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History Tours

The history of Belfast begins at Clifton House. Established as Belfast’s Poor House in 1774 by the famous Joy and McCracken families, thousands of people, young and old, local citizens and passing sailors, all sought sanctuary within its walls.  Set up by the philanthropic merchants of the town, the Belfast Charitable Society and its home in Clifton House, has survived rebellions and revolutions, while looking after the welfare of the people of the city. Today, over 260 years later, the Belfast Charitable Society continues to tackle disadvantage, by using proceeds from tour admissions to support those in greatest need.

Bringing 18th Century Belfast to Life: Tour of Clifton House | Every Friday in November | 3pm | £6.50  

From a provincial town to an industrial city this tour charts the development of Belfast through the history of the Poor House. Learn of the lives of those who sought refuge in Clifton House, and the interesting, and at times turbulent, history of Belfast Charitable Society who cared for them. Booking in advance recommended. You can call, email or fill in the form below to reserve your place.

Christmas in the Poor House Tours | Every Thursday & Friday in December| 3pm | £6.50
This Christmas explore how the festive period was celebrated by the residents of the Poor House from the doors opened in 1774. Hear about Christmas traditions and how they developed through the years. Our tour guides will use original research from our archives to tell the story of those responsible for bringing some festive cheer into the house in the 1800s. For more information or to book, call 028 9099 7022 or email archive@cliftonbelfast.org.uk. Alternatively book online here.

Please note that due to demand booking for the Christmas tours is essential.

*Please note Thursday 5th and Friday 6th December are fully booked*

January / February Tours

Philanthropy Past & Present: Tour of Clifton House Come and explore the city’s oldest working building, set up by philanthropic merchants as the Belfast Poor House. Hear stories of its work and those who sought refuge in its walls. Every Friday (approximately 1 hour) Time: 3pm Price: £6.50

For more information or to book, call 028 9099 7022 or email archive@cliftonbelfast.org.uk.

Easter Tours

Plots & Plotters: Belfast Charitable Society & the United Irishmen Walk in the footsteps and visit the graves of the reformers and radicals who made the Belfast Charitable Society a “hotbed of radical activity”, ultimately culminating in rebellion. 15-17th April 2020 (approximately 2 hours) Time: 3pm Price: £6.50

For more information or to book, call 028 9099 7022 or email archive@cliftonbelfast.org.uk.

Groups tours

Groups can book a guided tour of Clifton House by phoning 028 9099 7022 to arrange a time and date in advance or by emailing lucy@cliftonbelfast.org.uk. Group rates for tours of 15 or more are available.

Check out our  Facebook page or  Twitter feed for further details.

Testimonials

“On behalf of the Carryduff Historical Society I would like to thank you once again for giving us such an excellent and informative tour on Monday night. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed it and we all came away with a completely new outlook on such an iconic building and cemetery.” Gordon Hunt, Chairman, Carryduff Historical Society

“On behalf of First Lisburn Presbyterian Women, I would like to very warmly thank you and all the staff for the tour we had on Wednesday last. You especially inspired the ladies with your wonderful knowledge of the history of Clifton House. In just over three years in the chair of the group,  I have never had so many phones calls, text messages  and letters how much  the ladies enjoyed the day,  so very many thanks to you.” Maureen Staniland, First Lisburn Presbyterian Women’s Group

“Excellent, very informative guide.  Thoroughly enjoyed our visit.” Linda Swindle, Lisnaskea Historical Society

“Great Tour – Thank you!” Adrian Powter, Cambridge

“My sister and I had the pleasure of taking the tour of Clifton House and graveyard on Friday 25th August.  Please pass on our thanks to the guide – Aaron.  Wonderful and educational.  Filled with enthusiasm and knowledge.  Has inspired me to discover more  – and I consider myself quite a “history buff”!!  Thank you once more.”  Shirley McMillan, Visitor to Clifton House & Clifton Street Cemetery.

“What a wonderful day we had at Clifton House and I speak on behalf of all who were fortunate to attend. All arrangements worked out admirably. Please pass on our thanks to the Catering team for the part that they played. Also to Aaron. What a gem you have in him as you would have witnessed. I can see another tour to Clifton House in the New Year.”

Ken Canavan U3A Causeway Coast

“Went on this tour and very glad we did. Great presentation with insights about social care, philanthropy, health, politics and religion, architecture and lots of stories. Important part of Belfast’s history. Thanks for keeping it alive. For visitors and locals alike.”

Peter Corry, Leeds

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