- Category: History
Waringstown owes its existence, name and unique contribution to the development of the Irish linen industry to William Waring, who built Waringstown House, around which the village developed. Waringstown is also famous for its cricket club, which is based at what is believed to be the second oldest ground in Northern Ireland.
Founding of Waringstown
For centuries the land on which Waringstown stands belonged to the Magenis clan, Lords of Iveagh, who controlled much of County Down. After their participation in the burning of Lisburn during the insurrection of 1641, they were deemed to have forfeited their land, which, following Oliver Cromwell's campaign in Ireland several years later, was later distributed among his troops. The son of a wealthy Lancastrian tanner, William Waring bought the western part of the parish of Donaghcloney from a Cromwellian commander, Captain Barrett, in 1658.
Origins of the Irish linen industry
Waring, who was anxious to introduce a prosperous industry that would employ local people, was among the first in Ireland to see the potential of linen. While the Irish wool industry, seen as a rival by the English, was almost taxed out of existence, the Irish linen industry was granted tariff protection and actively encouraged. Waring's vision was continued by his son Samuel, who was greatly impressed by the linen finishing techniques he saw on his travels in Holland and Belgium. On his return in 1688 these techniques were introduced to the weavers of Waringstown and the village soon acquired a reputation for the highest quality cambric and damask cloths.
Over the years, the Warings, who established one of the earliest bleaching greens in Ireland, introduced a number of innovations to the Irish linen industry. Samuel, who co-founded the Irish Linen Board in 1710, supported measures which supported improved the quality of the linen and encouraged local weavers with free equipment.
The oldest unfortified mansion house in Ireland, and hugely significant architecturally, Waringstown House was built in the Jacobean style by William Waring in 1667 and has been occupied by his descendants ever since. Mud built over rubble masonry with two projecting towers to defend the front door, the building was constructed to withstand attack from enemies. Among the mansion's most notable guests was the Duke of Schomberg, William 111's most trusted general, who was sent to Ireland to confront the troops of James 11 in 1689. He stayed here, in a tapestried, oak-panelled room since known as 'the Duke's Room', en route to Dundalk to confront Jacobite forces. Today, the house and gardens, with their collection of rare trees, is occupied by the Harnett family, descendants of William Waring.
Further information on Waringstown House is available at the Craigavon Historical Society website.
Fit for a king
One of the world's most celebrated linen damask tablecloths was made in Waringstown. Commemorating the coronation of George 11 in 1727, it was woven in one piece despite its remarkable size, 11 feet by 9 feet, and designed with illustrations of the coronation procession, the royal arms and a map of London. It reveals the remarkable skill of the Waringstown weavers, considered among the elite of the global linen industry. The Waringstown cloth, an astonishing tribute to the craftsmanship of the weavers can be viewed at the Irish Linen Centre, Lisburn.
Much of the southern part of Waringstown was rebuilt by Mrs Margaret Waring in 1932. The widow of Holt Waring, who was killed in the First World War, she used her private wealth to greatly enhance the village. Among her many donations was the original site of Waringstown Primary School (which moved in 1990). The school has won countless awards in the fields of sport and music, including Ulster Television's School Choir of the Year in 1998 and BBC Songs of Praise School Choir Of The Year 2004.
The Church of the Holy Trinity Waringstown
William Waring built this beautiful Jacobean-style church in 1681. The church, including the large north transept, was extended and improved in the 19th century but much of the original building remains, such as the magnificent original timbered roof, constructed from local oak, the Jacobean oak altar rail and the oak pulpit. The village's remarkable linen heritage and the central role of the Waring family are portrayed in the magnificent stained glass windows. At the entrance to the chancel hangs the ancient flag of the Waringstown Volunteers, part of nationwide militia formed to protect Ireland against French invasion in 1778. Its tower was built in the 1740s and its bell installed in 1750. William Waring and several of his successors are buried in the east end of the church. There are many interesting eighteenth century stones in the graveyard, the oldest dating from 1709.
Further information on the Holy Trinity Church is available at the Craigavon Historical Society website.
Waringstown Cricket Club
Waringstown Presbyterian Church
|At the centre of the village, this building, which dates from around 1700, was once a coaching house. Now restored it continues its coaching tradition as a pub offering food and accommodation.|
Many men from Waringstown district served in both World Wars. Mrs Waring, a war widower, called a public meeting in April 1919 to discuss a suitable memorial for the village. The idea of a tower and clock was suggested as a fitting daily remembrance each time the clock struck.
On the edge of Waringstown on the Clare Road, sits one of the most attractive houses, Woodview Cottage. Sitting amongst mature trees, the long white cottage with its pyracantha shrub, is a welcome reminder of the style of buildings once common throughout the village.
Diaper Hill House
By 1886 between 300 and 400 handloom weavers lived in the village and it wasn't until 1968 that the last firm, John McCollum, closed.
Waringstown also boasted a brewery and linen and clothing factories in the 19th century.
Kingshill, a rural hamlet on the Clare Road is home to Dunleath Cottages on the left side leaving Waringstown. Thought to have been re-Built by the Dunleath family pre 1900, these five dwellings, described as English style, replaced earlier mud walled cottages on the same site. Each cottage has its own 'shop' in the lower end, the shop being a room assigned solely for a handloom.
Kingshill also had a starch mill which doubled as a soup kitchen during the Great Famine.