Northern Ireland

Mount Stewart estate land bought by National Trust

Mount Stewart
Image caption Land surrounding Mount Stewart stately home has been bought by the National Trust

The National Trust has bought 900 acres of land surrounding the historic Mount Stewart house and gardens in County Down at a cost of £4m.

The deal, which follows years of negotiations with the estate of the late Lady Mairi Bury, will increase the size of the attraction ten-fold.

It will lead to the opening up of 20 miles of walking trails, as well as the restoration of Georgian buildings.

It comes as a £7.5m project to restore the stately home nears completion.

Image caption National Trust previously owned the area shaded pink, but has since bought the entire outlined area

'Opportunity'

The trust hopes the renovation, together with the land purchase, will boost annual visitor numbers from 160,000 to 250,000.

The charity has acquired rolling parkland and woodland which make up the historic demesne of the famous house and gardens near the shore of Strangford Lough.

Image caption The walled garden is part of the new purchase and will be restored to its former glories
Image caption This is what the rose garden looked like circa 1960

The purchase reunites the house with its demesne, decades after the gardens and house were gifted to the National Trust.

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Media captionJon Kerr said the public would be able to explore more of the woodland and unseen areas

Lady Bury, who died in 2009, was the youngest daughter of the 7th Marquess of Londonderry. The family had owned Mount Stewart since 1740.

Jon Kerr, the trust manager at Mount Stewart, said: "In time, visitors will be able to explore extensive woodland, previously unseen walled gardens, farmland and a range of historic monuments and buildings."

The trust said if it had not bought the land, there was the prospect of development activity.

"At a number of points, we were not sure we were going to be successful," said Mr Kerr.

"We just could not miss the opportunity to secure it for the people of Northern Ireland."

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