As the project to restore the house at Mount Stewart nears completion, it has been announced that the adjoining historic demesne will also be opened to the public.
Part of the demesne, which was the core estate associated with the big house, has been accepted by the Government in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated to the National Trust. Another part of the demesne has been simultaneously purchased by the National Trust, keeping this historic estate together and reuniting it with the house.
The demesne was acquired by Alexander Stewart in 1744. His son, the first Marquess of Londonderry, commissioned James ‘Athenian’ Stuart to build the romantic Temple of the Winds on the shores of Strangford Lough in 1782-3. In the twentieth century Edith, Marchioness of Londonderry, created the now celebrated gardens, which she gave to the National Trust in 1957 (and which I have mentioned before).
The parts of the demesne that have already been opened to the public are the walled garden and the dairy. There are plans to revive the rose garden and replant fruit trees. In the longer term the aim is to restore the vineries and peach houses, and to improve access to the woodland.
This project is being supported by funding from the Garfield Weston Foundation.