Monday, 23 September 2013

Mount Stewart House

Before I start this post I hope you saw yesterday’s one, ‘Orange on Orange’ as Blogger attached my previous post on Copeland Island somehow before it!! As promised I said I would tell you about Mount Stewart House.

It  is an 18th-century house and garden in County Down, Northern Ireland, owned now by the National Trust. Situated on the east shore of Strangford Lough, a few miles outside the town of Newtownards and near Greyabbey, it was the Irish seat of the Vane-Tempest-Stewart family, Marquesses of Londonderry. The house and its contents reflect the history of the Vane-Tempest-Stewart family, who played a leading role in British History.

On 22 June 1911, this carriage was used to drive the Londonderry family to the Coronation of George V to Westminster Abbey and Robin, later Vscount Castlereagh who was 8 years old at the time, was a naughty pageboy!

 Clothes worn by Coachmen

The last time the state coach was used was for the Coronation of George V1 in 1937.  

The Ionic column of a classical nude is at one end of the Hall as you walk into Mount Stewart and is probably Eurydice.  It is signed by Lawrence MacDonald and carved in Rome in 1856.

Mount Stewart has 80 rooms and at present has just started an restoration programme costing £7,000,000.

Mount Stewart was formed by the Stewart family (later Vane-Tempest-Stewart), holders of the title Marquess of Londonderry since 1816. The family bought the estate in 1744 with money acquired by Alexander Stewart (1699–1781). This new wealth came from the sales of materials like linen. At the time, the house was known as Mount Pleasant.

The Hall has already been restored and the wooden balcony has been 
totally replaced.

Alexander Stewart's son, Robert Stewart, became the first Marquess of Londonderry. In about 1800 he added a temporary wing to the west. He died in 1821 leaving the house to his son, also Robert, better known as Viscount Castlereagh, one of Britain's most famous Foreign Secretaries. Castlereagh lived in Mount Stewart during his childhood until he went to University in Cambridge.

  This is a photo I took of a photo that showed how it was before restoration.  Note wrought iron balcony, floor and  painting. 

 Lord Castlereagh inherited his father's title only a year before his own death. The next owner of the house was his half-brother, Charles, 3rd Marquess of Londonderry (1778–1854). He married twice but it was his later marriage which increased the family's finances greatly. His second wife was Lady Frances Anne Vane-Tempest. She was the greatest heiress of her time. This huge new wealth prompted the refurbishment and enlargement of the newly renamed Mount Stewart. 

Controversially the Londonderrys, while spending £150,000 on the refurbishment only gave £30 to famine relief in Ireland in the 1840s, despite the fact that the Londonderry estates were directly affected by starvation, illustrating the inhumanity that existed within Ireland at the time. This remodelling created the present exterior of Mount Stewart. The small Georgian house and the small portico on the west wing were demolished and the house was increased to eleven bays. On the entrance front, a huge portico was added in the centre, and a smaller 'half portico' was added to the other side.

Again this is another photo of a photo and it is the Hall in its original state.  Note that the balcony was wooden and this s why they decided to restore it to what it was.  The floor in this shot is not the black and white tiles as it is now and above.  I thought the floor was marble however it turned out to be very good vinyl!

Again, another photo of a photo but this time from above. Notice another large painting.

The 4th Marquess of Londonderry married the widow of Viscount Powerscourt and lived at her home, Powerscourt, near Dublin. The 5th Marquess lived at his wife's ancestral property, Plas Machynlleth in Wales, and his son, the 6th Marquess, lived at Wynyard. These long periods of neglect nearly destroyed Mount Stewart.

This is the matching statue, this time of Venus, situated at the opposite end of the Hall.

The 7th Marquess (1878–1949), a well-known Ulster Unionist politician, and his wife brought a new lease of life to the house and its plain grounds. The Marchioness of Londonderry's ancestral home was Dunrobin Castle in Scotland and it was that house's gardens which inspired the Mount Stewart's. She also redesigned and redecorated much of the interior, for example, the huge drawing room, smoking room, the Castlereagh Room and many of the guest bedrooms. 

This is the dining room beautifully laid out for dinner.  Along the walls were 22 Empire style chairs which were used a the Congress of Vienna in 1815.

The National Trust took over the gardens in 1957. The last chatelaine of the house (and the last surviving child of the 7th Marquess), Lady Mairi Bury (née Vane-Tempest-Stewart, Dowager Viscountess Bury), gave the house and most of its contents to the Trust in 1977. The Trust operates the property under the name "Mount Stewart House, Garden & Temple of the Winds". Lady Mairi Bury was the last Londonderry family member to live at Mount Stewart, and the last member of this Anglo-Irish family to live in Ireland when she died at Mount Stewart on 18 November 2009, at the age of 88.

 This is the napkins with their crest on it.

I know this item is out of focus however I found it interesting.  The bottom is for ice and the top is for the dessert.  In those days, there were no fridges and the ice was imported so having a beautiful piece of porcelain like this was very special.

Another interesting item, in fact there were two standing on either side of the fire place.  It was only recently that they discovered what they were.  They are wine coolers.  

