The Fitzroya tree at Mount Stewart
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Growing in the grounds of Mount Stewart is the Fitzroya tree (Fitzroya Cupressoides), a native tree of Chile, and one of the oldest living trees in the world. The story of how it came to be here lies in the 19th century, and connects Mount Stewart with the great man, Charles Darwin...
Vice-Admiral, Sir Robert Fitzroy RN, achieved lasting fame as the captain of HMS Beagle with Charles Darwin as his companion. This voyage lasted five years, and included a hydrographic survey of Tierra Del Fuego, Chile and the Galapagos Islands.
Darwin, meanwhile, was cataloguing the flora and fauna and this would result in his famous work, ‘The Origin of Species’. Darwin graciously named specimens after Fitzroy, and Fitzroya Cupressoides is one of these species.
Mount Stewart and the Met Office
This specimen was given to Mount Stewart during the campaign 'Sea Britain 2005' by the Met Office in recognition of Fitzroy’s legacy to mariners.
Fitzroy was a pioneering meteorologist who made accurate weather forecasting a reality, and in 1854 he was appointed as chief of a new government department which would eventually become the Meteorological Office. He is also credited with the design of a type of barometer to be fixed at every port, and to be consulted by crew before sailing.
Why Mount Stewart?
Sir Robert Fitzroy was the nephew of Lord Castlereagh, his mother being a daughter of the 1st Marquess of Londonderry.
To find the tree, take the path to the lake and just before the fork look to the left.