Strangford, County Down, Northern Ireland
Castle Ward sits in an estate of 820 acres on the shores of Strangford Lough near the village of Strangford, 7 miles from Downpatrick.
The castle has a duel appearance with the front of the mansion house being built over three floors in a classical Georgian style whilst the back is gothic.
The fully restored house has retained its Victorian laundry, saw and corn mills and a fortified tower house built over 50 feet in height.
Today the property is owned by the National Trust and admission to the main house is by guided tour only, although visitors are able to visit the rest of the property freely. Some of the most popular things to do at the castle are taking a walk around the parkland and down to the shores of the Lough. There are yew tree terraces which form two tunnels 196 feet in length, a canal and the largest remaining 18th century garden in Ireland.
For children there is the opportunity to play with toys from the Victorian period or even dress up in Victorian costume, there is also the Wildlife Centre where visitors can learn all about the local wildlife within the park
Castle Ward has a tea room, shop and even its own holiday cottage and caravan park. The estate is open to the public all year between 10am and 4pm; 8pm during the summer, and the house between 1pm and 5pm daily July, August and at Easter and at the weekends February to June and September to November.
The Mansion Hall is a beautiful place to hold a wedding ceremony, the neo-classical hall has Italian colonnades, Georgian ceilings and a 19th century crystal chandelier seating up to 55 guests. The castle also offers weddings in the theatre and the Strangford suite, with receptions possible in a variety of locations within the house and grounds.
Castle Ward was built as the family home of the Ward's; who were all Judges or MP's, around 1710, on the site of an earlier castle. Rather surprisingly for the area the house did not change hands or have many changes until it was handed over to the National Trust in 1950. It was believed that the house was built in two styles; Georgian and Gothic because husband and wife both had very different tastes. The front of the property was the design of Bernard Ward in a Georgian style and the gothic rear of the house is attributed to his wife Lady Anne.
The most recent piece of history concerning the castle is that in February of 1973 two members of the IRA were killed in the castle grounds when their bomb exploded prematurely.
The castle hosts a Festival of Opera in its theatre during the summer months.
Other Castles in the Area
Audley's Castle, County Down
Castlewellan Castle, County Down
Clough Castle, County Down
Dundrum Castle, County Down
Jordans Castle, County Down
Kilclief Castle, County Down
Killyleagh Castle, County Down
Kirkistown Castle, County Down
Portaferry Castle, County Down
Quintin Castle, County Down
Quoile Castle, County Down
Sketrick Castle, County Down
Stormont Castle, County Antrim
Strangford Castle, County Down