The Destruction of the House

Anthony Loftus Cliffe, grandson of the original Anthony who purchased Bellevue in 1825, died in December 1921. His widow, the former Lady Frances Power of Edermine House, went to live in London, leaving Bellevue unoccupied except for a caretaker, Martin Nolan, who lived with his family in the basement of the house. On the night of 28 January 1923, a group of armed men arrived at the house and ordered the Nolan family out. They proceeded to drench each room with petrol. The mansion was then set alight by tossing a blazing torch through the front door into the hallway. Local man, Peter Doyle, takes up the story:

"The terrible news passed through the community very quickly. I heard my mother say that every local man and woman who went to Bellevue that night was crying. They looked on helplessly as the flames leaped a hundred feet into the sky. They knew that that was the end of Bellevue where their families for generations before them had worked. The light from the flames could be seen for miles. In a short time the once beautiful mansion was reduced to a smouldering ruin."

The Cliffes' private chapel survived the blaze - the armed men broke down the corridor connecting it to the house before setting the fire - and it lay unused until 1928 when it became a National School. In 1947, Mass was again celebrated in the little church and for the next few years it served the community as both school and chapel. During the fifties and early sixties a local committee worked on its restoration and it was rededicated in June 1965. The chapel is still used by the local Catholic community at Ballyhogue.

Restoration Plans: Details of the House

Lady Frances Power Cliffe and the trustees of the estate, B.J. O'Flaherty, solicitors, Enniscorthy, claimed £24,451 for the malicious destruction of Bellevue mansion in the Claims Court. Mr O'Flaherty told the Court that he had acted for the Cliffes since 1887. There were 1000 acres attached to the mansion, but 719 acres had been sold off. The Court was further told that Bellevue had contained nine reception rooms and six bedrooms. It was lighted by electricity, contained a heating chamber, and was generally fitted as a comfortable gentleman's residence.

Detailed, room-by-room costings of reconstruction of Bellevue were prepared for the Claims Court by surveyor H M Wood, Dublin. Total cost estimated at £24, 451.

Floor plans of the house were produced to support the damages claim and these give information on the interior layout and dimensions of the house:

Ground Floor

On left of entrance hall: Library, Drawing room and Morning room; On immediate right of entrance hall: Small and Large Dining rooms; On right of corridor: Smoke room, Gun room, Boudoir; On left of corridor: Stairs and WC; At end of corridor: left=passage to storeroom and chapel, right=passage to servants' rooms.

First Floor

First floor contained six bedrooms, a dressing room, two bathrooms and a WC. 

Basement Area

The basement area contained a wine cellar, a boiler room, a boot room, the kitchen, the servants' hall and butler's pantry. There are several rooms in this area whose use is not specified on the plan.

These floor-plans of Bellevue appear to have been drawn up solely to support the compensation claim. It is unlikely, given the tenor of the time, that there was any serious plan to reconstruct the mansion. The Cliffes never returned to Bellevue and the roofless, burnt-out ruin of the house soon deteriorated and was eventually demolished. The lands of the estate were broken up and sold off. Today, only parts of the demesne walls, entrances, gate lodges and the Pugin chapel remain to indicate the site of - as Thomas Lacy called it - 'the delightful residence of Anthony Cliffe, Esq.'


previousPrevious - The Cliffe Family
Next - Sourcesnext

Upload to this page

Upload to this page

Add your photos, text, videos, etc. to this page.

Map Search

Related Libraries

Wexford County Library
Contact this library »


History & Heritage

Popular Sections