An elegant scene for Georgian entertainments
Update 27 November: We are closed from 27 November to 02 December inclusive. The gardens will now reopen on Thursday 03 December in line with updated guidance from the Northern Ireland Executive.
The State Dining Room has been in constant use since the house was built. The doors to the kitchens and ancillary areas are shielded by leather screens so that servants could enter and leave discreetly.
During state dinners, the host is expected to sit at the centre of the dining table with their back to the fireplace. Her Majesty The Queen continued this tradition during her first visit as Queen during her Coronation Tour in 1953. Directly in her sightline would have been the Granville Garden, which was created by her aunt Rose, the Countess of Granville.
Her Majesty The Queen was guest of honour at a dinner to celebrate her coronation, here in the State Dining Room in 1953.
A copy of the tiara that Her Majesty wore on the occasion, the Queen Mary’s Girls of Britain and Ireland tiara, is on display in the State Dining Room.
George III and Queen Charlotte met in the afternoon of 8 September 1761 and were married that evening. George was the first Hanoverian King to be born and raised in England. Despite being one of the longest reigning monarchs in British history, he is often remembered for his frequent bouts of mental illness.
The portraits of the King and Queen in the State Dining Room are part of a series of copies by Scottish artist Allan Ramsay and his studio.
The painting on the far side of the State Dining Room depicts the impressive figure of Lord Arthur Hill, second son of the second Marquess of Downshire.
Lord Arthur fought in the Peninsula War before becoming a captain and 'Aide de Camp' to Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, to whom he was related.
In June 1815, Lord Arthur travelled to Dover on horseback and commandeered a boat for £22 to row across the Channel and join the imminent conflict at Waterloo. Wellington famously said that 'if there hadn’t been a boat, Arthur would no doubt have swum'.
The 4th Marquess of Downshire served as Lieutenant Colonel of the Royal South Down Militia. He is depicted in the State Dining Room as the Earl of Hillsborough.
When he married Caroline Stapleton Cotton in 1837, he threw a famously extravagant wedding party at the Fort attended by 3,000 tenants. It is rumoured that 13 guests died from overindulgence!
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