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Monday, 17 June 2013

Castle Ward

 Last week I visited Castle Ward with my grandparents. It's been my dream to visit here for such a long time and luckily we chose a beautiful day to do so. You can only tour the house at certain times, and unfortunately our allocated slot wasn't until 3.30pm (we arrived just after 12) so we spent the afternoon relaxing in the court yard. There is a fantastic antique book shop located at the opposite end of the courtyard (right across from the tea shop) and I was ecstatic to find an original copy of The Green Hat- I've wanted to find a copy of this book since I read The Bolter last summer. Also, I found an original copy of Lytton Strachey's essays and Mrs A, a biography of Gertrude Lawrence, the foreword is by Daphne du Maurier. Gertrude's bio is advertised on the back of Margaret Lockwood's 1955 autobiography Lucky Star. So you could say it was a dream find! Finally, we went into the house and unlike most stately homes, photography is permitted provided you turn off the flash. I managed to snap quite a few photographs as we toured the property, our tour leader (an English lady) was very amusing and told us a lot about the previous and present owners, Lord and Lady Bangor. Lady Bangor happens to be the Royal biographer, Sarah Bradford, and her books are dotted about the house, resting mainly on the Georgian writing tables. How is that for product placement! I loved the anecdotes about nursery life and how the previous Lady Bangor had a glass ceiling installed above the corridor so the children could wave to mummy as she went to dinner (See pix). I should mention that at the time Castle Ward was constructed, Lady Bangor adored Gothic but her husband did not, he wanted to keep the house in tradition with the Georgian style. They reached a compromise, one half of the house (the half facing Strangford Lough) is Gothic and the other half (facing the road) is Georgian. The tour guide summed it up when she said: 'It's probably the only schizophrenic house in all of Ireland.' 

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