The history of the building of Florence Court is subject to conjecture and the current house was built in at least two, if not three, phases. The first house on the site was built by John Cole, Esq. (1680–1726) and named after his wife Florence Bourchier Wrey (died 1718). She was the daughter of Sir Bourchier Wrey, 4th Baronet (c. 1653–1696) of Tawstock, Devon.

The central block was built first and various dates from 1730 to 1764 are proffered for its construction. It has been attributed to the German architect Richard Cassels (or Castle) who worked at nearby Castle Hulme in 1728-9 and Florence Court shares similarities with some of Cassels' other Irish houses.

The baroque plasterwork in the library and study at the front of the house appear to date from an earlier period to the rich rococo plasterwork in the dining room, drawing room and stair hall on the western side of the house, and the floorboards in these two rooms differ in width from those elsewhere in the house. It is conjectured that the central block may have been completed in two phases, with the rooms at the back of the house, along with the Venetian room, finished by 1764, when John Cole's son, Lord Mount Florence, held a famous housewarming party.

The colonnades and pavilions were built c. 1771 and are attributed to the Italian engineer and architect Davis Ducart. These are built of dressed sandstone as opposed to the rendered limestone rubble of the central block. The south and stable yards are by the mason Andrew Lambert.

Whether there was a final phase is a matter of conjecture. The 1979 National Trust guidebook points out the similarity between the unusual pedimented doorcase at Florence Court with the doorcase of the now ruinous Nixon Hall at nearby Gransha (built c. 1780). Major improvements were made on the estate c. 1778–80. These included the landscaping of the park by William King and his laying out of the new drive, and the building of the Grand Gates.

Florence Court was the seat of the Earls of Enniskillen until 1973. The 5th Earl of Enniskillen transferred the house and fourteen acres surrounding it to the National Trust in 1953. In 1955 a devastating fire destroyed the upper floors of the house. Sir Albert Richardson was entrusted with leading the National Trust's restoration and extensive efforts have since returned Florence Court to much of its former glory. Some rooms on the upper floors, however, remain closed.

The 18th-century landscaped park is framed by Benauglin and Cuilcagh mountains. It was laid out c. 1778–80 by William King for the 1st Earl. King's work included the present undulating main drive, replacing the earlier straight east avenue which ran from the centre of the main front of the house. The path of the original drive remains visible on aerial photographs.



Your name

User Reviews

Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Kastelholma Castle

First record of Kastelholma (or Kastelholm) castle is from the year 1388 in the contract of Queen Margaret I of Denmark, where a large portion of the inheritance of Bo Jonsson Grip was given to the queen. The heyday of the castle was in the 15th and 16th centuries when it was administrated by Danish and Swedish kings and stewards of the realms. Kastelhoma was expanded and enhanced several times.

In the end of 16th century castle was owned by the previous queen Catherine Jagellon (Stenbock), an enemy of the King of Sweden Eric XIV. King Eric conquered Kastelholma in 1599 and all defending officers were taken to Turku and executed. The castle was damaged under the siege and it took 30 years to renovate it.

In 1634 Åland was joined with the County of Åbo and Björneborg and Kastelholma lost its administrative status.