Welcome to a compelling journey into the past as we explore the hidden stories of Belvedere House, a place that bears witness to a haunting tale of love, betrayal, and imprisonment. In this blog post, we delve into the captivating history of Belvedere House, shedding light on the secrets that have echoed through its grand halls for centuries.
Chapter 1: The Early Days
Our story commences in the 18th century, a time when Ireland was home to a man named Robert Rochfort, the 1st Earl of Belvedere. With his immense wealth and high social standing, he was expected to find a suitable wife to carry on his lineage. Little did he know that this decision would mark the beginning of a dark and tragic chapter in his life.
Chapter 2: A Troubled Marriage
Mary Molesworth, a beautiful and talented lady, became Robert's bride. Their union produced four children, but Robert's desire for a male heir led to disappointment. As Mary sought solace and companionship in her neighbors, including her brother-in-law Arthur, rumors of adultery began to circulate, casting a shadow over the marriage.
Chapter 3: House Arrest
Robert's anger knew no bounds when he heard the whispers of adultery. Mary, advised to admit to false accusations in hopes of securing a divorce, found herself instead imprisoned in Gaulstown House for an astonishing thirty-one years. Robert, consumed by revenge, plotted against his brother and built a massive folly known as the "jealous wall."
Chapter 4: Belvedere House
Amid this turmoil, Robert constructed Belvedere House in 1740, a grand hunting lodge on the shores of Lough Ennell. Designed by the renowned architect Richard Cassells, it became a symbol of Robert's opulence. Intricate details, including Rococo plasterwork by French Stucco Artist Barthelemij Cramilion, adorned the house, contrasting starkly with Mary's solitary confinement.
Chapter 5: Mary's Escape
Mary's life in Gaulstown was one of isolation until a daring escape attempt. She secretly corresponded with Arthur, leading to his arrest for adultery. Her pleas for a divorce fell on deaf ears, and she was banished once more. The tragic tale of Mary's life unfolds as she wandered the corridors of Gaulstown, speaking to the portraits on the walls.
Chapter 6: Robert's Revenge
Robert's anger found expression in his construction of the "jealous wall," a folly designed to block his view of his brother's mansion, Tudenham. The rivalry between the brothers escalated, leaving an enduring mark on the landscape.
Chapter 7: The Aftermath
The story continued through the hands of subsequent owners of Belvedere House, each leaving their unique mark. Charles Brinsley Marlay cultivated the gardens in the 1840s, while Charles Howard Bury, an adventurer and climber, added exotic plants to the estate.
Chapter 8: Present Day
Today, Belvedere House is owned by Westmeath County Council and serves as a testament to a tumultuous history. Its gardens, architecture, and haunting stories await curious visitors, inviting them to explore the secrets that whisper through its historic walls.