We’re nearly there now!

It is full steam ahead towards the re-opening of the house on 20 April.

We on the house team are currently spending much of our days cleaning silver, loads of it!

We will have a new and amazing silver display for our visitors to see from next season onwards. Most of it has never been on public display before so it has been kept in a safe for many years and is in need of cleaning.

There are some lovely items amongst it and I’m sure many of our visitors will enjoy looking at it.

We have also been spending time on our knees – scrubbing stone floors.

The Black and White Stone Hall floor was in bad need of some TLC. Tracey, a stone conservator spent a total of four weeks here. Tracey and one of her colleagues spent the first week cleaning the floor, then in the second week she worked with the house team and volunteers showing us how to deep clean the stone. This is a time consuming job with lots of careful scrubbing, then it needs to be well rinsed off and left to dry.

This took us up to Christmas and then Tracey returned in the New Year. Now the floor was finished and she was working on other things, the Chapel ceiling and the alabaster lamps from the Central Hall.

The Chapel ceiling had a few holes that needed filling; this had been done before Christmas by another of Tracey’s colleagues. He worked some of the time from above in the roof space, which meant that he could do a much better and easier job in securing the gaps. He then resurfaced underneath and Tracey finished off by painting, carefully colour matching with the existing ceiling.

The four Central Hall alabaster lamps needed cleaning – a delicate job. I was interested to learn that you do not wash alabaster with water, as this will damage it.

Our friends from Linney Cooper are back again laying carpets and other flooring. There is a new carpet for both the East and West stairs and landings, as well as the first floor corridors connecting them.

We are also getting together the ceramics display ready for the new season. Again there are hundreds of ceramic objects in the house, dinner services, tea services, ornaments, many of which are really lovely and some of which again will be new to public view, so it will take some planning to get it right!

Winter has always been a busy time for National Trust house staff, but not usually quite as frenetic as the current one is at Mount Stewart!



A quick update

Hi folks!

Just thought I would put together a short blog post. As I write this I am thinking it might be better if I keep them short and regular as the delay between posts might not be as long.

Well, this is a brief post to show some of the finer work we have been doing. Patrick and Callum have been working away on repairing the window sashes from Lady Londonderry’s sitting room. These are the windows which date from 1804 and they are in amazing condition. I hope I’m in as good a condition when I’m that age. Although if I am I would probably be as a man once said, ‘I don’t know where I will be then, but I sure won’t smell too good!’

Callum and Patrick have proved they are no dozers when it comes to fine joinery work, I have taught them well! Ha! They say, ‘You have taught us all you know and we still know nothing!’ Oh the cheek!

Anyway! Below are a few snaps and I will (after I stop being in a huff) write a few words of explanation! I can’t guarantee they will be flattering after that insult!

First up the work I did!

Would you guys be quiet! They’re laughing at me saying, ‘What can you show them? Sure you don’t do anything!’

Folks, what you are now about to read is how good managers deal with subordination; ‘Here guys, there’s a penny each, away and phone your friends!’

Folks, in my defence you don’t see me working as it is I who is behind the camera! Showing the world or whoever cares the work these guys do! Ungrateful lot!

Ok, here is the work I did, yes! Me! David! The boss! Yes that’s right you guys, the boss!  Ha! That shut them up!

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This section of the glazing bar had to be replaced as the window has a peculiarity in that the external face of the glazing bars is metal. The problem arose in that oak and any metal which has iron in it will react. The oak will turn black and if water is present the tannic acid will corrode the metal.


Patrick was tasked to replace the rotten meeting rail which you saw in a previous blog and it made sense that he was the best man to replace the section of glazing bar.

Now before Patrick could replace the section of glazing bar, I had to run a new section out on the spindle moulder. Any comments lads? No? That’s good! Anyhow, it was tricky one as I had to make a cutter which means matching the existing profile.

As I was the one machining, no photos could be taken, so you will have to trust me on this!

What I can show you, is Patrick fitting the piece of glazing bar.

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The next photos are the glazing bar fitted. Good job Patrick! See, I don’t hold grudges!

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Now for Callum’s job!

I would just like to point out that I trained Callum! Just pointing that out so in the future when he’s famous which he will be judging by all the attention he gets here I won’t be forgotten. I know what you’re all thinking, and no! I’m not one bit jealous!

These photos and film are of Callum and I making a Pitch Pine dowel. Now this is a secret method so don’t tell anyone!

Oh and sorry about my commentary, as you can appreciate this was extemporaneous so no script was available. I really need a manager, you know that!

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Callum needed to make a new section of a damaged meeting rail. This is tricky as the section he is replacing is bevelled and won’t be the easiest thing to secure as the timber section it is fixed to is not huge. But Callum is as good as any apprentice anywhere in the world, if not better! And was there any doubt in my mind he would not succeed? Don’t be daft! Absolutely not!

The section with masking tape and no, It’s not the method we use to fix timber; it’s just there to hold it in place until the next day or in case Oak stealing fairies are about. I don’t mind them stealing Oak, but if they even think of touching my Pitch Pine I will set traps!

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Trevor and James

James is dong great! He is making steady progress and is showing he can work on his own. He is gaining confidence in his ability and soon will be able to carry out more complicated tasks.

Currently he and Trevor are keeping Lauren happy with the packaging and protection side of things. The most famous painting we have and probably one of the finest paintings in the world, Hambletonian, will be moving soon and I will definitely be a bit greyer by the time he is shifted and safely stored. We have a running joke that if anyone damages the painting they immediately leave the building, drive to Belfast City Airport and buy tickets for Australia!

We have some banter with Lauren. We keep her going that she is never off our backs and we are glad when she is away so we get a break! But as I say we are only jesting! She’s a great girl and it’s a privilege to work with her. She had to adjust very quickly when getting here, as being English she was not tuned into our Ulster ways! Although Lauren did work with some Scottish lads before starting here and she says that that sort of trained her. So there ye go! The Scots are big softies compared to us!

But I still haven’t got that bag of Haribo Super Mix? Hint hint!

It was suggested to me that everyone has seen the team in various blogs and not much, if any, of me. So the photo below is of the finest example of an Ulster man you will ever see! Ha! Who am I kidding you all say, and you are exactly right!

I would also like to point out that when I started here I didn’t have stubble and I had no grey hairs! I’m telling you it’s the stress! One thing that has happen which could be described as good was losing weight, and that’s probably from running around after this lot!

Can I also point out the timbers behind and beside me are Irish Elm, Eastern White Pine, Pitch Pine, Irish Oak, Tulip Wood, Beech…. Oh boy I need to get out more!

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Bye folks, and keep reading the blog posts. I am aiming for this blog to be the most viewed in the National Trust!


New mouldings please! Oh and while you’re at it, fill that crack!

Hello again folks!

This time I want to show you some of the common day things we are doing now. The window shutters belonging to the TV room window arrived at our workshop in need of some repair.

Trevor and Callum started on the new work top for the pantry and while they machined the timber needed, James and I rolled up our sleeves and got stuck into repairing the shutters.

First thing on the list to do was remove some of the mouldings which had warped and others that had come away from the door rails, they had been filled by painters over the years to the point that these mouldings needed to be replaced.

While Callum was proving himself on the machines, this was a good exercise for James to see how mouldings around panels are done and also the traditional way joiners of yesteryear made doors.

I have included a few photos for your perusal and please send in your comments.

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