Beech Hill House

In the past year Newtownards has lost two of the grand old family mansions, Killard and Ard House, demolished to make way for new developments. Next on the hit-list is Beech Hill House standing on high ground opposite the Flood Gates in the townland of Gregstown.

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Built in the late 1800s, a huge and marvellously Dickensian structure with an equally enormous rear annex not seen from this angle but shown the OSNI Edition 3 map from c. 1920. I was standing just left of the 'G' of 'Gregstown' to take the photo, on what is now the Old Shore Road.

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For most of the 20th century it was occupied by the Clements family; the eldest son had been diagnosed with TB and it was recommended that he be raised in an area of fresher air than the smokey skies of Belfast, so the family moved to Beech Hill in the 1930s. Harry, the younger son, became famous around the town for his beekeeping expertise and lived there with his wife Edith until his death in 2007.

I don't know if it is currently occupied but there is CCTV active on the site, plus pegs on the washing line!

Planning proposal is for 18 large detached houses on the site.