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Historic Building Details

HB Ref No:

Extent of Listing:
Country house, incorporating earlier castle, and including screen wall and pigeon tower to north, and boundary walling projecting from west end.

Date of Construction:
1800 - 1819

Address :
Kilwaughter Castle Kilwaughter Larne Co Antrim


Survey 2:

Date of Listing:
23/10/1979 00:00:00

Date of De-listing:

Current Use:
Country House

Former Use
Country House

Conservation Area:

Industrial Archaeology:





OS Map No:

IG Ref:
D3769 0146

Owner Category


Exterior Description And Setting

An asymmetrical 19th century 'castle style' building comprising various conjoined blocks of various storey heights and including square, circular and octagonal towers, with corner bartizan turrets and crenellations, all in a ruinous condition, and incorporating at its core the remains of a 17th century Plantation castle. Main entrance faces south. South front consists of a three-storey block, three windows wide, which was the original 17th century Plantation castle, with a single-storey wing to the left in the same plane, terminating in a three-storey square tower set back behind, and a canted entrance bay to the right, abutting a large three-storey circular tower on the corner with the east facade; a single-storey entrance porch occupies the angle between canted bay and corner tower. Wall finish is smooth cement render, lined, but some of it damaged or missing in places. Three-storey block has rendered finish of dull ochre colour, but original walling of basalt rubble is revealed at the base. Crenellated parapet above coved sandstone string course; two crenellations missing. Circular bartizan turret to left hand corner, smooth rendered, with narrow crenellations, damaged, rising from moulded sandstone corbel courses; narrow blind vertical slit, in imitation of a window. Windows in main wall of block are of rectangular shape to ground and first floor but square openings to top floor. Rectangular Tudor-style drip mouldings over windows originally, but some now damaged, with brick window heads now revealed. Cills of sandstone elaborately carved with scrolling leafage, but two cills now missing on ground floor at central window and right hand window. No window frames or glazing. Single-storey wing to left: smooth cement render is of a grey tone, missing in places to reveal core of red brickwork; plain unmoulded copings to crenellations of parapet; rectangular three-light window opening with rendered brick mullions and originally with rectangular drip moulding in Tudor-style but now damaged revealing deep timber window head, now rotting. Wall returns back for three crenellations to abut front face of recessed square end tower. Square tower built of basalt rubble originally finished with smooth cement render, now mostly missing to reveal red brick dressings around rectangular ground floor doorway and rectangular first floor window opening; now missing door and window framing. Narrow vertical slit to second floor, blocked by red and yellow brickwork. Crenellations to parapet with slate weatherings, carried on three slate corbel courses. Remnant of a cast iron downpipe still affixed to parapet. Canted bay to right of three-storey central block has similar wall finish, crenellations, and coved string course as previous to central block, but accommodates only two storeys. Rectangular window opening to first floor with drip moulding and carved sandstone cill as previous. In west facing side wall of bay, in corner with central block, a rectangular doorway opening at ground floor level, dressed in red brickwork with timber head revealed where rendered finish missing. Circular corner tower to right hand extremity has three storeys, finished in render of dull ochre tone, with battered base; render to base badly damaged revealing basalt and limestone rubble walling. Crenellated parapet in damaged condition, carried on machicolated sandstone corbels. Rectangular window openings, with drip mouldings and carved sandstone cills as previous, but first two ground floor windows from left to right now missing their cills. Second window from left at second storey is blind, blocked with original basalt rubble. Extreme right hand window to ground floor, which forms part of the east facade, is also blind, blocked with original basalt rubble and brickwork and still contains original timber window frame and some glazing bars. Entrance porch and vestibule, facing south, built of snecked basalt, originally with some portions of smooth cement outer render, lined, still remaining as well as some portions of rough preparatory render. Tudor-arched entrance in moulded sandstone, partly damaged to right hand reveal, set within segmental basalt arch; projecting