AT THE DOWNSHIRE
Banbridge can lay claim to the fact that the Downshire Arms was used as the second coach stop from Belfast to Dublin in the times before automated transport. This Hotel is an excellent example of a Georgian coaching inn, two storey, painted plaster, with hipped roof.
In 1804 Robert Sharland of Hillsborough, estimating for repairing the old inn on the same site wrote, “The Inn is at present in a most wretched condition, the roof ready to fall, the Offices nearly down, the Barn and most of the outhouses propped, and only two 8 horse stables in a state to remain which are badly thatched and will require to be slated and fitted up anew with Racks, Mangers, Doors etc.” The rebuilding was not then proceeded with; further drawings by David McBlain and by Charles Lilley, dating from 1810, are amongst the Downshire Estate papers in the Public Record Office; but the present building does not accord with any of these.
The original Inn has two projecting bays, with recessed arches enclosing one – or three-light windows, connected by a balcony borne on four tall fluted Doric columns: beneath is a wide and welcoming doorway with a fine nine-barred shallow fanlight and side lights set in a pilastered frame. At the rear there is a charming courtyard surrounded by good slated and whitewashed stables, coach houses and outbuildings, very little altered. Although modernisation has taken place the Hotel still has many of its original features like the wide open fireplace in the Lounge/Bar area and the high moulded ceilings in the bedrooms