Belfast Telegraph

Historic Mount Stewart library gets an extended shelf life

By Linda Stewart

It's symbolic of the power and influence of one family over two centuries.

 Now the important library at Mount Stewart collected by the Londonderry family has been safeguarded after the National Trust secured almost £100,000 in funding. The library will now remain at Mount Stewart after the National Trust bought it from the estate of the late Lady Mairi Bury.

The books can be appreciated in their original setting when the Mount Stewart House fully reopens in 2015 after a significant £7.1million restoration project.

Among the treasures in the library are "A history of the English speaking peoples' by Winston Churchill and signed copies of books by WB Yeats and George Bernard Shaw.

Jon Kerr, general manager at Mount Stewart, said: "The library gives a unique insight into the reading and book-buying habits of a powerful and influential family from the 18th to the 20th century. It is possible through the books to trace the history of this famous house and its owners including Edith, Marchioness of Londonderry, who created the famous gardens.

"The library contains thousands of books on a wide range of subjects, ranging from Lady Londonderry's truly magnificent collection of Irish books and her many books on gardening, architecture, archaeology and mythology which clearly relate to the creation of the inspirational garden you can see today at Mount Stewart."

The National Trust plans to fully catalogue the collection, placing the information online, and to explain and interpret the collection through regular exhibitions at the house.

Sean Sawyer, executive director of The Royal Oak Foundation, a principal funder of the project, said: "The Mount Stewart Library contains a wide range of important books that would not normally be available through public collections in Northern Ireland.

In 2012, the National Trust embarked on a £7m conservation project at Mount Stewart House which will secure the legacy of this special building for future generations and bring back the charm of the house when it was home of the 7th Marchioness Edith, Lady Londonderry and her family in the early 20th century.

BACKGROUND

Mount Stewart is an 18th-century house and garden in County Down, Northern Ireland, owned by the National Trust. Situated on the east shore of Strangford Lough near Greyabbey, it was the Irish seat of the Vane-Tempest-Stewart family, Marquesses of Londonderry.

The house and its contents reflect the history of the Vane-Tempest-Stewart family, who played a leading role in British and Irish social and political life.

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