This lovely tour takes you to the wonderful National Trust Properties of Mount Stewart House and Gardens, the finest in Northern Ireland.
Boarding your coach at the pier, it's a lovely 1-hour scenic coach ride to Mount Stewart. This elegant estate has been the home of the Londonderry family since the early 18th century and as Lord Castlereagh's house, has played host to many prominent political figures. Designed by George Dance, surveyor to the City of London, and architect of Newgate Prison, the home is full of memorabilia of the best known of the Stewarts - Robert Viscount Castlereagh, War Minister and Foreign Secretary throughout much of the Napoleonic Wars. The 22 chairs he brought back from the Congress at Vienna in 1814 are now in the dining room, while the Castlereagh Room contains portraits of the viscount and many of his papers, including correspondence with Nelson and Wellington. There is also some fine furniture, porcelain and paintings, including one by Stubbs of the racehorse Hambletonian. As you enjoy your guided tour of this wonderful house, your local guide helps to bring the past back to life with a fascinating account of the home's history. The profusion of astrological designs, stained glass and marble is simply breathtaking, and all combine to envelop the visitor in the mystique and character of this grand house.
Moving outside, your tour continues in the gardens. These magnificent gardens that were first planted in the 1920s have made Mount Stewart famous and earned it a World Heritage Site nomination. It was Edith, Lady Londonderry, who first created the gardens starting in 1921. A magnificent collection of exceptional trees and rare shrubs from all over the world flourish here in the gardens of Mount Stewart. The gardens also contain an unrivalled collection of unique and unusual plants, colorful parterres and marvelous formal and informal vistas. To the south of the house lies the secluded wee garden, to the north, a Victorian kitchen garden, which was recently recreated, and replanted. This garden includes a large octagonal glass pavilion, which is currently undergoing an ambitious planting project to recreate a microcosm consisting of montane and rainforest material from Borneo and Papua New Guinea. Adjacent to the kitchen garden lies the mature Victorian Pinetum of North American conifers, and beyond that, a newly planted Arboretum has been divided into sub-units representing each of the main regions of the world. As you stroll through these superb gardens you will have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the aroma and vibrant colors of this wonderful, tranquil place.
At the conclusion of you visit, you will re-join your coach for the return to Belfast Port and your awaiting ship.
Please note: This tour includes approximately 2 hours of walking and 20 stairs inside the home. The upper floors of the home are inaccessible to wheelchairs and therefore, the tour may not be suitable for wheelchair guests. Those guests with mobility concerns are cautioned to evaluate their personal level of stamina and ability. Weather appropriate clothing and flat, comfortable walking shoes are suggested. Guests should be prepared for the possibility of rain. The order of sites visited may vary.