sandstone string course of circular profile to each side of entrance returning into reveals. Flanking opening to each side is a blind recessed panel in shape of a medieval arrow-loop. In west facing side wall of vestibule, a rectangular window opening now without cill or drip moulding. East elevation comprises the large circular three-storey corner tower to left hand extremity, as already described, with a two-storey block abutting it to the right, five windows wide to the ground floor and three windows wide to the first floor, to the right of which is another two-storey block, three windows wide, set well back behind a screen wall and terminating in an octagonal tower on a square base. Circular corner tower has a rectangular basement window at junction with abutting two-storey block. Abutting two-storey block built of roughly squared basalt in rough courses, covered originally with smooth cement render, lined and blocked, much of which has fallen off; wall plane breaks forward slightly to right of third ground floor window from right; projecting coved sandstone string course at top of wall surmounted by plain crenellations in cement render, string course and crenellations partly broken off, circular bartizan turret to right hand extremity built with moulded sandstone corbel courses carrying a red brick core with smooth cement render now mostly fallen off; fragments of blue slates affixed to brickwork of bartizan. Window openings rectangular with original Tudor-style drip moulding intact only on extreme left hand window to ground floor. Original carved sandstone cills still in position to first floor and extreme right at ground floor. Extreme right ground floor window retains remnant of original Gothic tracery in wood, partly damaged, set in front of original window frame and sash boxes. Second window from left on ground floor was originally an oriel window; still retains moulded sandstone corbels to underside of oriel, as well as remnant of moulded sandstone framing to one side and cantilevered ironwork hoop to head of oriel; small Gothic lancet between corbels to light basement. To left of oriel corbels, a rectangular window opening to basement with splayed sandstone reveals; to the right of oriel corbels, basement window opening later enlarged by wall roughly broken through; to right of that, two rectangular window openings to basement, with moulded surrounds. The set-back two-storey block is built of basalt rubble with coved sandstone string course and plain parapet with all but end crenellations now missing. Three rectangular window openings, all with Tudor-style projecting drip mouldings and carved sandstone cills. Brick and stone dressings to jambs, with original external render finish now missing. Octagonal tower of three stages on top of square ground storey; all built of basalt rubble with smooth rendered finish. Plain projecting sandstone platband between ground and first floor, with coved string course between first and second floors, circular moulded string course between second and third floors, and machicolated sandstone cornice surmounted by sandstone crenellations, with most crenellations now missing to top of third storey. Rectangular window opening to front face of first floor, with carved sandstone cill of geometric pattern, and with Tudor-style drip moulding; to each side of window, on angled faces of tower, a splayed angle buttress. Quatrefoil window opening with chamfered sandstone surround in front face of second floor of tower, with blind recessed arrow-loop panels to each side of it, in angled faces of tower. Round headed lancet with chamfered reveals, carved sandstone cill of geometric pattern, and semi-circular drip moulding. Ground floor of octagonal tower and its adjoining two-storey block hidden behind a screen wall which is set back only slightly from main two-storey block, screen wall one storey high of unrendered basalt rubble with a parapet of large crenellations which extends well past the line of the octagonal tower to terminate in a slightly projecting square end tower which functioned originally as a pigeon house; crenellated parapet to end tower but much overgrown to upper half by branches of a tree to left growing up against face of screen wall. To left of tree, in line with right hand extremity of octagonal tower is a segmental arched opening blocked up with basalt rubble. North face of end tower blank; west face of end tower has rectangular window in flat arch to ground floor, later blocked by brickwork, with storey above now broken open and ruinous. South face of end tower has low doorway opening in flat arch. Upper area of interior walls contain square shaped recesses for pigeons. Extending westwards from the pigeon tower is a rubble stone wall with kitchen court