Saturday, 9 April 2016

Harriet Hobart at Castle Coole

My new home,
Named for an Irish lake.
Dismal and cold and grey.
Old as forever.

My new husband,
Named for an Irish mountain
To quell his flabby jealousy.
Dismal and cold and grey. 
Old as forever.

My new hope,
Here in the sun-stained stable,
Purloining a warm undismal hour...

My new horror.
Confined, to be confined 
Till I am as old as forever too.
May she be a she.
May her eyes be blue.


Harriet Hobart, born in 1762, was married reluctantly at the age of seventeen to the widowed Armar Lowry-Corry of Castle Coole, County Fermanagh. He was almost forty years old and had lost his beloved wife Margaret and their elder son. His remaining son was five years old.

Harriet and Armar shared a birthday, but little else. The marriage, arranged for reasons of political and financial advantage, was doomed from the start. And, very unusually for the day, within eighteen months Harriet had been permitted to leave her husband and return to London, taking with her her beautiful brown-eyed baby daughter Louisa. An act of Parliament was required to dissolve the marriage, eventually leaving both Harriet and Armar free to wed again.

In the music room at Castle Coole hang portraits of Armar's first wife, Margaret, and his third wife, Mary. There is none of Harriet.

The one thing she did leave for Castle Coole was her husband's title. He had fumed and huffed for years that he couldn't call himself the Earl of Fermanagh, since that title had already been taken by relatives who lived in the slightly grander local stately home, Florence Court. Harriet suggested that he become Earl Belmore, after the mountain visible from the elegant drawing room window pictured here. Belmore is still the family title.

There is no suggestion in the historical documents that, despite her aversion to her husband and to Fermanagh life in general, Harriet was anything other than unhappily faithful to him during their brief marriage. 

But one can't help but wonder.

No comments:

Post a Comment