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History

KILWAUGHTER CASTLE lies about three miles in a westerly direction from Larne in County Antrim.

The original tower-house was four storeys high with turrets, built for the Agnew family, tax collectors for JAMES VI.

The present building incorporates a Scottish style plantation house of ca 1622, built by Patrick Agnew, whose sister-in-law lived at Ballygalley Castle, which is near by.

Between 1803-07 the present Georgian castle was built for Edward Jones Agnew by John Nash in his “romantic castle” style. There is a wide, round tower at one corner; and a polygonal tower at another.
A daughter of “Squire Agnew” went to Italy were she married a Count. She returned to Kilwaughter around 1897 as Countess Balzani.

During the First World War, wounded American officers were among those who found comfort at Kilwaughter Castle, then the home of a fellow American, Mrs Elizabeth Galt Smith.

Her family leased and refurbished the castle for over thirty years, until 1922.

During the Second World War the fact that the castle was the property of the Italian Balzani family had resulted in it being declared enemy territory.

Kilwaughter Castle was occupied by soldiers including, in 1944, members of the American 644th Tank Destroyer Battalion preparing for D-day.

After the war the castle remained unoccupied and gradually fell into ruin.

The mansion has been derelict since 1951.

At present the castle ruin is part of a farm. The roof (part of which was originally sheathed with mere sand and tar) has collapsed, as have the floors.

Kilwaughter’s parkland is early 19th century, possibly the work of the landscape gardener, John Sutherland; and provided a setting for the now-ruinous house.

The Ordnance Survey Memoirs of 1835 noted that the date “1566” was inscribed on a piece of iron on an oak door existing at that time; and it is known that the site had a Norman origin, because the remains of a motte exist nearby.

The 18th century house was set in a formal landscape, with a straight approach avenue aligned on the front door.

The parkland of ca 1810 has had its extensive shelter belts depleted and many parkland tress have been lost. The artificial lake, created as a result of massive damming, is in danger of silting up.

The walled garden, in separate ownership from the greater part of the park, is partly cultivated. There is an ice house near the lake.

The main entrance gates were designed by Nash ca 1807, but the lodge, ca 1835, is possibly by Millar and Nelson; a picturesque cottage with barge-boards and latticed windows.