Historic Parks, Gardens and Demesnes

Over 700 historic parks, gardens and demesnes have been identified in Northern Ireland.

This information is contained in the Northern Ireland Heritage Gardens Archive which forms part of the National Monuments and Buildings Record (NI). The records continue to be added to.

The Heritage Gardens Inventory provides a list of the sites contained in the Record, with basic details.

Historic Parks Gardens and Demesnes in Northern Ireland

The character and appearance of our modern landscape of Northern Ireland owes much to parks and gardens associated with our country houses, institutions and public parks. For over three centuries they have been an important feature of the countryside. Many are distinguished by their carefully composed designs of trees, meadow and water, perhaps as a setting for a building; some boast a valuable collection of trees, shrubs or plants; others may provide a significant historic record, either of a particular era or showing how the design has changed over the centuries. Aside from their contribution to the quality and character of our local landscape, those that are open to the public provide an important recreational resource. However, it is a fragile heritage, for unlike other works of art, these gardens and designed landscapes are living, growing and evolving. As such they need careful management.

Conserving our historic parks, gardens and demesnes

We work closely with the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) to conserve Historic Parks, Gardens and Demesnes. Under the Northern Ireland Countryside Management Scheme  these sites are eligible for contributions towards tree maintenance and replanting of stands or shelterbelts. We can offer advice to participants in the scheme through DAERA, to ensure that suitable species and historically appropriate designs are used.

This has proved to be a popular option for landowners who are keen to conserve the designed landscapes which, in many instances, have taken decades or even hundreds of years to develop. We also work with DAERA through their Woodland Grant Scheme to ensure appropriate planting within Historic Parks, Gardens and Demesnes.

Protecting our parks, gardens and demesnes of Special Historic Interest

The Register of Parks, Gardens and Demesnes of Special Historic Interest was established in the late 1990s to identify those sites that can be considered of exceptional importance within Northern Ireland. Inclusion is based upon a clear set of criteria and around 154 sites have been selected on the main Register. This is currently under revision as part of the development of Local Development Plans. As our appreciation and knowledge of our landscape heritage improves further sites may well be added.

You can see the location of these sites in the Historic Environment Map Viewer.

A further 150 sites have been identified as having a high level of interest and are included as an appendix to the main Register as designated 'Supplementary' sites.

Inclusion in both the Main Register and Supplementary Register affords these sites protection through Planning Policy Statement 6 (PPS6) which specifies that historic parks and gardens included within the register should be considered in the determination of planning consent. This allows Historic Environment Division to offer advice and make recommendations for the protection of sites through the planning consultation process. This is further reinforced when a park or garden forms the setting of a building that has been listed for protection under the Planning (NI) Act 2011.

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