Thursday, 18 February 2016

Castle Ward House

THE VISCOUNTS BANGOR OWNED 9,861 ACRES OF LAND IN COUNTY DOWN

The family of WARD is of Norman origin, and was seated at Capesthorne, in Cheshire, which Daniel King, in his book Vale Royal, calls "a great lordship and demesne, giving name to the ancient seat of the Wards."

WE FIND in the roll of Battle Abbey, that the family of WARD attended WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR into England, where, after some centuries, it appeared in three respectable branches; of which the Wards of Capesthorne, Cheshire.

For several centuries, having possessed many extensive lordships, descended the family of WARD, of Bangor, in the person of

BERNARD WARD, who married a daughter of the ancient family of Leigh, of High Leigh, in Cheshire, and settled in Ulster about 1570.

This Bernard acquired the lands known as Carrickshannagh from the Earl of Kildare, and renamed it CASTLE WARD.

His son and heir,

NICHOLAS WARD, married Joan, daughter of Ralph Leycester MP, of Toft Hall, Cheshire, and had issue, four sons and several daughters, one of whom, Eleanor, wedded Thomas Russell, of Lecale.

The sons were,
BERNARD, his heir;
Robert (Sir), 1st Baronet;
Thomas;
Nicholas.
The eldest son,

BERNARD WARD, born in 1606, wedded an English lady of the name of West, and had issue,

NICHOLAS WARD, born in 1630, whose son,

BERNARD WARD (1654-90), wedded Mary Ward, sister of Michael Ward, provost of Trinity College, Dublin, and afterwards Lord Bishop of Derry, by whom he had four sons and three daughters.

Mr Ward was killed in a duel, in 1690, whilst sheriff of Down, by Jocelyn Hamilton, of the Clanbrassil family (who was mortally wounded at the same time), and was succeeded by his second, but eldest surviving son,

MICHAEL WARD (1683-1759), barrister and MP for County Down, 1715, who was constituted one of the judges of the court of King's Bench in Ireland in 1727.

Mr Ward espoused, in 1709, Anne Catherine, daughter and co-heir of James Hamilton, of Bangor, County Down, and was succeeded at his decease by his only surviving son,

BERNARD WARD, who married, in 1747, Anne, daughter of John, 1st Earl of Darnley, and relict of Robert Hawkins Magill, of Gill Hall, County Down, by whom he had issue,
NICHOLAS, his successor;
John, died young;
Edward, father of EDWARD SOUTHWELL WARD;
Robert (Rt Hon);
Anne Catharine; Sophia; Amelia; Harriet.
Colonel Ward, who represented County Down in parliament for several years, was elevated to the peerage, in 1770, by the title of Baron Bangor.

In 1781, he was advanced to a viscountcy, as VISCOUNT BANGOR.

His lordship died in 1781, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

NICHOLAS, (1750-1827), 2nd Viscount. This nobleman dying unmarried, in 1827, the honours devolved upon his nephew,

EDWARD SOUTHWELL (1790-1837), 3rd Viscount, who wedded, in 1826, Harriet Margaret, daughter of the Rev Henry Maxwell, afterwards Lord Farnham, and had issue,
EDWARD, his successor;
Henry William Crosbie;
William John;
Bernard Matthew;
two further sons.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

EDWARD, 4th Viscount.
The heir presumptive is the present holder's half-brother, the Hon Edward Nicholas Ward.


CASTLE WARD, near Downpatrick, County Down, originally called Carrick na Sheannagh, has been in the Ward family since the second half of the 16th century, when it was bought [ca 1570] from the Earls of Kildare by Bernard, father of Sir Robert Ward, Surveyor-General of Ireland.


The most important survival from the days of these early Wards is a 17th century tower house standing in the farmyard of the Castle Ward estate, built in 1610 by Nicholas Ward, who was a government official in Ireland towards the end of the reign of ELIZABETH I.

It is a three-storied stone building almost 50 feet high and built for defence.

The present walled demesne of ca 850 acres dates from the 16th century.

There has been a succession of houses here.

The tower house, Old Castle Ward, ca 1590, survives near the shores of Strangford Lough.

Around 1720, Judge Michael Ward built a new mansion to the north-west.

This was demolished ca 1850, but much associated landscaping and planting survives.

The demesne was partitioned into regular fields, embellished with plantations with an extensive formal garden around Castle Ward House.

There were two canals, one of which survives as the Temple Water.

It was dug ca 1728 and centred on a vista to the neighbouring 15th century tower house, Audley’s Castle.

A smaller canal at right angles is now grassed over, but is denoted by a double line of (replanted 1983) lime trees.

A series of three yew-lined, terraced walks constitute another good surviving feature from the 1720s.

Other features have not survived, notably a duck decoy (pre-1725) and a 'mount', which provided views of the gardens.

Lady Anne Ward's Temple was added to the formal layout ca.1750 on high ground in a position overlooking the Temple Water and Strangford Lough.

This classical building, with its portico and dressings of Bath stone, was sketched in 1762 by Mrs Delany, who also depicted a grotto in the slopes below.

No trace of this survives.


The present house was built ca 1761-7 by Bernard Ward, 1st Viscount Bangor, in the middle of the pre-existing demesne.

It is notable for its contrasting formal Palladian and Gothic fronts, which give it a schizophrenic character.

A landscape park was laid out for the new house incorporating new plantations, walks, avenues and a small deer-park.

A new stable block (1758-70), was linked to the house by hidden walks and a tunnel.

The park was much admired by contemporary observers.

There are many fine parkland trees, woodland and shelter belts in the undulating terrain.

The walled garden (3.7 acres in extent), built on the north side of the Temple Water, was added ca 1830, while further demesne buildings were added in the mid-19th century.

During the mid-19th century the parkland was greatly enhanced by the judicious improvements of Major Nugent, second husband to Lady Bangor.

The Mountain Wood (ca 1844) and Windmill Plantation (ca.1850) were added and the park extended over the Audleystown peninsula, clearing a village in the process (c.1855).

The 1840s also witnessed the creation of the Windsor Garden, which had four terraces and a rectangular sunken area, the latter being graced by an elaborate parterre of 61 beds.

To the west, a pinetum with a fine collection of spruces, pines, firs and cypresses was established; while a substantial rockery was added to the area during the Edwardian period.

The main gate lodge, Ballyculter Lodge of ca 1850, was extended in 1870, when the position of the gates was altered. The gate screen is listed.

Other entrances no longer used are: Downpatrick Gate Lodge; Strangford Lodge, pre-1859; North Lodge, ca 1880.

The House and grounds have been National Trust property since 1952.

Bangor arms courtesy of European Heraldry.  First published in July, 2010.

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