Castle Ward - History and Facts | History Hit

Castle Ward

Strangford, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom

Castle Ward is an eccentric 18th century mansion overlooking Strangford Lough in County Down, Northern Ireland but it is better known to Game of Thrones fans as Winterfell.

Lily Johnson

01 Apr 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Castle Ward

Castle Ward is an eccentric 18th century mansion and gardens overlooking the beautifully peaceful Strangford Lough in County Down, Northern Ireland, but is better known as one of the most famous Game of Thrones locations – Winterfell.

Castle Ward history

The current incarnation of Castle Ward was built for Bernard Ward, 1st Viscount Bangor in the early 1760s. While the architect is unknown, there is conjecture that it may have been James Bridges, a Bristol-based architect whose work there shares many similarities with the castle.

Interestingly, the mansion was built with dual-architecture, representing the opposing tastes of Viscount Bangor and his wife, Lady Ann Bligh. The entrance side of the building is Palladian in style, with columns supporting a triangular pediment much like that of Buckingham Palace, while the opposite side is Georgian Gothic, with pointed windows, finials, and battlements, like that of Strawberry Hill House in London. This clash of styles continued through the house’s interior, with a clear divide down the middle!

Castle Ward remained in the keeping of the Ward family until the death of the 6th Viscount in 1950, following which it was given to the National Trust in 1952.

Castle Ward today

Castle Ward is most famous for its contrasting architectural styles and magnificent views of the rolling hills of County Down. The stunning 820-acre estate includes an exotic four-tiered sunken garden and woodland trails that wind down to the tranquil Lough, a Victorian laundry, a corn mill and sawmill as well as the Georgian farmyard and Whispering Wood, instantly recognisable as a Game of Thrones historic site.

Still managed by the National Trust today, visitors to Castle Ward can explore the vast mansion house at leisure. From admiring its beautiful collection of artwork and furniture, to donning a historical outfit in the Victorian Past Times centre, a visit to Castle Ward is never dull!

The surrounding estate may also be enjoyed, in which guests may see the animals in the farmyard, picnic in the grounds and visit the gift shop and stableyard tea room.

Getting to Castle Ward

Castle Ward is located 1 mile from Strangford in the County Down, Northern Ireland, and can be reached via the A25. The Downpatrick to Strangford bus service stops at the site’s gates, while there is also a ferry service crossing from nearby Portaferry to Strangford.