Kilwaughter Castle, Antrim
|Kilwaughter Castle, showing the central three-bay block that represents the original house of 1622.|
Image: Ulster Architectural Heritage Society. Licenced under a Creative Commons licence.
In 1803-07, Edward Jones Agnew, a Belfast merchant, employed John Nash to build a larger house in his romantic castle style. Although a great deal bigger than its predecessor, Nash's Kilwaughter was still quite modest in scale as early 19th century castles go. In addition to the old tower and the staircase hall, the house had just three main rooms on the ground floor: the saloon in the round tower, a library adjoining it, and the dining room beyond that. In form, the castle is very similar to others which Nash designed, particularly West Grinstead Park in Sussex, of 1809; the round tower also links the house back to his iconic Italianate villa at Cronkhill in Shropshire, built in 1802, just before work began at Kilwaughter. Not all the towers and turrets were necessarily part of Nash's design: in 1840 'the small turret in front' was said to be only fifteen years old. This cannot be identified with certainty, but Millar & Nelson are said to have worked on the house as well as designing the lodge, so one of the turrets could be their addition.
Perhaps the most distinctive features of Nash's Kilwaughter were the bartisan turrets at the angles - perhaps intended to suggest the Scots origins of the Agnews - and the Gothic tracery of the windows, which was of wood and added in front of regular sash windows, no doubt making the main rooms unusually gloomy. The house also has unusual carved stone windowsills, which were probably an addition to the design determined on site and perhaps without the sanction of Nash.
|Nash's Kilwaughter Castle from the south-west in the early 20th century.|
|The south front of Kilwaughter Castle in the late 19th century.|
The decision to employ Nash almost certainly followed from Agnew seeing Killymoon Castle, built for his Stewart cousins in 1801-02, which again has many similarities to Kilwaughter. Although the interiors of Kilwaughter have now all been lost, they are reasonably well recorded in a set of Victorian photographs held at the University of Delaware, some of which are reproduced below; they depict the castle when it was let to the Galt Smith family, who were here until after the First World War.
|Entrance hall, Kilwaughter Castle. Image: University of Delaware|
|Staircase hall, Kilwaughter Castle. Image: University of Delaware.|
|Saloon in Nash's round tower, Kilwaughter Castle. Image: University of Delaware.|
The house is surrounded by a new parkland landscape designed about the same time as the house, and possibly the work of the landscape gardener John Sutherland. The extensive shelter belts have been depleted and many parkland trees have been lost, but the bones of the layout are still identifiable. There is an ice house near the lake, which was created as a result of massive damming, but which is now in danger of silting up. The main entrance gates were designed by Nash, c.1807, but the adjoining lodge, a picturesque cottage with bargeboards and latticed windows, is of c.1835 and possibly by Millar and Nelson.
Descent: Sir Patrick Agnew, 1st bt. (c.1587-1661); to son, Sir Andrew Agnew, 2nd bt. (d. 1671); to son, Sir Andrew Agnew, 3rd bt. (d. 1702); to som, Sir James Agnew, 4th bt. (d. 1735), who sold 1708 to his kinsman Patrick Agnew (d. 1724); to son Patrick Agnew; to son, William Agnew (fl. 1760); to grandson, Edward Jones (later Agnew) (d. 1834); to son, William Agnew (1824-91); to niece, Augusta Simon, wife of Count Ugo Balzani; to daughter Gwendolen Balzani (d. 1957), wife of M. Valensin; to daughter, Georgia Valensin (d. 1969); to aunt, Nora Balzani (d. 1975); sold 1982 to Frank Ferguson. The house was let to James Agnew in the 1830s and to the Galt-Smith family (who were also descended from Valentine Jones) in the late 19th century.
The Agnews of Kilwaughter
An account of the Agnews of Lochnaw will be given in the next post.
