Mount Stuart
Mount Stuart
A exquisite Victorian Gothic mansion built in 1880 by Sir Robert Anderson for the 3rd Marquess of Bute. The Marquess wanted a house that expressed his recent conversion to the Catholic faith, and the house combined Venetian style with Gothic ideals, creating a very Victorian vision in red sandstone.
The interiors are superb, centred around a fabulous great hall. The other high point is the superb chapel, a symphony of white marble. The interior chambers feature rich decoration, and a collection of historic paintings, with works by Reynolds, Ramsay, and Thomas Gainsborough. Throughout the house are religious and astrological symbols meant to express the 3rd Marquess's philosophy.

There was a Mount Stewart House before the present building. The previous Mount Stewart was designed in the early 18th century. This was destroyed by fire in 1887, providing the opportunity for the Marquis of Bute to create a new house that better expressed his artistic and religious ideals.

Major Rooms
The major rooms of Mount Stewart include the stupendous Marble Hall. This extraordinary chamber rises 80 feet to a domed ceiling, where glittering stones map the stars in the heavens. Stained glass windows around the dome depict astrological signs. The hall was designed to impress, and to convey a sense of mystery and mysticism.

The house from the gardens
The house from the gardens
The Dining Room features fireplaces rescued from the original Mount Stewart house, and serves as a showcase for a superb set of 18th century portraits. The Marble staircase features Biblical wall paintings and heraldic stained glass windows.

High above, the vaulted ceiling glitters with stars. The 3rd Marquess's fascination with astrology is encountered once again in the Horoscope Room, which served his sitting room. Here, the ceiling is painted with astrological symbols depicting the position of the planets at the moment of his birth.

Further noteworthy rooms on view include the Purple Library, Lady Bute's Room, the Drawing Room, and the Marble Chapel, which we've already mentioned. Taken as a whole, the interior of Mount Stewart is an enormously satisfying place to visit, an extraordinary testament to one man's unique vision.

The house stands in 300 acres of woodland, parkland, and formal gardens. Within the gardens is a kitchen garden designed by Rosemary Verney, a Victorian pinetum, rockery, arboretum, and exotic garden.

Editor's note: I've never been a big fan of Victorian Gothic, usually finding it too sterile for my tastes. However, I have to say that Mount Stewart is a marvellous place to visit. The house is extraordinary, and the gardens provide plenty of variety and wonderful walks. You WILL enjoy yourself! I certainly did, and would happily visit again.