While recently documenting Maria & Kevin's Ballyscullion Park Wedding I got chatting with owner Rosalind Mullholland about an article I had written, a few years ago, for Essential Travel Magazine - unfortunately no longer online.
At the time of preparing the article I was fortunate enough to get a behind the scenes look at Ballyscullion with Rosalind & BBC Radio Foyle Gardener Gareth Austin; including the chance to listen first hand to Rosalind's plans for the, at that stage, fledgling wedding venue, and to hear of a relatively new TV series, Game of Thrones, that had recently been filmed in the grounds.
What a difference six years can make...
Anyway after bit of delving here's the text from the original article.
Ballyscullion Park, a 400 acre estate, is located in the heart of Northern Ireland, and now offers itself as an exclusive wedding venue. It’s ideal location, being almost equal distances from capital Belfast, and second city Derry/Londonderry, and its scenic setting make it an enticing proposition. (Boutique weddings, civil ceremonies & civil partnerships are conducted within the house,) small ceremonies are conducted in the Ringrose Room while the walled garden can accommodate marquees to suit larger affairs.
The current house dates from 1840, designed by renowned architect Sir Charles Lanyon; his other creations include Queens University, Crumlin Road Goal & Courthouse, Belfast's Custom House, and Belfast Castle; it’s hard to dispute the assertion that he is the most important local architect of the Victorian age. And Ballyscullion House has all the country house grandeur you’d expect from Sir Charles.
The original site was first developed by Bishop Hervey of Derry, known as the Earl Bishop, an eccentric Bishop with an expensive taste in properties. Ballyscullion Palace was to compliment his Palace at Downhill on the North Coast. While Bishop of Derry his Bishops Palace stood inside the Derry Walls, and his Summer Palace stood outside the Walls less than a mile away on the same street!
The Earl was also responsible for the first bridge in Derry and legend has it originally built to make it easier for him to visit a close ‘lady friend’ Lady Mussenden without his wife finding out. This friendship inspired Hervey to build Mussenden Temple in Castlerock in her honour.
Ballyscullion was said to be the most extravagant of all his Palaces. However, when Bishop Hervey died his heir decided to live at the Palace at Downhill; and incredibly Ballyscullion was knocked down – one possible explanation is the potential expense of paying window tax for it. The remaining ruins of one wall of the Palace still stand in woodland adjacent to the house today.
Ballyscullion Park also boasts two surprising connections with Hollywood, the first dates back to the Second World War – when Ballyscullion became a military base with US Military stationed there in 1943 and 1944 – including the battalion immortalized in Saving Private Ryan. The story goes that the grandparents heard on the radio of the Normandy landings and ran to tell the Marines only to discover the base had been totally abandoned overnight. More recently the woods were used for location shoots on the hit US television series Game of Thrones.
While not open to the public on a daily basis house and garden visits are possible by appointment, and the site is a regular on BBC Gardener Gareth Austins garden tours. The house, walled gardens, and woodlands really are a sight to behold and will impress anyone lucky enough to visit.