descend, in case of failure of issue, to Francis Pierpoint Burton, the eldest son of his sister Mary, by Francis Burton.
His lordship married, in 1774, Ellen, only daughter and heir of Solomon Merret; but dying without an heir, in 1781, all his honours became extinct, except the barony of Conyngham, which devolved, according to the limitation, upon the above-mentioned


This nobleman wedded, in 1750, Elizabeth, eldest daughter of the Rt Hon Nathaniel Clements, and sister of Robert, Earl of Leitrim, by whom he had issue,
HENRYhis successor;
Francis Nathaniel (Sir), GCH;
Catherine; Ellena; Henrietta.
His lordship, on inheriting the title and estates of his uncle, assumed the surname and arms of CONYNGHAM.

He died in 1787, ans was succeeded by his son,

HENRY, 3rd Baron, who, in 1787, was created Viscount Conyngham, of Slane, County Meath.

He was also created Viscount Mount Charles, of Mount Charles, County Donegal; and Earl Conyngham, in 1797.
In 1801, Lord Conyngham was appointed a Knight of the Most Illustrious Order of St Patrick. In 1803, he was appointed Governor of County Donegal, a post he held until 1831, and Custos Rotulorum of County Clare in 1808, which he remained until his death.
In 1816, he was created Viscount SlaneEarl of Mount Charles, and further advanced to the dignity of a marquessate, as MARQUESS CONYNGHAM.

In 1821, he was created Baron Minster, of Minster Abbey, Kent; and sworn of the Privy Council and appointed Lord Steward, a post he retained until 1830.

From 1829 until his death in 1832 he served as Constable and Governor of Windsor Castle.
The heir apparent is the present holder's son Alexander Burton Conyngham, styled Earl of Mount Charles.

The heir apparent's heir apparent is his son Rory Nicholas Burton Conyngham, styled Viscount Slane.

The Marquesses Conyngham were seated at The Hall, Mount Charles, County Donegal, now thought to be unoccupied.

The Hall is an early to mid-18th century double, gable-ended house of three storeys and five bays.

It has a pedimented door-case, bold quoins and a solid parapet concealing the roof and end gables.

At one end of the house there is a conservatory porch with astrigals and round-headed windows.

A salt works (also in the grounds of the former Conyngham estate) provided employment to local people during the 18th century.

8th Marquess Conyngham

The present Lord and Lady Conyngham continue to live at the ancestral seat, Slane Castle, County Meath.

Buncraggy House

BUNCRAGGY HOUSE, one of several notable houses on the Conyngham Estate, was home of the Burton family for most of the 18th century.

The house remained in the possession of the O'Gorman family until the end of the 19th century, when it became the property of the Caher family.

The house is still occupied and the yard buildings are the centre of a farming enterprise.

Other properties included Islandmagrath, Burtonhill House,Summerhill and Meelick House.

First published in November, 2011.  Conyngham arms courtesy of European Heraldry. 

Monday, 23 November 2015

Judicial Damehoods

THE QUEEN has been pleased to approve that the honour of Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (Civil Division) be conferred on Siobhan Roisin Keegan QC and Denise Anne McBride QC, following their appointment as Justices of the High Court. 

The Hon Mrs Justice Keegan was called to the Bar in 1994 and took Silk in 2006. She was elected vice-chairman of the Bar Council of Northern Ireland, 2014.

The Hon Madam Justice McBride was called to the Bar in 1989 and took Silk in 2011. She was vice-chairman of the Bar Council of Northern Ireland, 2012-14.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Patrick Carlin VC


Patrick Carlin was born in 1832 at Belfast. When he was about 26 years old, he served as a private soldier in 1st Battalion, The 13th Foot, later known as The Somerset Light Infantry (Prince Albert's).

In 1858, during the Indian Mutiny at Azumgurh, India, Private Carlin carried out the deed for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross:

The Commander-in-Chief in India directs that the undermentioned Soldier, of the 13th Foot, be presented, in the name of Her Most Gracious Majesty, with a Medal of the Victoria Cross, for valour and daring in the field, viz.: Private Patrick Carlin, No 3611, of the 13th Foot, for rescuing, on the 6th of April, 1858, a wounded Naick of the 4th Madras Rifles, in the field of battle, after killing, with the Naick's sword, a mutineer sepoy, who fired at him whilst bearing off his wounded comrade on his shoulders.
Patrick Carlin died in the Belfast Union Infirmary on 11th May, 1895, and was buried in the Friar's Bush graveyard, Stranmillis Road, Belfast. There is no memorial.

