Belfast Telegraph

Richhill residents to Queen: Can we have our gates back?

By Rebecca Black

It's a controversy which goes back as far as the 1930s.

But despite the passage of nearly 80 years, the people of Richhill still haven't given up hope of getting back a set of ornate gates which once graced their castle.

The gates in question currently guard the entrance to Hillsborough Castle. However they were originally part of Richhill Castle.

It was believed they were removed in the late 1930s as part of the then war effort, where metal was being melted down to make guns and tanks. However, the family who own the castle believe the gates were removed by the Government in 1936 after a preservation order was placed on them.

Later, they were installed at Hillsborough Castle.

There is strong feeling in the Co Armagh village that the gates should be handed back, with hundreds backing an online campaign. Former owner Gordon Lyttle (76) campaigned for the return of the gates as he battled cancer, however he died in 2009 without seeing his wish granted.

The family and Richhill Building Preservation Trust are currently having talks about investing £4m in restoring the castle into a major centre for tourism and history.

As it emerged last week that negotiations were under way to see Hillsborough Castle run by the Historic Royal Palaces charity instead of the NIO, Ulster Unionist councillor and Richhill Castle supporter Jim Speers said it was the ideal time to hand the gates back. "We would love to see them restored to Richhill after 70 years," he said.

However, the NIO has refused to hand them back.

"As HMG own the gates, there are no plans to move them from their existing location, where they remain on full public display and are now an established feature in Hillsborough," she said.

FACTFILE

Richhill Castle is a Grade A listed building, built by Major Edward Richardson, who also founded Richhill in 1665. The ornate gates were erected by his son William in 1745 and wrought by two brothers from Cornwall. They were seized in 1939 amid efforts to find metal for the war effort but were installed at Hillsborough Castle, where they still remain.

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