Construction Students Go ‘Behind the Scenes’ at Mount Stewart

Construction students from the South Eastern Regional College (SERC) recently joined our Project joiner, David for a behind the scenes tour of Mount Stewart to gain an insight into the conservation work currently going on in the house.


Volunteer Internship vacancy

Property: Mount Stewart

Region: Northern Ireland

Salary: Voluntary internship (agreed out of pocket expenses paid; accommodation provided)

Hours: 30 hours over the week as agreed

Working Pattern: Internship for 6 months

About the role

This is an opportunity to live on the Mount Stewart estate and play an integral role in one of the National Trust’s largest conservation/building/re-servicing projects.

You will assist the Project Conservator and House team in all aspects of packing, protecting and cataloging the historic collection while building works are being carried out. Also, helping to communicate our work to the public by creating exciting interpretation and giving talks and demonstrations.

You will lead on projects agreed with the Project Conservator in storage management, volunteer management and packing and protection.

The work will be challenging and fast paced with unparalleled access to rooms and collections not previously seen by the public.

You will work alongside key National Trust and external specialists and assist with in-situ conservation work

This first hand experience, coupled with the Trust’s commitment to provide relevant support and development opportunities will provide a fantastic stepping stone into your professional career in preventive conservation and management of historic collections.

About you

This will suit someone who:

  • Is planning a career in the museum/conservation sector and needs to build skills, experience and connections.
  • Has an interest in caring for historic objects and buildings and enjoy engaging with the visiting public
  • Confident leading a volunteer team of mixed age groups
  • Has an ability to follow instructions and work well as a team but is also self motivated, able to use their own initiative and motivate others
  • Displays good manual dexterity and observational skills
  • Capable of prioritising the use of limited resources
  • Has working knowledge of Microsoft Office applications and working with databases

What is a National Trust Internship?

Our internships are volunteer roles that give you the chance to gain work experience across different areas of the National Trust. As you’ll be attached to a particular project or area of work, you’ll be able to develop your skills and experience in that area. We’re committed to supporting the personal development of volunteers on our internships, and recognise how important work experience is to career development.

About us

Here at the National Trust, we want even more people to enjoy our extraordinary places. We want people of all ages and backgrounds to get involved with them, be inspired by them, and love them as much as we do. That’s why we’ve put some bold ambitions in place. We want everyone in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to feel like a member of the National Trust and, by 2020, we want to have grown our membership to more than five million.

About Mount Stewart and the Project

Home of the Marquesses of Londonderry, the earliest parts of Mount Stewart house date to the late 18th century. The house was greatly enlarged in the 1840s. The glorious garden was given to the National Trust in 1955 by Edith, Lady Londonderry, and is one of the most significant in its care. Her daughter Lady Mairi Bury donated the house in 1976, and continued to live at Mount Stewart until her death in 2009. Lady Rose Lauritzen, her daughter, now lives for part of the year at Mount Stewart.

The house has embarked on a three-year project which will involve important conservation work to the Grade A listed building.
The work includes important repairs and improvements to the structure and services in the house. Alongside this a program of conservation and research will help see the house, its contents and stories restored and brought back to life.

As a National Trust top priority project the £6m investment will help us to bring Edith, Lady Londonderry’s vision back to life and we will be keeping the house open so that our visitors can watch the work in progress.


To apply, please send your CV and covering letter to outlining:

  • Why you would like to be involved with the conservation work of the National Trust and Mount Stewart in particular?
  • What experience, knowledge and skills make you the best candidate for the internship?
  • What you’d hope to give to the project and gain form The National Trust in your time with us at Mount Stewart?

Closing date: 12th Feb 2013. Interview date:  21st February 2013.

Contact Name: Sandra McMullan

Contact Email:

Contact Phone Number: 02897512346

A closer look at the drawer fronts

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We have now got the space and time to get ‘stuck’ into the repairing of the drawers, shutter doors and top panel to the window in the pantry.

If you can remember, I recently sent a blog to be posted on the removal of the pantry panel and drawers to our brilliant Lyndsey Colgan who is our web editor amongst other roles.

Well I just thought as I have all the mentioned items on the bench and the timber has arrived I would just keep you all posted.

Trevor and Callum have started on the shutter doors and the top panel has had its very bad scrapes fixed.

I have included some photos of the drawers showing their sorry state.

Bye for now, must crack on!


Lifting the Saloon floor

Hello all!

This time as the title suggests we are lifting the floor in the room called the Saloon.

This room is a fantastic room; it is the room which in prior times held all the socialising the Vane Tempest Stewart family did. Just think, this room has had grace it the feet of Kings, Queens, Winston Churchill, Foreign dignitaries and myself! (Sorry I had to put that in). A thing also to remember is that the affairs of state and country would also have been discussed within its walls.

The reason we have to take this floor up is so that the contractors can fit insulation and also under floor heating.

Structurally the room has not many issues other than its ceiling which has a crack running just above the chandelier. This crack has already been investigated, as this is a blog about the floor I will leave that subject for another time.

The floor is itself is a beautiful floor being laid in 4 sections which radiate from the centre of the room.

The floor boards are oak, but particularly quarter sawn. Oak that is quarter sawn is particularly beautiful due to the boards showing the medullary rays.


We started the lifting the floor just after we came back from our holidays at Christmas time. I must admit I had some nervous moments just thinking about lifting it!

Some of you who are joinery or DIY minded will be thinking this man is a big woose! But just wait until I show you why!

IMG_2 with arrow

The boards have a fixing every 6 inches, now that’s something else.  I was afraid that the pressure needed to separate the boards would be too much and thus damage the boards so badly that we would not be able to lift the floor without major intervention.

Thankfully in the past some boards were removed to facilitate the fitting of electrical cables. These electricians had done us a huge favour in that they provided a ‘way’ into the floor. Once we had a row of boards up it was just a matter of prizing them apart from each other.


With things being so busy and the joinery team here operating on a never have a minute basis, H&J Martins were only too glad to lend a hand and give us two joiners to help us which in turn gave the two men experience in lifting this floor.


So we all got stuck in! And we got half the floor up in 3 ½ days. Brilliant!

IMG _5

I remember Lady Rose jokingly mention to me some time ago when she spotted me lifting floor boards that, ‘If I ever find any jewellery or money which has dropped through the cracks, it still belongs to the family.” Needless to say I was very disappointed as I was going to operate under a finders keepers basis!

Very quickly we found some interesting things and found a massive sum of money! Twenty pence!

However we did find a very old shoe, mouldings which were fragments from the plaster moulding around the ceiling, sea shells and a dead mouse!

As this floor is a very historic floor we invited the National Trust’s archaeologist, the brilliant Malachy Conway, down to Mount Stewart.


When one talks to Mal you can see very clearly he loves his job and is also very good at it too. So on seeing the floor his eyes lit up on seeing such a treasure trove of history and so began furiously to dig into the rubble. He quickly unearthed some artefacts and after an hour or so of fanatical archaeology, he had to be calmed down with a stiff drink of tea!

IMG_7 IMG_8 IMG_9 IMG_10

We also had to build a rack for storing the boards until we lay them again. All the boards are numbered and kept in their rows. We had to stack them in the room because the room has the right atmosphere to keep the boards from taking on moisture.


Well folks I will let you know when we have finished the floor and hopefully we will yet find something special.