Her Ladyship's Pleasure Garden
The family titles of Viscount Massereene, Viscount Ferrard, Baron Lough Neagh, and Baron Oriel converged on John Skeffington, who as 10th Viscount Massereene & 3rd Viscount Ferrard, had succeeded both his parents by 1843. He appears to have immediately set about giving the Antrim Castle site a romantic Victorian makeover. As well as new walled gardens, and a labyrinth or fountain garden, he added a second long canal to the north of the original 17th century canal and cascade.
One of his biggest projects was replacing the original coach yard at the rear of the Castle with an elaborate pleasure garden for his wife, Olivia. Interesting features included arbours, tunnels, winding paths, artificial mounds, ruins, beautiful vistas, exotic planting and tree roots capped with antlers. It extended over two levels and was dissected by a gorge which features a carved stone with lead lettering inscription marking the location where the 10th Viscount had a fatal fall in April 1863. A low cross was originally mounted on top of the stone.
The coach house and stables were moved to a new building, believed to have been designed by Charles Lanyon, beside the castle farmyard and now known as Clotworthy House.
Aerial view showing paths from Castle through planting and ruins into Her Ladyship’s Pleasure Garden. It is possible that Italian Tower and circular pump house tower were added as features to enhance the romanticism of the garden
1857 revision of Ordnance Survey map showing detail of Her Ladyship’s Pleasure Garden
View of Her Ladyship’s Pleasure Garden from the Deerpark Bridge c. late 19th century
Book of condolence presented to Lady Massereene by the people of Antrim on the death of the 10th Viscount after a fall in the Pleasure Garden in 1863