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  • Barons Court

    A series of picturesque views of seats of the noblemen and gentlemen of Great Britain and Ireland. With descriptive and historical letterpress (1840)

  • Castle Ward

  • Mount Stewart garden

    Dieglop / CC BY-SA 4.0

  • Castle Coole

    A series of picturesque views of seats of the noblemen and gentlemen of Great Britain and Ireland. With descriptive and historical letterpress (1840) Public Domain via British Library.

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  • Explore some of Northern Ireland’s most magnificent stately homes, from the eccentric Castle Ward with its opposing classical and Gothic façades, to Grey Abbey House, considered one of the finest Georgian country houses in Ireland

  • Enjoy privileged visits to private homes not often open to the public, including Baronscourt and Ballywalter

  • Discover world-class gardens, including the 20th century designs at Mount Stewart

“It was lovely to be shown round by the owners at some of the properties, with personal stories about the families. All were very welcoming and friendly”

- ACE customers on the 2023 Houses & Gardens of Northern Ireland tour led by Cosmo Brockway

This tour explores a handpicked selection of the great estates, houses and gardens to be found in Northern Ireland, each boasting its own fascinating history. With a special focus on private houses and gardens, we will get a personal feel for, and in-depth understanding of, the stories behind these beautiful properties, their surroundings and contents.


From a base in Belfast, our tour begins with an excursion to two important properties in County Down. Grey Abbey House, overlooking Strangford Lough, has been in the ownership of the Montgomery family for over 400 years. It features exquisite 18th century plasterwork and delightful Gothic windows in the elegant drawing room.


Mount Stewart is a neoclassical house perhaps most celebrated for its outstanding gardens. Created by Edith, Lady Londonderry, in the early 20th century, building upon a historical 18th and 19th century landscape, the designs provide a rare example of the late compartmentalised Arts & Crafts style.


Our itinerary includes Clandeboye House, one of Northern Ireland's greatest hidden gems. Until recently the private home of the late Lindy, Lady Dufferin, a Guinness heiress and artist in her own right, Clandeboye is a fine aristocratic Georgian mansion filled with untouched atmosphere and treasures from the family's colourful history. The estate also boasts a wonderful Gothic tower, Italian formal gardens and an Azalea Walk.


Meanwhile, a surprising architectural contrast can be seen at Castle Ward: rebuilt in the 1760s, one wing showcases the classical Palladian style favoured by its owner, the 1st Viscount Bangor, and another the contrasting Georgian Gothic, which was preferred by his wife, Lady Anne Bligh.  


Moving westwards into County Tyrone, we will visit the Baronscourt Estate, home to the Duke of Abercorn and surrounded by a spectacular landscape, while in County Fermanagh, we will visit Killyreagh House, dating from 1830, as well as Castle Coole, one of Ireland’s most notable neoclassical country houses, and Crom Castle on the shores of Lough Erne. 


Our tour concludes with a visit to the delightful Victorian Italianate palazzo at Ballywalter Park on the shores of the Irish Sea. The home of Lord and Lady Dunleath, the house has been in their family for 170 years. It is of exceptional architectural importance and is surrounded by 30 acres of pleasure grounds.


At many of the privately owned houses, we hope to enjoy privileged guided tours, or opportunities to meet some of the owners over refreshments. 


The beginning and end of our tour will be based at the stylish Titanic Hotel Belfast, located in the heart of the city’s Titanic Quarter. The hotel is elegantly decorated with historical artefacts and contemporary artworks displayed amongst period architectural features. The tour also features an overnight stay at the comfortable four-star Killyhevlin Lakeside Hotel, situated close to Enniskillen, overlooking picturesque Lough Erne.

Our Tour Director is writer and experienced tour leader, Cosmo Samuel Brockway. An author and journalist, Cosmo has written for many leading publications on culture and design, including Architectural Digest and The Telegraph, and he is well acquainted with many of the finest private estates in England, Scotland and Ireland. Cosmo has led tours across the globe, and looks forward to introducing another ACE group to the beautiful houses and gardens of Northern Ireland in 2024.
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