Clandeboye is one of the few great estates of Northern Ireland that still remains in the ownership of the original family. The estate, which is currently home to the Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava, was first settled in 1674. Clandeboye is most famous for the legacy the 1st Marquess (1826-1902), who laid out the historic parklands under the guidance of James Frazer. The project was so extensive that the estate still boasts the largest area of broadleaved woodland in Northern Ireland. To honour the inspiration of the 1st Marquess, the Dufferin Foundation now acts as a focus for environmental projects throughout Northern Ireland.
Clandeboye House was constructed in 1801. It was designed by Robert Woodgate, a pupil of Soane, who cleverly utilised the previous building as the core of his grand design. Today the exterior of the house appears very much as he built it, despite numerous additions to accommodate the extensive collections of the 1st Marquess.
Clandeboye Courtyard is at the heart of the commercial activity of the estate, being used for public, corporate and private events. The buildings in the Courtyard date from the early 18th century. Of particular interest are the gas house, built in baronial style, the dove cote, the banqueting hall and the chapel.
A series of intimate walled gardens adjoin the courtyard and house. These include the Bee garden and the Conservatory garden. Further afield are the woodland gardens which display a large collection of Rhododendrons and other exotic species suited to the unique mild climate of this part of County Down. Specialist botanical tours can be arranged.
There are 250 hectares of farmland on the estate. The home farm is farmed sustainably as a pedigree dairy unit. Some of the land is farmed organically by the Camphill Community.
Of the 300 hectares of woodlands at Clandeboye, 250 hectares are broadleaved. These are the largest woodlands of their type in Northern Ireland, creating opportunities for environmental, education and research projects.