Tudenham house

This house, originally called Rochfort, was built by an ancestor of the Boyd Rochfort family - begun 1717, finished 1742 - and was bought by Sir Francis Hopkins out of the Landed Estates Court in 1836/7. He left it to his sister, Anna Maria, who married Nicholas Tottenham; and its name was later changed to Tudenham Park.

It was a large three story house of very high quality over looking Loch Ennel to the West. Some of the sunsets as seen from the drawing room and dining room were quite stunning.

On the ground floor a great hall, with screens of columns at both ends, was surrounded by four large and lofty state rooms, a billiard-room, a gun-room, and a library.

Some state rooms were altered C.1790 and had good Neo-Classical plasterwork. The staircase - also altered C. 1790 - was overlooked by the tall stained glass windows. The first floor was an open-topped landing surrounded by eight bedrooms and a bathroom, and the second floor was in the form of a gallery with several adjoining bedrooms. Above was a huge stained glass dome.

In the basement were numerous staff rooms and kitchens joined by long flagged passages. The estate contained about 850 acres of land.

Anna Maria, referred to by her descendants as “The Old Lady”, added a new wing to the rear of the building and it contained a school room and various staff and utility rooms. She built a new front lodge so that the avenue became much longer - in fact exactly one mile! She also built a church at the cross roads (Molyiscar) near the lodge and in it are a number of plaques in memory of members of the family. The most recent is to the memory of Tony.

A life size portrait of Anna Maria hung above an enormous sideboard in the dining room next to an equally large portrait of “Boots” Tottenham, and described, but now believed to be in the National Gallery in Dublin. There was a smaller engravement of this picture in the Great Hall.

Also in the hall over huge fireplaces on either side were full size portraits of Charles 1st. and Oliver Cromwell. Someone must have had a great sense of humour.

On the landing near the top of the stair case were portraits of Nicholas and Mary.

Tudenham Park was occupied by the Tottenham family until 1963 although the big house had not been lived in for about ten years before that. During World War I it was used as a convalescent home for Army Officers.

On the death of Charles in 1929 Harold returned from South Africa with his family and occupied it for a few years. Peter was the last person to be born there. Eventually they moved to the garden house. This was a charming cottage within a large walled garden and Harold added an extension to make it big enough. During World War II some of the land and big house was occupied by the Irish Army (not the IRA) and then - for a few years - by the Honourable (Georgina) Alice and her two surviving daughters, Aileen and Diana.

The roof and insides were stripped about 1957 and a photograph of the remaining shell adorns the front cover of "Vanishing Country Houses of Ireland" published by the Irish Georgian Society in 1989. The Garden House and some land was sold to the Whitelaw family from Mullingar.

The remainder of the estate was sold to the Land Commission who split it into five farms which were let to various tenants.

The Jealous Wall

 

The Earl of Belvedere, the brother of George Rochfort, lived at Belvedere house, within view of Tudenham house. He quarreled with George, who lived at Tudenham House. To block out any view of Tudenham House, which was built on a far grander scale than Belvedere House, the earl ordered the building of the Jealous Wall, an impressive Gothic folly said to be the most extensive man-made 'ruin' in Ireland.

It stands three storeys high and extends for 180ft.