Mansion House, Castle Ward

Record ID:  131443 / MNA151888
Record type:  Building
Protected Status: Listed Building, Registered Park or Garden
NT Property:  Castle Ward; Northern Ireland
Civil Parish:  None Recorded
Grid Reference:  SJ 5729 4925
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Grand mid 18th century house, 3 storeys over basement and of 7 bays, built 1760-79 by Bernard Ward (later 1st Viscount Bangor), and his wife, Lady Anne, daughter of 1st Earl of Darnley, to replace an earlier house. Architect unknown. Famously eccentric house having one façade in Classical style, the other Gothick (Strawberry Hill Gothick)which continue into the house interior. Faced in Bath stone it is stunningly situated, surrounded by woods, farmland, landscaped gardens and lakes

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Monument Types

  • MANSION HOUSE (Mid 18th C to Early 21st century - 1760 AD to 2050 AD)


The house, comprising a basement and three floors, is rectangular in plan, facing west, with semi-octagonal bays on north and south; the walls of the main elevations are of Bath stone (noted by Caldwell in 1772), the side elevations of rendered local rubble and the roofs are slated or lead-covered. The west and return elevations are treated in the classical manner and the east elevation in pseudo-Gothic style.

Exterior. The west main elevation has a central pedimented feature, three windows wide, set forward from flanking wings each two windows wide. The ground floor, back-set slightly from the face of the basement storey, is placed on a plain plinth which rises to sill-level of the windows, above which, to the height of the first storey, the masonry is treated with horizontal and vertical V-section channelling. The central feature has three semicircular arched openings with key-blocks, within which are recessed a central door and flanking windows; the plinth is returned within each recess and breaks back beneath the windows of each wing; the windows of the wings are flat-arched, with plain surround set back from the wall face, those of the central feature having arched heads with key-block and plain imposts. The entrance has a moulded transom and semicircular fanlight with key-block and is approached by a bridge which spans the area fronting the basement; the area is enclosed by balustrading, with cast-iron balusters, Bath stone plinth and capping and terminal and intermediate pedestals; the balustrading is returned to flank the bridge. At first floor is a platband, breaking out to follow the central feature which is continued above by an engaged order of four equally-spaced three-quarter columns, with moulded bases, plain shafts and Ionic capitals, which rise through the two upper storeys to support an entablature. Above the platband is a pedestal course, broken forward as aprons beneath the windows of the wings and with blind balustrading under the windows of the central feature; the windows have moulded architraves, shouldered at top and bottom, pulvinated frieze and moulded cornice; the central light has a segmental pediment, the other window pediments being of triangular shape. The second floor is lighted by windows, square in form, with moulded architraves shouldered at the top. The walls rise to an entablature with modillioned cornice which breaks forward, with pulvinated frieze, over the central feature and is here surmounted by a triangular pediment with a tympanum decoration of an achievement of arms; the pediment has acroterial ornaments of pedestals bearing ornamented vases and the wings are finished with a blocking course with vases, varied in form and ornament, at the angles of the building.

The north elevation has a central semi-octagonal bay with a window to each of the main faces, and flanking wings each a single dummy window wide; the ground and first floors have sill-courses and the walls are crowned by a plain cornice and blocking course, the channelled masonry of the ground floor and the full entablature of the main elevation returning only at the quoins. The ground floor windows have broken granite architraves with key-block and, with the exception of the central arched light of the bay, are all square-headed; the windows of the upper floors are also square-headed and have moulded architraves. The south elevation is generally similar but retains the ground floor plinth; the ground floor windows of the wings have moulded architraves and key-block and the window arrangement of the bay is suited to the enclosed stair, the half-landing of which has three lights with moulded architrave, the central one arched, with plain imposts and key-block. The ground floor of the bay was extended to form a porch in the 19th century. The basement area, with balustrade, returns to front the side elevations and on the north follows the outline of the bay.

