|Location||Kilclief, County Down, Northern Ireland (Google Maps)|
|Open to Visitors||Yes|
|Owned by||The National Trust|
Kilclief Castle is a small tower- house castle located near the shores of Strangford Lough, 2.5 miles down south from the village of Strangford in County Down, Northern Ireland. The small but charming castle was built between 1412 and 1441 by John Sely, the Bishop of Down, and is considered to be the earliest tower- house in the Lecale region.
Kilclief Castle was an ancient summer residence and manor of the Bishops of Down. Being the Bishop of Down, John Sely occupied the castle from 1429 to 1443 until he was expelled and deprived of his offices for living with a married woman. The Bishop of Down was a sacerdotal title, taking its name from the town of Downpatrick in Northern Ireland. The building was subsequently garrisoned for the Crown by Nicholas FitzSymon and ten warders from 1601 to 1602. The castle was thatched and made as a part of a farm in the 18th Century. The castle was undertaken by the National Trust (the government body), which handles the upkeep of the castle.
A fine example of the Anglo- Irish Military keep, Kilclief Castle, was built in the Anglo-Norman style of architecture. The castle was formed as a small tower-house with a height of 60m and of a considerable size made into a square and two quadrangular wings in front of the castle. One of the wings contained the entrance and a long spiral staircase, while another accommodated a stack of closets. The details of the windows suggest that the builders may have been church masons. Each tower had a room with a built-in fireplace and cupboards.
The castle consists of four floors, where the first one was vaulted in stone, while on the second floor, a 13th-century coffin lid from a nearby church was reused as a beam for the fireplace. The large windows giving the view of the courtyard were fitted with window seats, constructed in such a way that it would provide enough light for reading and sewing. The castle is presently in the care of the state.
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