The Sheer Splendor of Mount Stuart
Widely considered to be the most popular visitor attraction on Scotland’s Isle of Bute, the magnificent Victorian Gothic red-stone palace of Mount Stuart offers visitors fascinating insight into the history and people that shaped this ancient stronghold of Scottish kings. In addition to exploring the spectacular palace, visitors can stroll around the 300-acre estate, which boasts superbly landscaped gardens and natural woodlands.
Large sections of the original Mount Stuart were destroyed by fire in December 1877, and John Crichton-Stuart, the 3rd Marquis of Bute, undertook the task of rebuilding the gutted house. Renowned Scottish architect Robert Anderson was commissioned to design the new building, which turned out to be far grander than the original house. Started in 1879, Mount Stuart was a work in progress for 21 years, until the death of the 3rd Marquis. No expense was spared in the construction and finishing off of the new house, and with its majestic marble hall, grandiose chapel, extravagant accommodation and stately reception rooms – all intricately decorated and lavishly furnished – Mount Stuart can rightfully be called a palace. All this splendor has been beautifully preserved for the benefit of visitors today.
The extensive gardens, which were created in 1718, are a botanical wonder that can be enjoyed by visitors today, and the surrounding woodlands remain unspoiled. Additionally, Mount Stuart offers panoramic views of the Firth of Clyde and surrounding areas – truly a scene of tranquility that is appreciated by all who visit.
The modern Visitor’s Center, which was opened in 2001 by Richard Attenborough, provides exquisite views and tasty traditional Scottish fare. The Art Gallery in the center showcases the talent of local and international artists, and the Gift Shop offers a wide variety of mementos to take home. The Garden Center of Mount Stewart has a Victorian kitchen garden in addition to the glasshouses filled with a wide variety of unusual and colorful flowers and plants, which visitors can view and buy.
The Mount Stuart chapel is a popular venue for weddings, and the gardens provide the perfect backdrop for memorable photographs. Mount Stuart also hosts numerous cultural events throughout the year which draw visitors from throughout Scotland and internationally. Clearly, Mount Stuart is far from being just a monument to by-gone days, it is a living legacy – and one well worth visiting.