Recently we were kindly invited to Hillsborough Castle and Gardens, like ourselves, an award-winning outdoor space which is one of the 5 Royal residencies across Northern Ireland and England.
The weather did not hinder us from exploring the beautiful landscape with our brilliant tour guide Alan. Who showcased the various areas of the open plan courtyard and gardens, with some resident staff members kindly giving us insight into some of the unique practices they do to ensure a high standard within this beautiful location.
One member of staff Clare we met in the ‘garden shop’, where she was intriguing us with stories of the variety of beetroot that was created and grown in the grounds, one in which didn’t stain the rare marble tops in the kitchen. The staff in Hillsborough Castle and Gardens, like our own were more than welcoming and even gifted us with a beetroot to cook at home and try for ourselves.
We then emerged back outside, guided around the beautiful array of flowers and the Espalier pear trees that graced the courtyard walls, with the smell of wildflowers complimenting the scent of summer rain. It was a pleasure to learn that the now King Charles III is very involved in the layout and operational side of maintaining the gardens, a personal touch which was a lovely display.
Winding through the forest pathways that were once homeland to the Hills family, whom is the family that derived the name of the Hillsborough village, we came upon ‘Alices temple’. A small yet beautiful open stone temple that set the base of viewing the beauty of the landscape we took in. Emerging to see the original stone path, lined with huge trees either side, making the entrance very grand, fit for royalty.
Setting up upon the castle, we were given a fantastic tour into 8 rooms of the historic site, which are open to guests upon booking, the sense of history and importance the building has had throughout its many years, created an atmosphere in which was a privilege to be in.
The walls were lined with priceless paintings, envisioning the stories and events that lead to the inspiration for the artist to put brush to canvas was an amazing experience. The personal touch of knowing the castle is still currently used as a royal residence regularly was brilliant to experience and felt through the family photographs displayed on hall tables.
Wrapping up the tour we were shown to the ‘Life Through a Royal Lens’ exhibition, new to the Castle Gardens. This must-see exhibition dating back to the 1800s, showcased the Royal’s love of photography through the years, with amateur and professional photography placed along in historical order to give guest a glimpse at the personal side of the Royal Family.
The standards which Hillsborough Castle and Gardens have shown are those like our own and it was a pleasure to visit.
Thank you again to Alan and Hillsborough Castle and Gardens for their invitation and hospitality!
Check out all Hillsborough Castle & Gardens have to offer here.