Belvedere House

Belvedere House
Mullingar, Westmeath, Ireland.

Belvedere House is an elegant hunting lodge, constructed for “The Wicked Earl”, Robert Rochfort, 1st Earl of Belvedere, in 1740.

Rochfort’s main residence was Gaulstown House but he moved to Belvedere after he imprisoned his wife, Mary Molesworth, in the family home rather than risk the “social shame” of a divorce. Robert was selfish and unkind, and his coldness towards his wife intensified when she gave birth to a daughter instead of the son and heir he so wanted. Mary was a social creature and sacrificed much to become his wife, but the loneliness she felt resulted in her spending time at Belfield House with Robert’s younger brother Authur. As is often the case, people began to speculate on the nature of the relationship between Mary and Arthur, and Robert eventually accused them of having an affair. Arthur denied that anything inappropriate had occurred, but it would appear that Mary was misled into thinking that she would receive favorable divorce terms if she just admitted to it, even though she was innocent. But Robert’s paranoia and humiliation instead demanded that his wife be incarcerated at Gaulstown House. She was to have no visitors and the staff were not to engage with her. Arthur fled the country to avoid the threat of death that had been made against him, but he returned in 1757 and was sued under the allegation of “criminal conversation”. The court ruled in Robert’s favour, and awarded him the then enormous sum of £2,000. Arthur could not afford this sum and was imprisoned at Browne’s Castle where he died soon after. And the punishment didn’t there. Robert saw to it that Arthur’s nine children would be denied the land and the property that they were entitled to.

When Robert’s other brother George built his home, Tudenham House, he was consumed by envy. The magnificent (long gone) property was bigger and more elegant than his own, and he could not bear to look at it. He ordered that a wall be constructed to block the view. The wall was deliberately designed to resemble part of a ruined abbey, and this magnificent folly (“the jealous wall”) still remains.

Robert died in 1774 and the cause of his death was “blunt force trauma”. There are several theories as to what happened, with some saying he was murdered and others that he simply fell and struck his head. When he died, his wife’s thirty-one year incarceration came to an end, but the ordeal had taken its toll on her health. There are conflicting reports as to what she did after she was freed, but on her death bed some time later, she maintained that she had not been unfaithful to her husband.

Belvedere House was sold to Westmeath County Council in 1982 and the property and surrounding gardens are now a major tourist attraction. They are also said to be haunted.

A caretaker reported hearing knocking on a particular window in the basement. He would knock a number of times himself, only to hear the same number of knocks in reply. There was a drop outside the window, so there is no way that someone could have been standing there, and he could find no evidence of birds or other wildlife either. The rich scent of brandy and the distinct smell of cigar smoke has also been detected in the house, although of course neither of these are now present. Some claim that there is a sense of unease around the house after dark, and that women in particular feel uncomfortable here. Ethereal whistling has also been reported around the property.

If you are alone and you happen to find yourself on the shore of Lough Ennell, you may even encounter the ghost of a woman, wearing a blue cloak and veil. Witnesses report that the spectre is paddling in the water and appears to be franticly searching for something before she silently fades away. Some believe that this is the spirit of Mary Molesworth.

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Further Information

Venue Name
Classification(s)
Great House  | Great House Garden / Parkland
Address
Belvedere, Mullingar, Westmeath, N91 EF80, Ireland

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Admission Policies
Opening Times Apply
Admission Fee Applies
Facilities & Services
Café / Coffee Shop / Restaurant
Car Park
Concert Venue
Gardens
Marked Walking Trails
Picnic Area
Playground
Toilets (opening hours may apply)

Disclaimer

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