Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

Sandbrook House
Sandbrook, Co. Carlow

Sandbrook House
Source: The Carlow Gentry by Jimmy O'Toole
Map of Sandbrook House c.1836
Source: Buildings of Ireland
Sandbrook House
Source of image:

Echlin of Sandbrook

Extracted from the CARLOW GENTRY

By kind permission of the author JIMMY O'TOOLE

Had Thomas Echlin (1844 - 1906) got a name-plate on the door of his office in the Royal Irish Constabulary depot in the Phoenix Park before he retired in 1889. it would have read "Sir Thomas Echlin, Bart - Sergeant R.I.C." An unlikely career one would have thought for the heir to one of the oldest Baronetcies in Ireland. His reduced circumstances were the result of a dispute four decades earlier over the ownership of the family estates. Complicated by a plethora of mortgages and loans, it took court proceedings lasting twenty years to unravel the financial maze, and in the end, left the once-wealthy Echlin family in penury.

The court case opened in 1827, and when concluded in 1850, most of the residue, after loan repayments were made, was paid out in legal fees The origins of the dispute went back to the death of the third Baronet, Sir Henry Echlin. who died without an heir in 1799; he was succeeded by his first cousin. Sir James Echlin. against whom the proceedings were instituted by other members of the family. He died while the court case was still at hearing in 1833. when the title passed to his son. Sir Frederick Henry Echlin who died unmarried in 1871. His brother. Sir Ferdinand Fenton Echlin. the 6th Baronet, died six years later.

His son. Sergeant Thomas Echlin. born 1844. inherited the title and little else in 1877. Gone were the estates they once had in Carlow. Wicklow, Galway and Kildare. Sir Bernard Burke, writing in Vicissitudes of Families, remarked that "Fenton continues to reside at Kilmeague. County Kildare, deriving his support from his sons, very deserving young men. one a policeman (Thomas), another a private soldier in the Life Guards, and the third a footman".

What Thomas did inherit with the title were the family heirlooms, including the sword used by Lieutenant General Robert Echlin at the Battle of the Boyne On the walls of his office hung family portraits, and armorial bearings of the Echlin's. Another treasure was an oak box containing parchments, family records, and deeds to the former family estates. For Sir Thomas, the title became a source of irritation and annoyance, particularly among his senior R.I.C officers. Protocol demanded that he be saluted by all and sundry in the ranks, and he was entitled to be addressed "Sir" Such was the climate of the times that such matters could not be easily ignored, and on a number of occasions, a civil service posting abroad was considered for him.

It is not entirely clear if any of the family's Carlow estates were part of the property in dispute during the court case Anne Echlin, a spinster living at Stephen's Green. Dublin, owned Sandbrook when she died in 1804. and in her will proved in April the following year, she confirmed a letting agreement for the house and 165 acres of land with Clement Wolseley. The lease was for 61 years, and the rental per acre was 4()s. She left the property, consisting in total of 500 acres, to Robert Marshall of Dublin, and he sold to Brownes of Browne's Hill for 488 in 1808. A "for sale" advertisement which appeared in the Correspondent on Saturday, June 18th. 1808 stated - "Let to very solvent tenants at rents no higher than what was paid for the ground 40 years ago".

The first Echlin home in Carlow was at Millpark, Kilbride, built in the 17th century for one of the four daughters of the Rev. Henry Echlin, Bishop of Down and Connor, from 1613, who came to Ireland from Scotland during the reign of King James I. It was his great-grandson, Henry Echlin, second Baron of the Court of Exchequer, who was created a Baronet in October 1712. His eldest son, who was an M.P., first for Downpatrick, and later for Newry, married Penelope Eustace, daughter of Sir Maurice Eustace of Harristown, County Kildare.

Millpark House was either leased or bought by the Tomlinsons around 1670, and remained in the ownership of this family until the death, in 1958, of Harriet Tomlinson. The estate, which comprised 452 acres in 1839, was sold to the Land Commission by William Tomlinson, and after the division of the land, the house was purchased by Sheila Eustace Harvey, a member of the Eustace family of Newstown. It is now the home of her son. Robin Harvey, and his wife Carole Joan.

The present drawing-room at Millpark. originally the kitchen, still retains some of its original features, including the wooden rafters, now well darkened by turf smoke The arch of the old fireplace is of local cut granite, and inside is a rounded fire-bricked oven for bread making. The large chimney had a crane fitted halfway up. enabling sides of bacon to be pulled into the flue and cured to perfection. Hooks are still in place on the rafters of the room where meat and other food items were hung. The drawing room ceiling is very unusual for a farmhouse. In 1720, Italian students who had been befriended by the Tomlinsons, returned the hospitality by completing elaborate Rococo plasterwork in the form of a hub and circle of wheat cars and stalks. The cornice was completed in the "small egg and dart" style.

Mark Bence-Jones in his book "Burke's Guide to Irish Country Houses" dates the original house at Sandbrook to the 18th century, with-the two wings being added later. The lease to Clement Wolseley is interesting because it supports local tradition that the first home of the family at Mount Arran. on the opposite side of the road to where Mount Wolseley was built, was burned during the 1798 Rebellion. William Browne-Clayton moved to live in Sandbrook after his marriage to Caroline Watson-Barton in 1867. and remained there until he inherited Browne's Hill on the death of his father, Robert Browne-Clayton, in 1888 There is a commemorative plaque in Aghade Church to William's second eldest son. also William, who was killed in action in India in September 1897.

Sandbrook was another example of the many Irish country houses that attracted senior British army officers when they retired after the First and Second World Wars. General George Lewis bought the house in 1918. and after his wife's death in 1938. the property was purchased by Brigadier Arthur George Rolleston. who had retired from the army. Born in 1883. he served in both World

Wars, was made O.B.E. in 1918. and saw action in Italy and France. In 1959. Sandbrook was purchased by John and Mary Allnatt. whose herd of Blonde d'Aquitaine cattle was among the top prize winners at agricultural shows throughout Britain and Ireland, including the Royal Dublin Society Spring Show, the Royal Welsh Show, and the Royal Ulster Show. In the 1960s, Mrs. Allnatt purchased Rathmore Park for her son from her first marriage. Brendan Foody, but after he had decided not to return to live in Ireland. Rathmore was sold. He inherited Sandbrook following his mother's death in September 1987. The farm manager there is Joe Whelan.

Before his death. John Allnatt. a wealthy financier, paid a quarter of a million pounds for Rubens' painting of the Madonna and Child to prevent the masterpiece leaving Britain, and he presented it to King's College. Oxford.


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