Monday, 12 September 2016

THROUGH MY LENS - The Argory (Part 4)

Today instead of showing you more of the inside (lots more to come) I thought I would show you the outside of The Argory, in County Armagh and a little  bit about the history of the house and family that lived  there. So come with me as I show you many aspects of this wonderful house.

If Walter McGeough’s sisters had married, The Argory might never have been built.  Walter (1790 – 1866) was the second son of Joshua McGeough, whose family had owned The Argory lands – then known as Derrycaw –  , since foreclosing on a mortgage on the property in 1740.  Derrycaw was tenanted, the McGeough family home was Drumsill, near Armagh City.

When Joshua died in 1817, his eldest son only received £400 while Drumsill Estate and Derrycaw went equally to Walter and his 3 sisters.  However the will stipulated that Walter was not to live in Drumsill as long as 2 of his sisters remained unmarried.  Indeed this is what happened as the 2 spinsters died at Drumsill. 

So Walter decided to build a new country house for himself overlooking the River Blackwater at Derrycaw (view of river below).  The result was The Argory, a stark 2 storey house with an octagonal pavilion to the north, linked to the main block by a single- storey passage and was completed in 1824.

These are some of the group being shown the gardens 
as they mounted the steps at the front of the house.

Over the next 10 years, The Argory became a family home.  Walter married Mary Joy of Belfast in 1826 however she died 3 years later after giving birth to a daughter.  In 1830 he married Ann Smyth and they had 1 daughter and 5 sons.  

In 1834, he remodelled and extended the original building.  The low passage was raised by one storey: a new 12 bay wing containing domestic offices was added to the north, adjoining the pavilion and the entrance was moved from the west to the east front of the house, where a new portico was added.

Two brothers were the architects, Arthur and John Williamson and although the inside has being beautifully designed, their handling of  the Neo -classical  exterior was less confident.  The squat, oddly proportioned west portico, for example was either charmingly naïve or downright clumsy, depending on your point of view.

After Walter died, his second son Ralph inherited The Argory in 1866 but changed the family name to Shelton in 1873.  He, Captain Shelton was a very distinguished military career, and was one of the first men to survive the wreck of the Birkenhead off the coast of S. Africa in 1852.  There was sufficient lifeboats for only the women and children and most of the crew died in shark infested waters but Shelton made the 5 hour swim to the shore and safety.

In 1898, The Argory has a disastrous fire gutting the north wing and octagon corridor but the main house was intact.  However he decided to to rebuilt the 12 bays into 6 smaller bays and raised the octagon corridor to create a more unified appearance with the main house and pavilion.  He also converted the house to acetylene gas and enlarged the Drawing and Billiard rooms.

When Shelton died in 1916 having had no children, The Argony passed to his nephew  Walter Adrian MacGeough Bond who was the Vice-President to the Court of Appeal in Cairo and gained a knighthood for his services.  His wife, Lady Ada was responsible for buying a lot of the continental furniture for the house. 

Sir Walter died in 1945 and his son, Walter Albert Nevill MacGeough Bond  was the last family member to own The Argory and he gave the house to the National Trust in 1979 and he died in 1986

I hope you enjoyed both the photographs and history of this beautiful house.

I am linking this post with THROUGH MY LENS.

Many thanks for visiting today and also to all those who leave comments.


  1. Very interesting history. Love the house, and even the bench!

  2. What a beautiful place - and how nice that it is now owned by the National Trust.

  3. Good morning Margaret. Thank you for that very interesting and informative tour of The Arfory. Lovely photos too.

  4. Foto sempre eccellenti e molto interessante e affascinante la storia. E' un luogo magnifico!!!!!

  5. That building is older than the city I live in!

  6. Very interesting history of this beautiful place.

  7. Hello Margaret, what a beautiful building. A great tour and photos! Happy Monday, enjoy your new week!

  8. Thank you for your photos and excellent history of this house.

  9. Very interesting! Name changes can be a bit of an obstacle for ancestry buffs! happened in my husband's paternal side of the family.

  10. Margaret, I have really enjoyed seeing this gorgeous home... What a fantastic history... Thanks for taking the time to share this with us... I will probably never get to Ireland --but I love reading about that country and its history--and the beautiful landscape... GORGEOUS.


  11. Lovely photo tour of this beautiful historic home.

  12. thanks for this interesting post - i enjoyed reading and looking at your beautiful pics :-)

  13. Sensational pictures and very interesting place.
    Margaret, thank you very much, that you share with us.
    Kisses and greetings.

  14. such an interesting place...beautiful images!!!