Thursday, 11 February 2010

At Hillsborough

I have just spent a very agreeable few hours at one of the Province's loveliest villages, Hillsborough in County Down. I stopped en route for a new pair of slippers and socks at Marks and Spencer (how exciting!); thence to Hillsborough, where I managed to park close to the old courthouse. The courthouse is now a tourist information centre and exhibition.

It was after midday by now, so I ambled across the street and into the Plough Inn, where I installed myself at the rear of the inn. A "special" today was cottage pie with vegetables, which I ordered; and jolly good it was too. For pudding, I indulged in the rhubarb compote crumble with whipped cream. This dessert was utterly delicious.

I wasted no time in settling my bill with them; and walked out in the direction of Hillsborough Fort, towards the noble and dignified parish church. The influence of the Church's patrons, the Downshire family, was prevalent, there being many plaques and memorials to various Marquesses.

I chatted to one of the wardens, and he told me something quite interesting about the Downshire family: apparently the family still has a right to abode at Hillsborough Castle; and the present Lord Downshire was bugled in or out of the Castle, being the Hereditary Constable of Hillsborough Fort. Furthermore, HM Government has the Castle on a 999-year lease, or so I was informed. Could this be true?

Either the Downshires have an apartment at the Castle; or there is one made available for them, I imagine. The warden told me that the last time Lord Downshire was in Northern Ireland, he said he was going to look at property near Dundrum. Of course, that could simply have been the Downshires' former properties and estates in the locality. They did own much of County Down!

Click on the images to enlarge. The Downshire coat-of-arms is courtesy of European Heraldry.


Anonymous said...

I don't think it would be like HMG to share a residence! Could very well be on a 'long lease,' as that's how a lot of conveyancing was done; one wonders what will happen in 900 years!


Timothy Belmont said...

Yes, that's most likely the case.

Anonymous said...

I haven't been in the Plough for many a year. I think quite a lot of senior army people used to dine in there in the 90s. I always found the food good but it used to be a little cramped. Sounds like it is still doing well.

Timothy Belmont said...

The ground-floor back bar is "bijou"! Cosy and compact; fills up quickly. Still a civilized place; many patrons on Wed lunchtime were senior citizens.