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A recently revised role in the parish

The Sanctuary, County Down

Plucked from the precipice of almost certain ruin, this idle mid-19th century church, with its classical cake-icing façade, has been meticulously reconstituted into a chic holiday retreat.
Located in the heart of Game of Thrones® territory, adjacent to the narrows of Strangford Lough, this is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with easy access to Belfast.

angled interior view

Contemporary conservation with class

Tripping across the vestibule, where the stone flags have been polished by nearly 200 years of shoe leather, we find a bright and airy contemporary living space.
In fact most of the lofty sanctuary has been retained as an open plan social forum, loosely zoned by function, with kitchen and dining to one side and lounge and television on the other.

the hall door main living area organ stops marshall loud speaker view from mezzanine


  • Sleeps
    Up to 10 guests
    Short stays from €2,100
  • Bedrooms
    Five double bedrooms
    Four are ensuite with shower
    One with family bathroom
  • Other Rooms
    Open plan Sitting room, Kitchen, Dining room
    Laundry room
  • Features
    Traditional Church Organ
    Barbecue area with gas BBQ
  • Contempo
    50” Flat screen TV plus one in every bedroom
    DVD player
    WiFi internet, Bluetooth sound system
    Under-floor heating in two bathrooms
    Good Cell phone reception
  • Availability
    Weekly: Saturday to Saturday
    Weekends: Friday to Monday
    Midweek: Monday to Friday

  • Restrictions
    Sorry, pets are not permitted
view out front door

A modern wood-burning stove with exposed chimney flu, forms the focal point for the lounge area, with plenty of comfortable sofas to take the weight off...

wood burning stove
the stairs and pulpit

Many of the recognisable features of a church have been retained and put to good use, as with the pulpit which has been incorporated into the stairway, and the original American organ, which had to be completely dismantled and rebuilt due to water damage.

the kitchen area

The high spec Shaker style kitchen, while bringing a splash of blue to one corner, also encourages inclusive family cooking by being part of the larger space. Expect the odd extra, like a wine cooler…

view of tv area from the balcony

Much care was taken to ensure that the correct materials and traditional methods were used throughout this Award winning conversion, where ornate cornices and plasterwork, wooden panelling and full height Georgian windows all required extensive repairs.

bath taps arched window detail looking down onto the kitchen
Facilities & Amenities

Kitchen Appliances

• Twin Oven Electric cooker with 5 ring hob
• Fridge
• Freezer
• Dishwasher
• Wine cooler
• Toaster
• Microwave
• Nespresso coffee machine

Utility Appliances

• Washing machine
• Tumble dryer
• Iron


• Sizes - Three King-size and two Super King-size Zip & Link
• 5 Hairdryers

Tech & Entertainment

• Wi-Fi Internet
• 6 Flat-screen smart TVs
• Netflix etc.
• DVD player in living room
• Marshall Bluetooth sound system


• Good selection of books
• Selection of toys in toy cupboard
• Children’s high chair, stairgates, travel cots
kitchen and dining area

Accommodation lies in what was once the alter end, with two double bedrooms, one of which has direct access to the family bathroom with free standing bath, under floor heating, and separate walk in shower.

corridor to accomodation double bedroom with blue bed

A few paces beyond, the single story Session House extension at the rear of the church has been transformed into a spacious panelled bedroom. The original solid doors now lead to its ensuite with generous walk in shower.

fireplace in session bedroom family bathroom plaque on front hall door handle & key
panelled bedroom

Floating on its’ own supports, to limit stress on the original structure, the mezzanine level with its glass balustrade gallery overlooks the living area. Behind it, there are a further two double bedrooms, both ensuite.

looking down the stairs double bedroom with mirror second double bedroom mirror

Where the tall arched windows now span two levels, a glass floor softens the transition.

glass floor at window ensuite shower room
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the stucco facade


The church is elevated above the street level with views across rolling green fields, and to Castleward Bay. A lawn and Barbecue area to the front is sheltered by mature trees which also provide privacy. Unrestricted parking is readily available on the street directly in front of The Sanctuary.

view of house from field beside aerial view FAQs

A laundry room, which doubles as a secure lock-up for bicycles, golf clubs etc. lies adjacent to the church side entrance.

front lawn with furniture tide out in the bay


Smoking - No, sorry!
Parties - The owners regret Stag or 21st parties are not admissible.
Pets – No, sorry

Out and About

An abundance of adventures await you in this stunning part of Ulster.
We just can’t list them all, so here are a few of our favourites…

view of house from the lake
Here are links to some of our favourite activities-

Great place for a family gathering...

