Milford House Museum

 

The Gate Lodge

The Milford House Gate Lodge was built and designed by Robert G. Mc Crum c.1880. J.A.K Dean described the Milford House Gate Lodge in 'The Gate Lodges of Ulster (UAHS 1994) as:

"The remarbaly durable geormetric pattern teak concave fence sweeps are flanked by High Victorian Limestone pillars, virtually identical to those at Clanwilliam, Co. Antrim differing only in being surmounted in ornamental fan shape electric light holders. The rugged square pillars rise from smooth bases, the body well engaged and baded marble collonettes at each corner. Over the cappings are gabled with quartrefoil motifs, as are the semicircluar gablets to the two facing sides. Two big stone balls act as buffer protection tot he cntral piers which never had gates. In contrasting hard red raw brick the the simple story T plan lodge, its three steeply pitched gables clad in diamond terracota tile hangings and decorated with simple bargeboards with collar tie. The slate roof with red earthenware crestings and fleur de lys apex finials, carries down in a catlside over a nicely tcarved timbered entrance hall. On the main gable a tall canted timber bay with hip roof awaits visitors. Red brick corbelled chimmney on a plinth".

The front avenue was lined with trees including beech trees. R.G Mc Crum installed pumps every fifteen feet to wash horse droppings down the avenue. It was lined with electric lamp posts. People came from far and wide to see to stare agog at the phenomenum. Even boys in the village used to go up and see the avenue and Milford House lit up at night from Stormy hill (their parents thought they were in their beds!). There was a pathway for servants to walk down along the embankment (they were forbidden to walk on the avenue) which led out to a gate known as 'Mc Crum's Gate. This gate opened on the Ballyards Road opposite the entrance to the Cricket pitch.

Milford House Gate Lodge 1955

It was home to Mr and Mrs. Blackstock in the 1920s and1930s. Mr. Blackstock being a gardener and handyman at Milford House. Later it was lived in by Bob Mc Kane and his wife Lizzy. Bob had been chauffeur to Thomas Montgomery J.P Managing Director of Mc Crum, Watson & Mercer who lived at The Red House Milford. Prior to moving to the Gate Lodge he was caretaker of the R.G Mc Crum Institute in the village. He was a gardener and bootman at the Manor House School. He died in 1965 at the Gate Lodge and worked at the Manor House School up until his death.

Following the sale of the Milford House estate to Northern Ireland Hospital Authorities, Milford House became home to the Manor House Special Care Hospital. The front avenue was no longer used and both the Gate Lodge and avenue were later sold off as seperate lots. The Dunlop family lived in Gate Lodge from the 1980s until 2005. In 1984 the trees were argued to be dangerous by the current owner who wished to cut them down. This created much controversy and the Planning Office eventually ruled that the trees could be removed but stated that every tree which was removed must be replaced. Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace protested publicly. They chained themselves to the trees but it was to no avail. The Trees were cut down and have never been replaced.

The Gate Lodge originally had two bedrooms. In the 1980s, the front bedroom which led of the Parlour was converted into a kitchen and a flat roof extension gave the Lodge three beds. There is a beautiful Armagh Marble fireplace in the Parlour.

By 2007 the Gate Lodge was in a bad state of disrepair. The Milford Buildings Preservation Trust acquired the Gate Lodge from the owners under a caretaker's agreement. The Gate Lodge was in a bad state of disprepair and the Trust undertook a continous programme of restoration and repair which was made possible through generous donations from the past pupils of the Manor House School and volunteers. The garden had also become overgrown and the Trust did much reinstate the garden. In clearing the bank opposite six roles of William Morris 'Strawberry Thief' wallpaper and parts of a piano and armchair were uncovered. 

The Milford House Museum was opened there in March 2008 by great grandchildren of R.G Mc Crum the Rev. John Miller, Mr. David Miller and Captain Antony Mc Crum R.N (Retired). Sadly in September 2009 the Trust had to leave the Gate Lodge when the caretaker's agreement ended. The Milford House Gate Lodge was designated a B1 listed building in October 2009- a testament to the restoration work of the Trust. The current owner of Milford House reopened the front avenue in 2011. Restoratiion of the Gate Lodge continued in 2010 with the owner's restoring the original bay window and clearing the overgrowth surrounding the chicken house. The Gate Lodge has been used as Santa Cottage in 2011 and 2012.

Parlour Milford House Gate Lodge 2008 when it was home to the Milford House Museum