Pocket Britain

A 19th century mansion that's untouched by time


Drawing Room
Cabinet Barrel Organ
Rose Garden
The Argory is a country manor and 320-acre estate on the border of Armagh and Tyrone counties. The house and grounds were carefully arranged to take best advantage of the small hill they sit on top of. The views, over the River Blackwater, are wide and colourful.
The property was built in 1824 for the MacGeough-Bond family. It has been largely unchanged since they moved out over a century ago, so the furnishings still represent their notoriously unusual tastes.

Photo Northern Ireland Tourist Board
The drawing room in particular was literally untouched for 4 decades. From 1939 to 1979 it was covered in dust sheets and abandoned completely. Today it's one of the most attractive rooms in the house, with long, bright windows. Most of the furniture and decorations date from the 19th century, including a beautiful rosewood Steinway piano.

Photo Northern Ireland Tourist Board
Another pretty instrument is the cabinet barrel organ, built by London's master craftsman James Bishop. It's generally agreed to be the best example of its kind in the world. When it was built in 1822 it had 6 barrels. Only 3 now remain, but the organ is nevertheless still in working order.

Photo Northern Ireland Tourist Board
When the MacGeough-Bonds weren't playing music, they might have been playing billiards. It was a popular game back then, and most 19th century houses had an entire room devoted to it. The players were mostly men, so the decorations were purposely made a bit more masculine. The billiards accessories, like the scoreboard and cue stands, are all originals.
If the game made its players a bit hungry, they could wander just across the corridor to the dining room. It's set up with fancy china and silver, as if the meal were about to begin. A fireside warming cabinet shows how the waiters kept food hot before serving. Family portraits line the walls, so you can see who camet to dinner. An exhibit in another part of the house shows what they might have been wearing. It includes articles of clothing from as far back as 1700 AD.
Even after seeing all these well-preserved displays, visitors are kept busy with a second-hand bookshop and a tea room. The award-winning scones are particularly worth trying. Outside, children can be entertained at the adventure playground, while adults might prefer the rose garden. They're best in summer, when the pink and white petals and in full bloom. A strange sundial keeps track of time. Its inscription reads: "Here reader mark the silent steps of never standing time".
Further exploration reveals the well-kept stables, and their pretty weathervane. A network of paths lead down to the riverside, past groups of bright flowers.

Photo Northern Ireland Tourist Board
The grounds are the setting for regular events, including craft and poultry fairs. The biggest date on the Argory's calendar is probably at Christmas, when hundreds gather for the musical performances.
Visitor Information
The Argory is open daily, 10am to 5pm (House open March to October from 11am, but is only open on Tuesday's & Wednesday's during July and August). Entry costs around £4 for adults, £2 children, £8 families. 144 Derrycaw Road, Moy, Dungannon, County Armagh BT71 6NA. Tel: 028 8778 4753

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