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Historic Building Details

HB Ref No:

Extent of Listing:
Tower, adjoining walls, and stone garden steps

Date of Construction:
1880 - 1899

Address :
Remains of Antrim Castle Antrim Castle Gardens Randalstown Road Antrim, Co Antrim

Town Parks

Survey 2:

Date of Listing:
28/03/1980 00:00:00

Date of De-listing:

Current Use:
Country House

Former Use
Country House

Conservation Area:

Industrial Archaeology:





OS Map No:

IG Ref:
J1448 8673

Owner Category

Exterior Description And Setting

A tall hexagonal stone tower in ‘castle style’ with the ends of adjoining walls abutting it on three sides. Former entrance, now walled up, faces west. Tower built of roughly coursed snecked blackstone rubble with granite quoins to the corners; moulded granite stringcourses forming slight off-sets at the two lower stages; moulded granite cornice; granite blocking course and granite crenellations bearing trefoil sinkings. There are small narrow coupled arch-headed windows, of ‘bifore’ type, set in rectangular panels of granite, at various heights in some of the faces, those in the lower stages being walled up. The entrance is a narrow four-centred Gothic archway at ground level in the west face, now walled up with random blackstone rubble. Abutting the tower at various heights are the ends of walls of the former castle, partly of blackstone rubble, partly of brickwork, and partly smooth cement rendered. The wall on the west side retains some granite quoins; the wall to the east retains part of a window reveal and a drip moulding, part of the main south façade of the former castle. On the north-west side there is a modern concrete platform on a rubble stone base set occupying the angle between two of the walls, arranged to form an outdoor stage: approached by short narrow flights of steps. On the south side there is a broad flight of stone garden steps attached to one corner of the tower communicating between lower and higher levels of the grassed areas of the grounds. SETTING: The tower and its adjoining elements stands in an open grassy area of the castle gardens close to the bank of the Six Mile Water River but set back from it behind a rubble stone wall. On the opposite side of the river, overlooking the tower, is a modern leisure centre. The tower is approached on foot through Antrim Castle Gardens with pedestrian access from Dublin Road, and vehicular access from Randalstown Road.


