A Epicentre of Historic Events
Lissan House has been at the heart of historic events almost since its first construction. During the 1641 Rebellion, the Estate was seized by the Ó Quin, its terrified inhabitant Charity, Lady Staples, being imprisoned in Moneymore and Castlecaufield with her family for over two years until her husband Sir Thomas was able to rescue her. The fires of the Lissan Iron works were kept alight to make staves and weapons for the rebels, thus securing the house from the destruction that befell many of its contemporaries.
Tales of dirty deeds and fierce family quarrels, romantic friendships and acts of admirable philanthropy spin like gold thread through the Staples’ history to prove beyond doubt that fact is often stranger than fiction and is infinitely more engaging.
The Rev. Thomas Staples, who rented the Estate from his cousin the 7th Baronet, opened up coal mines at Coalisland in 1749 and employed the legendary Sardinian Engineer Davis Ducart to design the White Bridge and Water Gardens at Lissan.
His son, the Rt. Hon. John Staples P.C., M.P., a cultured well travelled gentleman, married the famous but unfortunate beauty Henrietta Molesworth who had been severely injured in a fire in London. She was ‘a wonderful little lady with a wooden leg who burled around the countryside in her cabriolet ’. Their great great grandson was the much lauded CS Lewis.
Sir Thomas Staples Q.C., 9th Baronet and Queen’s Advocate in Ireland married the heiress ‘Handsome Kitty Hawkins’ and they added the beautiful Ballroom for musical soirees. Their nephew, ‘naughty Sir Nathaniel’ the 10th Baronet made further additions to the house and banished his wife, Lady Elizabeth in favour of the notorious Miss Potter. Sir Nathaniel’s sons each in turn brought drama to the household, not least the notable and eccentric Victorian artist Robert Ponsonby, ‘the Barefoot Baronet’. He called his children ‘the Chicks’ and it was his grand-daughter, Hazel who gave us Lissan.
We celebrate them all.