His Victoria Cross is displayed at The Somerset Light Infantry Museum, Taunton, Somerset.

First published in May, 2013.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Yakety Sax!

Last night we had hoped to dine at Avenida restaurant, Corralejo, though it was fully booked by six forty-five and there was a queue.

Consequently, we opted instead to walk the short distance to Calle Iglesia, where the street band La Familia Flotante would be performing later.

My friends and I ate at an Italian street restaurant called, I think, El Burro Loco.

Corralejo has a large Italian community.

We all had pasta and the wine, a little Sicilian number, was dearer than the food.

I find that pasta tends to cool very rapidly if the plate or dish is not hot.

Don't tell me that scorching hot plates are banned for Health & Safety reasons!

At any rate the meal was perfectly satisfactory, as was the €22 bottle of white wine.

Thereafter we strolled up the street to the Bar Bouganville and found ringside seats or, to be more precise, rattan chairs, for the performance by La Familia Flotante.

This great band consists of saxophonist, guitarist, drummer, tom-tom player, and female singer.

The final piece is usually Yakety Sax, better known as the Benny Hill theme tune.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

New DL


Mr Denis Desmond CBE, Lord-Lieutenant of County Londonderry, has been pleased to appoint

County Londonderry

to be a Deputy Lieutenant of the said County, her Commission bearing date 29th October, 2015.

Daniel Cambridge VC


Daniel Cambridge (1820-82) was born at Carrickfergus, County Antrim, son of Archibald Cambridge and Bridget (nee Murray).

Attesting at Lisburn, County Antrim, in 1839, he gave his occupation as labourer. He is recorded as being 5' 8" tall, with a fresh complexion, dark grey eyes and brown hair.
He enlisted four days later, as a Driver and Gunner in the 4th Battalion, Royal Regiment of Artillery. Having served with 2nd Company, 4th Battalion, in Malta (1841-47), Cambridge was then posted to Canada with the 7th Battalion, in 1848.
In 1849, he married Ann Bigham, daughter of James Bigham, at Notre-Dame de Québec, Quebec, Canada.

In 1853, Cambridge's posting to Canada came to an end and he and Ann, now expecting their first child, found themselves on the way to England and the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, the home of the Royal Artillery.  

He was 35 years old and a bombardier in the Royal Regiment of Artillery when he carried out the actions during the Crimean War for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross.

On 8th September, 1855, at Sebastopol, Crimea, Cambridge volunteered for the spiking party on the assault on the Redan.

He remained with the party after being severely wounded twice, but had refused to leave until the general retirement was ordered, and even then he repeatedly went back into the open to carry wounded men to safety.

In the latter part of the day, he sprang forward to bring in another wounded man. While carrying the helpless infantryman to the safety of the trench, Cambridge was seen to stagger.

Subsequently, he was found to have been shot a third time, in his right jaw, and, incapacitated, he took no further part in the action.

...For having volunteered for the spiking party at the assault on the Redan, 8 September 1855, and continuing therewith, after being severely wounded; and for having, in the after part of the same day, gone out in front of the advanced trench, under a heavy fire, to bring in a wounded man, in performing which service, he was himself severely wounded a second time.
In 1857, Cambridge was promoted to Master Gunner with the 8th Coastal Battery, Athlone, County Roscommon; and in 1862 he was posted to Fort Tarbert, County Kerry.

Daniel Cambridge VC was pensioned as a Master Gunner after completing thirty-two years' service, in 1871.

In that same year he was appointed to The Queen's Bodyguard of the Yeomen of the Guard.

Yeoman Cambridge died from the wounds received in the Crimean War in 1882, at 57 Frederick Place, Plumstead, aged 62 years.

He was survived by his wife Ann, and their children William (born in Woolwich in 1854), Mary (Athlone 1857), Agnes (Athlone 1859), Daniel (Athlone 1861), Catherine (Tarbert 1865) and Elizabeth (Tarbert 1865).

