About The Grey Abbey Estate
Situated on the Ards Peninsula in Co. Down, Northern Ireland, Grey Abbey House was built in 1762 and the estate has been in the possession of the Montgomery family since 1607 and is considered to be one of the finest Georgian country houses in Ireland.
The environs of Strangford Lough are a designated Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and Special Scientific Interest (SSI). The temperate climate allows a wide variety of trees, shrubs and plants to flourish in Grey Abbey's gardens. The Church Hill to the south of the Abbey ruins is believed to be one of the first landscaped parks in Ireland. Also, the British Horse Society have a riding trail along the Estate boundaries.
The Grey Abbey Estate was greatly reduced in size due to the Land Acts, but still comprises ancient woodland with many notable and rare trees, a slate quarry and a lake with otters, resident swans and a large number of migratory swans who spend the winter here.
The grounds include a walled vegetable garden, herbaceous and shrub rose borders, and a Southern Hemisphere garden. There are also two orchards containing unusual varieties of Apple trees.
The Estate grounds adjoin the ruins of the Cistercian Priory, founded in 1193 by John de Courcy's wife, Affreca (daughter of Godred Olafsson, King of the Isles).
By the Middle Ages, it had declined and was then dissolved in 1541 (as a result of Henry VIII's dissolution of the Monastaries). It was later burnt out by Brian O'Neill in 1572.
Grey Abbey was granted to Sir Hugh Montgomery who re-roofed and refurbished it in 1626 for use as a parish church. It remained in use until 1778.
The Estate owns three islands in Strangford Lough which are leased to The National Trust and other islands were donated after the Second World War as bird sanctuaries.
The cottage on Mid Island has featured in television and film productions such as "The Frankenstein Chronicles", "My Mother and Other Strangers" and "The Lost City of Z". Further information and images may be found on the Filming page.