Lewis’ Topographical Dictionary comprises of several cities, boroughs, parish and villages – with historical and statistical descriptions – of Ireland. Here are From-Ireland.net’s records for Co. Down.
ContentARDGUIN, or ARDQUIN, a parish, in the barony of ARDES, county of DOWN, and province of ULSTER, on Lough Strangford, and on the road from Portaferry to Belfast (Co. Antrim); containing, with part of the post town of Portaferry, 994 inhabitants.
There appears to have been a monastery at this place, founded at a very early period: according to Harris' History of Down it was the priory of Eynes, which, on the authority of a patent roll among the public records, was seized by the crown during the war between England and France, and was granted, in 1411, by Hen. IV. to Thomas Cherele. It afterwards became the chief residence of the bishops of of Down, of whom the last that resided here was Dr. Echlin, who was consecrated to the see in 1614. According to the Ordnance survey the parish comprises 3043 statute acres, of which 80 are under water. The soil, though in some parts interspersed with rocks which rise above the surface, is in general fertile; the lands are in a good state of cultivation; there is neither waste nor bog. Clay slate is raised for building, and for mending the roads.
Portaferry House, the splendid mansion of Col. A. Nugent, is situated in a richly planted demesne, with an extensive park ornamented with stately timber.
Here are several mills for flour and oatmeal, and for dressing flax; the situation of the parish on Strangford Lough affords great facility of conveyance by water. A manorial court is held for the recovery of debts not exceeding five marks, with jurisdiction over the whole of the parish.
The living is a rectory, in the diocese of Down, held by the bishop, who appoints a curate, for whose stipend he has set apart certain lands belonging to the see. No church appears to have existed here from a period long prior to the Reformation till the year 1829, when the present edifice was erected by Dr. Mant, the present bishop; it is a neat small building with a square tower, and occupies a picturesque situation on an eminence between Lough Strangford and Lough Cowie, which latter is a fresh-water lake of considerable extent, There is neither glebe nor glebe-house; the lands appear to have been granted as mensal lands to the see, and consequently to have been tithe free ; but their exemption is at present a subject of dispute, and the tithes are returned under the composition act as amounting to £289 19s. 7.50d., payable to the bishop.
In the R. C. divisions the parish forms part of the union or district of Upper Ardes.
There is a Sunday school ; also a pay school, in which are about 42 boys and 32 Girls.
There are considerable remains of the monastery and episcopal palace, which shev that the buildings were originally of very great extent.