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Castleward House and Estate.

In County Down.

The Present House
Castleward Lead Mine
The Farmyard
Mary Ward
Contact Information
Audleystown Village
Castle Ward.

In the 1570's Bernard Ward from Cheshire in England was appointed surveyor general of Ireland by Elizabeth I, according to family tradition he bought five town lands in east county Down from the Earl of Kildare, the property is said to have been called 'Carrick-na-Shannafh' ( Foxes Rock).

A tower house was built about 1610, at some stage an extension is thought to have been added to the south of the tower, little evidence is visible of this today.

Early in the 18th century times were more peaceful, and obviously the Wards more affluent, a house in the Queen Anne style was built near the Temple water, this house was demolished in the mid nineteenth century, little is known of this apparently the only record is a small drawing on a map of the area. In the 1760's the present house was built.

The house and estate which extends to some 800 acres ( 324 ha) is owned and administered by the National Trust. They received the property from the Ulster government who had taken it in lieu of death duties. The house and grounds are open to the public. There is a second hand book shop in the stable yard and many events are organised throughout the year, the most notable of which is the Castle Ward opera held each summer.

In the farm yard is a water driven corn mill as well as a saw mill, the corn mill is run occasionally for demonstration purposes. Also on the estate near the village of Strangford is a touring caravan park

If you would like to spend a pleasant day in the country then Castleward is well worth a visit, but you may find it difficult to see all that it has to offer in one day.

The presenthouse is remarkable because of its mix of architectural style, resulting from the conflicting tastes of the first Viscount and his wife. He preferring the Paladin and she the Strawberry Hill Gothic which was just becoming fashionable at the time, the house is said to have cost £40,000, it is not known who the architect was, as no drawings have survived..

The text below is from the writings of Mrs Delaney, wife of Dean Delaney who lived in Mountpanther House, Dundrum County Down, who visited many of the great houses in the locality.

"Mr Ward is building a fine house but the scene about it is so uncommonly fine it is a pity it should not be judiciously laid out. He wants taste and Lady Anne Ward, his wife, is so whimsical that I doubt her judgment. If they do not do too much they can't spoil the place, for it hath every advantage from nature that can be desired."

The couple had three sons and four daughters, their differences may have encompassed areas other than architecture, or perhaps she found Irish country life dull, whatever the reason they parted, she choosing to reside in Bath England where she died in 1798..

The house stands on a hill overlooking the narrows of Strangford Lough just before it widens out into the main body of the Lough. Little is known about the actual building of the house, the identity of the architect remains a mystery.

Some of the stone for building the house were imported from Somerset using Lord Bangor's own ship which discharged at the quay beside the farmyard. Coal was also imported here for making gas which was used to illuminate the house. The remains of the building which housed the gas plant are to be seen near the quay close to the farmyard. Along the shore to the East of the farmyard there was a lead mine all that remains today is a small building used to house the explosives.

An examination of a map of the area shows the road from Castle Ward to the seaside town of Killough is almost straight. This road was built to transport the lead mined at Castleward and perhaps also agricultural produce to the port of Killough which had been developed by the Ward's.

In the late 1900's the National Trust completely re roofed the house, scaffolding was erected around and over the house, this was then clad with tin, outwardly transforming it, temporally from a country mansion to an industrial building, replacement slates were specially imported from Wales to match the originals.

The late Hubert McGreavy who was employed at Castle Ward by the National Trust, was previously one of the Ward's family retainers.

Hubert it could be said came with the estate, his accumulated knowledge providing a valuable insight into how the property had previously been run. He had many stories to tell of estate life, one concerned a house maids, who's party piece was to walk around the parapet wall surrounding the roof.

Hubert was present when Maxwell Ward was buried in a lead lined coffin in Strangford Lough.

The image on the left shows the stone stairs from the kitchen and work area to the house, worn by generations of toiling servants long forgotten.



The Temple Water.

Judge Michael Ward is responsible for the Temple Water it was dug in 1728, and was designed to complement the Queen Anne house which stood nearby. Features like this were popular with land owners at the time, they were sometimes referred to as canals, apparently there was a second canal running at right angles to the present one. Water from the lake is taken via an underground culvert to the farmyard where it is used to power the corn mill, and previously the saw mill also.

The temple pictured below was built in 1750 for Lady Anne Ward, its function simply a garden retreat, this type of classical summer houses were popular with land owners who were sufficiently well endowed financially to afford them, they also served to make a statement of social standing.

In the mid eighteen hundreds it was enlarged and converted into a house for the head gardener, its proximity to the walled garden being an advantage.

Beside the Temple Water is the walled garden this was built by the third Viscount in 1830 on a site that had previously been an orchard. The garden once contained greenhouses and supplied fresh flowers and vegetables for the house, the garden was in use up until about 1950.

Nearby is the Ice House, in the winter ice was taken from the lake and stored in this between layers of straw. Prior to the introduction of refrigeration many of the large houses of Ireland had ice houses on their estates, these were usually underground structures in locations shaded from the sun. In mild winters when no local ice was available often ice was imported from Scandinavia.

The last member of the ward family to live in the house was Maxwell Ward, he was a man who had little time for farming and estate management, preferring to spend his time sailing in his yacht Bonito which was built in 1883 by his father Henry 5th Viscount Bangor.

The image on the right was painted by Colonel Sanderson, Sanderson owned an estate on the border between Counties Cavan and Fermanagh, click for a larger view.

When Maxwell died he was buried in a lead lined coffin in Strangford Lough.

Just to the north of Castleward House is an area known as Audleystown, it derives its name from Audleys Castle the Audleys were a Norman family who came to Ulster with John de Courcy, on a hill a little to the north of the castle once stood a small village, today all that remains of the village are a few stone walls and a well on the north eastern side of the hill, it could be said with some justification that the residents of Audleystown were victims of ethnic cleansing, read more here.

Watch several video's of Castleward.

Castleward House
Downpatrick Road
Co Down
Tel: (028) 4488 1204
E Mail
Web Site

Contact Information.

The house is open to the public during the summer months.
The grounds are open all year.

Various events are organized throughout the year, one of the most popular is a book fair, introduced by former property manager Mr. Harry Hutchman, contact the house for further details.