behind it. Kitchen court boundaries are formed by rubble stone screen wall and pigeon tower to east; tall octagonal tower to south, built up against but not quite touching the eastern screen wall; rubble stone wall to north, finished in smooth cement render, but of deteriorated quality; and a series of roofless single-storey outbuildings to the west, built of rubble greystone with flat arches to doorway and window heads with some brick dressings to an extension at the south end. North elevation of castle, from left to right, comprises the octagonal tower as previously described, mainly unfenestrated to north and west except for some plain rectangular window openings; with a massive battered angle buttress to north-west corner, probably later addition, built of large roughly squared basalt blocks, with rendered finish to south face of buttress. To right of octagonal tower, the two-storey rendered rubble rear elevation of the 19th century house steps back in two stages, surmounted by a crenellated parapet with copings of what looks like stoneware, with the rear of the original 17th century castle set back beyond that. Rear elevation of 17th century castle finished in smooth cement render with 19th century crenellations to parapet but walls to each side of rectangular stair projection now mostly fallen. Rear elevation of east end of main block of original 17th century castle has rendered finish projecting out where it covers a portion of an original 17th century bartizan built of chalk rubble. To west end of main block of 17th century castle a portion of wall supporting a bartizan turret at its north-west corner still standing; built of limestone rubble to lower area; cement render still intact to upper area and bartizan. Extending to right of original 17th century castle, blank rear wall of west wing, separated from 17th century castle by deep crack, surmounted by crenellations, and terminating in square tower at right hand extremity as previously described on entrance front. Tower walling of basalt rubble with lime mortar, finished with smooth cement render, lined and blocked, but much of it missing. Rectangular doorway opening to ground floor with derelict 20th century door loosely fixed in position; rectangular window opening to left of door, without cill; rectangular window opening with plain sandstone cill and remnants of small paned timber sash still in position in first floor. Crenellated parapet as on other faces. West elevation to the extreme left, the rubble stone rear wall of the single-storey kitchen court outbuildings; wall blank except for a brick-dressed rectangular open doorway at the north end and a bricked up window at the south end; vertical breaks in the masonry, indicating three different phases of building; otherwise, the rest of the west elevation has similar elements to north, except for a view of a circular bartizan turret of rendered red brick on moulded corbel courses to rear elevation of east wing, similar in form and detail to the bartizans previously described. At northern and western extremities of the building as already described, boundary walls extend to enclose or link with farm buildings in the farm yard to the north. Extending to the north from the kitchen court is a rubble stone wall which links with the easternmost block of farm buildings. Extending to north from the square tower at the westernmost end of the south facade is a storey-high basalt rubble wall, which may be part of the original 17th century bawn wall (as thought by Jope) which is still partly later cement rendered on the inner face. Wall returns to the west as a boundary wall of basalt rubble and boulders with a limestone core with a number of holes in it at high level as well as a number of cast iron ties appearing; in partly ruinous state, possibly also part of original 17th century bawn wall (but not considered so by Jope); collapse apparent at east end where rubble strewn around inside yard; rear face of wall, facing into yard incorporates some large boulders as well as an unidentifiable rounded pier-like projection; a lean-to building formerly built against this inner face now removed. Well to the west, a Tudor-style archway of dressed sandstone, now closed by a later low rubble wall surmounted by iron railings, comprising wrought iron upright bars with decorative cast iron crestings. To west of Tudor archway, wall continues and curves southwards, and together with a correspondingly curved wall detached beyond, forms an open entrance to the two farm yards. Setting: the building is situated in its own extensive demesne, on gently sloping open grassland which rises to higher hills to the north and west, with associated farm buildings situated immediately to its rear and a modern house adjacent to the south-west.


