Portaferry Castle, once known as ‘Savage’s Castle’, is a fine example of a tower house and was placed to overlook Strangford Lough.
It was built in the 16th century by William Le Savage but later fell into disrepair. Sir James Montgomery, of Greyabbey, renovated the building when his sister, Jane, married Patrick Savage of Portaferry in 1623. At that time the only buildings recorded were the castle and a few fishermen’s cottages. Sir James enlarged the windows and roofed and floored the fortified house ‘so that his sister could live in greater comfort there.’
It is a square, three-storey building with one projecting tower to the south. There is an attic but no vault. Floors were wooden and the only stone floors were in the turret. There was only one substantial fireplace. The entrance is protected by a small machicolation and the entrance to the ground floor chamber is protected by a murder-hole. A curved stairway rises to the first floor and a spiral stairway in the west corner continues to roof level. The building continued to be inhabited until 1765 when the Savage family moved.
The adjacent building was the stable block and large coach house. Originally the first floor was reached by an iron rung ladder from the stalls area. There may also have been an external staircase to the loft.
Machicolation - a floor opening on a battlement, through which stones, or other objects, could be dropped on attackers.