Northern Ireland - Western County Down

Top 10 places

Top 100 places to visit in Northern Ireland

4. Hillsborough Castle

Top 10 ten places to visit in Northern Ireland - Western County Down

Hillsborough Castle

The historic village of Hillsborough has a slightly chintzy ambience, reinforced by a sprinkling of tearooms and antique shops.
To explore the town, start at the war memorial and head towards the magnificent 18th century Gothic parish church. Bear right for the entrance to Hillsborough's elegant but ruined fort, constructed by Colonel Arthur Hill in 1650, and remodelled in the 18th century as a venue for family feasts and entertainment.
Beyond this, a deciduous forest opens up, curving around a lake stocked with brown and rainbow trout. Footpaths meander through the trees, and a circuit of the lake takes around an hour. Exiting via the car park, a driveway brings you out near the White Gables Hotel on Dronmore Road, beyond which you'll notice a statue on a raised column - the third Marquis of Downshire.
A right turn at the end of the drive brings you back into town, with Hillsborough Castle on your left. The mansion dates from 1797, and from 1925 to 1973 was the residence of the governor of Northern Ireland. Since then it's been used mainly to house visiting diplomats, and the castle is now the official residence of the secretary of state for Northern Ireland.
Tours take you through the State Drawing and Dining Rooms, replete with Georgian furniture and silver from HMS Nelson, while the gardens, which you're free to roam through, are particularly lovely in May and June, when the many roses and Europe's largest rhododendron bush are in bloom. 

Hillsborough Castle Address:
Hillsborough Castle
The Square
County Down
BT26 6AG
Northern Ireland, UK
Hillsborough Castle Opening Times:
May and June, Saturdays, 10.30 am to 4.00 pm
Hillsborough Castle Admission:
Includes guided tour
Adult, House and Gardens Tour £5.00
Family Ticket (2 adults and up to 4 children) £12.50
Concessions £3.50
Admission to gardens only
Adults £2.50
Family Ticket £7.50 

T  +44 (0)28 9268 1308

F  +44 (0)28 9268 3368

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