ENCHANTING, engaging and eccentric - the words used to describe the newly restored Lissan House and some of its former inhabitants ahead of the historic building’s public opening this week.
On Friday April 6th, the public got a first chance to step back in time and visit the country residence as it was known to generations of the Staples family.
Along with modern interactive exhibits and original furnishings, the historic house is set to take visitors on a unique journey through decades of history and the family characters who shaped it.
This week, the Mid-Ulster Mail gained exclusive access to the building, which has undergone a £1.2 million restoration programme and had a sneak peek at what is store for visitors.
Although substantive repairs and internal works to upgrade the house have taken place since 2010, the house and its surroundings still hold its 17th Century character that have made it so enchanting it’s like walking back in time.
Inside the house remains original furnishings including an intact ballroom built by Lady Catherine Staples and her husband, the 9th Baronet of County Tyrone Sir Thomas Staples.
Alongside an original Victorian kitchen, children’s nursery, chic dining quarters and authentic decorated bedrooms, the walls of the building are adorned with the work of artist Sir Robert Ponsonby Staples (1853 - 1943).
A room dedicated to the Edwardian artist known as the ‘barefoot Baronet’ who lived in the house reveals the age in which he lived.
A wall sized family tree is also displayed in one of the country house’s dining rooms detailing the Staples family to this present day.
Homage is also paid to the last inhabitant of the estate, the late Hazel Dolling, who before passing away set up the Friends of Lissan House to restore the 17th Century home to it’s former glory.
Hazel worked tirelessly over the last few years of her life to realise her vision for the protection of Lissan House for the benefit of the local community and its development as an attractive destination for visitors.
And those at the Lissan House Trust, which has presided over the restoration project have certainly not let Mrs Dolling down.
As well as extensive walks and trails around the estate’s 300 acre site, a walled garden set to be used for concerts and activities and a state-of-the-art play park for children, it looks like Lissan House and Demesne is set to stay in the heart of the community for quite a long time.