Nash, John Millar & Nelson

Historical Information

Designed by John Nash and constructed in 1807 for Edward Jones, who took his grandfather’s name of Agnew when he succeeded to the Killwaughter Estate; incorporates the substantial remains of a 17th century tower house. Precise date and origin of tower house uncertain, but when it first became exposed due to dereliction in the 1950s it was identified as being of T-plan, four storeys in height, in Scottish style with corbelled bartizan turrets at the four main corners, originally with narrow slit windows which were later enlarged, with a staircase of scale-and-plat type in a central projection, to the north, and its original entrance adjacent to the stairs, in the north-east re-entrant angle. It may thus be considered comparable with Ballygally Castle, the other Scottish-style tower house in the district, which is dated 1625. The process of remodelling begun by Nash continued for some years, until at least 1830, when the oriel window on the east front was added; the chief architect was recorded in the Ordnance Survey Memoirs in 1840 as John Nash but Millar and Nelson of Belfast were apparently also employed as architects. Old photographs show that the Nash remodelling originally had elaborate Gothic-style timber tracery in all main windows on the south and east fronts. The single-storey block on the south front was inserted between the original 17th century castle and the square end tower sometime between 1832 and 1857. On Edward Jones Agnew’s death in 1834, ownership passed to his granddaughter who married her music teacher, an Italian called Balzani. On the death of Count Ugo Balzani in 1916, the property passed to his daughters Madame Gwendoline Valensin of Florence and her sister Signorina Nora Balzani of Rome. At the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, the sisters being resident in Italy, Killwaughter Castle was declared enemy holding by the Custodian of Enemy Property and was transformed into an army camp; various British regiments were based there and finally it became an American Transit Camp. It was occupied by the military until 1945 and then abandoned. In 1951 it was bought by E.H. McConnell (Metals) Ltd of Belfast who purchased it in order to recover lead, woodwork, slates and other fittings. Thereafter it was left to decay. The building incorporates a scheduled monument, no. ANT 40:8, and its area includes scheduled monuments, nos. ANT 40:7 and 40:46. References - Primary Sources 1. OS Map 1832, Co Antrim 40. 2. OS Map 1857, Co Antrim 40. 3. Ordnance Survey Memoirs of Ireland, Vol 10: Parishes of County Antrim III, (Belfast, 1991), pp 106, 107, 109, 117. 4. Photographs in Welch Collection, Ulster Museum (W01/65/1-3). Secondary Sources 1. Ulster Journal of Archaeology, 2nd Series, Vol 7, 1901, p 67. 2. Larne Times, 25 October 1951 and 25 November 1951. 3. Belfast News-Letter, 2 November 1951. 4. E.M. Jope, 'Lissan Rectory, Kilwaughter Castle, and the buildings in the North of Ireland designed by John Nash', in Ulster Journal of Archaeology, 3rd Series, Vol XIX, 1956, pp 121-130 [but his plan of the building wrongly dates the octagonal tower to the later half of the 19th century; it appears on the OS map of 1832]. 5. T. Davis, The Architecture of John Nash (Studio, London, 1960), pp 24-25, plate 44 and plan 7. 6. T. Davis, John Nash: The Prince Regent's Architect (London, 1966), p 51. 7. M. Bence-Jones, Burke's Guide to Country Houses, Vol 1: Ireland (London, 1978), p 177. 8. J. Summerson, The Life and Work of John Nash, Architect (London, 1980), p 45. 9. M. Mansbridge, John Nash: A complete catalogue (London, 1991), pp 138-9. 10. C.E.B. Brett, Buildings of Country Antrim (UAHS, Belfast, 1996), pp 94-95.

Criteria for Listing

Architectural Interest

A. Style B. Proportion C. Ornamentation H-. Alterations detracting from building H+. Alterations enhancing the building

Historic Interest

V. Authorship W. Northern Ireland/International Interest


This is a building in a distinctive 19th century 'castle style' which also incorporates the remains of a 17th century Plantation castle. It displays the proportions typical of the style, with tower forms juxtaposed with lower blocks, and exhibits features of special ornamental interest. The combination of buildings from two distinct periods has the added interest of illustrating the historic development of the site, despite the loss of much of the fabric from both phases. The building is enhanced by its general setting at the centre of a still-recognisable demesne and its architectural interest is increased by virtue of it belonging to a group of buildings, including its front entrance gate screen and lodge and its former ice house, which contributes to the overall understanding of a large country estate, while its proximity to a 13th century motte also demonstrates the development of a historic site over a number of centuries. The early 19th century work was designed by one of the most important British architects of the period and is of international interest as one of a small number of surviving buildings by this architect in Northern Ireland still standing, as well as being of local interest as a large country estate, while the 17th century core is a rare example of a surviving structure from that period, albeit in ruins.

General Comments

Date of Survey

28 March 1998