Mount Stewart

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Mount Stewart used to belong to the Anglo-Irish Marquesses of Londonderry. They were fabulously rich, their wealth accumulated largely through astute marriage arrangements, and had several homes including a palatial house in Park Lane, London and estates (and coal mines) in County Durham. They effectively used Mount Stewart as a summer “holiday home”.

It has extensive grounds including magnificent formal and informal gardens and woodland walks.

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The house has recently re-opened after a 3 year long restoration project costing £8 million. It’s arranged to represent how it looked when it was home of the 7th Marchioness Edith, Lady Londonderry, a noted and influential society hostess in the between  the two World Wars, and her family in the early 20th century.

This is the central hall. Although in the middle of the house, it’s brightly lit by the glass dome above.

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During the restoration of the house major work was carried out on the balcony above the central hall which was in danger of collapse. It’s been restored removing heavy iron balconies and redecorating in the original style.

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The Morning Room

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Lady Edith’s Drawing Room, her “personal space”

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The NT website tells us

The vast drawing-room, with ionic column screens at each end, remains much as it was after being decorated in the 1930’s by Edith, 7th Marchioness, who like her mother-in-law before her was one of the great political hostesses of the time. The furnishing comprises quite a mixture of pieces from different periods, including Carrara marble urns and vases, tripod candlesticks, carved standard lamps, sofas, armchairs, occasional tables – all grouped informally as if the house guests were expected to return at any moment.

The family Chapel.

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Probably the most famous member of the family was the 2nd Marquess , better known as Viscount Castlereagh. His portrait is hung in the house

Robert Stewart (1769–1822), Viscount Castlereagh and 2nd Marquess of Londonderry, KG, GCH, FRS, PC, MP

Robert Stewart (1769–1822), Viscount Castlereagh and 2nd Marquess of Londonderry (Source: National Trust)

As British Foreign Secretary, from 1812 he was central to the management of the coalition that defeated Napoleon and was the principal British diplomat at the Congress of Vienna. Castlereagh was also leader of the British House of Commons in the Liverpool government from 1812 until his suicide in August 1822. Early in his career, as Chief Secretary for Ireland, he was involved in putting down the Irish Rebellion of 1798 and was instrumental in securing the passage of the Irish Act of Union of 1800.(Wikipedia)

He was honoured by many foreign governments as this collection of medals demonstrates

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Depending on your point of view, he could be considered as either a hero or a villain. The poet Percy Shelley certainly falls into the latter camp – Castlereagh features prominently at the beginning of his poem, The Masque of Anarchy which was written in response to the Peterloo massacre

I met Murder on the way –
He had a mask like Castlereagh –
Very smooth he looked, yet grim;
Seven blood-hounds followed him:

All were fat; and well they might
Be in admirable plight,
For one by one, and two by two,
He tossed the human hearts to chew
Which from his wide cloak he drew.

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7 thoughts on “Mount Stewart

    • My O level history period was 1870 to the present day (although the present day at that time only went up to the 1970s!) so my knowledge of Castlereagh is based on other sources that are somewhat less than sympathetic towards him

      • I dropped history after O level. That and English were two of my best subjects and I also enjoyed them. But I wanted to study chemistry so unfortunately they had to go. That’s one of the problems with our education system- you have to choose between arts and sciences. But I’ve always continued to read avidly – including literature and history

      • I was the opposite – I really loved history and dropped chemistry. My teacher was appalled because I was good at it, but I studied it later with the OU. This was the English curriculum too – the Scottish one is broader as most study 5 Higher subjects (though I think AS levels might be similar).

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