Castle Ward is a unique 18th-century mansion famed for its mixture of architectural styles and interiors. One half is built in the classical Palladian style, while the other half – which faces out across Strangford Lough – is built in the more elaborate Gothic style.

The story told for the reason behind this unusual decorative scheme is that the builder of the house, Bernard Ward, 1st Viscount Bangor, did not agree with his wife Lady Anne on the décor. Bernard had a classical taste but Lady Anne preferred the fashionable Gothic style, leading them to split the house down the middle.

Lady Anne left Castle Ward – and her husband Bernard – in 1770, shortly after the house was completed. Since then, she has become the subject of much speculation, and famous for her independent mind and spirit.

A royal ancestry!
Lady Anne’s grandfather was the nephew of the Duchess of York – wife of King James II and a first cousin of Queen Anne. This royal ancestry shows itself in the choice of the Gothic style. The ceiling in the Morning Room is copied from the Henry VII Chapel in Westminster Abbey, where Anne’s maternal family were permitted to be buried due to their royal blood.

Learn the stories of some of the people connected to Castle Ward over the centuries. From the unconventional life of one of the mansion’s creators, to the conflict-ravaged career of a celebrated war correspondent, the estate’s past residents have fascinating tales to tell.

The Game of Thrones – Castle Ward Estate provided some of season one’s most recognisable locations. The historic farmyard stood in for parts of Winterfell, including the archery range where the Stark children practised their skills.

Take a wander round the wider estate and you might also recognise other sites such as Robb Stark’s army camp, and the setting for The Twins – home of the treacherous Lord Frey.

The battle between the Starks and Lannisters in episode nine (‘Baelor’) was also filmed here, along with the scene in episode ten (‘Fire and Blood’) where Brienne confronts three Stark men.

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Source and image credits: The National Trust