Monday, 8 October 2018

Hillsborough: A Victorian View

AN EDITED EXTRACT FROM THE PARLIAMENTARY GAZETTEER OF IRELAND, VOLUME II, 1844-5

THE mansion, garden and lawn of the Marquess of Downshire are situated on the west side of Hillsborough, County Down, and the demesne on the east.

The mansion, though a plain-looking structure, has a fine Grecian portico; the garden and lawn are extensive and well-kept; and the demesne comprises nearly 800 acres, and is embellished with artificial lakes, and agreeable plantations.

Hillsborough Fort was built in the reign of CHARLES I by Sir Arthur Hill, the ancestor of the Marquesses of Downshire; it was afterwards constituted a royal fort, the hereditary constableship of which is held by Lord Downshire.

Hillsborough Fort

In 1690 it was occupied by WILLIAM III, while his army lay encamped on a neighbouring piece of ground called Blaris Moor.

The improvements of Lord Downshire are not only conspicuous in the village and the demesne, but extend across his large possessions in the vicinity, and in other parts of Ireland.

Criticism has remarked that the whole Downshire property, or at least that part of it which concentrates at Hillsborough, has been disposed with a view rather to the profitable results of a good estate, rather than to the fine decorations of a picturesque landscape, and, in particular, that the beauty of the village would have been greater if the church, with its lofty spire, had been more highly elevated above the general level of the country, and the mansion, with its picturesque home-view, had been removed a little farther from the public road.

Yet whatever may be said about the demesne, the village acquires an almost aristocratic air from the proximity of the mansion, and seems as if caressed between the lawn and the park; and it enjoys the exquisite additional luxury of commanding a view of a great extent of rich and beautiful country, away even to the town and bay of Belfast.

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