The Terrace Gardens occupy a section of the Antrim Castle Gardens that is likely to have formed part of the original Norman Motte and Bailey in the 12th century and was part of Sir Hugh Clotworthy’s enclosed bawn and garrison in the early 17th century.
During the tenure of the 10th Viscount Massereene in the mid 19th century, considerable development took place throughout the gardens with the Terrace Gardens being one of the most extensive projects undertaken. The Kitchen or herb garden previously located in what is now the Large Parterre was grassed over and its functions moved to a new series of walled gardens adjacent to the Castle.
The original layout included an arrangement of long thin flower beds, including an elaborate French Garden, on the south, east and west sides of a large walled garden containing extensive glass houses built against a number of south facing dividing walls. It also incorporated a head gardener’s house in the north east corner that was built before 1833. Most of the productive garden was given over to the intense cultivation of vegetables and fruits with the large heated glass houses supplying the household with grapes, peaches and other tender fruits.
After the Castle fire in 1922, the garden became neglected but remained intact until some lands were vested for road building in the late 1960’s. The road bypass severed the area from the historic Town Wall, and all that remained was a grassed area and a section of the brick wall that has now been extended to recreate the space formerly occupied by the French Garden.
Photograph taken in the late 1960s of part of the walled kitchen garden before the area was cleared to build the Antrim town centre bypass
19th century photograph of the elaborate French Garden laid out on the western side of the walled garden complex that dominates the Terrace Gardens
Aerial photograph from the mid 20th century showing the Terrace Gardens with croquet lawn to the left, the long thin French Garden running left to right on the next level, the extensive Kitchen Garden with all its glass houses and subdivisions dominating the centre, and a long floral bed, or herbaceous border, along the boundary wall on the right