Mount Stewart returned to its former splendour

Hambletonian in new frame
Hambletonian in new frame

For centuries it has played host to kings, queens, prime ministers and renowned poets, now one of Northern Ireland’s most impressive stately homes has been restored to its former glory and will fully reopen to the public.

Set in an idyllic location on the shores of Strangford Lough, Mount Stewart has undergone an £8million restoration project and will have many previously unseen rooms and items on display to visitors.

Central Hall at Mount Stewart

Central Hall at Mount Stewart

The sprawling National Trust property will be open from Monday onwards - including the butler’s silver store, family and guest bedrooms, the billiards room where guests such as Sir Edward Carson and the future King George VI would have been entertained.

Prior to the outbreak of World War Two, German ambassador to London, Joachim von Ribbentrop, also enjoyed the hospitality of the Marquess of Londonderry at Mount Stewart. Poet WB Yeats was another friend of the marquess.

As well as the work to restore various items of historical interest, the structure of the building has also been upgraded and is now sound. Improvements included a more efficient and environmentally friendly heating system. Almost every room in the grand house has been redecorated following extensive repairs to the plasterwork.

Mount Stewart manager Jon Kerr, said the restoration project is the “National Trust’s most significant investment in Northern Ireland in quite some time”.

It has been a hugely exciting project that brings this family home back to its former glory

Jon Kerr - Mount Stewart manager

He said: “We are also pleased to announce that a large collection of internationally significant items can now be viewed here, on loan from the Estate of the Marquess of Londonderry.

“You would have to travel to a major art gallery to see something of this quality. Previously wew had one or two really important paintings and some very nice pieces of furniture, now every single room has things that are exceptional.

“Combined with one of the top gardens in the world, we have a destination which offers a fascinating insight in to the stories of the Stewart family.”

Heather Thompson, of the National Trust said: “As a conservation charity we passionately believe in protecting our unique heritage while providing even more access to our visitors and supporters. We expect to welcome even more visitors to this very special place over the coming years.”

Callum McCaffrey apprentice joiner at Mount Stewart

Callum McCaffrey apprentice joiner at Mount Stewart

A particular highlight of the collection is one of the Province’s most celebrated paintings - Stubbs’ ‘Hambletonian, Rubbing Down’ - which has been given a new frame and now hangs proudly above one of the ornate staircases. Hambletonian was one of the most successful racehorses of the late 18th century, winning all of his races, except one.

Opening hour are 11am - 5pm daily, including Sunday. Last admission to house is 4.30pm.