His Victoria Cross is displayed at the Royal Artillery Museum, Woolwich, London.

First published in May, 2013.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Ugly Duckling: III

I spent a delightful evening yesterday with friends at The Ugly Duckling restaurant in Corralejo, Fuerteventura.

We arrived at eight o'clock.

Henrik welcomed us warmly, as usual, and poured us a refreshing glass of Cava.

We decided to have two starters between he three of us: garlic prawns, and the green salad.

I chose the pork tenderloin, with creamed potato, spinach, and béarnaise butter.

We drank Rioja wine.

Henrik was ever the exemplary host, attending to our needs regularly.

Our meal concluded with a little shot glass of Henrik's own licorice liqueur.

Thence we walked round the corner of the street to a little pavement café, where we had coffee and enjoyed an outstanding performance by a local band, the saxophonist of whom seems to be the leader.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

The Constitutional

Taking the Constitutional in the morning, I frequently pass Corralejo's long-established Avenida restaurant.

The unassuming Avenida is off the beaten tourist track; though those enlightened cognoscenti know the reason for its deserved celebrity.

Further along the street, windmills are now a feature of the old town.

The first boutique hotel opened about a year ago. Today a second one is taking shape along the promenade at an old quay.

There once was an ugly duckling ...

... soon to be transformed at the premises of the erstwhile Café Lounge Bar where Stefan was Mine Host for many years.

This handsome little two-seater MG stood outside an apartment block en route.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Charles Davis Lucas VC


Charles Davis Lucas was born in 1834, son of David and Elizabeth (Hill) Lucas.

His family lived at Druminargle House, Scarva, County Armagh,

His ancestors had originally come from England in the 17th century and were once major landowners in County Monaghan, seated at Castle Shane.

Druminargle House

Charles Lucas enlisted in the Royal Navy, aged 13; and five years later, aged 18, he saw active service in the Burma War of 1852-53, being awarded the India Medal.

The incident for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross occurred during the Crimea War, which broke out in 1854.

Although the main area of the war was the Crimean Peninsula, significant hostilities took place in other places, particularly in the Baltic Sea.

Lucas was a mate on HMS Hecla, a wooden battleship, part of the fleet of warships dispatched to blockade the Russian Baltic Fleet and divert their resources away from the Crimea.

On the evening of 21st June, 1854, HMS Hecla, HMS Odin and HMS Valorous attacked the large fortress on Bomarsund in the Aland islands which guarded the entrance to the Gulf of Bothnia.

During the fierce action, which lasted most of the night, the Hecla closed on the fortress, within the range of the Russian guns.

  ...... at the height of the action a live shell landed on Hecla's upper deck, with its fuse still hissing. All hands were ordered to fling themselves flat on the deck, but Mr Lucas with great presence of mind ran forward and hurled the shell into the sea, where it exploded with a tremendous roar before it hit the water. Thanks to Mr Lucas's action no one was killed or seriously wounded.
For his bravery Lucas was instantly promoted to Acting Lieutenant RN, at the time the only method of recognizing acts of bravery for those of his rank.

Lucas's action, together with other individual acts of bravery, was widely reported and in December of that year it was proposed in Parliament
"that an Order of Merit to persons serving in the army or navy for distinguished and prominent personal gallantry to which every grade should be admissible" should be created.
This was supported by the Government and on 26th June, 1857, at the inaugural ceremony, the Victoria Cross was presented to Lieutenant Lucas by The Queen.

In his subsequent career Lucas's commands included HMS Liffey, HMS Edinburgh and HMS Calcutta.

He was later promoted to the rank of Rear-Admiral in command of HMS Indus before retiring from the senior service.

In 1879, he married Frances, daughter of Admiral Sir William Hutcheon Hall KCB, who had been Captain of HMS Hecla in 1854.

Admiral Lucas settled in Great Culverden, Kent.

He died in 1914 and is buried in Mereworth, near Maidstone, in Kent.

First published in May, 2013.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Lighthouse Island

LIGHTHOUSE ISLAND, the second of the three Copeland Islands, is located three miles off the mouth of Belfast Lough, and is an Area of Special Scientific Interest.

