The strange ruin encountered on a trail through Castlewellan Forest turned out to be a 20ft diameter tea house, built by Hugh Annesley (5th Earl Annesley) for his family on his Castlewellan estate in County Down in 1884.
It had spectacular views over the Mourne Mountains and a nearby lake which is also part of the Annesley estate. It forms part of a popular trail through the forest and gardens, enjoyed today by the public
The Annesley family built up a substantial estate in the south of County Down over a number of generations including a castle and forest at Castlewellan. They held a lease on the estate since the 17th century, and bought the freehold in 1741.
Hugh Annesley, (1831-1908) was an Eton College educated professional soldier who became Colonel of the Scots Fusilier Guards in 1860. He became 5th Earl Annesley after the death of his brother, William Richard in 1874, inheriting the family seat of Castlewellan Castle. Here, as a keen gardener, he continued the development of the arboretum and gardens, and even published a book about the rare trees in his collection.