Belfast Telegraph

'Neglect' fears for historic castle

By David Gordon

A leading heritage pressure group has spoken out over growing fears about the state of one of Northern Ireland's finest historic properties.

A leading heritage pressure group has spoken out over growing fears about the state of one of Northern Ireland's finest historic properties.

Gosford Castle in Markethill, Co Armagh, was featured in the recently-published Buildings At Risk catalogue as suffering badly from "neglect" and having a collapsed roof structure "in a number of places".

It has now emerged that the castle's owner, the Forest Service of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD), has not carried out any major repairs in the past year.

The Ulster Architectural Heritage Society (UAHS) has called for "extensive" work to be carried out as a matter of urgency.

"Gosford Castle is one of the most important historic houses in the British Isles and is among the top 2% of listed structures in Northern Ireland," a spokesman said.

The UAHS also expressed "strong reservations" about DARD's longstanding plans to sell the building off to a private company, Gosford Castle Developments Ltd. This deal was agreed in principle in 2002 but has yet to be finalised.

The developer's plans involve transforming the 19th century building into homes.

A Forest Service spokesman said: "Forest Service is currently responsible for repairs.

"No repair work of any significance has been undertaken within the past year."

He also stated: "DARD Forest Service has being hastening to finalise contractual documentation that would allow the developer to take over responsibility for the building.

"It continues to operate in liaison with other agencies on the current condition of the building."



The Buildings at Risk catalogue which highlighted the Gosford Castle case is produced by the UAHS in association with the Department of the Environment.

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