Northern Ireland

£4.8m lottery award for Hillsborough Castle and gardens

Hillsborough Castle, County Down Image copyright Heritage Lottery Fund
Image caption The award will help increase accessibility at Hillsborough Castle

Hillsborough Castle and gardens in County Down is to receive a £4.8m award from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The grant will increase accessibility, with new visitor facilities being installed, said the HLF. The site's heritage will also be conserved.

An independent charity, Historic Royal Palaces (HRP), is to lead the new project.

A range of opportunities for learning and skills development will also be provided.

"This unique heritage attraction will become a must-see attraction, allowing visitors to learn more about its fascinating history, enjoy a leisurely stroll through the beautiful gardens or tour the historic state rooms," said Anna Carragher, HLF's chairwoman in Northern Ireland.

The project will see work carried out to conserve the historic features of the walled garden, including its original quadrant layout and central pool.

Image caption The drawing room of the castle

The fund said the Lost Garden, which had become overgrown and difficult to access, would be reinstated, with new paths, bridges and trails installed to allow visitors to fully explore the extensive grounds.

'Hub for horticulture'

New visitor facilities including ticketing and a retail space will be created, and the stable yard will be used to house a dedicated learning centre for families, schools and youth and community groups.

Visitors to the castle will be able to tour the state rooms, including the throne room, drawing room and staircase hall.

Image copyright Heritage Lottery Fund
Image caption The site's heritage will also be conserved

They will learn more about their use as a venue for royal visits, political discussions and entertaining as well as getting an insight into life for those living and working in the "back-of-house" areas.

A volunteer programme is to provide opportunities for learning and development, "with the gardens becoming a hub for horticulture and heritage skills".

The fund said training will also be provided for a number of roles.

Patricia Corbett, head of Hillsborough Castle, said she was "delighted that the HLF has chosen to support our exciting plans".

Image caption The castle is the official residence in Northern Ireland of the Queen

"This major project will enable us to open up this fascinating and beautiful historic site to the widest possible audience," she added.

"Work to create the new facilities is already well under way and we look forward to welcoming many more visitors to Hillsborough Castle in years to come."

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