In the 1570's Bernard Ward from Cheshire in England was appointed surveyor general of Ireland by Elizabeth I, according to family tradition he bought five town lands in east county Down from the Earl of Kildare, the property is said to have been called 'Carrick-na-Shannafh' ( Foxes Rock).
A tower house was built about 1610, at some stage an extension is thought to have been added to the south of the tower, little evidence is visible of this today.
Early in the 18th century times were more peaceful, and obviously the Wards more affluent, a house in the Queen Anne style was built near the Temple Wate, this house was demolished in the mid nineteenth century, little is known of this apparently the only record is a small drawing on a map of the area, In the 1760's the present house was built.
The house and estate which extends to some 800 acres ( 324 ha) is owned and administered by the National Trust. They received the property from the Ulster government who had taken it in lieu of death duties.
The house and grounds are open to the public, there is a second hand book shop in the stable yard and many events are organised throughout the year, the most notable of which is the Castle Ward opera held each summer.
In the farm yard is a water driven corn mill as well as a saw mill, the corn mill is run occasionally for demonstration purposes.
Also on the estate near the village of Strangford is a touring caravan park.
If you would like to spend a pleasant day in the country then Castleward is well worth a visit, but you may find it difficult to see all that it has to offer in one day.
The presenthouse is remarkable for it's mix of architectural style, resulting from the conflicting tastes of the first Viscount and his wife. He preferring the Paladin and she the Strawberry Hill Gothic which was just becoming fashionable at the time, the house is said to have cost £40,000,