It’s hard to believe, but that small corner wall in the picture above is all that is left of perhaps the finest – and grandest – house that’s ever been built around here.
It was in 1754 that Bellevue house was built by David La Touche, at a cost of £30,000, on what was up-till-then called the Ballydonagh estate. Sitting on 300 acres overlooking Greystones, extras were built on by both David and, after he passed in 1785, his son, Peter.
These included everyone’s favourite viewing spot, The Octagon, built in 1766 (and featuring a panther on springs, to startle unwary guests), plus, a 650-feet conservatory, which would house many exotic plants as well as an orangery, a cherry house, a peach house and a vinery. Completed in 1793, this magnificent creation was then the largest conservatory in Europe.
The original main gates into the estate are now the entrance to the Delgany Golf Club, with Bellevue actually boasting five separate entrances. Well, it’s the least a visiting King of England would expect.
Naturally, where there’s land and wealth, proceedings eventually took a very Irish turn, and a family inheritance dispute saw Bellevue being sold to one David Frame in 1913. A man who, for reasons no one has quite yet fully understood, decided Bellevue was more valuable as scrap rather than a home. That fine lead roof was quickly removed. By the 1950s, having fallen into disrepair, Bellevue was pulled down, with the lands taken over by the Forestry Division of the Department of Lands.
Suffice to say, from its magnificent rise to its sad and lonely fall, Bellevue has a rich and fascinating history, one that could fill a hundred books. And today, with myself and Shay being lucky enough to be invited onto this private land by current occupants James and Lynda Fortune, this happy couple had quite a few of those books to hand. Including a magnificent one-off history of the La Touche family and the Bellevue estate, put together by George Jones and the La Touche Legacy crew as a thank you after the Fortunes allowed them to explore the land and its ruins. The fact that James has spent much of the 25 years resurrecting Bellevue’s remains – cutting through Sleeping Beauty bramblesand digging through decades of dirty – means we all owe this family a big thanks.
So, we will no doubt return to this magnificent house one day, as we put more of that magnificent history together. For now though, come on a walk with us through what remains of the house that La Touche built…
We had planned on doing a walking tour of the gardens around Bellevue House with James, but, Covid-19 had other plans. So, in February 2021, the man of the house did it by himself…
Oh, and we found this 2016 drone footage of The Octagon viewing house too, shot by one Hawkeye Flyer…
You can explore more of Delgany’s past with loco historian Shay Clear here. Oh, and while I have you there, the Greystones Library have a wonderful scale model of the Bellevue house and its surrounding gardens.
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.