Step back in time and soak up the rich heritage that Larchfield Estate has to offer.
Larchfield’s story starts back in 1660 when the land (at that time, about 1500 acres) was bought from the O’Neills. It wasn’t until 1750 that the original part of the current house was built on the site of an old farm house. It was built by the Mussendens, who were merchants bankers in Belfast. We have an interesting connection with Mussenden Temple in County Londonderry which was built by the Earl Bishop (a cousin) in memory of Mrs. Mussenden from Larchfield who died at the age of 22, sadly before Mussenden Temple was finished.
In 1772, a mob of 300 Hearts of Steel – an exclusively Protestant movement originating in County Antrim which reacted in response to the sharp rise of rent and evictions by landlords of the day - assembled to burn the house down, but were with some difficulty dissuaded.
We know that the pillars of the entrance gates to Larchfield were built in 1827 with the walls around the Estate thought to have been built during the period of the Irish Famine (1845-1849)
In 1845, the house was redesigned by Charles Lanyon, one of Belfast’s most prominent and influential architects of the Victoria Era and famous for designing Queens University and the Custom House in Belfast among many others. We know that Lanyon changed the front of the house to face south, with new driveways.
Then in 1868/9, William Mussenden sold the house to Ogilvie B Graham, 1st of a family of hereditary directors of the York Street Flax Spinning Company. The valuation of the house was about £100 at the time and as well as adding an extra storey to the main house, Graham added the gate lodge.
In 1873 the Victorian wing of the house was added, followed by the Fish Pond Lake in 1896. Our Fish Pond Lake, accessed exclusively by only the bride and groom when we host a wedding, is referenced both in maps from 1896 and also in Gerard Brennan's book, A Life of One's Own. In this book he also refers to Larchfield as the pink house. Gerard Brennan was the grandson of the Ogilvie Grahams.
Moving to more recent times, in 1968, Mr. Leslie Mackie, father of current owner Gavin Mackie, bought the estate at auction from Col Ogilvy Graham (approx. 300 acres). Some of the best parkland trees had to be bought back from a timber merchant as they had been sold prior to auction!
Apart from a fire in the 1980’s which burnt out the grain store located where the current Stables building is, Larchfield’s history has been relatively quiet since the Mackies took over.
The current owners (Gavin and Sarah Mackie) were married themselves at Larchfield in 2007, and moved back to take on the estate from Gavin’s parents. The estate was opened up for weddings and events around this time and in 2010, as part of its renovation, the Stables was re-built and re-roofed for hire for ceremonies and smaller functions downstairs.
In 2012, Rose Cottage was the first of the onsite accommodation to be restored, leading to the development of accommodation for up to 37 guests.
In 2015, the Orangery was built to replace the marquee as the entry point to Larchfield Barn, a beautiful addition to the courtyard – extending what the estate offers during the winter months and enhancing experiences during the Summer.
Gavin and Sarah are committed to the long-term improvement of the Estate, securing Larchfield for future generations and guests. We are always working to protect old buildings and features across the Estate, and to encourage a diverse environment and ecology – planting thousands of trees, creating wild bird cover, flower meadows and adding lakes / wetlands to encourage animals, insects and birds to take up residence within our landscape.
Late 2019 saw the completion of the redevelopment of an 1800s railway style building facing the Larchfield Estate cottages. Harkening back to its history as a piggery, The Old Piggery was officially launched in 2020 as a new offering for experiences, dining, special celebrations and corporate retreats. This project was kindly supported by the Rural Development Programme.