Change is very much in the air. The National Trust has launched a series of ‘transformation projects’, which aim to enhance appreciation of its major properties. The Trust has never been shy of challenges. In the 1970s, after Erddig had been rescued from mining subsidence, innovative interpretation required visitors to enter the house not through the front door but via the estate buildings and servants’ quarters. The restoration of Uppark following the fire of 1989 won the property the Museum of the Year Award in 1995. At Petworth, 10 years of work made the house more redolent of its ‘golden age’ during the third Earl of Egremont’s patronage of J.M.W. Turner, whose landscapes were returned in 2002 to their original places in Grinling Gibbons’s Carved Room. Very recently, at Ickworth, the second Earl of Bristol’s lavish collection of ambassadorial silver has been redisplayed; at Kedleston the State Apartment has been returned to the grandeur devised by Adam and his patron; and at Attingham, Nash’s top-lit Picture Gallery has been restored.
Such imaginative enlivenment of the Trust’s properties and collections – the greatest of their kind in the world – depends upon thorough research and understanding of the spirit of each place and of the patronage, collecting, and personalities of those who lived there. Much has been published by the Trust, while National Trust Collections online now has a million catalogue entries. Research should have outcomes in terms of what people see when they visit, and in terms of a permanent record. Helen Ghosh, the Trust’s Director-General, recently affirmed that ‘Scholarship is at the heart of all we do’. Essential to this are the Trust’s partnerships with publishers and institutions, such as the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, Yale University Press, Philip Wilson, and Paul Holberton.
Our association with Apollo is 24 years old. This year’s Historic Houses & Collections Annual – which sees a facelift of the cover and of the interior layout – focuses on Mount Stewart, Northern Ireland’s most visited historic house property, picturesquely placed on the shore of Strangford Lough, north-east of Belfast. A comprehensive restoration, together with the serendipitous return to the house of many outstanding works of art, have made Mount Stewart more exciting than it has ever been. Its rich veins of history and art are international. Castlereagh, a world-renowned figure, put his stamp on the place. With the advice and help of Rose and Peter Lauritzen and with the generosity of the Marquess of Londonderry, his trustees, and the Lauritzen Family Foundation, Mount Stewart’s magnificent legacy – both indoors and out – has been enhanced by the National Trust. Transformation is an understatement.
Christopher Rowell is Furniture Curator of the National Trust.
cover image Lady Frances Anne Emily VaneTempest, Marchioness of Londonderry and her Son, Viscount Seaham (detail), c. 1827–28, Sir Thomas Lawrence PRA (1769–1830), oil on canvas, 269.2 x 177.8cm, Mount Stewart, County Down Photo: © Trustees of the Londonderry Estate/Bryan Rutledge for the national trust editors Frances Bailey and Christopher Rowell managing editor Claire Forbes for apollo editor Thomas Marks managing editor Imelda Barnard sub-editors David Gelber and Fatema Ahmed designers Tom Lobo Brennan and Will Martin editorial assistant Gurnesha Bola historic houses and collections annual 3
4 ... MEMORIES OF MOUNT STEWART LADY ROSE LAURITZEN remembers a happy childhood at Mount Stewart
6 ... TRANSFORMATION AND RESURRECTION FRANCES BAILEY reflects on Mount Stewart’s recent restoration project in light of other changes made to the house over the years
14 ... THE MARQUESSES OF LONDONDERRYAT MOUNT STEWART PETER LAURITZEN recounts the family’s history and its many achievements
21 ... THE CONGRESS OF VIENNA AND ITS LEGACY CHRISTOPHER ROWELL and WOLF BURCHARD argue that the Stewart family’s patronage and collecting was significant during its distinguished contribution to European diplomacy
30 ... A HISTORY OF CHANGE FRANCES BAILEY and TINA SITWELL on George Stubbs’s reframed image of Hambletonian
32 ... SIR THOMAS LAWRENCE AND MOUNT STEWART DAVID TAYLOR considers Sir Thomas Lawrence’s portraits of the Stewart family, which can now be seen together for the first time
40 ... DAZZLING ACROSS EUROPE JAMES ROTHWELL examines one of the most important collections of silver in Ireland
46 ... THE ALLACH STANDARD BEARER EDMUND DE WAAL on a porcelain statuette seen on a mantelpiece at Mount Stewart
48 ... ‘THE LIBRARIAN WHEREOF THE LIBRARY IS DECEIT’ ED POTTEN considers what a set of false book spines at Mount Stewart tells us about the cultural and social context in which they were produced
56 ... MOUNT STEWART AND ITS MATRIARCHS NEIL WATT on Mount Stewart’s formative female figures
61 ... THE GENIUS OF THE PLACE NEIL PORTEOUS looks at the exceptional formal gardens that Edith, Lady Londonderry designed at Mount Stewart