In nearby Brook Street is Holywood’s Motte – (French for “mound”). Originally the Motte would have had a wooden defensive fortification at its top and a bank and ditch around its base. In the 12th century, the waters of Belfast Lough would have been much closer to the Motte. De Corcy’s 25 year “reign” in Ireland ended in 1205. De Courcy’s lands were awarded to his victor in battle Hugh de Lacy and the title Earl of Ulster by King John.
During the 17th Century Plantation of Ulster, two wealthy Scotsmen Sir James Hamilton and Sir Hugh Montgomery rebuilt Holywood as a market town. Holywood’s Maypole is documented in a Ravens Map of the area dated 1625.
When the railway arrived in 1845 Holywood grew rapidly as a seaside resort. During this period parts of the huge Hamilton estate were sold to settle family debts. As a result, much of the land around Holywood, including the Holywood Hills, Cultra and Craigavad were bought by Belfast industrialists and merchants who built large Victorian mansions as expressions of their new found wealth. In recognition of its unique Victorian architectural heritage the area known as ‘High Holywood’ has been designated a Conservation Area.