QUINTIN CASTLE is located on the Ards Peninsula, about 2½ miles east of Portaferry in County Down.
It is one of the very few inhabited Anglo-Norman castles in Ulster.
The original castle was built by John de Courcy in 1184.
In the later middle ages the castle was held by the Smiths, a dependent family of the Savages.
In the mid 1600s, Sir James Montgomery, a relation of the Savages, purchased the castle and the surrounding lands from Dualtagh Smith.
Sir James and his son William renovated the castle, adding a large house to it as well as a walled courtyard.
At some period after an interlude in the 1650s, when a Cromwellian officer held Quintin, the Montgomerys sold the castle to George Ross, a member of an influential local family who held lands at Kearney.
Ross never lived at the castle, which remained in its mid-17th century form until the 1850s, when one of his descendants, Elizabeth Calvert, set about remodelling it.
Quintin Castle was, by that time, a ruinous structure, much of whose stone, according to the OS Memoirs, had been taken by local people.
This remodelling included the raising in height of the central keep, the construction of drawing and dining rooms and the general decoration to the entire building, as well as rebuilding the courtyard walls, gates and outer towers.In 1897, the estate was sold by The Land Commission; however, the house remained with the descendants of the Calverts, one of whom, Magdalen King-Hall, became a writer whose many works included The Wicked Lady, a story of highwaymen and women, which later became a successful film.
The King-Halls sold the castle in the 1920s and Quintin passed though a series of owners, one of whom, James O'Hara, ran the building as a nursing home during the 1980s.
It may have been at this stage that that the secondary entrance in the front facade was added, perhaps to provide easier access for some of the elderly residents.
The building is now a private residence.
The central keep was raised; a walkway constructed within the battlements; a drawing-room which opened into the inner gardens; and a dining-room constructed on the lowest floor of the great tower.
It underwent a further restoration ca 2006, when it was bought by the property developer, Paul Neill.
In 2011, one bank moved against him taking control of two of his retail parks in Bangor over a £37m debt. Mr Neill was subsequently declared bankrupt.
Consequently, the Irish government's National Asset Management Agency (Nama) repossessed the castle in 2012.
The original demesne is now split up, but the house retains stone-walled terrace gardens, which were depicted as being fully planted up.
The walled garden is in separate ownership.
First published in January, 2011.