Updated: Sep 14
Dodging the showers has become a sport this summer, but having been told there is no such thing as bad weather in the UK and Ireland, just bad clothing, I donned my rain jacket and set off thirty odd miles down the road. Florence Court is a Georgian house set in spacious grounds and beautiful gardens, now under the auspice of the National Trust.
The rain stopped for a while allowing me to walk around the grounds and there are many trails that can be followed. I found a wooden gazebo overlooking fields and trees where hunting would have taken place and a watermill.
In the corner of the walled garden is Rose Cottage, once the head gardener’s residence, but the weather put pay to being able to spend much time enjoying the blooms and I took shelter in the cafeteria where I enjoyed a light lunch. The meaty sausage roll I had with a side salad was just what a body needed on a showery summer’s day before embarking on the tour of the house.
A fine example of Palladian architecture, the house looks impressive from the outside, but the wings are just for show and inside it is a modest four up, four down, although the servants quarters in the basement are very extensive and there is the Colonel’s room at the end of the wing to the right where I commenced my tour. I was shown around the house by Eve and I’d like to thank her and the staff for making my visit worthwhile. There is plenty to see and to learn.
What is noticeable is the lack of a bathroom in the house and it is only since the National Trust bought the property has electricity, central heating and running water been installed. The last residential earl was wary of any modernisation and ironically his trepidation wasn’t without merit.
In 1955 a fire due to faulty wiring caused a great deal of damage and the entrance fee goes towards the upkeep and renovations.
The entrance hall of the house doubled as a reception room and is made pleasingly symmetrical by two false doors, giving the impression that there are more rooms than the four downstairs.
A cosy library holds an extensive array of books, but I was taken by a tall piece of wood in the corner marked with the heights of the children who grew up here. This is a reminder that this was a family home, although there are photographs and portraits of previous residents with the title of Earl of Enniskillen, the county town of Fermanagh. The house is named after the wife of the first earl.
The drawing room houses some landscapes of the locality and the plasterwork of the Baroque ceilings are a wonder to behold. Kudos to the craftspeople who have restored them to their pre-fire glory.
The study, one of the smallest and less ostentatious of the rooms, has a few unusual items including an inkwell made from the hoof of a favourite horse after its passing.
The kitchen in the basement is home to a fine array of copperware, but is some distance from the dining room, thus the food would have been warm at best when served by the staff.
It seemed to me the staff probably had hotter food as their dining area is next door to the kitchen. However there was a hierarchy “downstairs” like “upstairs” and those of a lesser rank would be last to eat whatever was left after everyone else had dined.
The housekeeper had her own room, which was larger than that of the butler’s and to show how busy the estate must have been there was a post room, reminding me of a time when the mail came three, if not four times a day!
I thoroughly enjoyed my afternoon at Florence Court and would like to thank the staff for a memorable visit. I will call again when passing, hopefully on a sunnier day.
I love exploring historic houses and Belvedere House and Gardens near Mullingar is another estate well worth a visit if only to discover its salacious past. Please click on the link to learn more.
One of my favourite stately homes is Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire which I visited one showery day too. To learn more please click on the link.
And finally, the home of Sir Isaac Newton is a more modest dwelling, but worthwhile as I learned a great deal about the man who did much more than discover gravity. Once again, please click on the link to learn more.