Grand Designs in County Down
Manor House, County Down
Evocative of a fine country seat, this is an impressive house on a grand scale, uniquely positioned on private grounds in a bustling port town just 20 miles from Belfast.
The House is a Grade I listed building, dating back to the early 17th Century, and has remained in the same family for more than the last two-and-a-half.
A portico of two Doric columns and a heavy Georgian door welcome you to a vintage era that is Manor house.
The imposing canary yellow hall and forever staircase which sweeps to the top of the house – make a dramatic entrance.
Opening off the hallway is the sort of dining room that makes you feel under-dressed. It's on more of a banqueting scale, with a decorative marble and brass fireplace, rich mahogany furniture, and ancestors in oils. There is a smaller circular table for more intimate dining.
The kitchen to the rear is a magnificent and spacious room, in a colourful country style, with all you could want for some serious cuisine, including a large four oven Aga and a premium gas oven. The breakfast table here comfortably seats eight.
Off the kitchen is the stone flagged utility room and the Pantry, with Belfast sink, and laundry machines.
A group of rooms from the first floor landing include a stunning drawing room – once the ballroom. Elaborate cornice, a huge Persian rug, a bay of three shuttered multi-light windows, and a classic black marble fireplace embellish this gilded salon.
Most of the classic features of the period persevere, with wide floor boards, grand sash windows and generous open fireplaces in most rooms. There are even mysterious jib doors camouflaged into the wallpaper.
On the same level is the first of four lavish bedrooms that radiate from the sweeping stairway. Romantic half-tester canopies dress the deluxe beds and compliment heavy matching drapes. And there’s more mahogany.
Free standing baths are the order of the day in the three traditional ensuite bathrooms, but even if you ring the butler’s bell, you’ll need to fill them yourself, or use the only shower in the family bathroom.
The Manor House was built by Hugh Montgomery in the 1620’s, it was originally a ‘Blow House’ so called as the Montgomery family and retainers used it to stay in, awaiting favourable weather for the boat crossing to Portpatrick, in Scotland.
The house is situated on private grounds in the small seaside town of Donaghadee. There is off street parking. There is a private side garden and a whole seaside town to explore.
Not all of this extensive historic home is available to visitors. A separate apartment off the main hallway is retained for use by the owners. In addition there are a number of rooms at attic level that remain unused.
At various times part of the house functions as a Bed and Breakfast, and the accommodation reflect this self-containment with tea trays and television in three of the bedrooms.
The Wifi works in the main part of the House and Dining Room but not so well in the bedrooms. Despite its old world atmosphere, the house is well equipped with contemporary utilities throughout.
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Smoking - No, sorry!
The owners regret Stag or Hen parties are not admissible.
Pets – No sorry!
Out and About
Within a shout of the fascination of Belfast City, there are golf courses, restaurants, the splendour of the Mourne Mountains and Strangford Lough to explore..
Here are links to some of our favourites -
About the Locality
The house is on the Ards Peninsula – the most easterly part of Ireland – and a 20 mile drive from Belfast City.
The shops, restaurants and cafes of Donaghadee are all within strolling distance.
The town claims, rather dubiously, ‘the oldest pub in Ireland’. None-the-less Grace Neils offers a truly Irish experience at the bar and in the restaurant.
The pretty harbour is one of the closest points to Scotland; indeed on most days the Scottish coast is visible to the naked eye. This was a critical factor in the development of the town which until the middle of the 19th century was the major ferry (steam packet) point of entry from the GB mainland to the island of Ireland. It remains an important lifeboat station (RNLI).
Van Morrison famously was “going down to Bangor”- 6 miles closer to Belfast. It is the nearest big town, and home to the largest marina in Northern Ireland.
During the summer months boat trips to the Copeland Islands and fishing charters are available.
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The peninsula encloses Strangford Lough which is the largest sea inlet in the British Isles. It boasts at least seventy islands and multiple drumlin islets.
SeaGen, the world's first commercial tidal stream power station, was until 2017 anchored in the mouth of the Lough providing power for 1000 homes.
The Titanic which disastrously hit an iceberg and sank on it's maiden voyage in 1912, was built in Belfast. There is a splendid museum in the city which is probably Northern Ireland's most visited attraction.
How to get there - Car advised..
By Air: Flights to Dublin or Belfast airports.
Belfast City Airport – 30 minutes from house.
Dublin Airport - approx 3 and half hours from house
By Sea: Ferry crossings
From Liverpool or Stranraer to Belfast
Dublin City Port/Holyhead has a fast crossing and is under 4 hours from the house
Gallery of photographs