The house at Florence Court was built in the 18th century for the Cole family, and was the seat for the Earls of Enniskillen until 1973.
Sir John Cole commissioned a small house for his family in the early 18th century here and named it after his wife, Florence. His son, the 1st Lord Mount Florence, replaced it with a larger mansion in 1750. No-one knows who the architect was, but Sardinian architect David Ducart added open colonnades and pavilions to the house in 1771 for the 1st Earl of Enniskillen, giving it a Palladian feel. It was the seat for the Earls of Enniskillen until 1973, and the 5th Earl gave the house and grounds to the National Trust in 1953. Most of the upper floor was damaged in a fire in 1955 and it has mostly been renovated, though some rooms are still closed.
Florence Court Library has a good collection of Victorian scientific books and Hibernica (Irish literature). But the books aren’t the library’s only treasure: the baroque plastered ceiling is a work of art in itself. You can take a guided tour of the house and have a picnic in the grounds before exploring the gardens, which include a pleasure garden landscaped by William King, overlooking the nearby mountains. Look out for the heather house, a reconstruction of an 18th-century thatched house, and the four-acre walled garden closer to the house. It was laid out in the 18th century and extended in the 1870s, with rose garden, heirloom fruit trees and vegetable garden. You can even stay in the little Rose Cottage there, which has been refurbished to use as a holiday let. Pop into the visitor’s centre and grab a map for one of the walking trails through the surrounding woodland, or a longer walk up the hill for a view over County Fermanagh.
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