Castle Coole is a Neo-classical home located in 700 acres of hill country by Lough Coole. It was built for the 1st earl of Belmore in 1797 and furnished by the 2nd earl. The family is still in residence.
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The house, constructed of Portland stone from Dorset, has a symmetrical frontage with columns reaching to the roof. Its final design was the work of London architect James Wyatt. He also designed some of the furnishings. The 90 rooms are little changed from the 18th century making it of special interest to the visitor.
Scagliola columns and plasterwork set off the stone floored entrance hall, entered through Spanish mahogany doors from the exterior. The first floor lobby has a domed skylight. Off of this room is a state bedroom done in gold and crimson and furnished with a four poster bed. King George IV was supposed to visit in 1821 and the room was redone in view of his impending visit, which never happened. This room along with many others is furnished in the Regency style. Both the drawing room and saloon reflect this with their brocade and gilt furnishings. A Wedgwood piano holds pride of place in the saloon. The Wedgwood figures are inlaid along the keyboard.
The laundry house and dairy, both open for viewing, in the grounds were linked to the house by a tunnel. On show are a Victorian churning machine powered by a horse. Other “below stairs” rooms on view are the servants’ quarters, kitchens, butler’s pantry, and the wine cellars. An unusual item is a five foot deep Roman bath used by the men. In the house are artefacts collected by the family. These include tropical birds, shells, and items from Egypt.
The landscaped park includes a driveway up to the house that is lined with oak trees and walks in the grounds.
Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland
Tel. 028 6632 2690
Open: house, tea-room, shop, by guided tour only: mid March-mid April, May, and Sep, weekends only 1am-5pm; last two weeks April, June July, Aug, daily, 11am-5pm; grounds daily, year round, 10am-4pm in Jan, Feb, Nov, Dec; unntil 7pm March-end Oct; check National Trust website for exact monthly dates
National Trust property; music events; tea-room; shop; parking