A Treasured Landscape

A Treasured Landscape

Edited by Ben Simon

Although the major part of this book is primarily of interest to the naturalist, there is much here also for the local and social historian. Comprehensive chapters by various authorities in their field deal with woods, meadows and wetlands, veteran trees, fungi, invertebrates, birds and mammals; and there are very detailed statistical records to fill these out in a series of appendices.

The history of the 600-acre estate from its creation by Arthur Hill in 1722, from parts of the townlands of Ballylenaghan, Breda and Galwally, to its subdivision today into the Belvoir Park Golf Course, Belvoir housing estate and the Belvoir Park Forest is admirably covered by Ben Simon himself, backed up by an impressive list of notes and references and by a wide range of contemporary paintings and early photographs.

Hill later became Viscount Dungannon, and the estate was sold in 1808 by the second viscount to three Belfast businessmen who sold it on to Robert Bateson, proprietor of Orangefield and Moira, in 1811. Bateson’s son, Sir Thomas, was created Lord Deramore in 1885, and following his death in 1890 the Deramores sold the contents of the mansion house in 1900 and moved to England. The estate was then leased to Walter Wilson, a partner in Harland and Wolff, subsequently to Sir James Johnston who had been Lord Mayor of Belfast, and finally, in 1934, to J. and W. Stewart Ltd, building developers. After a period of requisition by the Admiralty during the second World War, the interior of the most impressive 18th-century Belvoir House was considered to be too far decayed and it was blown up as a Territorial Army exercise in 1961! Its superb entrance gates and lodges were later swept away to accommodate the dual carriageway of the Knock ring road.

Ben Simon also contributes a chapter on the gardens of the house, and there is a chapter of memories from local people who knew the estate from 1900 up to the 1950s.

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