Winterfell, Castle Ward

in travel •  6 months ago 

Two more weeks in Northern Ireland before heading back home. There is a lot to see here. No wonder so many films and TV series are filmed here as you can find quite a few stunning nature sites and countless well preserved castles and fortresses. One of them is the Castle Ward that was used as one of the several Winterfell’s sites in HBO’s Game of Thrones.

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 Sunken Garden was restored using this watercolor by Mary Ward. It is a typical Victorian-style garden. Can you imagine a lady with her parasol going on a morning walk?

Found some lavender in the Sunken Garden! Back in the old days lavender had many uses such as freshening up linens, repelling insects, and much more.

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.  

How did people cure boredom back then? Apparently, by collecting rare bugs, butterflies and elephant teeth as well as fossilized pieces of wood as it was something to talk about with guests.

Care to join for a card game?

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.  

Palm trees? Have I all of a sudden teleported someplace else entirely?

Audley's Castle is even older than any other building at the whole estate. Built around the 15th century.

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.  

The Boat House

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

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Is the Ward family still the owners of the land or is it a heritage sight run by the state?

The pictures were beautiful and though I have never seen any episodes of The Game of thrones, I have read the novels. It is a bit difficult for me to relate the stark beautiful of Winterfell with this colorful scene.

There's much history here and it is so etching I would definitely love to see and take the kids to when they arrive. Great pictures too

The Ward family no longer could afford to keep it and they now sold it to the National Trust, but they still visit frequently and are allowed to stay there in one of the apartments upstairs.

Indeed winter is hiding from Winterfell right now, but that is also one of the reasons they chose Castle Ward. Because winter was still on its way and they did not want to make it look too wintery or something. The tones in the TV show are a lot more grey and tuned down though. Most days in Northern Ireland are a lot more gloomy though. I was lucky to be there at such a sunny and warm day :)

Oh the guides had so many stories, especially about servant lives. Very interesting and also I had not seen a place that had so many original items from the past preserved, basically the place felt barely touched by time.

Thank you so much @warpedpoetic!

Enjoyable post that makes me want to head back to the UK and hit some more castles.

On another note, I use a bell system when I get man flu and am stuck on the couch. A simple ring on the bell and my wife is notified I need something: Coffee, corn chips, my man flu medication etc. Usually works a treat until I overuse the systems and my maid-servant gets annoyed. 😂

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Thank you for taking time to read and comment Galen! ^^ I am glad you enjoyed and you definitely should go back some time.

Ah the man flu yes! Seen that many times. Ahaha!

You're welcome. Yes, I think we'll go back to the UK but first we have to go see @smallsteps 🖤

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Goooooooooosh so romantic ! What a gorgeous piece of medieval history and it survives well ! I am so glad that people look after their history and preserve it for future generations to find out who they were, how they did things, etc :D That little bits about using urine to get stains out cracks me up, though ! Imagine lords and ladies dancing around in urine-touched outfits... XD hahahahah

I love all the photos, Mei <3 So wonderfully composed and very lovingly selected to accompany your beautiful narration! Love this post so much * ___ *

Ahaha! I am so happy I managed to crack you up with that! I just wanted to pay it forward, because I could not stop giggling about it myself when guide told me. Hopefully they rinsed them well and used some lavender to make them smell nicer after xD

Aww thank you so much Spidey! Really! Means a lot that you read and check out my silly post thingies :)

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Song of the Grey: "Jenny of Oldstones" - Florence + the Machine

This time performed by Steemian - @yourmind

Thank you for sharing Gandalf!

Very well done by @yourmind! I got goosebumps :) Can't believe the show is finished.

Great travelogue. I've not been to Northern Ireland and this adds to my wanting to visit.
It's always fun to look at how buildings are re-drawn for Game of Thrones.

It is very beautiful here and definitely worthy of visiting. The mountains, loughs, cliffs, beaches, forests, castles, and beer of course!

I love to see the creation process of those things. So many details go in there. And the fact that they incorporate real buildings as well, not just use the green screen for everything and digital effects, is quite awesome.

Nice photos! there are some amazing castles there, but I've not gotten to see them yet. There are a lot of fascinating ones in southern Spain, though, and even a bridge used in Game of Thrones... lol. Apparently the filming crew got around quite a bit.

Castles have always so many stories to tell

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Beautiful selection of photographs, it is indeed amazing that such old castle still exists and in good condition. Usually when we travel we visit such places too, luckily there are many castles and fortresses here is Scotland too. You have had nice weather during your trip.

NI is so beautiful, It's almost like a fairytale come to life. Not just a ​game of thrones, but many fantasy tv shows and movies have used the place as a location for filming.

Ammonia from urine supposedly took care of the difficult stains.

And had the added benefit of no one wanting to wear pee clothes, so no one would see the stain.

I would love to one day spend a year taking photos of these kinds of places and have time to capture the right conditions. Would be fun no?

What an amazing place! And photos very much!
As if i had been in this ancient castle :-)


Aww thank you @singa! :) Indeed, I loved being there. So relaxing and fun.

Oh that's a lovely plant. I don't know what they are called, but my granny had the same, just in white color. Pretty cool when they bloom!

These are flowers
Viburnum (lat. Viburnum opulus), only such a delicate greenish hue.


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