The Transformation of Hillsborough Castle and Gardens

The South Front of Hillsborough Castle

This Thursday we heard all about the transformation of Hillsborough Castle at the Irish Georgian Society in Dublin. We were greeted by bugler Andrew and what followed was a fascinating discussion about the history of the estate. It is known as a venue for the talks in the Peace Process but also as a meeting place for the Queen and President McAleese. It has an incredible history of famous visitor including Benjamin Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. This week alone the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Will and Catherine signed the guest book and it was on display for us with the ink barely dry.

We were taken through the history of the unusual and colourful characters associated with the estate and none charmed me more than the decadent antics of Lady Salisbury who had a very colourful and explosive end when her wig caught fire at a dinner party. To hear more about this fascinating house pop up to County Down when the estate re-0pens after renovation this April. Oh and I got to wear a crown….

Michelle wearing a replica crown of the one worn by Queen Elizabeth 11 during her visit to Hillsborough Castle

 

Discover the Transformation of Hillsborough Castle and Gardens

 

Discover a transformed Hillsborough Castle and Gardens, County Down, as it opens its doors to visitors daily for the first time in April 2019. The late-18th century Irish Big House is only a 1 hour 45 minute drive from Dublin, just off the A1.  After five years, and a £20 million investment, Historic Royal Palaces has transformed this elegant Georgian house, unlocking the intriguing tapestry of stories hidden within.

Explore the Castle’s rich heritage by stepping into the exquisite State Rooms that have been beautifully re-presented. New decorative schemes and artworks reflect the numerous tales that this famous residence has to tell. The plush interiors will be brought to life on guided tours led by the Castle’s team of expert explainers.

 

New research has uncovered fascinating characters from the Castle’s past – from royalty, to statesmen. Discover them all in the new Visitor Centre set within the stunning Castle Estate. Follow the footsteps of previous guests from American founding father Benjamin Franklin to Eleanor Roosevelt, George W Bush and Dwight Eisenhower. Explore the Red Room where HM The Queen and Mary McAleese met as two Heads of State on British or Irish soil for the first time.

 

Go back in time to when Hillsborough became part of the Hill family estates in the early 1600s. Within 50 years the Hill family were one of the most prominent landowning families in the area; with their estates stretching for over 130 miles from Larne, north of Belfast to Dun Laoghaire, south of Dublin, around 115, 000 acres in total.

 

As Spring awakens, you can visit the gardens, nestled in 100 acres of grounds, with many hidden gems to uncover. The breath-taking four-acre Walled Garden is not only a feast for the eyes, but where a team of local gardeners are cultivating fresh produce in the very spot that would once have served as Kitchen Garden and chief supplier to the residents of the house. The Lost Garden is a perfect spot for families to explore. Along with the famous Moss Walk and Parterre Garden, each of the gardens is lovingly and meticulously restored for all to enjoy.

The State Drawing Room

The highly-anticipated Easter programme will shortly be launched with historic figures coming to life in the Gardens to share stories of Hillsborough’s famous hospitality, from theatrical performances, musical encounters to kite-making workshops.

For those wishing to delve deeper into the Castle’s legacy, the new Clore Learning Centre will be used as a creative and educational space to inspire schools and communities. The fascinating history of the Castle and gardens will be explored through hands-on activities, workshops and talks, ensuring there is something for everyone.

 

For more information and to book tickets, visit hrp.org.uk/hillsborough-castle

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