Although I showed you a closer view of Scrabo Tower last Sunday, today I am sharing some of the history about the Tower with you. This turreted Tower, as it stands today, was built on a site 540 feet above sea level and is 125 feet high. The walls are over a metre thick and the entire building is constructed of stone from Scrabo Hill. The walls are of the dark dolerite rock, which forms the summit of the hill, while the roof, stairs, quoins and window dressings are of Scrabo sandstone.
The tower was erected in 1857, and was built by local people at a cost of £3.000 as a monument to Charles William Stewart, 3rd Marquess of Londonderry, owner of Mount Stewart House. The marquis was a local landowner and nobleman with a distinguished military and diplomatic career. He was Lieutenant Colonel of the light Dragoons and fought in 25 major battles, earning the nickname the 'Fighting Marquis'. He was also Adjutant General to the Duke of Wellington, during the Napoleonic Wars, before becoming diplomat as Envoy Extraordinary in Prussia and Ambassador in Austria.
The McKay's family were the first tenants and were there for more than 100 years. In fact, the Millin sisters, Elizabeth, Jean and Agnes, who handed back the keys to the Londonderry Estate in 1966 were William McKay's grandchildren.
The Misses Millin, were all born in the Tower, and when I was a child we were taken to this very popular and special tearoom, specialising in Irish country teas, an essential ingredient of which was goat's milk which they obtained from the small herd of wild goats that roamed the hillside,
The Tower was then converted into a countryside centre for the Countryside and Wildlife Branch of the Department of the Environment (NI) and housed a permanent exhibition on the Country Park and the surrounding countryside.
It was open during the summer months when visitors could climb the 122 steps to a viewing platform at the top of the tower and gain a panoramic view of the landscape. The islands and coastline of Strangford Lough dominate the foreground, while, on clear days, there are distant views of the Isle of Man, Ailsa Craig and the Scottish coast to the east and the peaks of the Mournes to the south.
Often you can see horses grazing and Buzzards, Ravens and Peregrine nest in the area of the two quarries below the Tower.
Unfortunately, as of 2015, the Tower only opens occasionally due to "serious water ingress", and therefore unsafe for visitors. However the Bluebells remain and are as beautiful as ever.
I hope you enjoyed hearing about Scrabo Tower.
I am linking this post with GOOD FENCES.
Many thanks for your visit and also the comments you leave.