Summer heatwave unearths historical treasure in Moira

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The recent hot spell of weather has caused the ground to recede and part of the foundations of buildings on the estate at Moira Castle have resurfaced in Moira Demesne.

Significant interest has been generated amongst residents and local historians around these foundations.

Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council is using this opportunity to further research this location and update its records.

Major Edward Burgh purchased the site of the current Moira Demesne in 1639 and is believed to ‘have built a fine brick house at Moyragh’ in 1651.

Sir George Rawdon (1600-84), Burgh’s commander, owned the house in the 1650s. The Rawdon family had an interest in botany and were responsible for creating the garden at Moira. At great expense Sir Arthur Rawdon (1662-95) employed James Harlow to bring back over 1,000 trees and shrubs from Jamaica and had a conservatory, possibly the earliest in Ireland, erected in the Demesne in 1690. Sir Arthur shared specimens form Moira with a network of landscapers throughout the British Isles as well as botanical gardens in Amsterdam, Leipaig and Leiden.

By the mid-18th century the three storey, nine bay house commanded an elevated position over the fledgling town of Moira, and directly opposite St John’s Church, which was consecrated in 1723.

In 1799 the artist and antiquarian Gabriel Beranger (1725-1817) published perhaps the most detailed view of the house, in a watercolour painted by one of William Sharman’s daughters.

In c.1805 Sir Robert Bateson (1782-1863), of Belvoir Park, bought the house and land, but early 19th century written accounts suggest the house was in ruins by the 1830s.

Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council have pledged to keep residents informed of its updated research.