MANOR OF KILLULTAGH.
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Edited by JAMES CARSON.
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LOCAL CONNECTION OF
BISHOP JEREMY TALYOR
In the Ulster Journal of Archæology New Series, Vols. III. and VIII., there are full articles on the buildings associated with Jeremy Taylor by Mr. Bigger and Mr. Fennell. Portmore Castle was a magnificent house, erected in 1664 by Earl Conway, after plans of Inigo Jones, on the site of an old castle of the O'Neills. It was certainly not completed at the time of Jeremy Taylor's residence if the date be correct. The stables (140 feet by 35 by 40) had accommodation for two troops of horse; water was supplied by pumps to a series of marble cisterns.When the Lords Conway became extinct its glories departed. The Castle was dismantled about 1761 and the material sold. The remains consist at present of a parcel or two of brickwork, and the wall enclosing the bowling green. The great oak of Portmore was blown down in 1760. Its circumference was 14 yards, and it measured 25 feet to the first branch. The Deer Park, to the north of the lough, contained about 2,000 acres (Mr. Bigger says 1,000). Sallagh Island lies close below, surrounded by marshy land. It is entered at present by walking along the trunk of a fallen tree; here tradition says that Dr. Taylor had his study.
The remains of the old Church of Ballinderry are situated to the south of the Castle, which at present can only be reached from it by the lane past the mill. These ruins consist of two gables 63 feet apart and 29 feet wide. There is a window in the east gable, five feet by fifteen inches, with moulded top, and splayed inwards. This is given from notes by Canon Lett, but it is now completely hidden by the ivy. The graveyard (sometimes called Laloo) appears like an island in a bog, surrounded by a fosse and a double hedge. In it are to be seen two rude basins hollowed out of boulder stones.
This was without doubt the "half-ruined Church Of Kilulta," in which Dr. Taylor is said to have often preached to a small congregation of loyalists during the Commonwealth period, and where no doubt he used the Book of Common Prayer when it was forbidden by law. By Kiltulltagh is not meant a parish, but the manor or territory of that name. There is a townland of Derrykillultagh near the old churchyard of Templecormac to the east of the road from Magheragall to Ballinderry, which old church some have thought to be the place referred to, but a view of Portmore Castle and Portmore Church is sufficient to decide the matter. That Kilulta was used in a loose way for Ballinderry appears from a letter of Rawdon in 1666:-- "We want a a new minister in place of Mr. Evans, removed out of Kilulta." George Evans was admitted Vicar of Ballinderry in 1661. David Hardy, a Commonwealth minister, was in possession of Ballinderry Parish from 25th June, 1658, at a salary of £80.
The Middle Church.
Bishop Taylor wished to remove the church to a more convenient site, and accordingly arranged for the building of what is called "The Middle Church." It was not ready for consecration until 1668, a year after his death. It had a narrow escape in 1823 when it was agreed to build a new church on this site; however, this was subsequently annulled after much discussion, "the question being three times put" (Vestry Book), and the new church was built more to the east. By the end of the nineteenth century the Middle Church had fallen into a bad state, and the ivy threatening to destroy it. But it was restored in 1902 by Mrs. Walkington at great expense in memory of her husband, Mr. Samuel Walkington, of Oatlands, Ballinderry. The architect was Mr. Fennell, who followed the old lines exactly, and added no new feature to the building. The old oak roof was believed to have been brought from the old church by the lough, and it had to be replaced by a new one. It consisted, like the present one, of oak rafters four inches by four inches, framed and trussed together and held with strong oak pins. The trusses are two feet apart. In earlier times it had been covered with shingles instead of slates; the present slates are new, as the old ones could not be made watertight. Here, then, can be seen a country church just as it was two and a have centuries ago, with its circular-headed mullioned windows, its old "three-decker" (pulpit, reading-desk, and clerk's desk) placed on the side of the church, its high, uncomfortable pews with no fixed seats, but only forms, which could bo sup, II plied according to the number required. A space at the west end was left unpewed, for general use, as was customary in old churches.
The two front pews are larger than the rest; tradition says that the one opposite the pulpit was Lord Conway's pew. Before the restoration most of the doors had been removed; one still remains, with the carving, A.B. 1668 A.H. This was the date of consecration, and the initials may be those of the first churchwardens. It is probable that some of the fittings may also have been brought from the old church. No provision was made for heating in winter. A plan given by Mr. Bigger shows the vestry as extending from the north side behind the pulpit, and the position of the old door on the south side. He thinks the church was at some period lengthened by nine feet, when the gallery, with stairs leading to it from outside, was added.