Agnew, Patrick (fl. 1622) of Kilwaughter. He was a kinsman of Sir Patrick Agnew of Lochnaw, but their precise relationship has not been established. He may have been a son of Patrick Agnew of Sheuchan, second son of Patrick Agnew (1529-91) of Lochnaw, in which case they would have been first cousins. He married Janet Shaw and had issue including:
(1) Capt. Andrew Agnew (1586-c.1659) (q.v.).
He was settled after 1613 as rent-collector on the Kilwaughter estate in co. Antrim owned by his cousin, Patrick Agnew of Lochnaw, and built the plantation house there in about 1622.
His date of death is unknown.
Agnew, Capt. Andrew (1586-c.1659) of Kilwaughter. Son of Patrick Agnew (fl. 1622) and his wife Janet Shaw, born 1586. He married Eleanor Shaw of Ballygally (Antrim) and had issue:
(1) Patrick Agnew (d. 1686) (q.v.);
(2) Capt. Francis Agnew (d. 1681).
He succeeded his father as sub-tenant and rent collector on the Kilwaughter estate (confiscated 1648-52).
He died after 1654 and before the end of 1659.
Agnew, Patrick (d. 1686) of Kilwaughter. Son of Capt. Andrew Agnew (1586-c.1659) and his wife Eleanor Shaw of Ballygally. He married and had issue including:
(1) Patrick Agnew (d. 1724) (q.v.).
He succeeded his father as sub-tenant and rent collector on the Kilwaughter estate.
He died in 1686, and his will was proved in the consistory court of the diocese of Connor.
Agnew, Patrick (d. 1724) of Kilwaughter. Son of Patrick Agnew (d. 1686). He was among the Protestant Irish landowners attainted by King James II in 1689. He married and had issue:
(1) Patrick Agnew (fl. c.1740) (q.v.);
(2) Margaret Agnew, m. James Crawford;
(3) Jean Agnew, m. Robert Blair of Blairmount;
(4) Helen Agnew, m. 1709 James Stewart (1665-1726) of Killymoon Castle.
He succeeded his father as sub-tenant and rent collector on the Kilwaughter estate, but in 1708 purchased the lease from his kinsman, Sir James Agnew of Lochnaw.
He died in 1724. His will was proved 1 July 1725.
Agnew, Patrick (fl. c.1740) of Kilwaughter. Son of Patrick Agnew (d. 1724). An elder of Larne Presbyterian Church and delegate to the General Synod of Ulster, 1726. He married Martha or Margaret Houston and had issue:
(1) William Agnew (fl. c.1760) (q.v.);
(2) Frances Agnew, married and had issue;
(3) John Agnew, married and had issue;
(4) James Agnew;
(5) Patrick Agnew;
(6) Henry Agnew, m. Grace Harries and had issue;
(7) Hugh Agnew.
He inherited the Kilwaughter estate from his father in 1724.
His date of death is unknown, but probably took place before 1750.
Agnew, William (fl. c.1750-75) of Kilwaughter. Son of Patrick Agnew (fl. c.1740) and his wife Martha or Margaret Houston. A strong supporter of the Presbyterian church, who wrote into his tenants' leases a requirement for them to contribute to the support of the Presbyterian minister at Larne. High Sheriff of Co. Antrim, 1774. He married Margaret Stewart (b. 1712) of Killymoon Castle (Tyrone), and had issue:
(1) James Agnew, died young;
(2) William Agnew, died young;
(3) Maria Agnew (q.v.);
(4) Jane Agnew, m. Henry Shaw of Ballygally.
He inherited the Kilwaughter estate from his father in the mid 18th century.
His date of death is unknown.
