Project update – Turning the Chapel into a giant storage area

Monday 20 August 2012

Things are moving on now at an ever increasing pace; the phase ‘getting ready‘ is almost complete. I can say a lot of head scratching has been done because of the structural problems we have uncovered.

However during this stage while opening up floors we made some very interesting discoveries. The newspaper mentioned in a previous blog post gave us dates; whilst the bones of the different animals found in the same room gave us an insight to the culinary tastes of workmen in 1912! The bones when analysed where found to be from different animals including sheep, geese, rabbit and chicken.

At the moment we, the project joinery team, are in the chapel erecting three floors of studwork. The work being carried out by us in the chapel is to provide an area in which the project conservator can store items such as; furniture, curtains and carpets from the various rooms while the work is carried out in them. All the rooms in the house are full with furniture and family memorabilia, all of which are very important to the property and need very careful storing and maintenance. Unfortunately for the project conservator, this makes her life here in Mount Stewart that little bit more complicated.

We have been working steadily and progress has been coming on well. Although we all (and I personally), miss our project apprentice joiner Callum while he is away on his trip to China.

As you would be aware the Chapel is out of bounds to the public for sensible health and safety reasons while the construction work is under way. I have included a few photos of the building work so you can see what is happening. Also the whole building works has been filmed using a time lapse camera and I for one can’t wait to see the footage!

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Keep watching this space!

David

(Project Joiner)

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Kicking off the restoration project

Welcome to the first blog post of the Mount Stewart Restoration Project!

Visitors today will see a magnificent house in need of some serious ‘TLC’.

The house was given to the National Trust by Lady Mairi Bury in 1976 and some remedial works were undertaken in the 1980’s. Lady Mairi Bury, remained in residence until her death in November 2009. In her later years she was in failing health and therefore, very little, in the way of essential maintenance, was carried out because she would not have been able to tolerate such disruption. Her daughter, Lady Rose Lauritzen, is the current donor family representative and is an invaluable source of information. Lady Rose will be keeping a very close eye on what we are doing.

Now we have a situation where the drainage system is failing, there is serious cracking to walls, ceilings and archways and the house requires a new conservation heating system and completely rewiring. If this is not enough we really need to lift the presentation of the house away from the current ‘shabby chic’ to a more vibrant look and feel as it would have been in the halcyon days when Mount Stewart was a place of high society and ‘the place to be seen’.

So, a lot of work to do. It has always been my belief that projects are about people, get the right people, keep them motivated and invariably you will get a good result.

We have gathered a really good team together at Mount Stewart to deliver this complicated project and you will be hearing from them through the blog as the project progresses.

The total cost of all of the works is in the region of £6 million. We have a team of expert engineers and architects who are currently designing solutions to the problems.

Visitors will be able to get up close to the works when we start in the Autumn. The house will be closed for parts of the winter and reopen Spring 2013 when the works will be in full swing. This is great opportunity to see ‘conservation in action’ and members of the National Trust will be able to appreciate why their membership subscriptions are so important in preserving the country’s heritage.

Dennis Wright

Senior Project Manger