The east rear elevation has a central, slightly projecting feature three windows wide and flanking wings each two windows wide; it rests on a plain plinth, has a platband and pedestal-course broken out at first floor as aprons beneath the windows, and rises to a moulded cornice carried on a series of small pointed arches, and embattled parapet; at the centre and extremities of the central feature are panelled and crocketted pinnacles with finials and at the angles of the building are ornamental vases. At each floor of the central feature are windows with pointed head, architraves bearing panels with trefoiled heads and bases, moulded and enriched imposts and moulded archivolt; those of the ground storey extend to floor level and the windows progressively diminish in height at the upper floors. The wings have ogee-headed windows with moulded architraves, plain imposts and finial, graded similarly to the central windows but with the ground floor lights rising only from the top of the plinth. The east elevation is fronted by a stone-paved terrace flanked by balustrading and the central feature is approached by two shallow steps.

Interior. The basement chambers and corridors have groined or barrel vaults of brickwork. At ground floor, the large entrance hall occupies the centre of the west front, communicating on the north with the dining-room and on the south with the library, and opens by a colonnade to a cross corridor which connects the main and service stairs. On the east, opening from the corridor, is a central salon which is flanked by small apartments, that on the south used as a sitting room; the sitting room and library are also approached from the main stair-hall and the corresponding pair of rooms on the north, together with the bay, from the service stair-hall. The three rooms facing east. are decorated in pseudo-Gothic style.

The entrance hall is lighted on the west by a pair of windows which flank the entrance, all cased in wood with semicircular heads with key-block; the entrance has panelled side pilasters with moulded imposts and guilloche-enriched archivolt; the window architraves are eared at the top and bottom, have guilloche-enrichment and rise from pedestals; the openings have panelled soffits and shutters. At the west ends of the north and south walls are doors leading to the flanking-rooms, with corresponding dummy doors on the east; they have moulded and eared archi.trave and fluted frieze with moulded cornice; at the centre of the south wall is a marble chimney-piece, having an eared architrave-surround and segmental head bearing a shell with floral pendants, and a moulded cornice broken forward above a pair of scrolled consoles. The walls are panelled above a moulded dado-rail; at the centre of the north and south walls the panels have a moulded and eared surround, that above the fireplace with leaf-and-tongue enrichment, enclosing an inner beading; smaller panels are placed above the doors, with moulded surround and inner beading incurved at the angles to accommodate square leaves. Between the panels are ribbon bows and pendants with trophies of arms, of the chase, and of musical instruments, etc., moulded in high relief; on the N. wall, foliage sprays are attached to the ends of the pendants; on the south wall instead, an ornamental vase, an hour-glass with skull, scythe and book, a globe on stand with open book and calipers; at the west end of the south wall, from top to bottom, is a shelf with straw basket and hanging pair of keys, a basket of flowers, a three-cornered hat, tripod-table with urn; on the adjacent west wall in the window spandrel is a woman's ribboned hat with low crown and wide brim. The walls rise to a richly detailed cornice with egg-and-leaf enrichment, mutules with guttae and coffers with rosettes. The flat ceiling is divided into a geometrical arrangement of compartments; at the centre is a simple rose within an octagonal surround with scrolled foliage, enclosed on four sides by rectangular panels with restrained acanthus enrichment; in the angles of the ceiling is symmetrical scrolled foliage with C-motifs. The hall opens to the cross-corridor by a colonnade of three equal bays, with Roman Doric columns and respondent demi-columns having shafts of veined yellow scagliola, supporting an entablature with pannelled soffit and triglyphed frieze with metopic arrangement, e.g. of trophies of arms, musical instruments; the cornice is continuous with that of the hall and corridor. The corridor opens to the stair-halls by doors with glazed fanlights, detailed similarly to those in the entrance hall, which are recessed within semicircular arched openings with panelled pilasters, moulded imposts and guilloche-enriched archivolt with key-block; one key-block bears a lion’s head, the other a draped ox-skull; in the spandrels are male and female heads. The door to the salon has a moulded architrave and is flanked by Roman Doric three-quarter columns supporting an entablature, with triglyphed frieze and metopic trophies of arms, and triangular pediment broken to accommodate an achievement of arms; in the spandrels are Egyptian motifs (cf. Monfaucon, Antiquity Explained (London 1721), Vol I, plate 47; bk. II, p 97; inf. Prof. N. Pevsner) comprising tubular skirts with rose, bee and bull’s head, surmounted one by an owl’s head, the other by a hawk’s head. The passage has a cornice and single rectangular ceiling panel, detailed as in the entrance hall.

