Sir John’s Heritage Room
Sir John Norman Ide Leslie, 4th Bt. of Castle Leslie, Glaslough (1916-2016), affectionately known as ‘Uncle Jack’ by his family, was born in New York on 6 December 1916. He was the son of Sir John Randolph Shane Leslie, 3rd Bt., and Marjorie Ide, daughter of the American diplomat Henry Clay Ide, of Vermont, USA. He was a first cousin once removed of former British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill as his paternal grandmother, Leonie Jerome, and Churchill’s mother, Lady Randolph Churchill (born Jennie Jerome), were sisters – the daughters of American financier Leonard Jerome.
He was educated at Downside School, and later graduated from Magdalene College at Cambridge University in 1938. During World War II, he served as an officer in the Irish Guards during the Battle of France before being captured at Boulogne-sur-Mer in May 1940. He then spent five years in POW camps in Germany before liberation in May 1945.
He returned to Glaslough upon his release, where he spent a few years managing the Estate before then leaving to travel around Europe and the USA. He finally settled in Rome for the next 40 years of his life, where he thrived and restored old buildings, including his beloved Badia di San Sebastiano di Alatri, an abandoned monastery he acquired in 1967.
Sir Jack designed this particular room when it was reclaimed from the cellars in 2005. It seemed a fitting location for someone who’d lived in a cell within a remote Italian monastery without electricity for 35 years! The paintings near the bedside were faithfully depicted by Sir Jack whilst living in Italy and the room has beautiful views of Glaslough lake and the surrounding landscape. Now, it makes for a fitting location for luxury hotel breaks.
Upon the death of his father Shane, Jack succeeded to the title of 4th Baronet Leslie, of Glaslough, Co. Monaghan in 1971.
In 1994 at the age of 78, he returned to live at Castle Leslie Estate. One of his great passions in his later years was dance music, and in 2001 he travelled to Ibiza to celebrate his 85th birthday. The somewhat surprising glitter ball in the bathroom reflects his love of what he referred to as ‘Boom Boom’ music. In 2002, he became an overnight celebrity when he inadvertently revealed the wedding location of Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills by admitting to reporters it was to take place in Castle Leslie Estate, but that it was “a secret”.
Jack received an array of awards from chivalrous orders throughout his lifetime. He was decorated with the award of the Knight Commander, Order of St. Gregory the Great, and the award of the Knight of Honour and Devotion, Sovereign Military Order of Malta. He was presented with the Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur, the highest French order for military and civil merits, at the French embassy in Dublin on 9th November 2015.
Jack survived his older sister, the author Anita Leslie, and his younger brother, Desmond Leslie, an RAF pilot, film maker, writer, musician and avid ufologist. In 2006 he published his autobiography Never a Dull Moment. Jack passed away at the grand age of 99 on 18th April 2016. He never married or had children, but is survived and lovingly remembered by a dedicated bunch of nieces, nephews, grand-nieces and grand-nephews