Walking through history - Queen Anne Tour

Artist's impression of the Queen Anne House at Castle Coole

Learn about the history of the estate long before the current house was built in the 1790s. Whilst the current mansion on the estate is the most recognisable and longest standing, it is not the only ‘Castle Coole’ that the family have lived in. Those who have walked the avenue might not realise what is hiding just beneath their feet. Prior to the building of the current Castle Coole in the 1790s, there were two other houses on the estate sited near the Pump House the only structure which remains today.

Historic landscapes

The estate in 1707 would have been very different to the one you see today with major developments being made by the owner, Col. James Corry, who inheirited the land from his father. The Queen Anne House was built and large additions made to the estate including a large walled deer park which has now mostly been lost.

Later in the mid 1700s came the formal gardens, sunken bowling green and water garden with a canal, parts of which can still be seen in the landscape. The double oak lined avenue was added then and is still the main entrance to the estate with a few of the ancient oaks still lining the drive.

The first building, was a defensive structure, a fortified tower house which had been built by Captain Roger Atkinson in 1611. This manor at Coole, which took its name from the lough on the estate Lough Coole, was subsequently sold to the Corry family (later the Earl of Belmores family). As the 17th century moved on, the family started to enjoy increased prosperity and just at the turn of the 18th century, the 76-year-old James Corry decided to build himself a new home on the site of the tower house. It was this which we know as the Queen Anne House.

The Pump House at Castle Coole
The Pump House at Castle Coole
The Pump House at Castle Coole

The house was designed by an Irish architect, John Curle, and it was made of red brick in the style of an English villa with Dutch architectural features. The most striking feature was not the house, but the formal gardens. Flower beds were laid out in a symmetrical pattern connected by paths. The impressive gardens also included, a sunken bowling green, orchards and a water garden. The magnificent man-made water garden featured a boating lake in the shape of a banjo with canals flowing in and out of it.

Unfortunately, in 1797,  just as the present house was near competition the Queen Anne house burnt down.  This forced the family to move in early to the neo-classical mansion with furniture that had been salvaged from the flames. Sadly, the formal gardens were allowed to return to nature to compliment the parkland setting of the palace in the park. Today, we can enjoy watching the cows and sheep which sustainably graze this protected site.

Volunteers at Castle Coole are looking forward to when they can resume their tours of the Queen Anne site, bringing the story of this part of the estate to visitors.