The dining room is wainscoted, with slightly sunk panels, incurved at the angles, having a guilloche surround, a dado-rail with guilloche and other enrichment and plain dado. The windows have eared architraves, with guilloche and other enrichment, rising from pedestals, and panelled soffits and shutters; the door to the hall has an eared and moulded architrave with enriched ovolo, surmounted by a richly detailed entablature. On the north is a sideboard recess with panelled soffit and jambs, flanked by panelled pilasters, with guilloche ornament suspended from ribbon bows, which rise to an entablature detailed in similar fashion to that of the door; the scotia-moulded frieze is enriched with acanthus leaves and breaks forward over the pilasters; the cornice is dentilled and bears egg-and-leaf and formalized acanthus ornament. On the east is a fireplace with cast-iron grate and chimney piece of veined yellow marble, with white marble slips; the frieze bears a child’s bust, flanked by bows and quivers, with scrolled consoles supporting the moulded cornice; the chimney-piece is framed in a wood surround, the overmantle with central panel of Venus and cherubs, flanked by scrolled foliage and vine-sprays, and moulded and enriched cornice. The walls rise to a richly detailed entablature with den tilled and modillioned cornice; the flat ceiling has a large panel, with inset quadrant angles, having a border of scrolled foliage with bay wreaths at the corners and at the centre.

The main stair-hall communicates with the cross corridor by a door with moulded architrave, fluted frieze with scrolled trusses and den tilled cornice, deeply recessed within a semicircular arched opening with panelled pilasters, moulded imposts and archivolt with key-block. The doors leading to the library and sitting room have architraves eared at the bottom and mouldings enriched with formalized acanthus leaves, fluted frieze with scrolled trusses and moulded and enriched cornice. The soflit of the first floor landing has a modillioned and enriched cornice. The stair rises in two equal and parallel flights with semi-octagonal half-landing in the projection of the bay; it is constructed with stone treads finished with scrolled brackets and has wrought-iron S-scrolled balusters alternating with pairs of square-sectioned plain balusters and inlaid mahogany handrail; the handrail is wreathed at the bottom and ramps up to the landing newels, the newels being formed in the manner of Doric or Ionic columns with bulbous shafts and acanthus-enriched pedestals. On the walls is a corresponding dado of fielded panels with in-curved angles, with capping and pilasters matching the handrail and newels of the staircase; above, at first floor level, is a frieze of scrolled foliage which is returned across the face of the landing and dies against the dado capping of the upper flight. The dado is continued as a pedestal course to the half-landing and returned within the embrasures of the three windows of the bay; the windows are framed by Ionic pilasters, supporting an enriched entablature, with fluted frieze and modillioned cornice, which breaks back on either side of the central light, the arched head of which has a moulded and enriched archivolt with key-block and panelled soffit. The walls of the stair hall rise through both ground and first floors to a moulded cornice.

The sitting room has window openings with ogee rear-arches and ogee-panelled soffits and shutters and pointed-arched doors panelled to simulate window tracery; the dado has fielded panels with trefoiled heads and bases, alternating with interlocked lozenges and radiating tracery motifs with trefoil head and pointed base, and moulded and enriched rail. The chimney piece is of white marble, with veined reddish marble columns and slips; the fireplace is framed by an architrave-surround with flattened ogee head crowned by a finial which rises into the frieze, and is flanked by triple attached and grouped columns with moulded bases and capitals with conventional foliage; the entablature is broken out over the columns, the frieze bearing cusped roundels alternating with flute-like slips. The plaster ceiling is remarkable; from the centres and angles of the walls, inverted pyramidal, ogee-sectioned semi- and demi-semi vaults rise from acanthus-enriched corbels to a central, flat oval panel with moulded surround which, with the vault soffits, bears a reticulated pattern of trefoil-pointed motifs and single and grouped quatrefoils.

