Hillsborough is a pretty and historic large Georgian village in County Down, Northern Ireland, situated 19 km (12 miles) from the city of Belfast. Hillsborough lies within the Lisburn City council area and is two miles from Sprucefield.
The village of Hillsborough is used as a temporary home to royalty and the British Prime Minister during official visits to the North. The particular residence is Hillsborough Castle which is a two storey Georgian mansion. Previously Government House from 1924 to 1935, it is still owned by the British government and now residence of the Northern Ireland Secretary of State.
Formerly a market village, the land to the north of the village was developed in the mid 1990’s into housing, adding Hillsborough to the commuter belt of Belfast. In recent years townhouses and apartments have been built closer to the centre of the village, including in the former civic building of Lisburn Borough Council.
The village is named after Sir Arthur Hill who built Hillsborough Fort in 1650 and whose family then went on to become the Earls of Hillsborough. Hillsborough has featured prominently in the peace process during the last few years as the venue for many talks which have taken place.
Many of the buildings in the village date from the 18th century. St Malachy’s Parish church was built by the Marquis of Downshire between 1760 and 1774 in the hope that it would become the Cathedral of Down. Another feature of Hillsborough is the statue of the fourth Marquis of Downshire who lived between 1812 and 1868.
Hillsborough Castle has welcomed the visitors from around the world and hosted pivotal moments in history for over three hundred years. The castle is the official Northern Ireland residence of HM The Queen and leading members of the Royal Family have used Hillsborough as their ceremonial and personal base when visiting Northern Ireland.
Castle tours will take you through the Georgian home where you can appreciate the amazing architecture and design. Castle hosts will also be on hand to share details of the historic rooms including the Grand Throne Room, Lady Grey’s Study, State Dining Room, Red Room, Stair Hall and the relaxing State Drawing Room.
Astounding artwork is also on display, ranging from century old paintings to modern depictions, it’s a thought provoking and interesting experience. Be sure to check out Hillsborough Castle for a rich, historic and impressive visit.
The surrounding estate of Hillsborough castle includes over 100 acres of beautiful majestic gardens. They are magnificent in landscape and design and burst with vibrant colour and life. Appreciate the historic gardens that have been developed from the 1760s and discover a place in nature that delights the senses.
Explore the gardens and find ornamental grounds, peaceful woodlands, meandering waterways and rare specimens of trees and plants. You will be in awe of the scenery, and the intriguing contrasts between ornate formal gardens and woodland meadows.
The Hillsborough gardens set nature alongside the picturesque glens of Northern Ireland’s royal residence, offering countless places to unwind, contemplate, socialise and seek inspiration.
Some of the spots to check out in the Hillsborough gardens include,
The Walled Garden dates back to the 18th century where it used to be a fruit and vegetable market for produce. It has now been formally restored with features like a complete dipping pond and herbaceous borders. The Walled Garden also honours its history by maintaining crop and seasonal produce, whilst providing a stunning and marvellous entrance to the castle grounds.
The Walled Garden boasts a fruitful orchard that has 100 year old trees offering apple varieties of Kilkenny Pearmain and Bloody Butcher, as well as pear varieties of the Pitmaston Duchess and Dr Jules Guyot.
The lake is a beautiful spot for enjoying the scenery in a secluded section of Hillsborough Castle and Gardens. It has magnificent giant sequoia trees to observe and wildlife like the blue kingfisher to spot. The lake offers a peaceful and calm place for rest and contemplation, much of the original features also remain for you to enjoy.
Lady Alice’s Temple is a beautiful temple nestled in the landscaped grounds, it was originally given as a wedding gift to Lady Alice Hill by her brother the 5th Marquess of Downshire in 1867.
The temple provides a quiet space for many residents of the castle. The Secretary of State Mo Mowlam came here for respite from the pressures of politics, during her time at Hillsborough. Today, it is open to the public and has been restored to its former glory. Take a seat, pause for a moment and listen to the sounds of the wind, nature and tranquillity.
Hillsborough hosts an Oyster Festival each September, but the charming streets are wonderful to wander through at any time of the year. The festival celebrates oysters, local cuisine and community spirit.
Festival highlights include the annual oyster-eating contest and the Oyster Masters Golf Tournament as well as many other food related activities. Foodies will love the range of street food, special menus and pop up restaurants available,showing the best cuisine that Hillsborough has to offer.
Nearby attractions include: Outlet, sprucefield, Lisnagarvey hockey club, lisburn golf club, lisburn leisure complex, salto gymnastics, Larchfield Estate for weddings, Maltalto Estate for Weddings, Balmoral show, Down royal races track and Drumbo dogs track. Visit our useful links page to go to the website.