Travel: Four Manor Houses To Visit In Northern Ireland

drum manor,manor house,northern ireland,travel blogger
I'm always getting asked for travel suggestions around Northern Ireland and even though I feel far from being an expert in the area (compared to a true local) I am going to try to do more suggestions and lists of my favorite places around the country. I love old buildings and large estates with their ancient trees and epic gardens so former Manor Houses are a popular day trip for me. If you're local or visiting the United Kingdom for a slightly longer period of time a great to way to see a lot of Manor Houses (or other historic buildings and sites) is to become a National Trust member. They manage more than 20 properties in Northern Ireland, including the very famous Giant's Causeway. If you're also doing a multi-country visit (like England, Northern Ireland, and Scotland) it can also be a good investment since the membership is for all of the properties they manage throughout the United Kingdom. I'm not sponsored by them or anything, but I definitely recommend checking them out if you think you will visit more than three or four of their properties because you'll probably save money by becoming members rather than paying an entrance fee at each site. For us, our membership means we can visit the same sites again and again for free. These are a few of my favorite manor houses to visit, but honestly I can probably make another list at the end of the year with a half dozen more because there are so many lovely properties here to explore!
drum manor,manor house,northern ireland,travel bloggerdrum manor,manor house,northern ireland,travel bloggerDrum Manor: This former manor house is actually not part of the National Trust, but it's one of my favorites to visit no matter the season. Nowadays it is a forest park and most of the original architecture is gone. What still remains are the outer walls of the original house and four storey tower overlooking a lake and play park. The outer walls of the house resemble a walled garden with trees and plants added to the interior of the ruins in the 1970s. While it is less intact than other manor houses on this list, it is also one of the quietest and most private to visit. You usually won't run into any crowds here and it's really lovely in the spring when the grounds are overtaken by wildflowers. It's easy to wander through the ruins feeling as they were part of your own private estate or stroll along the lake with only a graceful swan for company. The only cost associated with this property is a small parking fee.
mount stewart,manor house,northern ireland,travel bloggermount stewart,manor house,northern ireland,travel bloggermount stewart,manor house,northern ireland,travel bloggermount stewart,manor house,northern ireland,travel bloggerMount Stewart: If I was to recommend only one manor house to visit in Northern Ireland, it would be Mount Stewart. It is a Neo-classical style manor house with surrounding gardens. As a National Trust property there is a fee for entry, but the fee includes a guided tour of the inside of the home, which is lavishly decorated and furnished in rich jewel tones and larger-than-life family portraits. The gardens here are equally striking with various different themes--there's the Shamrock garden inspired by Irish mythology, a walled garden, an Italian garden, and so on. It's a very large property that you could easily spend an entire day exploring every corner of it; from more manicured lawns to the quieter lake walk and even venture out to the more secluded "Temple of the Winds" it's a varied property and immaculately kept.
florence court,manor house,northern ireland,travel bloggerflorence court,manor house,northern ireland,travel bloggerflorence court,manor house,northern ireland,travel bloggerFlorence Court: Secluded in Enniskillen, Florence Court is a striking Italian-style manor house complete with columns that cuts a unique figure into the landscape from your initial approach up the long rambling drive. We never seem to visit it in-season or when the house tours are operating, so I haven't seen inside this manor house yet despite a number of visits to the grounds! There is much to explore aside from the house though, so we still have seen much on our visits; from an old saw mill with equipment dating back to 1848, to a gorgeous walled garden, and the "parent" Yew tree that mothered all other Irish Yew trees. The gardens are really lovely and the exterior of the house is one of the most striking I've seen in Northern Ireland. Again, it's a National Trust so there are entry fees, although I believe if you visit off peak season when the house isn't open you can wander the grounds and gardens for free.
parkanaur,manor house,northern ireland,travel bloggerparkanaur,manor house,northern ireland,travel bloggerParkanaur: This one is a personal favorite for Thomas and I since it was also our wedding venue. We actually visited Parkanaur several times for the beautiful forest park the house is located on before we ever considered it a potential wedding location. It's a Tudor Revival manor house that is currently a functioning school and wedding venue; since it is a school there aren't usually any tours of the house, instead this is a place to visit just for a wander of the grounds. The forest park is excellent with numerous trails through towering evergreens, ancient chestnuts, and endless beds of clover; in the grounds closer to the manor house there is a striking herd of white fallow deer. There's no entry or parking fee to visit Parkanaur.

