Archive for the ‘County Down’ Category

Mount Stewart reopens

April 23, 2015
The central hall at Mount Stewart, showing the restored paintwork, cleaned marble columns, restored balustrade and redisplayed sculptures. ©National Trust/Elaine Hill

The central hall at Mount Stewart, showing the restored paintwork, cleaned marble columns, restored balustrade and redisplayed sculptures. ©National Trust/Elaine Hill

Mount Stewart, the ancestral home of the Vane-Tempest-Stewart family in County Down, has now reopened after a three-year, £8 million restoration project.

The portrait of the race horse Hambletonian, by George Stubbs (1724-1806), in a new frame, on the staircase which has had its earlier wall colour restored. ©National Trust/Elaine Hill

The portrait of the race horse Hambletonian, by George Stubbs (1724-1806), in a new frame, on the staircase which has had its earlier wall colour restored. ©National Trust/Elaine Hill

The project was a hugely complicated logistical exercise. First the historic contents of the rooms had to be carefully removed (‘decanted’ in conservation-speak) and stored.

The drawing room during restoration. ©National Trust/Elaine Hill

The drawing room during restoration. ©National Trust/Elaine Hill

Then the structure of the building was repaired. Much of the work was undertaken by the building firm H & J Martin, which was founded in 1840 and is associated with a number of landmark buildings in Northern Ireland, including Belfast’s City Hall.

The drawing room following restoration. ©National Trust/Elaine Hill

The drawing room following restoration. ©National Trust/Elaine Hill

The heating system was upgraded to make it more efficient and suitable for a historic building and collection.

Callum McCaffrey, apprentice joiner, at work at Mount Stewart. ©National Trust/Elaine Hill

Callum McCaffrey, apprentice joiner, at work at Mount Stewart. ©National Trust/Elaine Hill

The joinery also needed attention. As much as possible of the original woodwork was left in place, and new sections were carefully joined in (similar to the method of conservation shown in a previous post).

The newly restored 'Rome' bedroom, epitomising Edith, Lady Londonderry's bold colour sense. ©National Trust/Elaine Hill

The newly restored ‘Rome’ bedroom, epitomising Edith, Lady Londonderry’s bold colour sense. ©National Trust/Elaine Hill

Following repairs to the plasterwork the rooms were redecorated, often restoring them to their appearance during the time of Edith, Marchioness of Londonderry (1878-1959), who put a distinct stamp on the house and garden (personally I love her colour sense, as you can also see here). Finally the original contents were moved back in.

Portrait by Lawrence of Frances Anne, Marchioness of Londonderry (1800-65) and her son Charles, Viscount Seaham, later the 5th Marquess (1821-84), on display in the drawing room. ©National Trust/Elaine Hill

Portrait by Lawrence of Frances Anne, Marchioness of Londonderry (1800-65) and her son Charles, Viscount Seaham, later the 5th Marquess (1821-84), on display in the drawing room. ©National Trust/Elaine Hill

There are also many new things to see at Mount Stewart. A large number of historically associated objects has recently been allocated to the house through the Acceptance in Lieu scheme. A further group of important works of art and other items has been lent by the estate of Alistair Vane-Tempest-Stewart, the 9th Marquess of Londonderry (1937-2012). All of these objects reflect the historical significance of the family and their taste and interests.

The restored breakfast room, including one of the views of Mount Stewart by Solomon Delane (c.1727-1812) accepted by HM Government in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated to the National Trust for display at Mount Stewart, 2014. ©National Trust/Elaine Hill

The restored breakfast room, including one of the views of Mount Stewart by Solomon Delane (c.1727-1812) accepted by HM Government in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated to the National Trust for display at Mount Stewart, 2014. ©National Trust/Elaine Hill

There are now 11 paintings by Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830) on display at Mount Stewart, including portraits of Robert Stewart, 2nd Marquess of Londonderry (1769-1822, usually known by his courtesy title Lord Castlereagh), who played an important role in stabilising Europe following the Napoleonic wars.

One of Mount Stewart's stone floors being restored. ©National Trust/Elaine Hill

One of Mount Stewart’s stone floors being restored. ©National Trust/Elaine Hill

A brief interview with Lady Rose Lauritzen, the granddaughter of Edith, Lady Londonderry, can be seen here.

Lady Londonderry's sitting room, following restoration and reinstatement. ©National Trust/Elaine Hill

Lady Londonderry’s sitting room, following restoration and reinstatement. ©National Trust/Elaine Hill

The project was funded by the National Trust with help from the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Wolfson Foundation, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, the Royal Oak Foundation, the BH Breslauer Foundation, the Lauritzen Foundation, the Friends of the National Libraries, the Northern Ireland Museums Council and a number of individual supporters.

The library at Mount Stewart secured

April 30, 2014
View of Lady Londonderry's Sitting Room at Mount Stewart. ©National Trust Images/Peter Aprahamian

View of Lady Londonderry’s Sitting Room at Mount Stewart. ©National Trust Images/Peter Aprahamian

It has just been announced that the library at Mount Stewart has been acquired by the National Trust from the estate of the late Lady Mairi Bury. These books, spread across a number of rooms in the house, document the intellectual, cultural and political life of the Vane-Tempest-Stewart family since the eighteenth century.

Lady Londonderry's Sitting Room, Mount Stewart. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Lady Londonderry’s Sitting Room, Mount Stewart. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

The library was purchased for just under £100,000, with funding from the Royal Oak Foundation, the B.H. Breslauer Foundation, the Northern Ireland Museums Council, the Friends of the National Libraries, Doreen Burns and Terence and Di Kyle.

