After we’d had a last look around the grounds of the Argory, we drove over to another National Trust property, Springhill, which was about 30 minutes drive away in the direction of our hotel. It’s another example of the type of dwelling owned by the gentry rather than the nobility.
The house was built by William ‘Good-Will’ Conyngham as part of his marriage contract to Anne Upton in 1680 to ‘erect a convenient dwelling house of lime and stone, two stories high, with necessary office houses, gardens and orchards’.
The Conynghams were another family of Protestant settlers and it’s likely that the first house on the site would have been fortified (we saw a number of this type of dwelling later in the week) as the natives they displaced didn’t always take too kindly to their land being occupied. The family had a habit of naming their sons William (a good Protestant name!) so nicknames are used to differentiate between them.
Springhill was given as a gift to the National Trust in 1957 by Captain William Lenox-Conyngham shortly before his death. Neither he nor his brother had any children to whom they could leave the estate.
The house is rather different than the neo-Classical Argory, being of a more vernacular Ulster farmhouse style. The original part of the house is two storeys high, with seven bays and a steeply pitched roof. The two single storey flanking wings were a later addition. In front of the building are two projecting single story buildings with Dutch style gables. Apparently this was quite fashionable in Ulster during the 17th Century– no doubt influenced by King Billy.
This is the back of the house. Less symmetrical mainly due to later additions.
The visit to the house is by hourly guided tour. Once again the guide was very knowledgeable and informative with some entertaining anecdotes and stories about the house and the family. I snapped a few pictures inside
This is the library (the wall of books rather gives that away, of course!)
The gun room. Given the nature of the times the owners would have needed the means to defend themselves
Note the very long barrelled gun stood up on the left of the chimney breast. The NT Website tells us
Springhill’s Long Gun was presented to Alderman James Lenox, after the Siege of Derry in 1689. He was onboard the ship Mountjoy that broke the boom and ended the siege. As well as being a close friend of “Good Will” Conyngham, the first gentleman of the house, his great-grandson George Lenox-Conyngham inherited the house through his mother Ann Conyngham, and was the gentleman who brought the two families together in his surname.
The house is situated in ample grounds with pleasant walled gardens
There’s also a Costume Collection displayed in the old laundry building.
Unfortunately time was pressing after our guided tour as the site closed at 5 so we only could take a brief walk around the grounds. A pity as the rain had eased off by now.
Despite the rain we’d had a good day. It was interesting to visit two more modest houses (relatively speaking) which gave a picture of the life of prosperous Presbyterian Plantation families in Ulster from the 17th to 20th Centuries