Explore Clifton Street Cemetery this Halloween weekend and discover its darker side! Opened in 1797 as the ‘New Burying Ground’ there are many tales to be told here. Death, Tragedy & Betrayal focuses on the ‘darker side’ of the cemetery’s history. From the infamous body snatchers which plagued the cemetery in its opening decades and the drastic actions taken to curb this lucrative trade, to the burial of murder victims, hangings and other tragic deaths! Due to the nature of the content parental discretion is advised. Booking in advance is essential. Please use the button below to book via Visit Belfast: [...]
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So far Clifton House has created 76 blog entries.
We are delighted to confirm that historian and author Dr Gareth Russell will join us in October as part of the President's Talks Series 2023 Gareth has been no stranger to our televisions and radios recently. His most recent book is the non-fiction bestseller, The Palace: From the Tudors to the Windsors, 500 Years of History at Hampton Court. His talk in October is titled 'Olaudah Equiano: Aristocrat, Abolitionist, and Activist'. When best-selling author Olaudah Equiano arrived in Belfast in 1791, his life had already taken him from a childhood in the Benin aristocracy to enslavement on a Virginia tobacco plantation. [...]
At the historic Mulhouse Building at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast (now part of the Healthcare Library of Northern Ireland) can be found a mysterious chest containing medical objects. No-one is sure how it got there. The chest seems to be connected to a local doctor, James McCleery, surgeon to the male side of the Poor House at Clifton House (founded by the Belfast Charitable Society). Read more here: A Mysterious Medical Chest – Epidemic Belfast (epidemic-belfast.com) This is a remarkable find and we very much look forward to displaying some of the items during our 250th anniversary year in 2024. [...]
Following air strikes in April 1941 those in charge of Clifton House set about making arrangements to get the residents and the staff out of Belfast. They ultimately settled on Garron Tower on the North Coast as a safe refuge. Garron Tower was a quiet, isolated spot compared with life in the city of Belfast. Rationing also had an impact. In Belfast the relatives of the residents could have easily walked there for visits, however with petrol rationed, even those with cars did not have enough fuel to get to Garron Tower. The Matron requested additional games, gramophone records and a [...]
Children were admitted for a variety of reasons to the Poor House, but we have records of a number that were abandoned by their families. Two years prior to Mary West’s admission to the Poor House a volcanic eruption had caused what was known as the ‘Year of No Summer’, which decimated crops and led to the spread of disease. Even in 1818 the effects of famine, fever and poverty were still rife in Belfast. The Poor House was under pressure to cope with demand, and the conditions in the town drove many people to desperate actions in order to survive. [...]
There have been some unusual donations to Belfast Charitable Society over the years, many of them recorded on huge wooden boards with the details of donors stencilled on. On this day (30 September) 1818 Mr Girmondi, who was in Belfast entertaining the citizens of the town, became one of these donors. Girmondi was the proprietor of a troop of 'Dancing Dogs' and he donated a days takings from his exhibition to the Poor House in order to support its work. You too can support the work of Belfast's oldest charity! Our weekend tours offer something for everyone- from our Friday afternoon [...]
You will have undoubtedly heard her name in recent weeks and months in the media, but do you know the full story of Mary Ann McCracken? This formidable woman would have been a well known figure in her day, walking through the streets of Belfast, always on a mission! Now you have the chance to walk those same streets, and find out more about her life, the places she lived, worked and visited. You will come away not only knowing more about Mary Ann herself, but also what life was like in Belfast and Ireland when she was alive. You will [...]
At the George, 28th August 1752 The evening of Friday 28th August 1752 was cool in Belfast. After closing up their businesses and homes, a group of nineteen merchants, burgesses [councillors] and the local vicar, made their way to the George Inn at the corner of North Street and John Street (now Royal Avenue). It was there in the George Inn that these gentlemen formed the Belfast Charitable Society, to address poverty and help the poor. The names of the founders were recorded in the first minute book of the new society, which is now held in the Clifton House archives: [...]
On Saturday 22 August 1818 the Belfast Poor House had a rather unusual visitor. Grand Duke Michael Pavlovich of Russia dismounted his carriage at the stone steps in front of the building and was given a tour of the institution by members of Belfast Charitable Society. The Grand Duke must have been impressed by what he saw as he was shown through the corridors of the Poor House, as he made a substantial donation of £54 to support its work- the equivalent of over £5,000 today. His name was subsequently added to one of our donation boards which originally hung in [...]
During the Second World War, residents of Clifton House- then known as the Belfast Charitable Institution- were evacuated from Belfast to Garron Tower on the North Coast due to the threat of air raids on the city. It was during the stay there that the Belfast Charitable Society had the first recorded marriage between two residents in its long history. A bachelor called John Bloomer, aged 83, married Frances Ash, aged 65, at Largy Road Parish Church, a short distance from Garron Tower. The ceremony was attended by residents and staff. The couple were granted permission by the Board to honeymoon [...]