Cleverly adapted and well equipped building. We had 9 people staying and another 9 or so dropping in for food and fun. Plenty of room for all and a good kitchen area too. And it was pleasantly warm despite the weather.

December 2019

A really comfortable place to spend a very happy family Christmas

We all ( that is four generations ) gathered just before Christmas and spent a lovely few days in the converted church in Strangford. The hosts were so welcoming and had described everything to us to make things really easy for us all. There are lovely walks in the areas, very friendly people in the village, shops, restaurants, and bars, the ferry leaving and returning giving a lovely sense of rhythm so that one hardly needs to get in the car. Although the area is great to explore as well. We would thoroughly recommend this as a really perfect place for a family holiday.

December 2019

We stayed - two families

- for a few days including New Year and could not be happier with this wonderful accommodation. Full of character and attention to detail - this Church restoration is a fabulous space in a charming location. Luxurious, cosy and with welcoming hosts! Fully recommend this opportunity to be part of this building’s history!

January 2020


Had an amazing stay in this beautiful converted church. Every need had been catered for and nothing was too much trouble for Marty and Melanie. A real touch of luxury. Cant wait to go back.

November 2019

the front at night Facebook Page

using Sanctuary in search for posts

About the Locality

Most supplies can be found in the local shops on a short stroll down through Strangford village, where there are also several excellent restaurants and pubs. For larger supermarkets, including some that do deliveries, which can be handy for advanced planning, you will need to travel 15 minutes to Downpatrick.

From the village, there is an entertaining ferry - every 30 minutes - across the narrows to Portaferry on the Ards Peninsula, where there is a small Aquarium (Explorus ) that is popular, and an important lifeboat station.

Portaferry ferry

Strangford Lough is one of the most richly bio-diverse regions in Europe, with over 2,000 marine species spread across 150 km2. It is the largest sea inlet in the British Isles, and boasts at least seventy islands and multiple drumlin islets. The narrows are also subject to a highly energetic tidal race. With water moving backwards and forwards at up to 15kph twice a day the channel has become a test-bed for experimental power generation, most lately by a Swedish company who are currently trialing their fascinating "sea kite" technology.


Shellfish is the name of the game around these parts, with pot fishing, mainly for prawns and crabs and licensed shellfish farming within the Lough, so it’s not surprising that you will come across some of the finest seafood restaurants in Ireland. For divine Fish and Chips, make the short journey to the pier at Ardglass.

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Castle Ward is an 820-acre walled demesne owned by the National Trust on the edge of Strangford with terrific sheltered woodlands and trails, great for walking, running, cycling. The historic farmyard was the location of Winterfell where the deadly Game of Thrones® series is set in motion.

Winterfell movie set

photo HBO

If you’re fond of the odd G&T you must be sure to try some of the home grown local varieties that have sprung up in recent years. The Echlinville Estate list Jawbox amongst their brands, and invite you to enjoy a tour of their distillery, or you may prefer to try Shortcross from the 500-acre Rademon estate.

gin bottle

There is a fine beach 10 minutes’ drive south on the secluded Killard Nature Reserve, a former NATO Radar Station. On a fine day you can see the Isle of Man and of course the beautiful Mourne Mountains to the south.

How to get there - Car advised..

By Air: Flights to Dublin or Belfast airports.
Dublin Airport – is about 2 hours from the house
Belfast Airport - just over an hour from the house.

By Sea: Ferry crossings
Ferries from Belfast, about an hour away, run to Liverpool and Scotland
Dublin City Port/Holyhead has a fast crossing and is about two hours from the house
Rosslare Harbour for Ferries to South Wales and is about 4 hours from the house.

Photo Gallery

Gallery of photographs