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State Dining Room

An elegant scene for Georgian entertainments

An elegant scene for Georgian entertainments

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. Queen Elizabeth II 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.


Open weekends

Ticketing information

Included in combined castle tour and gardens tickets (members go free)

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Highlights of the State Dining Room

Queen Mary’s Girls of Britain and Ireland replica tiara

Queen Elizabeth II 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.

A young teenage girl and her younger sister smile with delight as they look at a replica of a tiara worn by HM The Queen in 1953 during her first ever visit to Hillsborough Castle. The tiara sits on a red velvet cushion with gold trim and is located in the State Dining Room.
The photo shows the length of the mahogany table in the State Dining Room. The table is dressed with silvery cutlery, crystal glassware and flowers down the centre. A chandelier hangs above the table and the eye is drawn down the centre of the table. A large oil painting of the Duke of Wellington hangs in a gold frame in the centre at the far end of the room.

Portraits of George III and Queen Charlotte (c1762-1800)

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.

A blonde woman faces away from the camera, out of focus, admiring a historic painted portrait of a young man with dark hair, within a gilded frame.

Portrait of Lord Marcus Hill, c1816

This painting depicts Marcus Hill, son of Arthur, 2nd Marquess of Downshire and his wife Mary, née Sandys. It was painted by leading portrait artist Thomas Lawrence and is the only painting of Marcus Hill on display at Hillsborough Castle.

The portrait was commissioned by his mother and shows Marcus at 18 years old, before he left for Madrid as secretary to the British envoy to Spain. Lawrence’s portrait joins the ranks of other court artists whose work is on display in the castle, including Anthony van Dyck, Joshua Reynolds and Peter Lely.

This portrait was gifted to Historic Royal Palaces by the trustees of the Sandys Trust (Registered Charity Number 1168357).

Lord Arthur Hill in Uniform (c1821)

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'.

A group of visitors are being entertained by a HRP Explainer in the Red Room in Hillsborough Castle. In the centre of the room is a long Georgian dinning table that looks like it's currently being setup for a lavish dinner party, silver cutlery and crystal are visible on the table top. A Waterford Crystal chandelier hangs above the table and the walls are green. Red and gold curtains frame the tall windows and full-length gold-framed mirrors hang between them. A large rug with a flax flower design covers the wooden floor below.
State Dining Room with view of State Dining Room table. Rich red curtains cover the large windows and a Waterford Crystal chandelier hangs above. A large rug with flax flower designs covers most of the wooden floor and two large gold-framed mirrors hang between the windows. A white marble fireplace with gold detailing features against the opposite wall.

The 4th Marquess of Downshire (c1830-45)

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!


  • Things to see

The Gardens

Discover the ornamental lawns, meandering waterways, peaceful woodlands and picturesque glens that surround Hillsborough Castle.

  • Wednesday - Sunday
  • 10:00-17:00. Last entry one hour before closing.
  • Hillsborough Castle
  • Included in all admission tickets (members go free)
Learn more
  • Things to see

Granville Garden

Take a moment in this elegant rose garden created by Lady Granville, aunt to Queen Elizabeth II.

  • In line with castle opening hours
  • Hillsborough Castle
  • Included in all admission tickets (members go free)
Learn more
  • Things to see

State Entrance Hall

Start your tour in the magnificent state entrance, where royals, politicians and peacemakers all enter the castle.

  • Open weekends
  • Hillsborough Castle
  • Included in combined castle tour and gardens tickets (members go free)
Learn more


The story of Hillsborough Castle and Gardens

‘The Grandest House in County Down’

Art at Hillsborough Castle

Hillsborough Castle has become a place in which to see amazing art

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