Featured image of Hillsborough Castle

The History of Hillsborough Castle

LocationRoyal Hillsborough, County Down, Northern Ireland (Google Maps)
Open for VisitorsYes
Owned byThe Crown
Official WebsiteHillsborough Castle
Rooms AvailableYes (Weddings, Dinner Parties, Receptions)

Located in the village of Hillsborough, County Down of Northern Ireland, Hillsborough Castle is a complete British royal gem. Built in the 18th century, the castle is more of a Georgian Country house than a castle. The castle is the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II and other members of the British royal family in Northern Ireland when they visit the country.

History of Hillsborough Castle

The Georgian Country house was built in the 18th century for the Hill family, specifically the Marquesses of Downshire, who owned it till 1922. After that, the 6th Marquess of Downshire sold it to the British government for a hefty price. The British government bought it to get through some problems that occurred due to the creation of the region of Northern Ireland and the subsequent passing of The Government of Ireland Act 1920.

A new office for the Governor of Ireland had to be created for which a residence was needed. However, the suitable residence was deemed to be in Belfast, the largest city of Northern Ireland, Hillsborough Castle, though away from the city, was nonetheless chosen. It was later handed over to the Governor of Northern Ireland as his residence. The 3rd Duke of Abercorn moved in during 1925 upon becoming the official Governor of Northern Ireland, and the building was officially renamed as Government House.


When Northern Ireland’s devolved system of government was abolished, the direct rule of the province from London in March 1972 was implemented. Subsequently, all Northern Irish governmental posts were abolished, and the castle continued to be used for important meetings and conferences. The castle is marvellous with its unique display of British royal art and Georgian-styled architecture. Not just the fantastic interiors, but Hillsborough Castle is set in over 100 acres of glorious gardens and offers lovely contrasts of woodland, waterways, specimen trees, and plants.

The castle’s state apartments have been redecorated and represented as traditional Irish big houses and a huge space for Royal Ceremonies. The craftsmanship of the castle is exquisite and reflects itself in both the interiors of the palace residence and the beautiful floral garden. The real features of the lovely house as created in the 18th century are carefully maintained and still visible in the castle. The state rooms of the castle are elegantly represented, and the wonderful gardens are carved out for a beautiful summer experience.

Movie Features

Antiques Roadshow- The castle was featured in the first episode of the 37th season of the TV series “Antique Roadshow”. The episode was titled after the name of the castle, “Hillsborough Castle”.

Hillsborough The castle is featured in a few scenes of the TV movie of 1996, Hillsborough.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How to get to Hillsborough Castle?

To get to Hillsborough Castle you can either take a bus, taxi or drive through the greenery yourself. To go by bus, you can catch line 238 bus from Belfast Europa Bus Centre and reach Hillsborough War Memorial in about 21 minutes. You can then walk for approximately 5 minutes and reach the castle. If you opt for a taxi or drive yourself, you’ll be arriving at the castle in about 15 minutes.

  • Has the Queen ever stayed at Hillsborough Castle?

When the Queen was 19 years old, she made her first solo trip to Ireland, during which she stayed at the Hillsborough Castle, and continues to do so during conferences, summits, or visits.

  • Can you get married at Hillsborough castle?

Yes, Hillsborough Castle is a super famous wedding venue, and bookings can be made through any third-party wedding management agent. Hillsborough Castle and royal gardens offer stunning interiors and a peaceful experience, making it the perfect royal setting to get married in.

  • How long is Hillsborough Castle tour?

Hillsborough Castle offers a wonderfully guided tour and takes one through stories of celebration, entertainment, diplomacy, and negotiation within a time span of 45 minutes. The guides make sure to take you around every nook and corner of the room, not missing out on any fascinating stories.

Have you visited this castle before? If yes, please share some beautiful pictures with us!
You can email us your pictures of the castle at castrumtocastle@gmail.com. Please use the name of the castle in the subject line.

Also, don’t forget to mention your name and social media profile link if you want the credits!

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