Environment Minister visits Mount Stewart

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Latest update 01.11.2013 10:42

The National Trust welcomed Environment Minister Mark H Durkan to Mount Stewart on 29 October 2013 where he was treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of the £7m restoration project which will bring the famous house, on the shores of Strangford Lough, back to its former glory.

The Minister took some time to meet with a range of National Trust staff including Regional Director Heather Thompson and Jon Kerr, Manager at Mount Stewart.

Heather Thompson, Director for the National Trust in Northern Ireland said; ‘It was a real pleasure to welcome the Minister to Mount Stewart and update him on the progress of this important project. We are working with a range of key partners including the Northern Ireland Environment Agency who will contribute up to £500,000 to this landmark project which will secure the legacy of this special building for future generations.

‘This project is a real demonstration of the excellent conservation standards of the National Trust, including vital repairs and structural improvements to the house. Alongside this, a programme of conservation and research will help bring the house back to life not only through its amazing stories but through its restored contents which have their own tales to tell.’

National Trust apprentice joiner, Callum McCaffrey, demonstrated the importance of specialist skills and explained how his role with the National Trust gives him the opportunity to gain hands on heritage joinery experience which might not have been possible without the restoration project.

Speaking about his role Callum said; ‘I think it's very exciting. I want people walking past the banister and spindles in the Great Hall one day to wonder about the craftsman who put love and care into their work. The original ones had been replaced by metalwork and I was given the responsibility to make a prototype for the new ones, based on what I was told by Lady Rose, a member of the family who grew up in the house, and knew what the original ones looked like. It took several attempts before it was just right, and a further 100 were produced. The result is a re-creation of how that part of the house would have looked in the early 1900s.

‘If I get to very old age I know I’ll be able to come to Mount Stewart, look at my work and proudly say ‘I did that’.’

To complete the tour, Lady Rose, a member of the Londonderry family who originally owned the house and gardens and still lives in the house, also met with Minister Durkan and helped to tell some of the stories that make Mount Stewart such a historical and special place to her family.