Upon my arrival, I discovered that the site of the Castle Ward is quite huge and has a lot to offer. Different trails through woods, beautiful gardens, playgrounds for kids, Game of Thrones tour activities, archery, artist workshops, and several old buildings to see. All well worth the entrance fee of £9.50 per adult. To put it into perspective, you need an entire day to explore everything here and good shoes for walking.
The Ward Mansion was built the 1760s by Lord Bangor and Lady Ann Ward. It is a quite eccentric piece of architecture as it blends two different styles - Georgian Gothic and classical Palladian. The front facade is in the classical style as you can recognize the columns in the center. The back facade is all in the Gothic style. The Mansion was open for visitors. I couldn’t be more pleased with its condition. All the original items and furniture well preserved.
The guide was quite enthusiastic about these bells. They each have a unique sound and are wired in different rooms throughout the mansion. Each bell had its own servant. Servants had to learn to recognize they were called by the sound of their bell. The lower row of bells was for lower class servants usually called for cleanup or if something was broken and needed fixing.
Believe it or not, it is a washing machine! It was heated up with coal and clothes basically were boiled in hot soapy water. If there were issues with getting some stains out, servants used quite an interesting technique. They added urine in the mixture of soap. Ammonia from urine supposedly took care of the difficult stains.
I was quite impressed with the guides at the Castle Ward as they seemed to enjoy having conversations with all the visitors every single time they spotted someone wondering about something. Watching them in the action reminded me of my university times as I was studying tourism with qualification as a tour guide, travel, and event manager. Perhaps, one day I will do some guiding of my own again.
Old Castle Ward was built around the end of 16th and the beginning of the 17th century and it was used by the Ward family before the new mansion was built. Today people might recognize the tower house from the first season of Game of Thrones as part of Winterfell. On the screen, it looked slightly different. There was a second tower on the other side and no clock. It was quite fun to imagine my favorite characters roaming around there.
Does this place look familiar? Audley’s Field is where Robb Stark’s camp once was and the battle of Oxcross took place. On this field, Robb Stark claims victory over the Lannister army and meets the beautiful healer Talisa while she takes care of the wounded soldiers in the season 2.
I saw seals in the distance. Unfortunately, due to limitations of my lens, I was not able to capture them as they were looking for fish, swimming, and diving around the floating seaweed. The Boat House was my favorite spot of the day though. The embodiment of peacefulness and tranquility scented with salt and seaweed.
It was absolutely lovely day. A perfect mixture of action, entertainment, history, food for thought and imagination, and just being out there in nature.
Sources: Castle Ward; Old Castle Ward; Winterfell; Audley's Castle
Song of the day: Skott - Mermaid