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Clifton House was the Poor House in Belfast and remains Belfast’s oldest working building.
Clifton House is an impressive Georgian building, set in tranquil landscaped gardens in the heart of Belfast. Opened in 1774 by Belfast Charitable Society, the building was used until the late 1880s as Belfast’s Poor House.
A great deal of what we take for granted in the city of Belfast today owes its origins to The Belfast Charitable Society. The foundation of social welfare, the supply of clean water, the city’s first hospital, funeral services, the beginnings of a police service and a municipal burial ground all began with the launch of the Society.
A tour of Clifton House will transport visitors back to 18th Century Belfast where political revolution was the order of the day and the industrial revolution had not yet arrived. Belfast was a merchant town, trying to place itself on the world stage. The work in the Poor House took many forms, including nursing those who were ill, giving skills to those who were unemployed and educating children who had known desperate circumstances. 18th Century Belfast was a tough place to live, famine, illness, appalling living conditions and lack of welfare authorities ensured the necessity of the work of the Belfast Poor House.
Clifton House was entirely renovated in 2000 and now is home to our archive, heritage and conference centre, residential home and sheltered accommodation. The heritage centre is available for hire for a variety of events including meetings, exhibitions, AGMs, workshops, conferences, dinner and receptions. We run tours of the heritage centre every Friday at 15:00 as well as group tours by request to tell the story of this truly remarkable building.
Tours Mon – Fri at 15:00 during July & August.