Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Mt Stewart Pool: Part Two

I spoke to Richard on the blower last night - he is a volunteer friend whom I've worked with since the mid-eighties when we restored the swimming-pool at Mount Stewart in County Down - and he provided me with a few fascinating anecdotes about the pool.

It appears that the pool and its environs became frequented by drug users, among others; several claims were made at the time for, presumably, personal injuries; and the owner, Lady Mairi, felt compelled to act by the eradication of the problem. Mount Stewart House and Gardens belong to the National Trust; Lady Mairi owned the pool.

The pool was filled in, I am told, with sand. There were a number of stone features, including large birds resembling swans. These features were saved and, quite possibly, they may be on display at Mount Stewart itself where the new outdoor café now operates.

Richard reminded me that we worked on the swimming-pool project until 1990 or 1991. I thought we'd worked there about the mid-eighties. No matter. I do, however, recall a barbecue party and treasure hunt we had at the pool to celebrate its restoration.

Richard told me that a photograph existed somewhere of Sir Winston Churchill floating in the pool on a lilo. Apparently, when the pool was built during the 1930s, Lady Londonderry enlisted the help of army soldiers in its construction.

Edith, Lady Londonderry was Lady Mairi's mother. She died at her beloved Mount Stewart in 1959; and she was buried beside her husband Charles, the 7th marquess, at the family burial ground above the Lake.

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