Categories of Special Interest
1710 - 1750
Detached seven-bay two-storey over basement former country house, built c. 1730, having central shallow three-bay breakfront to the main elevation (east) with modern single-storey flat-roofed glazed entrance porch, central shallow two-bay breakfront to the north elevation. Recently in use as a hostel and by the HSE, now disused. Hipped artificial slate roof with projecting eaves with smooth rendered eaves course, central flat platform to ridge, grey clayware ridge tiles, two smooth rendered chimneystacks to central platform with polygonal and circular clay pots, and with some surviving sections of cast-iron rainwater goods having decorative hoppers with 'XX' motif. Painted smooth rendered ruled-and-lined walls at ground and first floor level having projecting smooth rendered plinth to base, and with smooth rendered channelled block quoins to the corners; exposed rubble stone walls and retaining wall to basement area to south. Square-headed window openings having smooth rendered surrounds, smooth rendered reveals, painted sills, and replacement windows. Square-headed door openings with replacement doors. Set back from road in own grounds to the west side of Newtowncunningham with lawned areas and mature trees to site. Gravel driveways to the house from the north and to the north-east. Bounded on street-frontage to the north by smooth rendered rubble stone boundary wall; timber fence to the west boundary. Main vehicular gateway to the north-east comprising a pair of smooth rendered gate piers (on square-plan) having flat coping over with urn finials, and with a pair of decorative wrought-iron gates; gateway flanked to either side by pedestrian gateways having roughcast rendered gate pier (on square-plan) with finials over, and with decorative wrought-iron gates. Gateway to the north of house comprising a pair of rendered gate piers (on square-plan having flat coping over with urn finials. Formerly with complex of single- and two-storey outbuildings to the rear (west), recently demolished (c. 2002).
This substantial if plain two-storey house\country house apparently originally dates to the first decades of the eighteenth century, which makes it one of the earliest surviving private dwellings in the Newtowncunningham area. Now sadly derelict and dilapidated, it was recently in use as a respite\Mother and child hostel facility. Its early date is not readily discernible to the exterior although a number of features to the interior (not viewed, description from Rowan in 1979), such as corner fireplaces, plaster cornices, and wainscot panelling, of early eighteenth-century appearance survived until recent years, and possible still survive. Rowan also postulated that this building may have been the successor of nearby Burt Castle, which was built in the sixteenth century. It is indicated on the late eighteenth-century Taylor and Skinner map (1777-83). The plain but well-proportioned front elevation is enlivened by the central shallow breakfront and by the simple render block quoins to the corners, although the loss of original fabric to the openings detracts from its visual appeal and integrity. The flat platform at roofscape level is an interesting and curious feature. This substantial building is an addition to the architectural heritage of the local area and, if sensitively restored, would make a strongly positive contribution to the streetscape to the centre of the long straggling village of Newtowncunningham. A substantial complex of single- and two-storey outbuildings survived to the rear of the house until recent years. The gateways to site add significantly to the setting and context, particularly that to the north-east that retains very attractive and intricate wrought-iron gates that are good examples of high-quality early ironmongery. This house was probably the home of a Robert Hamilton in 1881 and 1894 (Slater's Directories), an individual who also had a house at Foyle Street in nearby Derry at this time. It was probably the residence of Lady Hamilton, widow of Sir Henry Hamilton, in 1798.