The Londonderry Collection at Mount Stewart

The Drawing Room at Mount Stewart

In 2013, the Executors of the Londonderry Estate approached the National Trust with the offer, on loan, of a significant group of family-owned works of art and memorabilia. Subsequently, three portraits were allocated to Mount Stewart through the Acceptance in Lieu of Inheritance Tax scheme, which is administered by Arts Council England.

The loan arose from the settlement of the estate of the 9th Marquess of Londonderry, who died in 2012.  He had already generously loaned Mount Stewart the family’s State Chariot in 2010, which is housed in the coach house just off the path from the car park.

The loan includes twenty-six paintings, twenty-two of which are family portraits including no fewer than eight by Sir Thomas Lawrence; a bust by Canova and eleven other pieces of sculpture; objets de vertu; furniture; a large collection of silver, including one of the racehorse Hambletonian’s racing trophies from 1796; some of the 3rd Marquess’s ambassadorial plate; a collection of Berlin plates; two clocks; sixteen pieces of arms and armour; and a collection of medals, honours and orders of chivalry. The array of silver and small precious objects (known as objets de vertu), are shown in the Silver Display, just off the Central Hall alongside an extensive collection of Mount Stewart plate and decorative objects.

In addition, three further family portraits by Lawrence came to Mount Stewart via AIL.   

The Black and White Stone Hall
The Black and White Stone Hall
The Black and White Stone Hall

These important pieces have enabled us to bring to the forefront many of the principal figures in the earlier history of the Londonderry family, especially Viscount Castlereagh (1769-1822), and his half-brother Charles Stewart (1778-1854), 3rd Marquess of Londonderry, as well as their immediate families and descendants.  Many of the paintings and objects were originally commissioned or intended for the family’s other houses, such as Wynyard, Co. Durham (sold in the 1980s) and Londonderry House, London (sold in 1962 and subsequently demolished).  They have given us an unparalleled opportunity to enrich the presentation of Mount Stewart with works of art and sculpture of national and international significance. 

Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh, 1814, by Sir Thomas Lawrence
Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh, 1814, by Sir Thomas Lawrence NT 1542307
Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh, 1814, by Sir Thomas Lawrence

There are now two portraits on loan by Sir Thomas Lawrence of Viscount Castlereagh, later 2nd Marquess of Londonderry, one of Britain’s greatest Foreign Secretaries and a key negotiator at the Treaty of Paris in 1814 and the Congress of Vienna (1814-15), and a portrait of Castlereagh’s beloved wife Lady Emily Hobart . The magnitude of Castlereagh’s performance on the international stage in the years before and after the defeat of Napoleon I of France in 1815 is represented by additions such as the Empire style Congress of Vienna Desk , on which the Final Act or Treaty of Vienna is said to have been signed according to a later brass plaque, and Canova’s Ideal Head of Helen of Troy. This was presented to Castlereagh by its sculptor, Antonio Canova, the Pope’s envoy, in gratitude for Castlereagh’s help with the repatriation of works of art looted by Napoleon from the Louvre back to the Vatican – this piece is personally inscribed by the sculptor to Castlereagh.   

Marble busts of Alexander Stewart of Ards and his brother, Robert Stewart, 1st Marquess of Londonderry, attributed to G. Cybei (left, middle) and Helen of Troy by Antonio Canova (right).
Marble busts of Alexander Stewart of Ards and his brother, Robert Stewart, 1st Marquess of Londonderry, attributed to G. Cybei (left, middle) and Helen of Troy by Antonio Canova (right).
Marble busts of Alexander Stewart of Ards and his brother, Robert Stewart, 1st Marquess of Londonderry, attributed to G. Cybei (left, middle) and Helen of Troy by Antonio Canova (right).

The principal portraits on loan are hung in the Drawing Room, Dining Room and on the West Staircase. The Congress of Vienna Desk stands, as it did before the Second World War, at the east end of the Drawing Room, under Lawrence’s magnificent full-length portrait of Robert , 2nd Marquess of Londonderry in his Garter Robes, 1821. This portrait, along with the portraits by Lawrence of Charles Stewart’s two wives- firstly, Lady Catherine Bligh , who died in 1812 and Frances Anne, Marchioness of Londonderry who he married in 1819, were allocated to the National Trust at Mount Stewart through the AIL scheme.  Frances Anne’s portrait hangs near that of her aunt and guardian, Lady Frances Anne Vane, Mrs Michael Angelo Taylor as “Miranda” by John Hoppner, part of the Londonderry Loan.

Frances Anne, Marchioness of Londonderry and her son George, Viscount Seaham, by Sir Thomas Lawrence
Frances Anne, Marchioness of Londonderry and her son George, Viscount Seaham, by Sir Thomas Lawrence NT1542446
Frances Anne, Marchioness of Londonderry and her son George, Viscount Seaham, by Sir Thomas Lawrence

Lady Mairi Bury, had generously gifted Mount Stewart house and many of its contents to the National Trust in 1976 including the magnificent horse painting by George Stubbs: Hambletonian, Rubbing Down

Prior to the AIL allocations already mentioned here, were further groups of items, including two early landscape views of the demesne by Solomon Delane, c1786.  Together, these magnificent loans and transfers have helped preserve Mount Stewart’s character and spirit of place as well as ensuring the items are available for everyone to enjoy and experience. 

The National Trust thanks the 10th Marquess of Londonderry, and the Trustees of the Londonderry Settlement for the generous loan of such significant items to Mount Stewart. 

We would also like to thank HM Government, HMRC and Arts Council England for their continued support of the Acceptance in Lieu Scheme which has seen so many great works of art saved for the nation. 

A glimpse of the silver display at Mount Stewart.
A glimpse of the silver display at Mount Stewart.
A glimpse of the silver display at Mount Stewart.

These displays have been made possible as a result of the Government Indemnity Scheme. Mount Stewart would like to thank HM Government for providing Government Indemnity and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and Arts Council England for arranging the indemnity.

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