Skip to content

Things to do in Castle Ward house

Visitors enjoying House Tour in Music Hall
Visitors enjoying House Tour in Music Hall | © Tourism NI

Castle Ward is famed as a house of contrasts both inside and out. One side is Gothic, one side is classical Palladian – allegedly all because of a marital disagreement – but is that the whole story about this eccentric 18th-century house overlooking Strangford Lough? Wander through the Georgian rooms to see the historic interiors and collection, and uncover the stories of the people who lived and worked here.

A unique door in the Gothic style, in the Saloon at Castle Ward
A unique door in the Gothic style, in the Saloon at Castle Ward | © National Trust Images/Annapurna Mellor

House Tours

House tours will soon be ceasing for the summer from 1 June, after which point tours will be open for self-guided tours until October, every day except tuesday.

Go on a self-guided audio tour of the house (Weekends only)

Take a self-guided audio tour of the mansion house to discover the story behind the unusual architecture, see the Georgian interiors and uncover the stories of the people who lived and worked here.

You'll see some of the more unusual items in the collection like the stuffed Kodiak bear which is named after one of Lord Bangor's daughters, the boxing squirrels and the large Gothic wardrobe.

In the dining room, look out for the intricately carved panel depicting Demeter, the goddess of agriculture and harvests. Demeter is surrounded by four putti, who symbolise the celebration of a good harvest and the abundance of the first fruits of the season. It's a beautiful reminder that the Ward family relied on a good harvest so that they could provide a table of plenty for themselves and their guests.

Inside the Laundry at Castle Ward, County Down, with its large ironing board, irons and small presses, airing racks covered in clean linen and stove for heating the irons.
The Laundry at Castle Ward | © National Trust Images / Andreas von Einsiedel

See the servants' quarters below stairs

At its peak, Castle Ward estate would have employed around 40 staff to keep the house and grounds running through its 200-year history. From the laundry maids and boot boys to the butler and the scullery maids, everyone had their own job and learnt the hierarchy of life in service.

Explore the laundry at your own leisure and learn about the inner workings and the activities undertaken by the staff and servants who worked there.

Please note that the dairy and the servants' quarters are currently closed to visitors while they undergo important conservation works.

Two members of National Trust staff looking up and discussing the ornate plaster ceiling in the Gothic Boudoir at Castle Ward, County Down

Discover more at Castle Ward

Find out when Castle Ward is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

You might also be interested in

View of the Palladian-style side of Castle Ward house, with Strangford Lough and rolling hills beyond.

History of Castle Ward 

Unique and unusual, this eccentric 18th-century house is famed for having been built with two completely different architectural styles, both inside and out. Find out why.

A unique door in the Gothic style, in the Saloon at Castle Ward

Notable people in Castle Ward’s history 

Discover the stories of some of the most notable people who have lived at Castle Ward over the centuries, from one of the mansion’s creators to a celebrated war correspondent.

A view looking down on the Sunken Garden at Castle Ward, County Down in spring. The garden has several individual ornamental flower beds laid out in a circular pattern and planted with colourful tulips.

Things to do in the garden at Castle Ward 

Discover one of the best examples of a Victorian garden in Ireland. Explore the 17th- and 18th-century pleasure grounds, stroll by the lake and see an important piece of history.

Rainbow across the Victorian revival house at Tyntesfield, Somerset - exterior

Houses and buildings 

Historic buildings are a treasure trove of stories, art and collections. Learn more about their histories and plan your next visit.

The area surrounding Bishop's Gate Lodge, County Londonderry

Houses and buildings in Northern Ireland 

There’s so much to take in when exploring the houses and buildings across Northern Ireland including dramatic clifftop views at Mussenden Temple and an historic costume collection at Springhill.