Saturday, 23 January 2010

Lady Mairi Bury JP, 1921-2009

I must write a few words about the memorial service for Lady Mairi Bury, while everything is still fresh in my mind.

I thought it was very well done indeed. St Mark's Church in Newtownards was full. The first thing to catch my eye, as I entered the church, was the Londonderry coat-of-arms above the porch. The Londonderry family were patrons of St Mark's, to the extent that they had owned the land; provided the land for its erection; paid a substantial amount of funds towards its construction; and, what is now the Baptistry in the South Aisle was formerly the Londonderry private pew.

The Service was excellent, I thought. The Rev Canon Kenneth Smyth, and his assistant whose name escapes me, gave an interesting sermon about the Londonderry family's connection with Newtownards and St Mark's; and his assistant told us a bit about Lady Mairi's life and interests, including philately and flying.

Lady Mairi's son-in-law, Mr Peter Lauritzen, then walked up to the pulpit and provided us with a splendid eulogy; very well done indeed.

I was seated in the middle of the nave, a few rows behind the Family. I chatted at length to the tall, thinnish chap beside me and I'm afraid I didn't catch his name; for we shared an interest in heritage and old churches. I said hello to Dr Anthony Malcolmson, who was sitting just along from me; and he reminded me that his Brackenber school-days were c. 1958!

I noticed a few people there, viz. the Duke of Abercorn; Lord Rathcavan; Lady Dufferin; and, of course, members of the Londonderry family circle of whom I really only recognized Robin Birley, one of Lady Annabel's sons.


James McClements said...


Unfortunately I didn't see you! That was indeed Lady Dunleath in the dark glasses. I live in Portavogie and see her quite often when I attend Church with my Aunt in Holy Trinity, Ballywalter where Dorinda is on the Select Vestry, she is also an old family friend.

The Service this morning was a unique occasion for Newtownards and I was so pleased to be able to be there. The Church is looking really well after its recent renovations and Canon Smyth's summary of the Londonderry conection was very imformative and interesting.

I also noted the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Ards were present.

Lady Mairi was the last of her era from the upper echelons of society in Ulster and the turnout today was a real testament to her popularity and her devotion to the people of the Province.

Anyway such a lovely service and as I said lovely to have been present.

Best wishes,


Timothy Belmont said...

I fondly recall her late husband, the 4th Baron. Those were the days, indeed. I'd like to meet Dorinda Dunleath; the "move" from the big house must have been difficult, I imagine, under the circumstances.

There used to be a lovely series on concerts called "Music in May", partly organized by the 4th Lord Dunleath since, as you'll know, one of his passions was the organ; and we had recital in Ballywalter parish church, followed by a reception at Ballywalter Park.

Those were the days, indeed.

Unknown said...

Thank you for this post, I'm delighted to hear there was such a good turnout. I only regret I wasn't able to attend myself, I took tours of Mount Stewart for several summers and have a great fondness for the place.

I was particularly delighted that Robin Birley attended. I wonder was his uncle the present Marquess of Londonderry also present?

How splendid it would have been if Robin had stayed at Mount Stewart on his visit, to have visited the ancestral pile.

Timothy Belmont said...

Not at all! One always endeavours to provide satisfaction, as they say.

Robin Birley was wearing a mid-grey suit and, I believe, the family circle lunched at Mt Stewart afterwards. Perhaps they did stay on at the House.

I wouldn't recognize the present Lord Londonderry. If I saw a photo of him, I might just be able to know whether he attended.

Jonathan Kennedy said...

By way of an update, I visited Mount Stewart yesterday on the last day the house was open to the public this year.

I'm told that the Marquess of Londonderry did indeed attend the memorial service for Lady Mairi and that he and several members of the family stayed at Mount Stewart. Lord Londonderry was given the Rome bedroom, which incidentally is the only one shown to visitors.

I am also told that Lady Rose Lauritzen has been at Mount Stewart for most of time since her mother died, as there is much to sort out. Her influence is already in evidence in the house, with several new portraits and pictures on display. She has also restored the original dining table to the dining room. This replaces the traditional Irish coffin table, which was certainly a curiosity but was also rather out of proportion to the room.

Timothy Belmont said...


That is very interesting indeed. Many thanks for all the information.