 This is Lord Londonderry's sitting room and is the oldest part of the house which was designed by George Dance.  Originally it was a dining room however it was turned into a library when Lord Castlereagh lived there.

These are the two large paintings that I pointed out to you that were in the upper part of the Hall before the restoration work began.  They have now been restored themselves however no one is quite sure where they will be hung.  Lady Mari, the last member of the Londonderry family is the child holding the goat.

This is part of the floor that was originally the music room, then the breakfast room.  The Parquetry floor was originally inlaid with Boxwood, Walnut and Ebony veneers on Bog Fir and Oak.  

The cascade chandelier dates from 1850 and is of English lead crystal.  This room overlooks the sunken garden, through to the topiary Irish harp in the Shamrock garden.  (I will be showing you the outside of the house and gardens tomorrow).

Note the plasterwork pattern on the ceiling matches the parquetry on the floor.

This is the south facing drawing room and  it was dimly lite and although quite large, still was cosy and comfortable.  One interesting thing I found out was that originally there were 2 fireplaces on the same wall.  Where you see the existing one, the 2 original ones were on either side of the present one.

Below is a photo of how the drawing used to be and you can just make out the 2 matching fireplaces on the right hand wall.

I hope you enjoyed a brief glimpse into Mount Stewart House and tomorrow we will go outside into the grounds and walk around the lake looking at flowers and birds I found along the way.

Many thanks for visiting my post  today.
I appreciate all your comments.


  1. Looks an amazing house. I found the history fascinating.

  2. Hi Douglas I amso glad you enjoyed the history and photographs about this lovely house. I think you will love tomorrow's post when I take you on a walk around the magnificnet gardens. Thanks for your comments.

  3. good lord they were so extravagant back in the 'old days'...I always wonder what their electricity bills would have been had they had such a luxury. Wonderful post Margaret.

    1. Hi Lynn Many thanks for your kind comment adn glad you enjoyed the post.

  4. That wooden floor was stunning - great tour - thank you!

    1. HI Em Glad you liked the tour and the floor is magnificent. hanks for comments.

  5. Wow, what the gorgeous house, sounds like as a palace..all the photographs looking fabulous..
    thanks for sharing the history of a royal family..or yes I also just found the history of Mythical Museum of Junagadh, Gujarat. hope you will know about it and get enjoy..

    1. HI Er glad you enoyed the post including the history of the house. Thanks for comment.

  6. Replies
    1. Hi Tex Yes it is wonderful tolook backon those days. thanks for comment.

  7. Hi there,

    Very glad to hear that you enjoyed your visit to Mount Stewart! You can keep up to date on all that's happening with the restoration project on our website -

    The first statue which you mentioned is Venus, not Eurydice. The second statue is Bacchante. You can find out more about all the items in our collection here -

  8. Hi there,

    Very glad to hear that you enjoyed your visit to Mount Stewart, you can keep up to date on all that's happening with the restoration project on our website -

    Of the two statues you mentioned, the first is Venus, not Eurydice and the second is Bacchante. You can find out about all the items in our collection here -,-County-Down-%28Accredited-Museum%29/1

  9. HI Many thanks for looking at my post and sending me the correct information. I have to tell you that all 3 guides in the Hall told me the names of the statues adn I checked on the internet and alhtough it did not say which was which, my original names were there. However I hope you are corect, as I am going to change the names now!

    1. Hi Margaret,

      I will double check as our guides have the wrong information or the information on the National Trust collections website is incorrect.

      Many thanks for letting me know!

    2. HiI I will wait until you get back to me to clarifly thiis matter. In fact I had quite a long discussion about both statues! You might like to look at my post tomorrow on the outside of the house adn gardens, also I don't know whether you saw my post yesterday, Orange on Orange which I photographed at Mount Stewart.

    3. Hi Margaret,

      My apologies, I have just checked with our curator and it is in fact Eurydice. I will look into getting this changed on our collections website.

    4. Hi Thank you for clariflying this matter. atleast the guides all got it right. Well done to them as they were very helpful.

  10. Sumptuous house, but shocking that they gave so little to local people during the famine.

  11. The little pink dessert ice keeper is just divine!! And all the beautiful chandeliers. Also those floors and ceilings, wow!

    1. HI Ginny I am glad you liked the house. I think you willlike the garden also. Thanks for comments

  12. Wow. What a place.
    Love the romance of that coach. A slower and often more beautiful time...

    1. HI EC Yes I agree, I would love to go for a ride tht that coach, I am glad you liked the house and thanks for your comments

  13. A wonderful post Margaret! Enjoyed the history.
    I often wish I could step back in time every once in awhile to see how things were.
    Thanks for sharing your visit. Kudo's to the guides. :)

    1. Hi Carletta Glad you enjoysed the history of the house and thanks for your very kind comments.

  14. What a great looking place - although the story about the famine relief does not show people in a good light!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

    PS: good to see the spelling is correct!

  15. HI Stewart Yes I agree and I could have left that bit out but I believe in honesty. Thanks for comment.