Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Bangor Castle


COLONEL THE HON ROBERT WARD (1754-1831), fourth son of Bernard, 1st Viscount Bangor, married firstly, in 1782, Sophia Frances, daughter of Richard Chapel Whaley, and had issue,
Colonel Ward wedded secondly, in 1797, Louisa Jane, daughter of Rev Abraham Symes, and had further issue,
Bernard John (Rev), Vicar of Peterborough;
James Hamilton, Vice-Admiral;
William Robert.
He was succeeded by his eldest son,

EDWARD MICHAEL WARD (1789-1832), of Bangor Castle, County Down, Minister Plenipotentiary at Dresden, who espoused, in 1815,  the Lady Matilda Stewart, daughter of Robert, 1st Marquess of Londonderry, by his wife, the Lady Frances Pratt, and had issue,
ROBERT EDWARD, his heir;
Anne Catherine.
Mr Ward was succeeded by his son,

ROBERT EDWARD WARD JP DL (1818-1904), of Bangor Castle, High Sheriff of County Down, 1842, who married, in 1857, Harriette, daughter of the Hon and Rev Henry Ward, Rector of Killinchy, brother of the 3rd Viscount Bangor, and had issue, an only child,

MATILDA CATHERINE MAUDE WARD (1858-1941), of Bangor Castle, who married, in 1878, John, 5th Baron Clanmorris, and had issue,
John Denis Yelverton;
Edward Barry Stewart, VC, Rear-Admiral;
Hugh Terence de Burgh;
Henry Derrick Thomas;
George Roderick Bentinck;
Richard Gerald Ava;
Harriette Ierne Maude; Emily Ina Florence; Eleanor Clare Alice.
The museum in Bangor Castle displays the Victoria Cross awarded to Rear-Admiral the Hon Barry Bingham VC OBE.

BANGOR CASTLE, County Down, was built ca 1848 for Robert Edward Ward.

It has mullioned windows, oriels crested with strap-work, and steep gables with finials.

At one end there is a battlemented tower with a pyramidal-roofed clock turret; and partly curved quoins.

The grounds are an important, designed landscape with early 17th century origins.

The old demesne contained a succession of manorial houses, all on different sites, and each associated with different landscape phases.

The first and earliest house, a gable-ended two storey block, was built by Sir James Hamilton, 1st Viscount Claneboye, ca 1615 and is depicted on Raven’s 1625 Clandeboye Estate map, complete with its associated formal gardens.

This house lay immediately south-east of the present mansion and traces of its associated gardens can still be traced in the park on the east side; these incorporate a number of surviving contemporary yews, including the stump of ‘Schomberg’s Tree’.

These gardens were described by Harris in 1744 in his "The Ancient & Present State of the County of Down" as being
filled with noble evergreens of a great size, cut in various shapes, among which is an evergreen oak, which, though it grows as a shrub in most other places here is a tall tree, and of considerable girth.
Loudon, writing in 1844, noted that in 1835 there was a large mulberry tree here, probably also of early date.

The house started to fall into decay by at least the 1720s.

It was still present in 1752, when Pococke described it as
"very indifferent", and noted that in the grounds ‘the spruce fir, the ilex, bays, hollies & other evergreens , planted at first chiefly in the flower garden are grown to be very fine forest trees.
Luckombe considered it a ‘low moderate structure’ in 1779; but in the 1790s it had been replaced by a ‘very elegant house’, located on a new site just north of the present mansion.

Built by Michael Edward Ward (1789-1832), son of Robert Ward and grandson of the 1st Viscount Bangor, this new house (second mansion) was in the Gothic style with a square plan and narrow east wing; and with detached offices further east down-slope.
This building and its surrounding contemporary landscape park are depicted in an engraving dated 1832 in Proctor’s Belfast Scenery in Thirty Views; this shows that the house had crenellated parapets, with a mixture of pointed and square-headed windows with hood mouldings and octagonal corner turrets, the main entrance apparently lying on the north side.
The mansion was flanked by park lawns dotted with clumps and isolated trees, all enclosed with screens, belts and woodlands, the whole boasting fine views over Belfast Lough.

In 1847-52 an Elizabethan-Revival style house, the third and present mansion, of Ayrshire sandstone, was built to designs of the prolific Scottish architect William Burn for Robert Edward Ward (1818-1904).

His father’s Gothic mansion, which lay a short distance to the north, was demolished in 1853 once the new house had been completed.

