Discover the heart of the castle, which provides access to some of the most important spaces
The Ante Room formed part of the original house, which was built in the mid-18th century. It was created from a much smaller hallway in 1936, following a devastating fire in 1934.
An elegant 'Wyatt' window (named for the 18th-century architect James Wyatt who popularised the shape) overlooks the courtyard to the east. The structure of the window is 18th century with later fittings and panelling.
Highlights of the Ante Room
The First Marquess of Downshire (late 1700s)
Sculptor Joseph Nollekens became an associate of the Royal Academy in 1771 and sculpted public figures of his day from George III to William Pitt and Charles Fox.
The subject of this bust, Wills Hill, First Marquess of Downshire, is credited with developing much of the town of Hillsborough, most notably the castle, church and courthouse.
Town and Park of Hillsborough (1788)
William Byers' map depicts the Small Park and town of Hillsborough. The Small Park encompasses the gardens that surround the castle, encased by the walls from 1803.
The desire to attain a vision of natural beauty within the gardens led the Third Marquess of Downshire to attempt to reverse the process of urbanisation that Wills Hill had begun.
King George V (c1912)
George V signed the Act of Partition that created Northern Ireland, and was monarch when Hillsborough Castle and Gardens became residence of the Governor of Northern Ireland.
Queen Mary (c1912-1935)
Although she eventually became a devoted wife and queen to George V, Mary was first betrothed to his older brother Albert.
When Prince Albert died unexpectedly in 1892 she grew close to his younger brother, during a shared period of mourning. Mary accepted his marriage proposal in 1893, and they were married just two months later. Mary died in 1953, 10 weeks before the coronation of her granddaughter, Her Majesty The Queen.
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