The island covers an area of 24 acres.

The common name of the islands came from the family of Copeland who settled here in the 12th century in the time of John de Courcy, but the island had earlier connections with the monks of Bangor Abbey till 1612, when it became the property of Sir James Hamilton.

When it was occupied by Bangor Abbey, it was known for a time as John's Island, after a miscreant monk who refused to leave when the monastery closed its island retreat some four centuries or more ago.

He spent the remainder of his existance there as a hermit.

In 1770, David Ker, of Portavo, purchased the Copeland Islands.

Little is known of what happened on the island between 1884 and 1941.

It has been said that a woman lived there on her own, or in the early 20th century, surviving on rabbits which she shot.

It is most likely that rabbits were only introduced after 1884, because the lighthouse keepers were always keen gardeners.

The walled garden, built between 1812-16 by two stone-masons, who carved their names on the wall of the cave on the east cliff.

It has also been claimed that, during the 19th century, the walled garden contained a very fine, canker-free orchard of apple and pear trees. 

The original lighthouse and dwelling were built from stones quarried on the island by convicts.

When the tower was built, an iron chafer was erected on top of the three-storied building and the beacon fire came into operation around 1711.

The lighthouse was 44 feet high, standing on an elevation of almost 70 feet. A new light came into operation in 1796.

In 1815 a new 52-foot lighthouse was built, close to the original one.

The work was commenced in 1813 and the new light, equipped with 27 oil burning lamps set in silvered reflectors, 131 feet above high water and visible for sixteen miles, was first exhibited on the 24th January, 1815.

At sunrise on the morning of the 1st November, 1884, the ancient wick lamps of the fixed light on Lighthouse Island were extinguished for the last time; and the same evening Mew Island light and fog signal were brought into operation.

LIGHTHOUSE ISLAND was once inhabited: In 1742 there was a family on it.

In 1811 there were two families, comprising about fifteen islanders, some employed in looking after the light.

There was a single family on the island in 1875.

They looked after the light and there was a small boat harbour which was probably in the area of the present landing place.

The lighthouse station had two keepers with their wives and families in residence. New houses were built to accommodate them.

For island lighthouses of the time, life on Lighthouse Island was most tolerable: The island was large enough to support goats, sheep and pigs, as well as a donkey.

The two families were virtually self-sufficient in milk, mutton, pork and bacon.

Their walled garden provided ample vegetables; and their poultry gave them chicken for Sunday lunch, and eggs to complement their bacon for breakfast.

A weekly boat from Donaghadee brought provisions and mail.

For many years the island was leased to Robert McConkey for shooting rabbits and sea-birds.

Before the sporting season started, stores were ferried out to the island in readiness for the sportsmen who came out weekly.

In the season there was the harvesting of the eggs by the commercial egg collectors for market on the mainland, and within memory these have been on sale in the relevant season of the year. 

The first recorded ornithological visit was made in 1939 by Douglas Deane.

He dug out a breeding burrow, complete with egg (now in the Ulster Museum), in order to prove that Manx Shearwaters bred on the island.

Another leading ornithologist, Arnold Bennington, brought out parties of enthusiasts after the 2nd World War, between 1947-53, to evaluate the island as a suitable site for an observatory.

His last group, in 1953, was a class of Workers Educational Association adult students. They decided to establish an observatory.

Thus began Copeland Bird Observatory, with a singular lack of formality.

The proprietor of Lighthouse Island, Captain Ker of Portavo, had agreed to let the island for a peppercorn rent of one shilling.

In 1967, he leased the island to the National Trust for 999 years, on the understanding that the observatory could continue as tenants as long as the organization existed.

The observatory's structure was set up swiftly: Three Heligoland traps were erected; accommodation was secured within the derelict lighthouse buildings; and the British Trust for Ornithology sanctioned accreditation in 1956.

The lighthouse keepers' former premises and storehouse now accommodate the Copeland Bird Observatory volunteers; and there is a laboratory where migratory birds are captured for examination, ringing, weighing, recorded and then released all within a few minutes from capture to minimise distress.

This island is an important breeding site for Manx Shearwater and Eider.

The rabbits on the island are important to the breeding of the Manx Shearwater, as their grazing keeps a short sward that is desirable for the fledglings and their burrows provide nesting sites.

