Northern Ireland

Mount Stewart Lady Mairi Bury fountain restored

Image caption The fountain was commissioned in 1925 by Lady Mairi Bury's father, the 7th Marquess of Londonderry

A specially crafted bronze fountain in the grounds of Mount Stewart on the Ards Peninsula has been restored.

It is more than 80 years old and was modelled on the late Lady Mairi Bury when she was a toddler.

The bronze statue is around two feet tall and has a number of water jets radiating from it.

The head gardener of the National Trust property, Neil Porteous, said it was commissioned in 1925 and put in place three years later.

"The gardeners built the plinth around which has 'Mary Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow'.

"It's perfect for kids to play in."

Lady Mairi, daughter of the 7th Marquess of Londonderry, died at Mount Stewart at the age of 88 in 2009.

Mr Porteous said much fun could be had when the jets in the fountain are turned up in warmer weather.

"With the spring we have been having, people would be getting hypothermia if they got wet, but you can turn it right up on a sunny day just for a bit of fun," he said.

Sculptor

Lady Mairi's father Lord Londonderry commissioned the famous sculptor Margaret Wrightson to design the work.

Mr Porteous said her sculptures can be seen at locations all over the world, including Hyde Park in London.

Image caption The water flow can be turned up in warmer weather for children to play in

"She was very prolific in between 1920 and 1945, it was only in 1976 that she died at a good old age," he said.

"The family commisioned her for other pieces for her too, so she was a sort of in-house sculptor."

The fountain is rarely turned on, but Mr Porteous said it would be in full flow on Saturday during the annual craft fair.

"It is very exciting, as it just gives a bit of animation and cuts out some of the traffic noise," he said.

"I think it is a lovely thing to have everything working in a garden, as it should do."

Volunteer John Graham sums up the piece of art beautifully.

"She is absolutely brilliant - a lovely object and very peaceful, but mischievous as well," he said.

"She reminds me of my granddaughter."

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