Jones (née Agnew, then Ross), Maria (fl. later 18th cent.). Elder daughter of William Agnew (fl. c.1760) and his wife Margaret Stewart of Killymoon Castle, born about 1735. She married first, James Ross, banker and West India merchant (d. c.1763) and second, October 1763, his business partner, Valentine Jones (1711-1804), and had issue:
(1.1) A child, died young;
(1.2) A child, died young;
(2.1) Margaret Jones (c.1763-1848), lived with her brother at Kilwaughter Castle and managed the estate after his death; died unmarried, 1848;
(2.2) Edward Jones (later Agnew) (1767-1834) (q.v.).
Her date of death is unknown.
Agnew (né Jones), Edward (1767-1834), of Kilwaughter. Only son of Valentine Jones and his wife Maria, daughter of William Agnew and widow of James Ross, born 1767. Educated at Harrow, Trinity College Dublin (admitted 1785; BA 1788) and Trinity College, Cambridge (admitted 1788). MP for County Antrim in the Irish Parliament, 1792-97. High Sheriff of Co. Antrim, 1803. He married and had issue:
(1) James Agnew (d. 1826); died 7 August 1826;
(2) William Agnew (1824-91) (q.v.);
(3) Maria Agnew (d. 1857), m. Thomas Collins Simon and had issue a daughter, Maria Augusta Simon (q.v.); died 8 May 1857.
He inherited the Kilwaughter estate from his grandfather in the late 18th century, and rebuilt the house to the designs of John Nash, 1803-07.
He died in March 1834. Will proved in Dublin.
Agnew, William (1824-91) of Kilwaughter. Second but eldest surviving son of Edward Jones Agnew (1767-1834) and his wife, born 1824, and widely known as "Squire Agnew". Member of the Royal Dublin Society, 1848-72. JP for County Antrim, but in 1877 was said 'to reside almost constantly in Paris'. He died unmarried.
He inherited the Kilwaughter estate from his father in 1834 at the age of ten and it was managed by his aunt until her death in 1848.
He died in Paris sometime before March 1891 (he was reputedly murdered).
Balzani (né Simon), (Maria) Augusta (1847-95). Daughter of T.C. Simon and his wife Maria, daughter of Edward Jones Agnew (1767-1834), born 3 November 1847. She married 1878 Count Ugo Balzani (1847-1916), son of Andrea Balzani, and had issue:
(1) Gwendolen Balzani (later Valensin) (d. 1957) (q.v.);
(2) Nora Balzani (1883-1975), born 21 September 1883; died 17 November 1975; buried in the Protestant Cemetery in Rome.
She inherited the Kilwaughter estate from her brother in 1891.
She died 3 July 1895, and was buried in the Protestant Cemetery in Rome.
Valensin (né Balzani), Gwendolen (d. 1957). Daughter of Count Ugo Balzani and his wife (Maria) Augusta, daughter of T.C. Simon, born about 1880. She married Guido Valensin and had issue:
(1) Giorgia Valensin (d. 1969), possibly the lady of this name who translated a collection of ancient Chinese poems into Italian (1943); died unmarried and intestate, 28 November 1969.
She inherited the Kilwaughter estate from her mother in 1895, but lived mainly in Italy and is said to have visited it only occasionally. After her death it passed to her unmarried daughter and then to her sister, Nora.
She died 15 January 1957.
Sir Andrew Agnew, The hereditary sheriffs of Galloway, 1893, pp. 46-60; Sir J. Summerson, The life and work of John Nash, 1980, p.45; M. Mansbridge, John Nash, 1991, pp. 138-39; C.E.B. Brett, Buildings of County Antrim, 1996, pp. 94-95; G. Tyack (ed.), John Nash: architect of the Picturesque, 2013, pp. 45, 159.
Location of archives
Agnew family of Kilwaughter: deeds, leases and wills, 1703-1879 (PRONI 1/902/2-62); conveyances and leases c.1800-40 (PRONI T528/2/31); estate maps, 1788 (PRONI T2309/1); estate papers c.1647-c.1800 (PRONI D282/2-160); estate correspondence c.1800-1900 (PRONI D668); estate papers c.1920-40 (PRONI D971).