The new house was flanked by formal, terraced gardens with balustrades, especially on the north side; and these at one time boasted colourful parterres in the fashion of the age.

An adjacent stable block, which is incorporated into the house, but built in a more serious medieval style, may be the work of Anthony Salvin, the great English architect.

This stable range is now home of the heritage centre.

Salvin may have also been responsible for the Home Farm buildings (ca 1850-2) and both the Abbey Street Gate Lodge (c.1852) and the Castle Street Gate Lodge (c.1852).

Contemporary with these is the walled garden, lying on high ground a short distance west of the Home Farm building: it has a rectangular plan and its high enclosing walls are built in Bangor clay brick (save only the outside of the north wall).

The garden is subdivided by an east-west wall into two areas; a vinery lay on the south- facing wall in the north sector, but most of the glass-houses' ranges lay in the north sector, including peach houses.

Until recent years this area was used by the Council for propagation.

There was a fernery on the north outside wall of the garden; presently this is breeze-blocked to prevent vandals gaining access (accessible from the potting shed).

In the area between the walled garden and the house there is an arboretum, begun in the 1840s and stocked with specimens brought by members of the family serving in various parts of the British Empire.

These trees are protected by older mature parkland trees.

Mitchell, in A Field Guide to the Trees of Britain and Northern Europe, 1974, remarks on the fine Monterey Pines and Blue-gums here.

Elsewhere older parkland trees survive.

This grassed area south of the house contains a small rockery, family memorials and paths, including ‘My Lady’s Walk’.

Following the death of Lady Clanmorris, the property was sold to Bangor Borough Council.

Bangor Castle became the Town Hall in 1952 and the grounds opened to the public as Castle Park.

It is a vast house, with simulated battlements and a crenellated tower with clock and flagstaff, from which could be flown a standard when the family were in residence.

The castle, with its thirty-five bedrooms, huge saloon, entrance halls, with drawing room, library, study, servants' quarters and stables, cost all of £9,000 (almost £1 million in 2011).

Over the main staircase, a vast, stained-glass window pictured the ancestry of the Wards stretching back to EDWARD III.

When Bangor Borough Council acquired the castle and grounds, the music saloon became the council chamber.

For further reading, the Ward Papers are deposited at the PRONI.

The first Council meeting was held there almost exactly 100 years after the building - now known as the town hall - was first completed.

The successor to Bangor Borough Council, Ards and North Down Borough Council, now sits at the Castle.

The Castle Park gardens have won many awards for their outstanding blooms.

Ward Park was leased from the Ward family as a public park from 1909.

It was designed by Cheal’s Nurseries, who won a competition to plan the layout.

It is formal and includes a 1st World War memorial. 

The Walled Garden opened to the general public in 2009 following major restoration by the council's Parks Department.

First published in February, 2011.


PeterC said...

You might be interested to know that Cheals was based in Crawley, in West Sussex. It had a garden centre in the town, which still exists but was recently taken over by a national chain. Locally it is still known as Cheals, as is the adjacent roundabout (which it sponsored)- a well known feature on the A23.

Anonymous said...

The Sophia Whaley mentioned at the beginning of this history of Bangor Castle was a commoner and therefore did have a coat of arms like the rest of the titled persons depicted on the stained glass windows in the great hall of said castle , to compensate for this a coat of arms was invented back then included in the large stained glass wall in the great hall. Almost like a joke in poor taste the movers and shakers of the time designed a coat of arms playing on the word Whale , like her surname Whaley , it looks quite odd with three whales heads and protruding tongues , I took a photograph last time I wandered through the castle to see what others opinions on it where. However my favourite art in the great hall has to be the paintings of past local dignitaries by a favourite Belfast artist of mine Frank Mc Kelvey , three of whose Belfast street scene paintings hang in my drawing room.

Anonymous said...

It's worth noting that the above mentioned Sophia Whaley was the sister of a well known at the time Dublin rake and gambler known as Buck Whaley or also Jerusalem Whaley. He was also a member of the Irish House of Commons.
He became known as Jerusalem Whaley after winning a bet that he couldn't travel to Jerusalem and back to Ireland within a two year period given the dangers of such overland travel back in the 1700s. He did however win the wager and provided proof that he had travelled there and stayed for two months in that city. It was said at the time that he played handball against the Wailing Wall amidst the protests of outraged Rabbis. It's also said that in his lifetime he squandered the equivalent of 200 million pounds in today's money.