Castle Ward

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Castle Ward
Castle Ward 2.JPG
Castle Ward Classical (south-west) Facade, September 2014
Coordinates54°22′23″N 5°34′44″W / 54.373°N 5.579°W / 54.373; -5.579Coordinates: 54°22′23″N 5°34′44″W / 54.373°N 5.579°W / 54.373; -5.579
Builtearly 1760s
Built forThe 1st Viscount Bangor
Architectnot known, possibly James Bridges of Bristol
OwnerNational Trust
Castle Ward is located in Northern Ireland
Castle Ward
Location of Castle Ward in Northern Ireland

Castle Ward is an 18th-century[1] National Trust property located near the village of Strangford, in County Down, Northern Ireland, in the townland of the same name. It overlooks Strangford Lough and is 7 miles from Downpatrick and 1.5 miles from Strangford.

Castle Ward is open to the public and includes 332 hectares (820 acres) of landscaped gardens,[1] a fortified tower house, Victorian laundry, theatre, restaurant, shop, saw mill and a working corn mill. It has a shore on Strangford Lough. From 1985 to 2010 it has also hosted Castleward Opera, an annual summer opera festival.


The most interesting aspect of Castle Ward is that of its dual architecture, representing the differing tastes of Lord Bangor and his wife, Lady Ann Bligh. While the entrance side of the building is done in a classical Palladian style with columns supporting a triangular pediment, the opposite side is Georgian Gothic with pointed windows, battlements and finials.[2] This difference in style continues throughout the interior of the house with the divide down the centre.[3]

Old Castle Ward

There is a tower house in the estate's farmyard, built as a defensive structure during 1610 by Nicholas Ward.[citation needed]


The north end of Strangford Manor was originally called Carrick na Sheannagh (from Irish carraig na sionnach 'rock of the foxes')[4] and owned by the Earls of Kildare. In 1570, it was bought by Bernard Ward, father of Sir Robert Ward, Surveyor-General of Ireland, and renamed Castle Ward.[4] The 850 acre walled demesne also dates from the 16th century. The Ward family built a succession of homes in their estate; Old Castle Ward, built about 1590 near to Strangford Lough, still survives, but a mansion built about 1720 by Judge Michael Ward was demolished about 1850, although some of the associated landscaping remains.[citation needed]

The architect of the current building, built during the early 1760s for Michael Ward's son, Bernard Ward, is unknown, although he may have come from the Bristol area, with which the Ward family had associations. It may have been James Bridges, who practised in Bristol between 1757 and 1763 and whose work there has some similarity to Castle Ward.[3] Bernard Ward was elevated to the Peerage of Ireland as The 1st Baron Bangor in May 1770. In January 1781, Lord Bangor was further advanced in the Peerage of Ireland when he was created The 1st Viscount Bangor.

The property was inherited in May 1781, under a settlement made in 1748, by the 1st Viscount's eldest son and heir apparent, Nicholas, 2nd Viscount Bangor, who was clearly insane. When his younger brother, Edward, died in 1812, leaving a young son, the youngest brother Robert took the opportunity to relocate the insane Lord Bangor into a smaller house in Downpatrick and strip Castle Ward of everything valuable. The house stood empty until the death of the 2nd Viscount in September 1827, when it was inherited by Edward's son, now the 3rd Viscount. He and his descendants restored the building and its furnishings, but on the death of the 6th Viscount in 1950 the house and estate were given in lieu of death duties to the Government of Northern Ireland, who presented the house and its gardens to the National Trust in 1952.[5]

On 10 February 1973, Leonard O'Hanlon (age 23) and Vivienne Fitzsimmons (age 17), both members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army, were killed when the bomb they planted exploded prematurely in the grounds of Castle Ward estate.[6][7][page needed]

In popular culture[edit]

Castle Ward was used as a filming location for Winterfell in the HBO television series Game of Thrones.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "National Trust - Castle Ward". web page. National Trust. Retrieved 21 October 2012.
  2. ^ Dixon, Hugh (1975). An Introduction to Ulster Architecture. Belfast: Ulster Architectural Heritage Society. p. 108.
  3. ^ a b O'Neill, B (ed). (2002). Irish Castles and Historic Houses. London: Caxton Editions. p. 22.
  4. ^ a b Maxwell, David (2015). "Some Aspects of Strangford History". Lecale Review (13).
  5. ^ "The Ward Paers" (PDF). PRONI. Retrieved 26 October 2013.
  6. ^ "Index of Deaths from the conflict in Northern Ireland". Retrieved 26 October 2013.
  7. ^ McKittrick, David (2004). Lost Lives.
  8. ^ "HBO's Game of Thrones at Castle Ward". web page. National Trust. Retrieved 6 May 2019.

External links[edit]