Step inside the house at Mount Stewart
Head back to the 1920s–1950s and wander through the elegant rooms at Mount Stewart. Home to the Marquesses of Londonderry for over 250 years, the house is steeped in history, bursting with stories and filled with personal treasures. Discover a dining room used to entertain famous guests, grand halls, private sitting rooms and more including a family chapel. See walls lined with magnificent portraits, life-size sculptures and the family’s many historic collections.
Explore the historic house at Mount Stewart and discover a much-loved family home, where generations of the Stewart family left their mark.
Following a major restoration project, you can now uncover the story of Edith and Charles Stewart (7th Marquess of Londonderry), who lived at Mount Stewart during the early 20th century.
See how Edith redesigned the house and transformed Mount Stewart into a colourful space filled with art and family heirlooms, where family and famous friends could relax and escape public life.
Soak up the atmosphere of the most impressive space in the house, where you can see life-size sculptures by Lawrence MacDonald, alongside the family collection of silver dating from 1694.
Look down at your feet to take in the original Scrabo stone, which was recently restored after being hidden since the 1960s when it was covered by linoleum.
Don’t miss the large portrait of Edith and her three daughters which hangs just outside the hall and was painted in 1925. The portrait brilliantly captures the essence of Mount Stewart, which was the favourite home of seven others, owned by Edith and Charles.
Visit the dining room which was used to entertain famous guests including Winston Churchill and Neville Chamberlain – both of whom later became Prime Ministers of Britain. Along the walls stand the chairs used during the Congress of Vienna (1814–15). Their needlework covers were commissioned by Edith in the 1930s to display the coats of arms of those present at the Congress, and the countries they represented.
Black and white stone hall
Discover pieces of armour captured from the French Imperial Guard by General Charles Stewart who fought under Wellington during the Peninsula War.
Peep inside the cupboard under the stairs, where Edith dried flowers to make her own recipe of pot pourri. Edith made the pot pourri as gifts and also sold it for charity in aid of the Women’s Legion – a wartime organisation which she set up.
Lord Londonderry’s sitting room
Take a look around the private sitting room and office used by Charles, who was the Education Minister for the newly formed Government of Northern Ireland. Surrounded by mementos and, with a portrait of his youngest daughter Mairi taking the centre stage, Charles would work on his official papers here.
The breakfast room
Stop by the breakfast room, where Charles and Edith enjoyed relaxed family breakfasts, lunches and afternoon teas overlooking the Sunk Garden that Edith created in 1920–21. Edith introduced the large sliding sash window so that they could have direct access to the garden.
In the centre of the room you can see the family’s traditional Irish ‘wake’ or hunting table, whilst a collection of Berlin cabinet plates from 1810–20 are displayed in the cabinets.
Lady Londonderry’s sitting room
Explore the private sitting room used by Edith which is bursting with her most cherished passions. Here you can glimpse into the interests of Edith, where she set about researching, planning and designing the world-class gardens for which Mount Stewart is now famous.
The bookcases lining the wall are filled with books on a wide variety of subjects. Among them you can spot first editions sent to Edith by their authors including the poet W.B. Yeats, novelist John Buchan and playwright George Bernard Shaw.
The west stairs
A George Stubbs masterpiece hangs magnificently on the west staircase. Hambletonian, Rubbing Down, was painted by Stubbs in 1800. The horse had been owned by Sir Harry Vane Tempest, whose daughter married Charles Stewart (3rd Marquess of Londonderry).
Step inside the drawing room which was the social hub of the house, furnished with comfortable armchairs and sofas gathered around the fireplace, as well as a piano for musical entertainment.
At one end of the room stands the Congress of Vienna Desk, brought back by Castlereagh Viscount Castlereagh after the Congress and the Peace of Paris in 1815, for which he was made a Knight of the Garter. Above it hangs his portrait, by Sir Thomas Lawrence, alongside many others by the same artist.
Explore the double height chapel which was an integral part of life at Mount Stewart where family marriages, christenings and funerals were held.
Edith’s youngest daughter, Lady Mairi, was married here in 1940. After her death in 2009 her funeral was also held here before she was buried in the family burial ground situated north of the lake. Both Charles, in 1949, and Edith in 1959, passed away at Mount Stewart and their funerals were held in the chapel.
Today, the chapel remains consecrated and is used every month for a communion service.
The Naples Bed Hangings
The Naples bed-hangings are rare survivors of the short-lived fashion for paper curtains and have been part of the décor of the house since the 1870s and it is thought they may be the only example remaining on display in a public collection.
“The bed-hangings are made up of a half tester over a shaped valance with decorative ruffles and several flat curtains which can be drawn at the side, exactly as expected of fabric drapes, except these hangings are made of printed, laminated paper, with an embossed surface texture.
“Over the 150 years since the curtains have come to the house, time, light and other environmental factors have caused the paper in the hangings to degrade and begin to break down. Make do and mend repairs throughout the intervening years have meant the hangings are still intact, but in danger of being lost eventually without considered and specialist conservation measures which included surface cleaning and extensive repairs to the split and torn paper; creating paper infills to areas of paper loss and attaching newly printed digitally reconstructed linings to improve the structure of the curtains.”
The restoration of the Naples bed-hangings was a collaborative project between textile conservation experts at the National Trust Blickling conservation studio for textiles and Emily O’Reilly, an expert paper conservator, assisted by student conservators from Cardiff University and the City & Guilds of London Art School, and has been the result of two years of painstaking research and careful conservation at specialist studios throughout the UK.
The Naples bed-hangings will be on display and can be viewed in the House.
Castlereagh: Life & Legacy Exhibition
A new exhibition to mark the 200th anniversary of the death of Viscount Castlereagh (1769-1822) opened at Mount Stewart in August 2022. The exhibition provides an introduction to the life of this complex man who lived in extraordinary times and believed he was striving for the greater good. Explore his life and legacy through his family, politics and role as a statesman.
A silver inkstand, which served as a constant companion to Viscount Castlereagh and was used to write letters which shaped post-Napoleonic Europe, will be displayed publicly for the first time at his former home, as part of the exhibition. The inkstand is one of the most personal pieces associated with Castlereagh. It would have been used in the composition of letters of vital importance to sovereigns, statesmen and generals including Tsar Alexander I of Russia, the Duke of Wellington and even Napoleon’s marshal Ney. It is likely to have been present when Castlereagh interviewed Nelson before the Admiral’s departure for the Battle of Trafalgar and used to compose letters to the Duke of Wellington ahead of the Battle of Waterloo.
Who was Viscount Castlereagh?
Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh and later 2nd Marquess of Londonderry, was born in Dublin in 1769 and spent his youth at the Stewart family home at Mount Stewart, inheriting the estate himself in 1821. He embarked on a political career, representing County Down in the House of Commons in Dublin, before being elected to the House of Commons in London in 1794. This same year he married Lady Amelia Hobart who he remained close to for the rest of his life.
Four years later he was appointed Chief Secretary of Ireland, in effect the Prime Minister, and the first Irish man to ever hold this position. In post, he was responsible for suppressing the civil disobedience during the 1798 Rebellion, while also commanding the local Militia and defending Ireland against the attempted French invasion. The same role of Chief Secretary saw him steer the Acts of Union through both Dublin and London parliaments, creating the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
His political career continued for the rest of his life, as Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, Leader of the House of Commons and Foreign Secretary. As British Foreign Secretary he brought together a coalition of six European countries that defeated Napoleon and saw him leading the Congress of Vienna that sought to establish long-term peace after 23 years of European war against France.
Home to the Londonderry family for generations, uncover the stories of the people who lived and worked at Mount Stewart
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