Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Malone House

Shrouded in trees just above Shaws Bridge stands Malone House. It has the feeling of a rural stately home but we are minutes away from the top of the Malone Road.

It has a simple understated elegence, I love the symmetry of the sash windows at the front in particular and how at the rear of the house the land drops away providing a stunning vista of the Castlereagh hills. It really is a beautiful house and I’ve loved it since studying it for a school project in primary school.

William Legge built Malone House on the site of an old fort around 1820, which he occupied until his death in 1868. The last private tenant William Barnett died in 1943, leaving the house, and its grounds, to the City of Belfast. After the Second World War, and some ground development, Barnett’s Park opened in 1951, with Malone House providing a tea-room.

In 1970, the National Trust leased Malone House, as its Northern Ireland Headquarters, until the building was bombed on 11 November 1976 and all but destroyed by resultant fire. Belfast City Council, upon public demand, began rebuilding Malone House in 1980 and the new refurbished house was opened in 1982. It now houses a cafe, art gallery and is used for weddings.

Sadly inside some parts of the 1980’s restoration were better done than others and the feel is much more of a function suite than of the grand house it once was. Malone House serves lunch Mon-Sat for £23 for two courses for two people and it also serves Sunday lunch.

Walking round the building gave me a feeling of waste, so much more could be done with this space. I’m stunned it has never been opened as a restaurant at night and the cafe really could do much more than at present, especially with a venue like this at the top of the Malone Road. It’s just crying out for a little bit of the glamour it once had.


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