Stormont Estate: historic buildings
Find out about the historic buildings on Stormont Estate, including Parliament Buildings, Stormont Castle, summer houses, gate lodges and Stormont House.
Parliament Buildings , designed by the architect Arnold Thornely, was opened on 16 November 1932 by The Prince of Wales, Edward Windsor. It is 365ft long, one foot for every day of the year. There are six floors and six pillars at the entrance - one for each county of Northern Ireland..
During WWII, Parliament Buildings was painted with a mixture of cow manure and bitumen to camouflage from enemy attack. After WWII ended, it took seven years to remove the paint mixture from the stonework but as it had stained it, the building has never regained its original white colour.
There are two summer houses on the Stormont Estate. One is at the entrance on Massey Avenue and one to the east of Carson’s Statue. The architect is unknown, but the design is based on buildings by the architect Arnold Thornely.
The gate lodges at the entrances on Massey Avenue and Prince of Wales are identical. They were designed by the architect Arnold Thornley who also designed Parliament Buildings. They were built around 1932 and are both listed buildings.
Stormont Castle cottages
Stormont Castle cottages, the conservatory and the glasshouse were built around 1840 to1859 as part of Stormont Castle.
Primarily, the cottages were built for worker’s accommodation but were extensively refurbished and are now the offices of the Stormont Estate Management Unit.
The Speaker’s House, now known as Stormont House, was constructed in 1926. It was the first building to be built as part of the redevelopment of the Stormont Estate. The architect chosen to design Speaker’s House was Ralph Knott (1878 to 1929) an English architect who is best known for designing London County Hall opposite Westminster.
It was the official home of the Speaker of the NI Parliament from 1926 until 1972 when the Northern Ireland Government was abolished. Until recently, the neo-Georgian building was used by the Northern Ireland Office.
Stormont Castle was built around 1830 for the Rev. John Cleland (1755 to 1834). The Rev. Cleland was a local magistrate and the rector of Newtownards and had acquired the Stormont Estate by marrying the daughter of the previous owner.
Cleland’s son Samuel Cleland took over the Stormont Estate following his father’s death in 1834 but was killed whilst supervising the demolition of a wall in the grounds in 1842.
Samuel Cleland’s widow, Elizabeth, took over the Stormont Estate following her husband’s death and continued to live there until about 1860.
Extensive building work was carried out to the building during this time, including extensions, turrets and towers being built which transformed the plain building into the Scots Baronial ‘Stormont Castle.’ The Cleland family continued to live at Stormont Castle until 1893 when the mansion was rented out. In 1920 the mansion was put up for sale.
Stormont Castle is home to the Northern Ireland Executive. It is closed to the public but does open its doors once a year during the European Heritage weekend.