in the early part of the 20th century at the time of Sir John Lumsden
Transformation of the garden
Sir John Lumsden bought Earlscliffe in 1930. At the time he also had a
property in 4 Fitzwilliam Place where he had a medical practice on the first
floor and he used to rent out Earlscliffe in the winter months (October to May)
The house at that time was mostly surrounded by fields (see
picture opposite). There were a few houses behind it on the upper road (what is
now the old Carrickbrack road), but the gardens were not very developed (see the
letter below from Betty L'Estrange, one of Sir John's daughters).
LANDSCAPING A GARDEN 
Sir - It was with great interest that I read in the weekend supplement of
June 13th, "One man's way to achieve beauty without backache", written by
Ella Shanahan. And I feasted on the beautiful picture.
It might be of some interest to keen gardeners to know that
approximately 56 years ago my father, the late Sir John Lumsden, bought
Earlscliffe from the late Dr Ella Webb. As this superbly sited place of
seven acres was virtually shrubless and flowerless, my father set to, to
landscape and transform the garden. He had many shrubs planted, not,
unfortunately, as beautiful as Dr Robinson's present ones. He also planned
several terraces, and in the centre of the main picture one can just glimpse
one of the "points" of the St John Cross (my father being the founder and
first commissioner of the St John Ambulance Brigade in the Republic of
Ireland), the building of which gave my father enormous pleasure.
It was indeed God-sent, that such a skilled artist as Dr Robinson
should have bought, nurtured and improved Earlscliffe's garden as he has,
and I feel greatly indebted to him, as I greatly loved and appreciated the
18 years I lived there, up to my marriage in 1939. - Yours, etc.,
Lisnalurg House, Sligo
Irish Times, June 22 1987
Earlscliffe around 1930 (above), surrounded by fields.
After a few years, Sir John had transformed the garden with landscaped
borders and many beautiful shrubs and flowers.
Betty was born Betty Florence Lumsden on 4 October 1909. Betty was a
classical pianist and used to perform regularly in Dublin.
 She married Captain Christopher Carleton L'Estrange on 21 October
The picture below of the bride and groom was taken after her wedding, with
Percy Phain, Bishop of Kilkenny and Rector of Christ Church, Leeson Park in the
background. The picture was taken next to Sir John's aviary at Earlscliffe. Sir
John was an avid collector of budgerigars and won many competitions with his
The gardens at Earlscliffe
By the late 1930s the gardens at Earlscliffe had become more established (see
Sir John also built a sundial in the shape of a Maltese Cross (the symbol of
the St. John Ambulance Brigade). The sundial and the views across Dublin bay to
the Wicklow Mountains can be seen below.
Social life at Earlscliffe
From what we can gather, Sir John enjoyed his 'retirement' years
 at Earlscliffe, and hosted many social gatherings
there. Some examples can be seen in the photos below. There are also a number of
Lumsden family photos taken at Earlscliffe available in the following pages;
Photo set 1 and Photo set 2.
Also, we had a visit from Sir John Lumsden's grandson, John Radcliffe and his
wife Sheila on Thursday 23rd April 2009. John had some great stories to tell of
the Lumsden family and was interested to see some copies of photographs we have
from a Lumsden family album which we believe might have come from Sir John's
daughter, Betty L'Estrange (see Photo set 1 and
Photo set 2).
Life at Earlscliffe in the 1930s
To learn more about life at Earlscliffe in the 1930s, read the stories from
Margery L. Stratton, who stayed with her grandfather, Sir John Lumsden for a
whole year in 1935/6:
Read more about the Earlscliffe House and Gardens:
To learn more about the history of the Robinson Garden at
Earlscliffe, read the following page:
Disclaimer. Parts of the data found in these history pages has been
derived from sources currently available on the internet. In researching the
previous owners of Earlscliffe, certain assumptions have been made as to the
validity of this internet data. If you believe that some of this data is
inaccurate, please use the contacts page to let us
-  This was confirmed by an advertisement in the Irish Times September 20
1930 is for a "comfortable, furnished house to let October to May; three
receptions, six bedrooms, etc., electric light, telephone, garage; sheltered,
lovely southern view. Apply Lumsden, Earlscliff, Baily"
-  Irish Times, June 22 1987
-  An example of the concerts that Betty use to perform
at can be seen in an advertisement in the Irish Independent, February 28, 1939
for a concert with the Radio Éireann Irish Radio
-  thePeerage.com A
genealogical survey of the peerage of Britain as well as the royal families of
-  An article in the Irish Independent, November 16, 1939, pg 7,
describes the annual show of the Yorkshire Canary and Cage-bird Society of
Ireland which was held in the Gregg Hall, Dawson Street, Dublin and was opened
by Sir John, who was the president of the society. He also won three prizes
for his blue, cobalt and white budgerigars.
-  Although in his sixties when he moved to
Earlscliffe, Sir John never really retired. According to the book "Guinness
1886-1939. From Incorporation to the Second World War", Sir John did not
officially retire until 1944, the year he died. ("Guinness 1886-1939. From
Incorporation to the Second World War", S.R. Dennison and Oliver MacDonagh,
Cork University Press, ISBN-10: 1859181759,
This page was last updated on