The island vegetation includes large areas of rank bracken, sea Campions, elder scrub and many more.

Lighthouse Island is now owned by the National Trust, though administered by volunteer wardens of the Copeland Bird Observatory, one of sixteen observatories throughout the British Isles, monitoring bird migration and sea-bird populations.

There is self-catering accommodation at very reasonable rates, in the form of male and female dormitories, with a few family rooms.

Bear in mind, though, that the observatory is not a guest-house, nor a bed & breakfast establishment!

Its prime role is as a bird observatory.

First published in September, 2012.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Lord Bingham's Theory

The Daily Telegraph published an interview given by George, Lord Bingham, only son and heir of the 7th Earl of Lucan, in September, 2012.

Lord Lucan likely committed suicide by drowning himself following the murder of family nanny Sandra Rivett, his son has said.

George Bingham said he was certain his father wished to "vanish for ever" and died in a small boat which sank to the bottom of the English Channel after drinking whisky and taking sleeping pills.

Lord Bingham spoke for the first time about the mysterious disappearance of his father in 1974. He has been unable to succeed to the titles because a death certificate has not been issued.

In his first in-depth interview about the murder, he insisted he was certain his father was not the killer, though he said that he did hope his father had been involved in some way as it would make him "feel better" about his disappearance.

Sandra Rivett, 29, was found dead at the Lucan home in Belgravia, London, in 1974, after being bludgeoned with a lead pipe.

The nanny's attacker turned on the Countess of Lucan, beating her severely before she managed to escape and raise the alarm at a nearby pub.

Lord Lucan's car was later found abandoned and soaked in blood in Newhaven, East Sussex, and an inquest jury declared that the nobleman was the killer a year later.

What happened to Lucan remains a mystery and he was officially declared dead by the High Court in 1999.

George Bingham, who was in the house with his siblings at the time of the attack, said it was "extraordinarily unlikely" that his father was the killer or paid somebody else to carry out the atrocity.

He believes his father lost all sense of perspective as he became increasingly worried about being blamed for the nanny's death:
"I think Dad felt backed into a terrible corner. I think he chose almost immediately to take his own life. He had such a huge sense of pride and couldn't bear to consider the horrendous storm that was coming. It was his intention, therefore, to vanish ... and vanish for ever."
Lord Bingham added:
"Dad adored boats. He even built a powerboat. As a seaman, he would have known that if you jump from a boat in the English Channel, you will bloat, float and be washed up with the tides. It seems very likely he would have had access to a small motor boat somewhere in Newhaven harbour.
He would have got on board with a bottle of whisky and some pills and taken it out to the 50 metre mark, the point where if you go down you're not going to come back up again, but not so far out that you are in the shipping lane."
The former merchant banker has said he would prefer that to trying to understand why his father had left the family for "no apparent reason".

Lord Bingham continued,
"I've always thought it extraordinarily unlikely my father went into our family home, wandered down and killed anybody with a piece of lead piping for the love of his children, while those very children might well have come downstairs and witnessed this appalling carnage."
He also dismissed the possibility of a contract killer being involved, but added he had no idea of the extent of his father's involvement or his guilt.

First published in September, 2012.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Ugly Duckling: II

I dined at The Ugly Duckling again last night.

Henrik, the proprietor, welcomed me cordially and I had an opportunity to have a brief chat with him about his plans to relocate to new and improved premises on Calle Pulpo.

I remember the former Café Lounge-Bar, which will be the new location of The Ugly Duckling in 2016.

I used to frequent it a dozen years ago when it was owned by Stefan.

Stefan employed an Australian chef called Sean, quite a character.

Sean told me that he used to live and work in Belfast, at Bonnie's café opposite the Ulster Museum.

In his colourful language he remarked that "Bonnie did a flit" and it became Café Conor.

He lived in a street off Botanic Avenue.

ENOUGH of that. Back to my meal last night.

I started with the delicious Green Salad.

My main course was the chicken, which I had with whole potatoes, spinach, and rich béarnaise butter.

Henrik had poured me a refreshing flute of Cava.

Having settled up I ambled the short distance to Bar Bouganville on Calle Iglesia.