Tuesday 18 May 2021

Storied Homes of Ulster – Hockley Lodge, Armagh

The following is part of a series of articles which appeared in the Belfast Telegraph in 1953 under the pen name 'Fina'.


Hockley Lodge, Armagh

Dower House that retains its old-world charm

THE roads of Co. Armagh interlace the flourishing countryside as ribbons interlace a Victorian petticoat. Alongside some of these winding roads run the high, strong walls of those twenty-two proportions of territory, possessed by English settlers, into , which the baronies of O’Neilland and Orior were divided when the King's Commissioners began their inquiry in 1618.

Some little way beyond one of these enclosing walls, about two miles from Armagh, lies Hockley Lodge, once a Dower House of the Molyneaux family of Castledillon.

The great house of Castledillon is now an annexe of St. Luke's Hospital, and the splendid coach-house, designed by Cooley, where once the ladies of the house ran a charity school, are workshops.

The small Dower House is, however, still a charming home. Built on sloping ground, its entrance in classic Georgian style, is single-storied, whilst the rear of the building, of seventeenth century origin, is two-storied.

The window tax caused many of the windows at Hockley Lodge to be blinded, about the year 1807, but it is noticeable that, in order to escape the tax, the windows were not bricked up in the usual way, but had a brick wall built about 18 inches away from them, somewhat in the manner of modem windows protected from air-raid blast.

Evidently the then owner of Hockley Lodge believed that the window tax would not last long How irritated he must have been that the hated tax was not repealed until 1851!

At the rear of the house is a courtyard containing the farm buildings, the most imposing of which is an octagonal dairy, forming the centre of one side of the court. This dairy is lit from a high, domed roof and its cool gloom is accentuated by its floor of Armagh marble.

Outside the kitchen door is a brick oven, complete with flue, where once the bread for the household was baked.

At the time of the 1641 rebellion, Hockley Lodge was occupied by a daughter of John Dillon. As she was married to a man of native extraction, she remained safe from harm when the county was a battleground. Indeed, she was able to help some of her friends and neighbours to escape, even though nearby Charlemont Fort was conquered and held by the rebel, Sir Phelim O'Neill.

It is recorded by Sir C. Cooks in his “Statistical Survey of County Armagh,” published in 1804, that at that time a Mr. Shields was then the occupant of Hockley Lodge. At the time of the “Survey’s” publication, Mr. Shields, like all the other county families, would be enjoying the years of troubled peace that followed the ’98 rising — such troubled years as those that we have seen in our own day and generation.


Next week – Saintfield House, Saintfield, Co Down.

Belfast Telegraph, Wednesday, 13 November 1953.

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