Holidays&Travel

Video: Hillsborough Castle reopening to feature previously unseen artwork

Video copyright Historic Royal Palaces

Art will be unveiled to the public for the first time this week when Hillsborough Castle opens to the public.

The royal residence and stately setting for political deal-making has undergone a £24 million five-year refurbishment.

The Anglo-Irish country house in Co Down was built by Wills Hill, second Earl of Hillsborough, in the mid-18th century.

Curator Dr Christopher Warleigh-Lack said: "While the focus has been in other places such as Stormont for instance, a lot of the private negotiation and the reflection took place here at Hillsborough Castle.

The State Entrance Hall at Hillsborough Castle. Picture by Historic Royal Palaces

"Of course, a number of the key moments during the peace process such as the Anglo-Irish peace agreement in 1985, the Hillsborough Agreement for instance, they were all signed here.

"We very much want to tell those stories to our visitors, it is much, much more than a royal residence."

Read More: Historic Hillsborough clock to chime for the first time in decades

The charity Historic Royal Palaces took over management of the Georgian castle in 2014.

Renovation work at the gold sandstone property has been going on for several years.

The Throne Room at Hillsborough Castle. Picture by Historic Royal Palaces

Tours of the house will allow visitors to take in the artistic, political and royal history.

Laura McCorry, head of Hillsborough Castle and gardens, said part of the Royal Collection of art was housed at Hillsborough.

She said: "There is some art on display that has never been seen before by the public."

The castle had been elegantly and beautifully restored, she added.

The stories of members of the local community is reflected in some of the content.

Ms McCorry added: "We will be offering political stories that really dive into the history of what took place here at some of the key political times in our history."

Set in over 100 acres of grounds, the Walled Garden takes inspiration from a historic garden which once produced fruit, vegetables and flowers for residents of Hillsborough Castle. Picture by Historic Royal Palaces

For younger visitors, bug trails through the acres of gardens will provide a distraction.

The outdoor refurbishment included the restoration of the Yew Walk, Moss Walk and other elements. A four-acre walled garden provides fruit and vegetables for the estate and features an 18th century layout.

Garden manager Claire Woods said: "It is a redevelopment and a re-imagining of a walled garden."

The State Dining Room at Hillsborough Castle. A Waterford Crystal Chandelier hangs above the long mahogany dining table. Picture by Historic Royal Palaces

The walls created a micro-climate and protected the fruit trees.

The castle was government house, the residence of the Governor of Northern Ireland, until 1973. Since then it has been the home of the Secretary of State.

The castle opens to visitors on April 18.

Hillsborough Castle is set to reopen to the public after a £24 million five-year refurbishment. Picture by Historic Royal Palaces

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