Archive for the ‘Co Down’ Category

Lady Londonderry’s colours

October 3, 2013
The Black and White Hall at Mount Stewart ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

The Black and White Hall at Mount Stewart ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

As I was visiting Mount Stewart last week, I was struck by the distinctive colours used throughout the house.

Detail of a japanned cabinet at Mount Stewart. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Detail of a japanned cabinet at Mount Stewart. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

I was told this is the result of redecoration carried out by Edith, Marchioness of Londonderry (1878-1959), during the last ten years of her life following the death of her husband, the 7th Marquess.

The Drawing Room at Mount Stewart. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

The Drawing Room at Mount Stewart. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

It seems that, having already revived and embellished the garden, she could now express her own taste inside as well.

Detail of the japanning on a concertina door between the Stone Hall and the Music Room at Mount Stewart. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Detail of the japanning on a concertina door between the Stone Hall and the Music Room at Mount Stewart. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Some may well be shocked by these bold colours, but I find them rather appealing. They help to make the house feel simultaneously grand – in an ‘I don’t care what anyone thinks’ sort of way – and jolly.

The Dining Room at Mount Stewart. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

The Dining Room at Mount Stewart. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Lady Londonderry also clearly loved textiles, lacquer and japanning, and other objects with interesting textures and shapes – a taste perhaps also reflected in the variety of plants she introduced to the garden.

The Rome Bedroom at Mount Stewart. ©National Trust Images/Peter Aprahamian

The Rome Bedroom at Mount Stewart. ©National Trust Images/Peter Aprahamian

Some of these colours and textures in the house have inevitably faded somewhat over time, and it is one of the aims of the current conservation project to bring back more of Lady Londonderry’s original sense of style.

A late Edwardian lake at Mount Stewart

October 1, 2013

©Emile de Bruijn

Last week I visited Mount Stewart, in Country Down, where we were shown the inspirational conservation project underway in the house.

©Emile de Bruijn

©Emile de Bruijn

But I also had a chance to see part of the garden, and I was enchanted by the large lake surrounded by specimen trees and exotic plants.

©Emile de Bruijn

©Emile de Bruijn

This part of the garden was originally laid out by Charles Vane, 3rd Marquess of Londonderry (1778-1854), but it was further enlarged and embellished by Edith, the 7th Marchioness (1878-1959).

©Emile de Bruijn

©Emile de Bruijn

It has a wonderfully opulent Edwardian atmosphere, with masses of exotic plants and trees and many Italianate and Japanese touches.

©Emile de Bruijn

©Emile de Bruijn

I was there on an extraordinarily still late afternoon, the garden poised on the brink of autumn, with not even Basho’s proverbial frog jumping into the water to disturb the silence.

Horses for courses

February 11, 2011

Jutland draft horse Samson at Minnowburn. ©National Trust

The use of heavy machinery in areas of woodland can disturb the drainage, compact the soil and cause damage to flora and trees. There is an increasing trend to use horses to provide a traditional, gentle and green way of moving logs.

Stone bridge at Minnowburn. ©NTPL/Rod Edwards

Horse logging has now returned to Northern Ireland as well, where the National Trust has reintroduced the practice at Minnowburn, in the Lagan Valley south of Belfast.

Noel Donaghy working with Samson. ©National Trust

Noel Donaghy of the family-run Total Tree Care Company had recently imported a pair of Jutland horses from Denmark, called Samson and Goliath. The National Trust Belfast team were keen to be the first to use them. The horses are driven with reins and voice control, and are used to draw thinned larch logs to the roadside.

Countryfile presenter Matt Baker with Stephen Donaghy and Samson. ©National Trust

Visitors to Minnowburn are enjoying seeing these horses do what they were bred to do. The BBC has done some filming there for its programme Countryfile, with presenter Matt Baker having a go at working with Samson – due to be broadcast on 13 February.


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