Benvarden House is an attractive house with an intriguing history, beautifully situated on the River Bush.
The land was originally leased to Daniel Macnaghten by Lord Antrim in 1636. His descendant, John Macnaghten, was hanged in 1761 for shooting wealthy heiress Mary Anne Knox, of Prehen, while trying to abduct her. At his execution, the rope broke and in a vain attempt to avoid being forever remembered as ‘Half-hanged Macnaghten’, he climbed the scaffold for a second attempt. Despite his efforts, the nickname stuck.
In 1797, Benvarden was bought by Hugh Montgomery, who was one of the founding partners of the Northern Bank. He extended the house considerably, adding twelve bedchambers and a ballroom.
Benvarden is probably best remembered for its lion park, which enthralled so many visitors from the 1970s to 1996.
The estate is well-known for its extensive beautiful gardens which were cultivated in the early 19th century and continue to be maintained with dedication by the present owners.
OPENING HOURS FOR GARDENS: June – August 12 noon – 5.30pm (Closed Mondays, except Bank Holidays.)