Explore Down and Armagh
Five miles or so north of Loughgall, two National Trust stately homes lie a few miles apart. Ardress House is a seventeenth-century manor house with ornate plasterwork by Michael Stapleton, a good collection of paintings, a sizeable working farmyard and wooded grounds. More enticing, however, is The Argory, a fine Neoclassical building dating from 1824 and set in 350 acres by the River Blackwater. The splendid grounds include very pleasant gardens, but it’s the house that’s the real attraction. Built of Caledon stone, its entrance hall features a fine, cantilevered staircase, and the rooms contain Victorian and Edwardian furniture among many other period items, including a fabulous cabinet barrel organ. The house is still lit by an original 1906 acetylene gas plant in the stable yard, and during the summer it stages musical events and organized garden walks. Tours provide entertaining anecdotes about the house’s erstwhile owners, the McGeough-Bonds.