Hillsborough Castle & Gardens tour

Hillsborough Castle

Diamond Chauffeurs Ireland highly recommends the historic, tranquil and beauty of Hillsborough Castle. A great family day out, keep the family entertained with a day out at Hillsborough Castle and Gardens. Built as a private home for the Hill family, in the 18th century, Hillsborough Castle in Northern Ireland has been a home and a political power house. Now comes a new chapter in the story. Major changes continue to happen here, as historic royal palaces works to uncover more of Hillsborough’s stories, and to re-present and protect the Castle and it’s beautiful gardens for future generations to enjoy. For Polished jewels & cultural Guinness tour contact us for more information.

The story of Hillsborough Castle is a tale of transformation , from grand family home to official and royal residence. It remains the home of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. Her Majesty The Queen and other members of the Royal Family stay here when they visit.

Before the Hills: The village of Hillsborough was once an Irish territory, or townland known as Kilwarlin. The area where Hillsborough Castle now stands was known as Cromlyn, or crooked glen, at the centre of the Kilwarlin estates owned by the Magennis family. This powerful family were members of a clan that dominated this part of Ulster from the 1300s onwards. Among their descendants today are the Guinness family of brewery fame. In the late 16th century, like other Irish landowners, the Magennises fell victim to queen Elizabeth I’s land control policies, whereby Irish landowners were required to ‘surrender’ their titles and lands to the English Queen, who would then ‘regrant’ them. However by 1631, the Magennis family had lost all their estate to the ambitious Hill family, who rose to become the Marquesses of Downshire. The Magennis ‘surrender and Regrant’ document survives in the Downshire archives, but we can only guess how the Downshires came to own both the land and this legal document. Their family motto ‘By God and the sword I have obtained’ may go some way in explaining their victory.

The rise of the Hills: The first member of the Hill family to settle in Ireland was Moyses Hill, an English born soldier sent by Elizabeth I to suppress the Irish O’Neill clan, who were fighting to protect their land. Moyses Hill had to go out into the world to seek his fortune. He was clearly more than a soldier and rose to the important role of Provost Marshal for Ulster. He acquired 40,000 acres of land in County Down stretching from the then village Belfast to the townland of Kilwarlin. The Hill family began to develop the area, relocating the parish church and constructing the Fort. The Fort was to protect the road from Carrickfergus, the Norman capital of Ulster, to Dublin, which passes through the area. Following an uprising, the Hill family house in Belfast was burnt to the ground, prompting the family to move to Lisburn, before settling in the place that became Hillsborough.

A new chapter for Hillsborough: In 2014, Historic Royal Palaces took over the running of Hillsborough Castle and began an ambitious program to re-present the house and gardens in all their former glory. Hillsborough remains the official residence of HM The Queen in Northern Ireland and Secretaries of State. Members of the Royal Family visit several times a year. There are two garden parties and several formal events, including a concert hosted by HRH Prince of Wales annually. During Royal visits the house is closed to members of the public.

The Red Room: It was in this room that HM The Queen met President Mary McAleese of Ireland in 2005, for what was described as a “cordial and friendly chat”.

Discover the gardens: The gardens at Hillsborough Castle, known as the Small Park, extend to nearly 100 glorious acres, perfect for hours of exploring. There is a combination of lawn’s and gardens of natural landscape, some of the carriage rides and paths encircle the lake that was created by damming the stream.

For more information on Hillsborough Castle or to book a Polished jewels & cultural Guinness tour, use the link on the first paragraph.


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