The central salon is lighted by three pointed windows with ogee rear-arches and soffits and shutters bearing fielded panels, either with trefoiled heads and bases or lozenge shaped, enclosing cusped motifs; the upper and lower window sashes have intersecting glazing bars in the heads, those of the upper sash being hlled with stained and ornamented glass. The pointed-arched doors are panelled in imitation of window tracery, with fielded panels similar to those of the window shutters beneath the lock-rail; the dado has similar panels and a moulded rail. The chimney-piece is of white marble with veined yellow marble slips; the fireplace opening is ogee-arched with enriched spandrels, and is enclosed by egg-and-tongue ornament and by a fluted architrave-surround, which is framed by pilasters with panels having trefoil heads and bases; the frieze is enriched with quatrefoils, the cornice is coved and bears a series of small trefoil-pointed arches; the mahogany overmantle has an oil painting (a classical scene with figures in 18th century costume, inscribed ‘Elizabeth, Lady Viscountess Mordaunt’ in lower right corner), framed by pilasters panelled similarly to those of the chimney-piece and embattled, coved cornice with small trefoil-ogee arches. The walls rise to a ceiling surround of small pointed arches and corresponding pendants; the flat ceiling has a narrow border panel, enriched by acanthus-filled quatrefoils, enclosing a large reticulated panel with angle intakes accommodating small square panels filled with small pendants and a similar central panel placed diamond-wise with border of cusped and lozenge motifs filled by leaves and flowers.

The room north of the salon has windows, doors and dado detailed in generally similar manner to the corresponding features in the salon. The chimney-piece, of grey veined marble, has a four-centered arched fireplace opening with moulded architrave-surround and panelled spandrels and side pilasters having panels with trefoiled heads and bases. The walls rise to a deep cove and the flat ceiling is decorated with a pair of large cone-shaped pendants, all with a geometrical arrangement of trefoiled panelling, with small quatrefoils and lozenges.

The plan at the first storey is generally similar to that at ground, with a central corridor linking the main and service stairs, of which only the latter ascends to second floor. The corridor has plaster panelled walls and ceiling, with an oval coved ceiling light placed beneath an octagonal roof light; it is approached from the stairs by barrel vaulted openings, also panelled, faced with fluted Ionic pilasters rising to semicircular arches with ribbed soffit and moulded archivolt; towards the service stair the opening is plain and closed by a door with semicircular fanlight. On the west the space above the entrance hall is sub-divided, both rooms having windows with panelled soffit and shutters, as elsewhere, doors with bolection-moulded architraves and fireplaces with plain marble surrounds. The apartment to the north has a moulded dado-rail, door with moulded and eared architrave and chimney piece of white veined marble with three quarter reeded side columns having moulded bases and capitals, entablature blocks and reeded frieze; the walls rise to an enriched cavetto frieze and moulded cornice with egg-and-leaf enrichment. On the east the central space above the salon is sub-divided; the doors of both apartments have pointed tympana containing a panel of quatrefoil shape or with an ogee arch at head and base; the larger room has a chimney-piece of veined white marble, with moulded architrave, side pilasters, and entablature with scrolled consoles; the smaller room has a plain white marble fireplace surround. The apartment on the north has an ogee-arched recess in the north wall, a dado with sunk quatrefoils and moulded rail, and ogee-headed door with ogee-panelling, and quatrefoils cut in the lock-rail; the chimney-piece is of black marble, having ogee-panelled side pilasters with frieze-blocks bearing quatrefoils, and four-centered arched fireplace opening; the ceiling surround is a simplified version of that in the salon. The apartment on the south has a door similar to those in the central rooms; the chimney-piece, of wood veined in imitation of marble, has a four-centred arched fireplace opening.

At second floor, two rooms contain late 18th century cast-iron grates, one with classical-style enrichment the other with Gothic traceried panels.


None Recorded


  • Listed Building: CASTLEWARD HOUSE CASTLEWARD STRANGFORD Downpatrick CO.DOWN (HB18/08/065)
  • Registered Park or Garden: CASTLEWARD (D-010)

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