Seymour’s Heritage Room
Stay: The Castle
The third of Sir John and Leonie Leslie’s four sons, Seymour loved chinoiserie and the very latest inventions. The most social and romantic of the brothers, he suffered crippling tuberculosis as a child and spent his youth lying on his back. With nothing better to do, he became fluent in French, English and German literature. This enchanting room overlooks the lake and gardens with idyllic views. The serene atmoshphere has earned Castle Leslie the reputation of one of the most romantic hotels in Ireland.
Seymour was an intriguing character. After receiving a qualification in electrical engineering, he installed the first electric lights in the castle – which caused much consternation among the staff, who thought he was up to some kind of black magic!
As a joke he applied for a job at Queen Charlotte’s Maternity Home, demanding three times the salary and a huge office. The interview board was impressed and offered him the job. He turned out to be a brilliant appeal secretary, raising millions to build the then ultra modern hospital in Hammersmith, and invented the famous ‘Queen Charlotte’s Birthday Ball’. He married happily and was due to receive a knighthood for his hard work, but instead he was kicked out with a tiny pension from the new National Health Service. Undeterred, he returned to Dublin and replicated the work he had done for Queen Charlotte’s Maternity Home for the Adelaide Hospital.
A keen author and historian in his own right, Seymour penned Glaslough in Oriel, a definitive account of the history of Castle Leslie Estate and an insightful snapshot into life in Glaslough over a century ago, and The Jerome Connexion, a collection of his reminiscences of two of the Jerome sisters; his dear mother Leonie and her sister Jennie Churchill, set against the backdrop of Edwardian society in the late 19th and early 20th century.
Always one to have his finger on the pulse, Seymour regular wrote articles for Vanity Fair in the 1920s and 1930s and was also a passenger aboard the R.M.S. Oceanic accompanying Lady Marjorie, Shane’s future wife, to New York, which on May 13th 1912 came upon the last of the Titanic collapsable canvas lifeboats, still floating in the ocean a month after the tragic event. Seymour was the only member of the ship’s company who had the presence of mind to take photographs of this incident. He took his “scoop” on arrival to the New York Times who apparently published them over a two page spread.
Seymour retired to Castle Leslie Estate in 1962, converting the west wing of the Castle into a separate residence. In his later years, knowing that the end was drawing near, he held a ‘tomb warming’ party in the crypt at St. Salvator’s. Black invitations were sent out to friends and family, and drinks and canapés were laid out on top of the lead lined coffins! A great time was had by all, but Seymour decided that he didn’t like the crypt – in fact, with typical black humour, he’s alleged to have said, “I wouldn’t be found dead in a place like this!” He died aged 86, and requested to be buried under a weeping willow in Glaslough churchyard rather than in the damp family vault.
A true ‘bon viveur’ who remained ever youthful in mind and spirit, it was oft said of him that ‘Whenever Seymour Leslie walks into a room, there’s an instant party’.
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The Castle at Castle Leslie Estate exudes old world grandeur and offers complete respite from the world.