On Saturday morning hubby and I made the short trip to Hillsborough, a historic Georgian village located just a few miles outside of Belfast in County Down. It might not be the first port of call for people coming to visit N Ireland but it’s a place I have long been fond of and for a large village it packs quite a punch.
What I love about this place is the architecture – mostly Georgian in style, typified by square symmetrical lines, sash windows and panelled front doors with fan lights. Quite a lot of the houses are painted in pretty colours, adding to the charm of the place and making it a delight to walk around. I have always had a bit of a fascination with Georgian doors – they look so elegant and refined – and in Hillsborough there are many on display. These pictures are just a small sample.
Of course, I should also mention that you can visit Hillsborough Castle, a two storey Georgian mansion which is the official residence of the Queen when she stays here. And not forgetting the lovely forest park where you can meander around the lake. So plenty to indulge you if you are a tourist. And if you aren’t and like me you have visited many times, there are some lovely shops and restaurants to keep you occupied.
On the shopping front, I do like to have a bit of a browse around Wilsons – a fruit and veg shop who do the most beautiful cottage garden style hanging baskets for summer. It’s a little ritual of mine to go there at the end of May and treat myself to something pretty to hang up outside the front door. There are also some lovely gift shops – the long established Cheshire Cat with a traditional range of gifts and the florist shop Twigs & Twine – a more recent addition to the town offering a range of shabby chic accessories.
Finally, no blog post would be complete without mentioning food ! As Saturday morning turned out to be very chilly, we were in desperate need of sustenance and treated ourselves to a good fry up at Bar Retro. This is a stylish and cosy café bar adjacent to the Plough Inn, a pub and restaurant that was established in the town in 1758. It is also worth mentioning two other highly rated venues – the Hillside (pictured here on the right) and the Parsons Nose (on the left) – again both established in the 1700s and with an excellent reputation for food.
All in all, it was a lovely morning well spent. In fact, we are returning there this coming Sunday for lunch at the Parsons Nose which I am very much looking forward to !. Even if you just spend a few hours there, it is well worth a stop over to enjoy the architecture, learn about the town’s history and sample some good grub. From there you can go on to enjoy other parts of County Down including Newcastle and the Mourne Mountains.
For more information, The Lonely Planet website has a good summary here of the top things to do in the village.