Northern Ireland Sights



Castle Ward Review

With a 500-acre park, an artificial lake, a Neoclassical temple, and a vast house in Bath stone magically set on the slopes running down to the Narrows of the southern shore of Strangford Lough, Castle Ward must have been some place to call home. About 3 km (2 miles) from the village of Strangford, off the road to Downpatrick, this regal stately home was designed around 1760 in, rather famously, two differing styles. Bernard Ward, 1st Viscount Bangor, could rarely see eye to eye (gossip had it) with his wife, Lady Anne, and the result was that he decided to make the entrance front and salons elegant exercises in Palladian Neoclassicism, while milady transformed the garden facade and her own rooms using the most fashionable style of the day, Strawberry Hill Gothic. His white-and-beige Music Room is picked out in exquisite plasterwork (note how craftsmen decided to save a little money by taking objects, such as a tricorn hat and basket, and simply covering them in plaster), while her Boudoir has an undulating fan-vaulted ceiling that conjures up the "gothick" medievalisms of King Henry VII's chapel at Westminster. In point of fact, the couple's contretemps were dinner-table hearsay: they actually got along famously and the Gothic style was primarily used to beef up the ancestral image of a "Castle" Ward. Tours are held every hour, on the hour, from 11 to 4. Be sure to walk through the park, which has its own Wildlife Center, to enjoy the wonderful vistas overlooking the waters to the town of Portaferry and the Ards Peninsula. New trails were opened in 2011. On selected dates you can enjoy a decadent afternoon tea in Lord Bangor's sitting room in the mansion's private quarters. It costs £9 and must be booked in advance.

    Contact Information

  • Address: 1½ km (1 mile) west of Strangford on Downpatrick Rd. (A25), Downpatrick, BT30 7LS | Map It
  • Phone: 028/4488–1204
  • Cost: £6.63
  • Hours: Castle: July and Aug., daily 11–5; Mar.–June, Sept., and Oct., weekends 1–6. Grounds: Apr.–Aug., daily 10–8; Sept.–Mar., daily 10–4
  • Website:
  • Location: Castle Ward
Updated: 04-10-2013

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