An Object I Love
There’s much to admire when you wander through an historic house, but have you ever wondered which objects stand out to our team? While the doors are closed, we asked some of the people who care for our collections to share the items that catch their eye and their heart.
Helen of Troy Marble Bust, Mount Stewart
‘There is so much to choose from, but if I had to pick one item, it would be the Helen of Troy marble bust by Canova – it is sublime! On loan from the Estate of the Marquess of Londonderry, the bust of Helen of Troy always feels special when pointing it out on a tour. Hand carved by Antonio Canova and presented on behalf of Pope Pius VII to the 2nd Marquess of Londonderry when styled Viscount Castlereagh. It is also inscribed on the back, with a personal note from Antonio Canova to Viscount Castlereagh – very special!’
Neil Watt, House and Collections Manager at Mount Stewart
Mary Ward’s Microscope, Castle Ward
‘Mary Ward, scientist, artist, mother, author of books on telescopes and microscopes, pushed the boundaries of what a wife and mother might achieve in Victorian Ireland. In the 1840s she was inspired by her extraordinary cousins the Earls of Rosse at Birr Castle engineers, photographers and astronomers.
Mary’s own microscope was made by Andrew Ross of London, the leading maker of the time; she used it all her life and it travelled with her wherever she went. It is on display at Castle Ward as an eloquent and poignant reminder of her achievements and passion for her subject and of her tragically short life.’
Frances Bailey, Lead Curator at National Trust NI
Jane Casamajor’s Rice Bowl Florence Court
One of my favourite pieces in the collection is this silver Indian rice bowl which was brought to the house by Jane Casamajor when she married the 3rd Earl of Enniskillen in 1844. This new acquisition, is both beautiful and deeply personal, as Jane was born and brought up in India. I imagine it would have been a piece of home to have with her when embarking on her new life in Florence Court.’
Laura Murray, House and Collections Manager at Florence Court
Jane Swan Hezlett’s Piano, Hezlett House
‘This is one of the very few original pieces in the house that belonged to the Hezlett family. Bought over 100 years ago, it tells the story of Jane’s musical talent. We have been very fortunate to get the fretwork
restored to its former glory. I always feel proud walking past it as I think about how pleased she must have been to receive and play it.’
Lisa-Jayne Boal, Visitor Experience Officer at Hezlett House
Sundial - The Argory
‘As I pass through the rose garden at The Argory, I always stop to look at the early 19th-century sundial at its centre. From it you can work out when it is noon in different parts of the world. I love reading all the far-away places listed around its circumference, and finding out where they’re eating lunch – will it be Moscow or Isfahan, Vienna or Havana?’
Shannon Fraser, Curator, National Trust NI
Columbian Press - Gray’s Printing Press
'The Columbian printing press at Gray’s is a truly fascinating object, with its striking American eagle counterweight and flamboyant decoration. Made in the mid-nineteenth century it has produced, along with the other presses in the collection, a snapshot of Strabane’s history through the printing of posters, reports, notices and a range of other materials that illustrate local life. The advent of the printing press allowed for the reliable circulation of information and many of the things that we take for granted owe their existence to the press such as standardised spelling, language, and grammar.'
Julieanne McMahon, Assistant Curator, National Trust NI