Castle Ward: restoration of a hidden treasure

Temple Water resoration project at Castle Ward

We have embarked on an ambitious conservation project at Castle Ward, Strangford, Co. Down which will see a refurbishment of the Temple and the restoration of historic paths and vista points.

The remarkable man-made landscape of the Temple Water area, designed by the Ward family, is one of the most important late 17th and early 18th century gardens to survive in Ireland. 

'Over the years the design of the landscape has become obscured by self-seeded trees, poor drainage and other changes,' explains Jonathan Clarke, general manager for South Down.

'As a conservation charity we are committed to protecting our special places for ever, for everyone and so we are restoring this hidden part of Castle Ward to enhance visitor enjoyment and understanding of the area.'

'We anticipate the project will take three years and will include the repair of the Temple and improvements to the parkland that will open up views of both Audley’s Castle and Strangford Lough.'

The lake at Castle Ward will be central to the restoration project
The lake at Temple Water

Historic restoration

Features planned for restoration include the crumbling stone sides of the Temple Water which have been weakened by tree roots over the years. The Temple will also be refurbished and the original paths will be reinstated, creating a picturesque route around the Temple with amazing viewpoints.

Historic paths will be reinstated along Lime Tree Walk and visitors will be able to grace the reinstated historic steps on the Yew Tree Terraces.  The viewing Mound and early 18th century Ward family home – the Green House will both be revealed and interpreted.  The Walled Garden will be levelled and a planting design scheme started. It will also be opened for public viewing.

Improvements will also be made to access around the lake by reinstalling former pathways and steps, repairing drains, creating pockets of natural biodiversity, removing some inappropriate trees, pruning others and planting new trees in locations based on early demesne maps. 

Telling a story through interpretation

Enhanced interpretation will also be installed to enable everyone to share in the remarkable story of the Ward family and their grand designs.

A team of National Trust specialists including curators, archaeologists, historic gardens advisors and interpretation designers will be on hand to provide advice and work together to bring Temple Water back to the late 17th early 18th century design.

The final picture will be a grand formal and unexpected statement in the midst of rolling landscape.  A landscape which will invite you to take a stroll, have a picnic, relax with family and friends and then leave with special memories you can share. 

If you would like to be part of the team who will restore this historically significant site by offering financial support or through volunteering please e-mail castleward@nationaltrust.org.uk

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Help us restore Temple Water back to its former glory.