This ancient graveyard is one of the most important burial places in North Down and the Ards. Within it are the ruins of an Anglo-Norman church dating back to the 13th century. The church was burned down by Gaelic chieftain Sir Brian O’Neill as part of his campaign to sabotage the English colony of Sir Thomas Smith during the time of Elizabeth 1 but was restored by Sir James Hamilton, who installed his nephew, James Hamilton, as minister here in 1626.
Since 1704, when a new church was built at nearby Balligan, the site has been used purely as a graveyard. Here can be found memorials to many of Ulster-Scots ancestry, stretching back to the early 17th century. Sailors, sea captains, fishermen and farm labourers lie with soldiers and teachers. In a walled enclosure are the graves of members of the Ulster-Scots Mulholland family of nearby Ballywalter Park, who were among the leading manufacturers of linen in Ireland. A 1644 datestone was found here in recent years, marking the year the Covenant was signed.
Whitechurch also has memorials to the rebels of 1798, including several from Ballywalter who were killed in the United Irishmen attack on Newtownards Market House on June 10th. They include James Kain and brothers Hugh and David Maxwell.
Good, parking available. Call 028 4272 9882 or visit www.visitstrangfordlough.co.uk for more information.