Castle Ward is an 18th-century National Trust property located near the village of Strangford, in County Down, Northern Ireland, in the townland of the same name. It overlooks Strangford Lough and is 7 miles from Downpatrick and 1.5 miles from Strangford.
Castle Ward is open to the public and includes 332 hectares (820 acres) of landscaped gardens, a fortified tower house, Victorian laundry, theatre, restaurant, shop, saw mill and a working corn mill. It has a shore on Strangford Lough. From 1985 to 2010 it has also hosted Castleward Opera, an annual summer opera festival.
The most interesting aspect of Castle Ward is that of its dual architecture, reflecting the differing tastes of Lord Bangor and his wife, Lady Ann Bligh. While the entrance side of the building is done in a classical Palladian style with columns supporting a triangular pediment, the opposite side is Georgian Gothic with pointed windows, battlements and finials. This differences in style continue throughout the interior of the house with the divide down the centre. There is a tower house in the estate’s farmyard, built as a defensive structure in 1610 by Nicholas Ward.
Castle Ward has been the home of the Ward family since ca. 1570. Originally known as Carrick na Sheannagh and owned by the Earls of Kildare, it was bought by Bernard Ward, father of Sir Robert Ward, Surveyor-General of Ireland. The 850 acre walled demesne also dates from the 16th century. The Ward family built a succession of homes in their estate; Old Castle Ward, built around 1590 near to Strangford Lough, still survives, but a mansion built around 1720 by Judge Michael Ward was demolished around 1850, although some of the associated landscaping remains.
The architect of the current building, built in the early 1760s for Michael Ward’s son Bernard Ward, 1st Viscount Bangor is unknown, although he may have come from the Bristol area, with which the Ward family had close ties. It may have been James Bridges who practiced in Bristol between 1757 and 1763 and whose work there has some similarity to Castle Ward.