Monday, June 21, 2010

Springhill House and the Weelbrook Beetling Mill

Northern Ireland has been working to build it's tourist industry. While we have seen a few tour buses about, these have only been at the known destinations, such as Giant's Causeway. So some National Trust properties are only opened weekends until July 1, the start of summer holidays. To our American minds, summer vacation begins June 1. We never thought about Springhill and Weelbrook Beetling Mill being closed on Friday. There was nothing else to do but come again on a weekend, which we did on Sunday.

Springhill House

Springhill is a beautiful country home built in the 1680's by William Conyngham for the woman he wanted to marry. The lady's father drew up a contract that stated William would build a two story house, with all the proper rooms, as well as a certain number of outbuildings, before the two could marry. What a Dad!

The house is haunted by Olivia, a former lady of the house, whose husband killed himself in one of the bedrooms. This room is always cold, noticeably so on the afternoon of our visit. The house warden, who lives in one wing, also swore he heard the cradle rocking in the nursery on several occasions. We didn't see Olivia during our visit.

We did meet the young woman who was working in the tea room, who ended up being our tour guide as well, after none of the 3 guides scheduled to work arrived. We were rather glad they didn't, as Paula did a wonderful tour with lots of interesting and funny information. She was a classic Irish beauty, with sparkling blue eyes, wonderful smile and lilting laughter. We neglected to get her picture.

The gardens at Springhill House are in full bloom with late spring and early summer flowers. We plan a return visit in the fall to see what is blooming then.

Next on the itinerary was the Beetling Mill. A water wheel powered mill where the linen cloth was pounded by 4 x 4 pieces of beech in a up and down motion while the wheel of cloth turned round. This made the linen stronger and smoother until it was damask, instead of course cloth.

Weelbrook Beetling Mill

The mill race was full of these beautiful flowers!

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