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The Round Pond

This is one of the original features of the late 17th and early 18th century Anglo-Dutch styled water garden features. Viewed from along the Lime Avenue, the location of the pond is hidden by foreshortened views over the flat landform, and an undifferentiated woodland edge, and, as such, the pond adds an element of surprise to new visitors to the wilderness. The perimeter path is backed by trees that reflect in the still calm water, and the clearing in the dense woodland lets in light, which is doubled in intensity by the reflection of the sky.

Sir John Skeffington, 2nd Viscount  Massereene, is credited with the original layout of the formal gardens, and he is known to have been in close contact with all the latest developments in garden design. Before coming to Ireland he had landscaped his property at Fisherwick Hall in Staffordshire, and it is highly probable that he designed the garden at Antrim himself and through collaboration with Sir Henry Newdigate (Skeffington’s mother being Anne Newdigate, Sir Henry’s aunt).

Sir Henry had laid out an extensive formal garden at Arbury Hall in Warwickshire. In 1684, the 4th Earl of Meath, who was married to the Viscount’s cousin, created a formal garden at Kilruddery, County Wicklow. Some important features at Kilruddery survive today and display close similarities with Antrim including canals, ponds, lime avenues and angled walks framed by high hedges. Westbury Court near Gloucester, England, is the only other survivor of this style of garden in the British Isles.

In Ulster there were a number of important gardens in the late 17th century, and it is likely that information was exchanged by their custodians. The foremost of these being that of Sir Arthur Rawdon at Moira, County Down, created between 1662-1695 with canals, ponds and groves with walks and vistas. At Lisburn Castle, Lord Conway at the same time laid out a distinguished garden in the Anglo-Dutch style while at Belfast, Arthur Chichester, Lord Donegall had an extensive formal garden around Belfast Castle.


Watercolour of Round Pond from a book of condolence given to Lady Massereene by the people of Antrim on the death of the 10th Viscount in 1863