The bell cot on the west side is now empty. The bell, which weighed 13¼ cwt., was taken down in 1869 by Rev. Jos. M'Cormick, and sold in Dublin for £6 10s 6d. The metal was recast into the bell now in Gilford Church. It bore the following inscription:-- "This Bell is cast for Portmore by order of Sir George Rawdon, AN. 1681." (It is a great pity that such a relic was destroyed; an old bell should be carefully preserved when a new and more sonorous bell is provided; Magheragall Church has probably the oldest bell in the diocese; it bears the date 1676, but has no inscription.)
From the roof of the Middle Church, over the east window, the two irons still remain from which hung the "Royal Arms," which were removed in 1859 and placed on the west gallery of the modern church. They show the lion and unicorn, etc., complete as represented during all the Stuart period, and the Royal monogram C.R. They may have been erected at the instance of the garrison in Lord Conway's Castle when it flourished in all its glory. They are painted on a heavy oak panel, with deep oak moulded frame, and weigh 2 to 2½ cwt. The old oak communion table is still preserved, and an oak chest (4ft. by 1ft. 5in x 1ft. 5in.) divided into three compartments, the centre having a slit for coins in the lid, and the date 1706. The Middle Church has also an old font, which consists of a circular stone basin on a pedestal of one solid piece of oak, with a cover of oak. One new thing alone has been added -- a funeral hatchment of Bishop Taylor, suspended on the south wall, his arms being impaled with those of the diocese.
Death and Burial.
Bishop Taylor is locally believed to have wished to be buried in this church, and that a grave was prepared for him. It is said that his will contained a provision that he should be buried here "in case it should be consecrated before his death"; but it was not to be. On his deathbed he said, "Bury me in Dromore," and there, in 1667, he was buried in the vault beneath the chancel. The Middle Church of Ballinderry was not consecrated until 1668. Yet in this church before the restoration there was a depression before the communion table about the length of a coffin, which an old woman used to point out as Jeremy Taylor's grave, and said she knew it because she saw his shin bone!
There are some interesting references to the last days of the Bishop's life in the State Papers. On January 16, 1667, Rawdon writes from Lisburn:-- "The Bishop of Down lives very well here, and says he will build a dining-room next spring"; but on August 10th he writes that the Bishop of Down is very ill; he has made his will, not in all above £2,000 to dispose of, of which £600 is for his lady and two daughters. On February 9th, 1667, he had written:-- "There is a rent of £40 a year to the Primate out of the Rectory of Derryaghy, which is leased to your Lordship (Conway) for 60 years from about 1638. The Bishop of Down refuses to pay this rent, since your bargain with him . . ." (Probably the Bishop received the rectorial tithes as in Magheragall, the resident clergyman having the vicarial tithes.)
On August 14th Rawdon wrote from Lisburn:-- "The Bishop of Down died about 3 yesterday afternoon. His Lordship desired to be buried in the church he built at Dromore, or at Ballinderry if it should be consecrated before his death," but it is not so. And on August 31st he says:-- "The news about removing trees at Portmore House a mistake. . . The good lady has asked me to put one of your servants into the house to preserve it, for the very night the Bishop died the orchard was broken into and the fruit all taken. . ."
"The funeral is to be on Tuesday, and the body was sent in my old coach to Dromore Church."
Bishop Taylor's sons all predeceased him. In 1661 the Cathedral Register records the burial of "Edward, son of Jeremy, Ld. Bp. of Down and Connor and Dromore." The last one died in London on Aug. 2nd, 1667. Soon after the Bishop fell ill of fever, caught in visiting in Lisburn, and died at his house there on August 13th, 1667, being about 54 years of age. A daughter, Joanna, was married to Edward Harrison, of Magheraleave, M.P. for Lisburn during many Parliaments. Their second son was Jeremiah Taylor Harrison, Commissary-General of Ireland, M.P. for Knocktopher, who is said to have been most like the Bishop of all his grandchildren in person, countenance, and disposition. Being a Whig, he fell under the lash of Swift in the "Legion Club" --
"There sit Clements, Dilkes and Harrison,
How they swagger from their garrison;
Such a triplet could you tell
Where to find this side of hell?"
He married Mary, daughter of the Secretary Vernon and sister to the Admiral of the same name, and died at Brookhill, near Lisburn (in Magheragall Parish) without issue. His brother inherited the property, and died intestate in 1729. (Heber's Life of Jeremy Taylor.)
Mary Harrison, a daughter of Edward Harrison and Joanna Taylor, was married to Col. Francis Columbyne, and through her Mr. George H. Clarke, J.P., of Rosevale, Lisburn, is connected with Bishop Taylor.
(Next week. -- The Parish Church of Magheragall.)
(This article was originally published in the Lisburn Standard on 9 May 1919 as part of a series which ran in that paper each week for several years. The text along with other extracts can be found on my website Eddies Extracts.)