To the Manor Born!

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I have had a life long ‘love affair’ with Mount Stewart, a National Trust property just outside of Newtownards, Co. Down. One of my earliest memories is being in the entrance hall (see below) and asking the guides lots of questions. Once a history enthusiast, always a history enthusiast.

Mount Stewart, is the ancestral seat of the Londonderry family, or the Marquis of Londonderry. I have always loved this house, above all other National Trust properties. I am fortunate enough that I am able to volunteer on a regular basis at the house. I am part of the Conservation Project team, creating a ‘renaissance’ of the house and it’s environs.

My job is to help the conservation team pack, archive and store historical objects that are within the house. I must say, it is one of the most enjoyable volunteering experiences I have ever had the pleasure of undertaking!

Mount Stewart, is the ancestral seat of the Londonderry family, or the Marquis of Londonderry. I have always loved this house, above all other National Trust properties. I am fortunate enough that I am able to volunteer on a regular basis at the house. I am part of the Conservation Project team, creating a ‘renaissance’ of the house and it’s environs.

I am even more fascinated by the last Marchioness of Londonderry, who lived in the house. Namely, Lady Edith Vane-Tempest-Stewart. Lady Edith, created the now world famous gardens that people travel from far and near to visit. This is Lady Edith, she was considered a beauty in her day.

NPG x49102; Lady Helen Maglona Walsh (nÈe Vane-Tempest-Stewart); Edith Helen (nÈe Chaplin), Marchioness of Londonderry; Lady Margaret Frances Anne Vane-Tempest-Stewart by Lafayette (Lafayette Ltd)

Photo is of Lady Londonderry, and two of her four daughters. Photo courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, London.

Lady Edith, is also responsible for the ‘modernization’ of the house in the 1920’s, installing ‘comforts’ such as electric lighting and plumbing. 

She was a trailblazer for her time, when women were still seen to matriarch’s for the home and hearth. She became the first ‘Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire,’ military division for her work as Colonel-in-Chief of the Women’s Volunteer Reserve during WW1 (1914-1918).

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Lady Edith, was also a supporter of women’s suffrage, as was her husband Lord Londonderry. This was in strong opposition to the Unionist Party, that they both supported. In 1910, Lord Londonderry is even reported to urged the government to push forward with a women’s suffrage bill. I like to think that it was his wife’s influence and interest in the topic that persuaded him to pursue the cause of women’s suffrage!

Little more is known about Lady Edith’s foray into women’s suffrage politics, but her influence throughout Mount Stewart can still be felt to this day. From the gardens to the interior décor, she had impeccable taste for fine and exquisite items of furniture, paintings, curtains etc. For example, her sitting room below.

 

Mount Stewart House & Gardens, really has to be experienced to be believed-it’s that wonderful! I may just be biased but it is a brilliant house and what better way to find out more about the interesting Lady Edith Londonderry than by visiting her actual house!

Just a quick side note, Mount Stewart are currently looking for volunteers to help with their Conservation Project, which is an ongoing project. It’s a great way to gain new skills & meet new people! And work in a wonderful work place!

 

 

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