View of the Castlereagh Room at Mount Stewart. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

View of the Castlereagh Room at Mount Stewart. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Some of the books were owned by Charles Stewart, 7th Marquess of Londonderry (1878-1949) and his wife Edith (1879-1959). They were both actively engaged in politics and in addition Edith was a notable gardener and cultural patroness, all of which is reflected in the books they collected.

The Castlereagh Room, Mount Stewart. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

The Castlereagh Room, Mount Stewart. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

In his study of northern Irish country house libraries, The Big House Library in Ireland, Mark Purcell notes how the ownership inscriptions in the books at Mount Stewart provide evocative evidence of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century family and social networks.

Bookplate of Edith, Marchioness of Londonderry, incorporating a portrait by Philip de Laszlo. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Bookplate of Edith, Marchioness of Londonderry, incorporating a portrait by Philip de Laszlo. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

A first edition of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park (1814) at Mount Stewart, for instance, belonged to one of Lord Londonderry’s ancestors, Amelia Ann Hobart (1772-1829), while an 1813 copy of Pride and Prejudice owned by her half-sister Caroline, Lady Suffield (d.1850), remains at their parents’ house, Blickling Hall.

A note on one of the bookshelves in the Castlereagh Room at Mount Stewart, with instructions to borrowers. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

A note on one of the bookshelves in the Castlereagh Room at Mount Stewart, with instructions to borrowers. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Other books that have ended up at Mount Stewart were once in the possession of Amelia and Caroline’s great aunt, Henrietta Howard, Countess of Suffolk (c.1688-1767), the mistress of George II who built the exquisitely Palladian Marble Hill House.

In the van Dyck tradition

December 18, 2013
The Hon Edith Helen Chaplin (1878–1959), Marchioness of Londonderry, DBE, with her favourite greyhound Fly, by Philip de László, 1913. Accepted in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated to the National Trust for display at Mount Stewart. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

The Hon Edith Helen Chaplin (1878–1959), Marchioness of Londonderry, DBE, with her favourite greyhound Fly, by Philip de László, 1913. Accepted in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated to the National Trust for display at Mount Stewart. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Following the mention in the previous post of the van Dyck self-portrait which the National Portrait Gallery is trying to acquire, I was struck by how some of the portraits at Mount Stewart are very much in the van Dyck tradition.

The 7th Marquess of Londonderry sitting in front of a portrait of his ancestor, Lord Castlereagh, by Philip de László, 1927. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

The 7th Marquess of Londonderry sitting in front of a portrait of his ancestor, Lord Castlereagh, by Philip de László, 1927. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

One of these, the Diana-esque portrait of Edith, Marchioness of Londonderry by de László, has just been accepted in lieu of tax and allocated to Mount Stewart, along with a portrait by Lavery of her husband, the 7th Marquess, and a number of other objects associated with Mount Stewart and the Vane-Tempest-Stewart family.

Edward Charles Vane-Tempest-Stewart (1902–1955), Lord Stewart, later 8th Marquess of Londonderry, as a page at the coronation of King George V, by Philip de László, c.1911. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Edward Charles Vane-Tempest-Stewart (1902–1955), Lord Stewart, later 8th Marquess of Londonderry, as a page at the coronation of King George V, by Philip de László, c.1911. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

The National Trust already owned a number of other family portraits at Mount Stewart, including a de László of the 7th Marquess draped with splendid van Dyckean nonchalance across a sofa in front of a portrait of his famous ancestor, Lord Castlereagh.

Lady Mairi Stewart (1921–2009), later Lady Mairi Bury, at the age of two, by Philip Alexius de László, 1923. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Lady Mairi Stewart (1921–2009), later Lady Mairi Bury, at the age of two, by Philip Alexius de László, 1923. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

The are also two charming portraits by the same artist of Lord Edward and Lady Mairi Stewart as children. Lady Mairi lived at Mount Stewart until her death in 2009.

A Proustian moment at Mount Stewart

July 16, 2013
Charles Vane-Tempest-Stewart, 7th Marquess of Londonderry, by Philip de Laszlo, 1914. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Charles Vane-Tempest-Stewart, 7th Marquess of Londonderry, by Philip de Laszlo, 1914. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

As I came upon these portraits of Charles Vane-Tempest-Stewart, 7th Marquess of Londonderry (1878-1949), and his wife Edith, née Chaplin (1879-1959), it struck me how redolent they are of the generation that bridged the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries.

Edith, Marchioness of Londonderry, in the uniform of the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps, by Philip de Laszlo, 1918. ©Imperial War Museum, on loan to Mount Stewart

Edith, Marchioness of Londonderry, in the uniform of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, by Philip de Laszlo, 1918. ©Imperial War Museum, on loan to Mount Stewart

The society portraitist Philip de Laszlo (1869-1937), who was very good at depicting people as they wished to be seen (and who was of the same generation), has imbued the Marquess and Marchioness with a Proustian mixture of aristocratic grandeur, earnest patriotism and modern self-awareness.

The 7th Marquess of Londonderry, with a portrait of Lord Castlereagh behind him, by Philip de Laszlo, 1924. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

The 7th Marquess of Londonderry, with a portrait of Lord Castlereagh behind him, by Philip de Laszlo, 1924. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Lord Londonderry was descended from the one of the great politicians of the Napoleonic era, Lord Castlereagh, and he continued that tradition by participating in Irish and British politics. Lady Londonderry was one of the last great political hostesses, holding magnificent receptions at Londonderry House on Park Lane in London.

Edith, Marchioness of Londonderry, by Philip de Laszlo, 1927. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Edith, Marchioness of Londonderry, by Philip de Laszlo, 1927. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

The portraits hang at Mount Stewart, which was one of their secondary homes and where Lady Londonderry created a notable garden. The house is currently undergoing a restoration project which should eventually make this Proustian moment even more palpable to visitors.