Happy #nationalgardeningweek. To celebrate it the Trust is posting stories and photographs from our collection on the Milford House new instagram page milfordhouse_coarmagh. Follow us to find out more about Milford House and its fascinating stories.

National gardening week
Milford House gardens and parkland 1964

The gardens at Milford House were once magnificent and much admired to in the spirit of National Gardening week here is some information about them for you to enjoy.


"Mr. Mc Crum's handsome private residence stands in a richly planted and highly ornamental park at the verge of the village and commands a view and commands a beautiful view of the surrounding countryside".George Henry Bassett 1888

Robert Garmany Mc Crum's influence can be seen not only in his house but in the carefully laid parkland that surrounds the house. It was said that he thought more of his garden than he did of his house. The Pleasure gardens to the side of the house include a 19th century cast iron Italianate fountain (which was sadly stolen in 1996). In 1938 there were thirty six turtles living in the fountain! The back entrance Gates are by Musgrave and Co. of Belfast. The parkland contains rare trees and plants collected by the Mc Crum family on their travels and are protected by a Tree Preservation Order. Many were given names such as 'Dragonfly' and 'Peter Pan' by girls at Manor House School Much of the landscaping was done by William Frazer Haldane who also designed gardens at Powerscourt, Dublin Castle (which no longer survive) and Curraghmore House. The three immense Walled Gardens supplied all the fruit and vegetables to the house (both for the Mc Crum family and later for the Manor House School) and the estate originally had seven glasshouses.

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Pleasure Gardens at Milford House 1938

The Lake in front of the house was designed by Robert Garmany Mc Crum, by diverting the Callan River to flow into the grounds through the top mill race and. The two Japanese bridges form part of a walkway round the lake. The boathouse is lined with Canadian pine and a birch bank canoe was sent from Canada to Milford House in Christmas 1905.

Manor House School were noted for the excellent standard to which they maintained the gardens, although they grassed over the Pleasure gardens. The Mc Crum family had seven gardeners while the school had three

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Part of the Walled gardens in 1955


Of course no garden would be complete without its follies. Milford House has a tennis court with three courts- two for tennis and one for badminton.The first ‘hard’ evidence relating to the building is a detailed plan of the Manor House and its associated structures, drawn up by the valuation in 1904.On this it is designated as a ‘tennis pavilion’ and recorded as a wooden structure with a tiled roof, measuring 33ft x 16 x 10, with the rear projection amounting to 13 x 13 x 9. Its appearance suggests it could be as early as the mid-1880s, a time when Robert Garmany Mc Crum's building exploits appear to have been particularly prolific. The timberwork shows certain affinities to that belonging to the Gate Lodge1. During time of Manor House School The pavilion was used as a classroom during the tenure of the Manor House School and a changing room, whilst the room at the back became known as The Den’, and was used by senior pupils. The back room had been a eeting place for the Boy Scouts in William Mc Crum's time. The swimming pool attached to the east side was built by Manor House School in 1964.


The stable block and coach house first appear on the 1904 valuation but their exact date of construction is uncertain. Robert Garmany Mc Crum never had a motorcar and used a brougham coach. However in the 1920s his son William had two chauffeur driven cars and a sports car and it had its own petrol pumps. In 1938 Manor House School converted the Coach House for use as a Gymnasium and by 1940 the stables had become the Sanatorium accommodation for senior girls and staff.

Sadly today the gardens and parkland lie derelict and overgrown. The stable block and coach house are in ruins and the Tennis Pavilion is boarded up. The public have reported during the lockdown seeing cows and a donkey roaming the gardens Yet thankfully all the features of the original garden remain intact. The trees which Manor House School girls gave names to such as ‘the Peter Pan’ and the Dragon’ still stand magnificently. Every year despite neglect bluebells and snowdrops still bloom in the grounds. Currently bushes and even rose bushes planted in the 1940s are blooming in the garden.

Hope you enjoyed this exploration of the Milford House Gardens and Parkland.

Happy National Gardening Week and Stay Safe!

Written by Stephen McManus


Milford Buildings Preservation Trust


1 HB 15/14/006 NIEA Historic Buildings Report (Milford House archive)