This fine stable block and coach house with its imposing Jacobean revival style facade of coursed rubble basalt and Tardree granite dressings, was built c1843 by the 10th Viscount Massereene as part of his creation of Her Ladyship’s Pleasure Gardens which necessitated the removal of the original coachyard at the rear of the Castle. It is believed to have been designed by Charles Lanyon who would later gain fame as the designer of such iconic buildings in Belfast as Queen’s University, Crumlin Road Gaol and Courthouse, and the Palm House in Botanic Gardens.
After the fire at Antrim Castle in 1922, The 12th Viscount appears to have fully intended to replace the Castle and even commissioned, in 1930, a series of designs for a replacement house from the architects Tulloch and Fitzsimons in Belfast.
These were based on part of the existing floor plan and incorporated the important frontispiece, but the project was never carried out. Instead, the family occupied Skeffington Lodge, the hunting lodge on the Deer Park that was later to become the site of the former Deerpark Hotel. When this no longer proved suitable, the family moved to private apartments created within a wing of the 10th Viscount’s coach house, which then became Clotworthy House.
They remained there until the death of the 12th Viscount in 1956, an event which, with his heir, known as ‘Jock’ Skeffington, having purchased Chilham Castle in Kent as his residence in 1949, brought to an end the 350 year Massereene presence in Antrim.
Over the following decades Antrim Castle Gardens, the Castle ruins and Clotworthy House were acquired by Antrim Borough Council, and they opened the first local government arts centre in Northern Ireland in Clotworthy House in 1982.
As Clotworthy Arts Centre, it provided a wide range of Art Exhibitions, Theatre and Music shows, and arts workshops right up until its closure in 2009 for restoration and redevelopment as the focal point for visitor services and interpretation for the newly restored Antrim Castle Gardens. It opened again as Clotworthy House in December 2011.
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