Mount Stewart, on the shores of Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland opens today after a three year, £8million restoration project sees this grand house returned to its former glory.
Visitors to the National Trust landmark can now enjoy the reinvigorated and re-decorated house with previously unopened rooms including the butler’s silver store and billiard room.
Hundreds of new items will also be on display to include internationally significant items which the conservation charity has on loan from the Estate of the Marquess of Londonderry.
There are no fewer than 11 family portraits by Sir Thomas Lawrence, (1769-1830), perhaps the greatest British portrait painter of the early 19th century.
Amongst the more striking items on display is the Congress of Vienna Desk which belonged to Viscount Castlereagh when he was British Foreign Secretary at the close of the Napoleonic Wars and is said to have been used at the signing of the Treaties of Paris and Vienna in 1814 and 1815.
Commenting on the project, Jon Kerr, National Trust Manager at Mount Stewart said: “This ambitious project to fully restore Mount Stewart is our most significant investment in Northern Ireland in quite some time.
“It has been a hugely exciting project that brings this family home back to its former glory and truly showcases the history of this special place and offers fascinating insight in to the life of the Stewart family.”
Garden lovers will also be able to delight in the reinvigorated, world famous garden which has been carefully replanted to reflect the formal gardens designed by Lady Edith, who created the vibrant gardens.
A new fernery has been created and the next few years will also see the restoration of the walled garden at Mount Stewart which will include replanting the rose garden and restoring the old dairy and glass house.
Jon continues: “It has taken a team of hundreds of people to bring our vision for this grand house to life including builders, joinery apprentices and expert conservators and curators.
“We also couldn’t have done it without our 200 volunteers who have helped with every aspect of the project including the restoration of fabrics and furniture. They will also play a huge role in welcoming many more visitors over the coming months and years.
“Finally, I’d also like to recognise the generosity of the Marquess of Londonderry who made it possible for so many amazing items to return to Mount Stewart.”
Lady Rose Lauritzen’s family has lived at Mount Stewart since the 18th century. Speaking about the restoration she said: “It is an enormous pleasure to see this family home restored and reinvigorated. As well as the fabulous restoration, we will also see a huge number of items come to Mount Stewart from places that were connected to my family history.
“I believe it is the single most important contribution to improve the presentation of this house since my grandmother, Edith, Lady Londonderry, made it her principle residence in the 1920s.
“I am truly excited to share the house with our visitors and look forward to seeing the hallways and rooms filled with people once again.”
As well as the many historical items and beautifully represented rooms, the project has ensured that the structure of the building is now sound. Important upgrades have resulted in more efficient heating that meets strict conservation standards. Nearly every room in the house has also been redecorated following extensive repairs to plasterwork.