Belvedere House, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath


Belvedere House, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath

Belvedere House was built in 1740 by Robert Rochfort 1st Earl of Belvedere. It was based on plans by Richard Castle. Robert married Mary Molesworth in 1736. According to the history of the house, Robert came to be posioned against his wife:

'Nearby was Bellfield, the home of Roberts younger brother, Arthur.  There was much commuting between the houses which continued until the tragic events of later years.  For some reason, which has never been satisfactorily explained, Lady Belvedere was openly opposed by her brother -in- law George Rochfort.  The staff in Gaulstown were undoubtedly accomplices to this intrigue, and the Earl's wife suspected that she was being constantly watched.  Seeking comfort and companionship to compensate for her unenviable position, she found a friendly welcome at the home of Arthur Rochfort. In due course a son was born and Lord Belvedere celebrated the birth of the Heir in magnificent fashion. Rural or domestic life held no attractions for him, but Lady Belvedere found the tranquility of Gaultown charming.  She gave her children all the attentions a mother could bestow, but because of her artistic temperament, she yearned for the company of her peers which had been a source of mutual appreciation during her life in Dublin.  This led to her increasing dependence on Belfield House and the company of Arthur Rochfort and his wife, Sarah.  Two more sons were born to her - but the earl showed little interest in them.  His visits had become by this time, rare and stormy occurrences.  The malicious gossip of some of the household particularly that of the woman who had previously held his affections had poisoned Robert against his wife.  He charged Mary with being unfaithful to him naming Arthur, his brother, as the partner.

Lord Belvedere pursued his brother, making no secret of his intention of shooting him on sight.  With his wife imprisoned in Gaulstown House the Earl settled in his new home, Belvedere House on the shores of Lough Ennell.  It was thought of as a more suitable residence for the Earl who was considered as a monarch of all he surveyed.

The years passed and Lady Belvedere submitted herself to her fate. On his occasional visits to Gaulstown his wife was kept indoors.  The customary precautions were once relaxed with disastrous results when Lady Belvedere came face to face with her husband who was accompanied by his brother, George, her old enemy.  She pleaded for some relief from her dreadful imprisonment, if only the company of the fellow beings and spoke of the hardship of her lot which was plainly visible in her careworn face, aged years before her time.  Even the revenging heart of Robert was moved, but not that malignant mind of his brother, George who advised against any relinquishing of the prison state. The Earl decided that no further incident of this sort would ever happen again.  Subsequently his presence at Gaulstown was always signalled by the constant ringing of the bell by the servant who accompanied Lady Belvedere in the grounds of the estate and so warned any meeting between the estranged couple was avoided.
Just a short distance from Belvedere, George Rochfort built a mansion (Tudenham) considerably larger than Belvedere.

After the trial, Lord Belvedere turned his attention towards his neighbour, George. Between Belvedere   and Rochfort he built a Gothic Ruin, since called the Jealous Wall which completely blocked the view of one house from the other.'



Belvedere House History Ireland VIEW SOURCE

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