Not Known

Historical Information

Tower built for John Foster, 11th Viscount Massereene and Ferrard, as part of Antrim Castle, reputedly in 1887; adjoining walls of uncertain date. Castle burnt out in 1922 and its ruins demolished in 1970 except for this tower and its adjoining walls. Architect of tower not recorded but it may be attributed to William Fennell who was employed by the 11th Viscount elsewhere in Antrim in the 1880s and 1890s (including a design for a gatelodge in 1884, and the forge at Massereene in 1887). Antrim Castle was built originally 1613 by Hugh (later Sir Hugh) Clotworthy, an important English settler. Previously he is reputed to have built an artillery fort in 1596 just to the east of the new castle site. The exact extent and appearance of the 1613 castle is uncertain. It was reputedly rebuilt in 1662 by Hugh Clothworthy’s son John who took an active part in the restoration of Charles II, for which services he was created the 1st Viscount Massereene; it had a 5-bay, 3-storey recessed entrance front flanked by projecting square end bays, facing east, with a long side elevation to the south overlooking the river with a series of gables (as depicted in a painting by Sir Richard Colt Hoare in 1806). This was in turn rebuilt or remodelled by the 4th Earl of Massereene in 1812-13 (the earlier year being reported by Dubourdieu in 1812 and the later year having been inscribed on the entrance front). In its rebuilt form it appeared as a Georgian-Gothick castellated mansion, with a crenellated parapet added to its roof, narrow circular turrets added to the corners of the projecting end bays, the original Carolean doorway re-erected as the central feature of the entrance front, and the gables overlooking the river being replaced by a crenellated parapet. The architect of the 1812-13 remodelling has not been recorded: the work has been attributed in the past to John Bowden but only on circumstantial evidence of his supposed authorship of the ‘barbican’ gate-house (HB20/08/005) for which he actually appears not to have been the architect. A possible attribution could be made in favour of Richard Morrison and his son William Vitruvius Morrison on the evidence of the inclusion of a view of Antrim Castle in Neale’s ‘Views of Seats’ which publicised a number of their commissions and drew on information and drawings supplied by them. Transomed and mullioned bays were added to the long river front elevation later in the 19th century, but whether before or at the same time as the hexagonal tower was added at its western end in 1887, is uncertain. The castle was destroyed in 1922 when, during a grand ball on 28th October, a fire swept through the castle. It stood as a ruin until 1970 when it was deemed unsafe and was demolished except for the hexagonal tower and its adjoining ends of walls which remain in position, and the cut stonework of the ornamented entrance frontispiece which was dismantled and put in storage with the intention of re-erecting it in a suitable position in the grounds. The frontispiece was the most elaborate element of the whole castle exterior and depicted family arms, mottoes, and events connected with the castle and its proprietors. At the top was a sculptured head of Charles I; immediately underneath were the royal arms with ‘C’ on one side of the crown and ‘R’ on the other; below that were two shields, one with the arms of Sir Hugh Clotworthy the founder of the castle, and the other of Mary Langford his wife, flanked by the inscribed words ‘Castrum Hoc Cond’, ‘Decimo Maii’, and ‘Anno Domini 1613’, above the initials ‘HC’ and ‘MC’; between the initials was the inscription ‘Renov. C. Comes Massereene MDCCXIII’, which was placed there by Chichester, 4th Earl of Massereene in 1813; between this inscription and the doorcase was a rectangular panel containing a blind semi-circular archway containing a circular panel inscribed with the words ‘Hoc Castellum Auspice Joanne Clotworthy Undecimo Vice Comite Massereene Refectum Et Amplificatum Est A.D. MDCCCLXXXIX’, a sculptured coat of arms, and a sculptured cartouche. This entire rectangular panel above the doorcase does not appear in Neale’s view of the castle in 1825. This appears to be an error on Neale's behalf as there is an illustration of a drawing by Mark Kerr in 1811 that shows the frontispiece in place at that date. It is possible that the later inscriptions of 1813 and 1889 were added to the frontispiece. The later one by John Foster, 11th Viscount Massereene, 4th Viscount Ferrard, in 1889 marking the completion of his alterations in the late 1880s. The grounds of the castle were laid out with formal gardens in the late 17th or early 18th century, and included long canals and circular ponds (HB20/08/054) which still survive, parterres which have disappeared and then been recreated or have been remodelled (HB20/08/002), a remodelled early medieval motte which still exists, and an 18th century stone bridge leading to parkland on the opposite side of the river (HB20/08/003). Stone rampants and bastion walls which pre-dated the building of Antrim Castle still survive (HB20/08/055). In the 19th century a gatehouse was built in 1818 forming the main entrance to the demesne from the town (HB20/08/005), and a stable block, later known as Clotworthy House was built c 1840 (HB20/08/004). The tower and its adjoining walls stand within the area of an ancient monument, SMR no.ANT 174. References – Primary Sources 1. OS Map 1832, Co Antrim 50 2. OS Map 1857, Co Antrim 50. 3. OS Map 1921, Co Antrim 50 (shows this addition). 4. Original photographs in Welch Collection, Ulster Museum: W01/04/8 and 10. 5. Original photographs in Green Collection, Ulster Folk and Transport Museum. Secondary Sources 1. Lady Llanover, ed., The Autobiography and Correspondence of Mary Granville, Mrs Delany (London, 1861), Vol III, p 517 (gives Mrs Delany’s observations in 1758). 2. J. Dubourdieu, Statistical survey of the county of Antrim (Dublin, 1812), p 470. 3. J.P. Neale, Views of Seats (1825). 4. Ordnance Survey Memoirs of Ireland, Vol 29: Parishes of County Antrim XI, 1832-3, 1835-9 (Belfast, 1995), pp 6, 10-11, 49. 5. S. Lewis, A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland (London, 1837), Vol 1, p 38. 6. J.B. Doyle, Tours in Ulster: a handbook to the antiquities and scenery of the north of Ireland (Dublin, 1854), p 119. 7. C.H. O’Neill, ‘Antrim Castle’, reprinted from the Dublin University Magazine (Dublin, 1860). 8. W. McComb, McComb’s guide to Belfast, the Giant’s Causeway, and adjoining districts (Belfast, 1861), pp 50-51. 9. G.H. Bassett, The Book of Antrim (Dublin, 1888), p 255. 10. W.T. Pike, ed., Belfast and the Province of Ulster in the 20th Century (Brighton, 1909), p 192. 11. D.O’D. Hanna, The Face of Ulster (London, 1952), p 57. 12. K. McNally, ‘Only ruins recall the romance’, Belfast News Letter, 8 September 1967. 13. F. Pyle, ‘Massereene Castle’, The Irish Times, 16 September 1967, p 6. 14. UAHS, Antrim and Ballymena (Belfast, 1969), pp 1, 6. 15. W.D. Girvan, ‘The Forgotten Garden’, Ulster Garden Handbook (1974). 16. M. Bence-Jones, Burke’s Guide to Country Houses, Vol 1: Ireland (London, 1978), p 6. 17. A. Smyth, The Story of Antrim (Antrim 1984), pp 48-52, 78-81. 18. C.E.B. Brett, Buildings of Country Antrim (Belfast, 1996), pp 12 and 71. 19. J. Hanna, Old Antrim (Catrine, Ayrshire, 2002), pp 32 and 33.

Criteria for Listing

Architectural Interest

A. Style B. Proportion C. Ornamentation H-. Alterations detracting from building J. Setting K. Group value

Historic Interest

X. Local Interest V. Authorship


This is a late Victorian tower which was built as an addition to the rear of Antrim Castle, but following the demolition of the rest of the castle in 1970, now stands as the only surviving part of the castle and is thus imbued with a significance beyond its own intrinsic architectural merits. As well as providing the only visible and tangible evidence on site of what had been a very important country house, it also now forms an evocative and romantic element in the castle gardens.

General Comments

Date of Survey

06 November 2004