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12 comments:

  1. You make Ireland look so incredible. I definitely have to visit these places if I'm ever heading there!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

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  2. Love this! We like the same things. Manor houses, lovely architecture, gardens and woods. All my favorite things to see! I especially enjoy buildings that have been left to be taken over by nature. :)

    I second the National Trust membership! I did this when I worked in London for several months. Something to note for Americans visiting (what I did) is to get the "partner" membership with the Royal Oak Foundation. It's essentially a National Trust membership but for Americans. I kept one up for years because I intended to visit frequently and then because I love the NT magazine. Just recently ended it due to my reduced budget but I will likely start it again when I plan another visit!

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  3. I've only been to Ireland once and my husband & I definitely decided to book part of our vacation in Northern Ireland. I think a lot of visitors skip N. Ireland but they really shouldn't. In fact, they should take advantage of visiting now before it gets potentially trickier re: Brexit.

    One of my absolute favorite National Trust places was the Downhill Demense and Mussenden Temple. When we went there on a weekday morning, it was practically empty with a beautiful light blue sky and the fields covered in tiny daisies and other flowers. The Mussenden Temple hanging out on the edge of the cliff overlooking the ocean all the way to Scotland was breathtaking (Google it, everyone!). And the huge crumbling Gothic ruins of Downhill House was incredible; I wanted to crawl up onto a wall and read "Jane Eyre!"

    I plan to go back so thank you for these suggestions, Rebecca. I look forward to more of these posts!

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    1. Yes Downhill is lovely! I actually have an old post from there too (although I've visited it a few times too to show my family around): http://www.aclotheshorse.co.uk/2014/04/downhill-demesnes.html I hope to do a North Coast rec list one day and that would definitely be one of the stops :)

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  4. So many beautiful places! I have been to the UK many times (though only to England and Wales), but I haven’t seen many properties like these; I obviously need to go back soon;)

    Have you ever been to the Czech Republic? If not, I highly recommend it! My boyfriend is Czech, so he has taken me on many trips around the country - and there are so many beautiful chateaus and castles, and some cities can best be described as works of art (Kutna Hora, Prague, Cesky Krumlov, Telc).

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    1. I haven't been to the Czech Republic but I would love to sometime! I'll make a note of your suggestions. :)
      And the National Trust has houses like these in England and Wales as well, so if you check out their website it can help you locate some near wherever you end up traveling to next! My husband and I visited a few National Trust houses in England when we were over for something else--it's super handy to have so many properties under one big umbrella so you can find ones close to you easily. :)

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  5. Wow these places look amazing, I would love to visit
    xo
    www.laurajaneatelier.com

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  6. We really are spoilt for choice for beautiful locations in Northern Ireland! I personally love the Antrim Castle Grounds and Glenarm castle!

    Sara - Flemingo

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  7. These are so lovely! We have been thinking of spending a weekend away in a place like this. Any recommendations for properties that are also guest houses, where we could spend the night? :)

    xx,
    Cátia
    ♥ The petite Cat ♥

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    1. Hi Catia, I probably will do a post on places to stay at a later date, but just briefly what you should look into is the Irish Landmark Trust. The National Trust (which I featured some of in this post) is manor houses open to the public for day visits, they don't accommodate guests. However, another group, the Irish Landmark Trust, turns old manor houses, castles, towers, lighthouses, etc into properties you can stay at. They have properties in NI as well, not just Ireland, and I've stayed at a few and they're lovely. They're self-catering, rather than hotels or b&bs but they're really lovely and historic properties and there's a lot of options in one place for that. Another site to look into could be Ireland's Blue Book; they have a number of manor houses and castles that are hotels.

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