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£4.8 million grant for historic castle and gardens in Co Down

Hillsborough Castle has been awarded a £5m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund for a major project. Picture by Historic Royal Palaces/ HLF

THE heritage and cultural history of a Co Down landmark is set to be explored following a grant of almost £5 million.

Work to open up Hillsborough Castle and Gardens to even more visitors is to begin with the hope the site will welcome an expected 200,000 people each year by 2019.

The £4.8m award from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) will help conserve the historic features of the walled garden, including its original quadrant layout and central pool as well as enhancing its original planting.

The lost garden, which had become overgrown and difficult to access, will be re-instated and new paths, bridges and trails installed to allow visitors to fully explore the extensive grounds of the 100-acre estate.

Inside the castle, visitors will be able to tour the state rooms, including the newly conserved and re-presented throne room, drawing room and staircase hall - learning more about their use as a venue for royal visits, political discussions and entertaining.

The tour will also give visitors an insight into life for those living and working in the 'back-of-house' areas.

Anna Carragher from HLF said: "Thanks to National Lottery players the important natural, cultural and built heritage of Hillsborough Castle will be conserved and opened up for many more people to enjoy.

"This unique heritage attraction will become a must-see attraction, allowing visitors to learn more about its fascinating history, enjoy a leisurely stroll through the beautiful gardens or tour the historic state rooms."

Patricia Corbett from Hillsborough Castle said: "We are absolutely delighted that the HLF has chosen to support our exciting plans for Hillsborough Castle.

"This major project will enable us to open up this fascinating and beautiful historic site to the widest possible audience.

"Work to create the new facilities is already well underway and we look forward to welcoming many more visitors to Hillsborough Castle in years to come."

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