20 June 2018
Updated 30 July. Following government guidance, the castle and gardens at Hillsborough Castle are now open Thursday-Sunday. Please read our visit information.
Historic Royal Palaces has today announced plans for a new addition to the internationally renowned gardens of Hillsborough Castle, Northern Ireland. Work is already underway on a new five acre Walled Garden, which will occupy the same spot as a historic Georgian Kitchen Garden that once catered for residents of the Castle. Like its predecessor, the new garden will be a living, working, productive garden – a hive of activity in the heart of the Castle grounds, which will greet visitors upon arrival when the transformed Castle fully re-opens in Spring 2019.
Set within 100 acres of majestic grounds the Walled Garden takes inspiration from a historic garden which once produced fruit, vegetables and flowers for residents of the Castle. Famous residents who may have eaten produce from the garden include US Founding Father Benjamin Franklin, who visited the castle to meet its founder Wills Hill, the first Marquess of Downshire, who was Secretary of the American Colonies during the 1770s.
Historic Royal Palaces will be turning back the clock to return the garden to its original 1770 layout - four quadrants with a central ‘dipping pool’. Working with Catherine Fitzgerlad of Mark Lutyens Associates, and landscape architects The Paul Hogarth Company, the new Walled Garden is already taking shape.
To date, the quadrant pathways have been laid down and a planting pattern has been established by Hillsborough Castle’s expert team of gardeners, with gardeners from Hampton Court Palace – another Historic Royal Palaces property – lending a helping hand. The Hillsborough team will be led by Ballymena’s Adam Ferguson, an award winning NI Gardener who achieved a Gold Medal in the World Skills Competition and has been appointed as Hillsborough Castle’s first official ‘Walled Garden Keeper.’
Adam Ferguson, Hillsborough Castle’s Walled Garden Keeper, said: “The new Walled Garden is the culmination of a massive amount of research, planning and labour by the team. Our ambitious planting scheme will showcase a range of traditional crops which would have supplied the house, combined with modern equivalents. From April 2019, it will be the first part of the gardens and estate that you will see from the Lower Courtyard entrance. We want to create a wow moment that will captivate visitors when they arrive.”
A variety of traditional fruits and vegetables will be cultivated in two quadrants of the walled garden, from raspberries, blackberries and rhubarb to potatoes, offset by a diverse range of cut flowers creating an abundance of colour. Meanwhile apple and pear orchards will landscape the remaining two quadrants sown by wildflower and meadowland, offering a place of reflection and sanctuary.
As the garden matures, it will provide an important education resource for visitors and community groups. Tailored learning projects in the walled garden and wider estate will encourage children and adults to engage with the history of the Castle and care for the natural world. These sessions will have a seasonal variation including programmes which support creative activity and a curriculum-linked exploration of the natural environment.
The creation of the Walled Garden is possible thanks to the generous support of Mark Pigott KBE, who made a major leadership grant to the project in 2014. To date, £20m has been raised over a five-year campaign for capital projects and associated activities at Hillsborough Castle, including a £4.8m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and significant support from the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Clore Duffield Foundation, the Foyle Foundation, the Wolfson Foundation and other generous benefactors. This investment will help to realise Historic Royal Palaces’ ambition to open the Castle and gardens to the widest possible audience and re-present the heritage so that everyone can explore this historic site.
As the work continues for the full re-presentation in 2019, Hillsborough Castle will still be open for the summer season from 01 July 2018 offering daily tours of the Castle and visits to the formal gardens.
For further information and images, please contact Charlie Oven, Press Officer, [email protected], T: 0203 166 6340
Historic Royal Palaces is the independent charity that looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, the Banqueting House, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace and Hillsborough Castle. We help everyone explore the story of how monarchs and people have shaped society, in some of the greatest palaces ever built. We raise all our own funds and depend on the support of our visitors, members, donors, sponsors and volunteers. With the exception of Hillsborough Castle, these palaces are owned by The Queen on behalf of the nation, and we manage them for the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Historic Royal Palaces cares for Hillsborough Castle under a separate contract with the Northern Ireland Office. Registered charity number 1068852. For more information visit www.hrp.org.uk
Mark Pigott KBE is executive chairman of PACCAR Inc (www.paccar.com), a Fortune 200 global technology company based in Bellevue, Washington. The Pigott family and PACCAR have generously supported UK organisations such as Cancer Research UK, the Royal Shakespeare Company, the British Library, the Palace of Westminster, the National Theatre, the National Gallery and St. Paul’s Cathedral.