Hillsborough Castle & Gardens
Hillsborough Castle is one of the most beautiful, and interesting historic properties in Northern Ireland. It’s the official residence of the royal family when they’re in Northern Ireland and has also been home to the Secretary of State since the 1970s.
From grand family home to charming royal residence, Hillsborough Castle has welcomed the world and witnessed pivotal chapters in British and Irish politics for over three centuries. This splendid late Georgian house, surrounded by 100 acres of glorious gardens, was built in the 1770s by Wills Hill, later 1st Marquess of Downshire. Generations of the Hill family lived here – giving the town its name – until the early 20th century when Hillsborough Castle began to develop the political and royal associations for which it's famous today.
The castle is the official Northern Ireland residence of HM The Queen. In the 1940s, the then Princess Elizabeth enjoyed family holidays here with her sister Princess Margaret, and she continues to visit and attend official engagements here today.
The Castle is set in 100 acres of breath-taking gardens and offers significant contrasts of woodland, waterways, gardens with trimmed lawns and meadows as well as specimen trees and rare plants.
Temporary Public Closure
Hillsborough Castle is currently closed to the public whilst Historic Royal Palaces undertake an ambitious programme of conservation and re-presentation. This historic castle and gardens will re-open on 1 July 2018 as a place of discovery, delight, and learning for visitors of all ages. Interested in making a group booking? Why not call or email now to book a guided tour for July 2018 and beyond, and be one of the first to see the transformation!
Castle ToursA tour of the Castle will take you through the State Rooms. The State Entrance promises a grand entrance, where all visiting dignitaries are formally welcomed to the Castle. Next door is the Anteroom which today is where members of the royal family and visiting dignitaries sign the visitors’ book.
The Red Room is an intimate and opulent space often used as a small dining room, it looks out onto the Granville garden and what is arguably the largest rhododendron in Europe. The elegant State Dining Room continues to be the main dining room at the Castle since it was first built in 1788 and has been the scene of many feasts and banquets.
You’ll also visit the glamorous Throne Room; the ceremonial heart of the Castle as well as the relaxing State Drawing Room and Lady Grey’s Study, used by the royal family for private entertaining.
Castle tours will resume from 1 July 2018.
GardensHillsborough Castle’s glorious gardens are a joy to explore. From ornamental grounds to peaceful woodland, meandering waterways and picturesque glens, there are over 100 spectacular acres to discover.
Don’t miss the tranquil Lady Alice’s Temple, where several Secretaries of State found welcome respite from the pressures of politics; here you'll enjoy stunning views of the surrounding gardens.
Other highlights include Europe’s largest rhododendron, Yew Tree Walk, Moss Walk, Ice House, Pinetum, a Quaker Burial Ground and the beautiful Granville Garden created by HM The Queen’s aunt Lady Granville in the 1940s and 50s. The formal gardens include the Jubilee Parterre which was re-designed to celebrate Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012.
These special gardens are a delight to the senses throughout the seasons and offer countless places to unwind, contemplate, socialise and seek inspiration.
Entry to the Castle includes unguided access to the grounds.
Garden access will resume from 1 July 2018.
Tour timesFrom July – September 2018, tours will run daily from 10am – 4pm every hour, on the hour.
From October 2018 – March 2019, tours will run Wednesday – Sundays from 10am – 3pm every hour, on the hour.
Castle tours include self-guided access to the gardens.
Gardens unguided access
The gardens will be open daily in July – September 2018 between 9.30am – 5pm.
The gardens will be open daily in October 2018 – March 2019 between 9.30am – 4pm.
Last admission is an hour before closing.
|Guided Castle Tour & unguided Gardens access||Unguided Gardens access|
|Child under 5 years||Free||Free|
|Family (1 adult, up to 3 children aged 5 – 15yrs) ||£18.00||£12.00|
|Family (2 adults, up to 3 children aged 5 – 15yrs) ||£25.00||£15.00|
Directions to Hillsborough Castle & Gardens
From Belfast, take the M1 to Sprucefield, then the A1 (signposted to the South). At the Hillsborough roundabout, veer left onto Lisburn Road, continue on Main Street and Hillsborough Castle is at the top of the hill on your right.