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Small Parterre


Learn the history of small paterre



Learn the history of small paterre

Although much of its original form is now lost, a section of the bank marking the southern boundary of this small parterre is still visible, as are some of its steps and paths. The 1857 revision of the Ordnance Survey map for the area and an early 19th century drawing by Sir John Crampton give some idea of how the space was laid out at that time. This drawing also informed the replanting of a yew obelisk to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in May 2012.

The Massereene family graveyard now occupies the site and contains the graves of the 12th Viscount Massereene and his daughter, Lady Diana Skeffington. Diana, who was rumoured at one stage to be a potential partner for Prince Edward, later King Edward 8th, sadly died at the age of 21 after contracting typhoid while attending a family wedding in Scotland. 

Another memorial slab commemorates the 13th Viscount Massereene, who among other things raced for the Aston Martin team at Le Mans in 1937 and bought Chilham Castle in Kent, which became the main family seat for much of the second half of the 20th century.

The large urn, created by Sir John Foster, the last Speaker of the Irish House of Commons, and dedicated to his wife, Margaretta Foster, 1st Viscountess Ferrard, came from the Foster home, Oriel Temple in County Louth. Their son, Thomas Foster, had married Harriet Skeffington, 9th Viscountess Massereene, in 1810  and became Viscount Ferrard in his own right in 1824.

On their deaths the two titles merged with their son, John Skeffington, who as 10th Viscount Massereene and 3rd Viscount Ferrard, carried out much restoration and redevelopment  in the gardens in the mid 19th century.

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Notice in The Evening Telegraph of 30 October 1930  announcing the illness of Lady Diana Skeffington. She died on 6 November and was buried in Antrim

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Extract from 1857 OS map showing layout of Small Parterre

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The Wishing Stone, which was mentioned in accounts of the gardens in 1860, returned to its rightful position during the recent restoration project


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Drawing of the Small Parterre by Sir John Crampton in the early 19th century showing archways to the Wilderness through the high hedges and the yew obelisk in the centre surrounded by  small well planted beds

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Oriel Temple at Collon, County Louth, the former seat of the Foster family, Viscounts Ferrard. The urn in the centre of the graveyard came to Antrim Castle Gardens from here