A New Coat for Castle Coole

A colourful account on the reopening of Castle Coole, the eighteenth century home in Northern Ireland.

In a few days time an official opening will set the seal on one of the most ambitious and costly building programmes ever undertaken by the National Trust – the renewal and restoration of Castle Coole, the eighteenth-century home of the Earls of Belmore in Northern Ireland.

Nearly £3.5 million has been spent on restoring Castle Coole, the vast majority on an eight-year long programme of stripping and renewing the whole of the house's stone exterior. Rusting of the iron cramps which the architect James Wyatt and builder Alexander Stewart used in the 1790s to clad the house in its Portland Stone façade had led to cracking, discolouration and disintegration of major sections of the wall. The restoration involved master mason Eddie McKibben and his team from County Down in dismantling, replacing the iron with stainless steel ties and cutting nearly two- thirds of the stone afresh from the original Portland quarries. The completed work should safeguard the stone frontage for centuries to come.

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