Belfast Telegraph

Yours for £1.6m - Portrush house where John F Kennedy dropped in for tea

The imposing 19th century house that has played host to the great and the good including a future US president goes on market

By Stephanie Bell

A historic Co Antrim home where John F Kennedy once dropped in for afternoon tea has just gone on the market.

Strandmore House has played host to the rich and famous over the years - but it can also boast a visit from a man who would go on to be one of the best known presidents in US history.

The imposing 19th century four-storey property - which is on the market for £1.6m - sits right on the coast and has close ties to the local Royal Portrush Golf Club.

It was built around 1860 by Rebecca Rice, the wealthy daughter of a property magnate and ship owner and has to be one of the most desirable homes on the market at the moment.

It remained in the Rice family until the 1930s when it was bought by Dr Sloan Bolton, an ophthalmic and aural surgeon who carried out considerable renovation work, adding a number of Art Deco features such as fireplaces and bathrooms.

Dr Bolton was captain of Royal Portrush Golf Club from 1938-40 while his wife Zara was an English international and Curtis Cup player and both captain and president of the ladies branch of Royal Portrush for more than 30 years until her death in March 1994.

Fred Daly, the winner of the 1947 Open Golf Championship, was a regular caller to Strandmore House.

Its most distinguished guest however called in August 1940 during a visit to the Republic.

The then future US president John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and his father Joseph Kennedy, who was the US Ambassador to London at the time made the trip north to visit Dr Bolton. The Bolton family still have the chairs used by the then future president and his father.

The house is currently owned by Mr Bolton's four sons and one of them, who still lives in it, Kent, told the story: "I think my father and JFK had a mutual friend, who had mentioned to JFK if he was in Ireland he should visit Dr Bolton - and he did.

"We know it was early August 1940 because my mother was in hospital in Belfast giving birth to my brother.

"They called and my father's secretary made them afternoon tea.

"My father was a rugby fanatic and apparently they spent the afternoon talking about rugby. My father had played for Coleraine Inst for four years and also for Ireland but was injured in the First World War, which ended his sporting career. He remembers JFK getting up from his seat and going over to the fireplace to stand as if warming his backside but the fire wasn't lit."

In what was a remarkable coincidence, before Mr Bolton bought the property, JFK's sister had rented the house for a holiday just a couple of years earlier.

"Apparently it was before my father bought it and it was a complete coincidence that JFK called at the house which his sister had rented and he never knew," said Mr Bolton.

"It is amazing that two Kennedys were in the same house in Northern Ireland."

Dan Henry of selling agents R Benson & Son said: "It is without doubt one of the most prestigious properties in Portrush and its location and its association with Royal Portrush Golf Club has ensured there is wide appeal. We've had a lot of interest from people here and across the water."

  • Further information available from R Benson & Sons on 70343677 or

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph