THE historic Sloan’s House in Loughgall - where the Orange Order was formed in 1795 - is to receive £1m to create a museum, as part of a £4m project between the building and the Schomberg House in Belfast, the headquarters of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland.
Sloan’s House, in the village’s Main Street, is central to the Order. After the Battle of the Diamond in the environs of Dan Winter’s Cottage three miles away, the victors headed for the village, and signed the warrant to form the Orange Order in a table in the building.
The table is the centrepiece of the house 217 years later, and the artefacts also include a bust of King William and a musket and bayonet from the Battle of the Diamond. The house is being extended to include an additional museum area, with detailed information about the forming of the Order.
The extension of Schomberg House will incorporate a museum, which will include a replica Orange Hall, displaying a wealth of items and artefacts relating to the history of Orangeism across the world. The new state-of-the-art building will also incorporate a research facility and educational resource, with particular access for school and cross-community focused visits.
The projects have been made possible thanks to a grant of almost £4m from the European Union’s Peace III Programme, and the plans were unveiled at a press conference at Schomberg House on Wednesday. Match-funding for the project has been provided by the Department for Social Development in Northern Ireland and the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, in the Republic of Ireland.
It was also announced that five full-time staff will be appointed to both sites and they will be operational by the summer of 2014.
Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Edward Stevenson, said the initiative was “one of the most significant projects ever undertaken by the Institution”. He added, “The aim is to create understanding, education, tolerance and mutual respect through interpretation and creation of shared space.
“We greatly appreciate the support of the European Union’s PEACE III Programme and the assistance of our own devolved administration as well as the Government in the Republic – all of which will make a huge difference to our ongoing outreach.”
The artefacts at Schomberg House include - A letter written by William III prior to his departure to Ireland in June 1690; his saddlecloth, presented to Sir Thomas Coningsby, Quartermaster General, and complete with a warrant from William and Mary; Paymaster General’s book of payments to the Williamite Army, 1690; Grand Master’s Jewel, containing a lock of William’s hair; 1912 Ulster Covenant signed in his own blood by Sir Basil Brooke; Junior RBP sash worn by the late George Best as a boy.