Document of the month

Document of the month celebrates archival documents within the PRONI collections that are particularly unusual or that tie in to notable dates in the calendar.

June 2017: PRONI ‘digs out’ Rose Garden archive

PRONI's Document of the Month for June has a gardening theme.

The document is a letter from The Londonderry Papers (D3099) that were purchased by PRONI in 2013. The letter dates from 19 January 1938 and was written by Edith, Lady Londonderry to G. Beckwith and Son nursery in Herts. The letter states that Lady Londonderry is ‘making a new rose-garden’ and lists species of roses she wishes to order for the garden, and her reasons for the choices. (PRONI reference D3099/11/46/2/2)

Lynsey Gillespie, a member of Private Records staff at PRONI, said:

“I selected this document for June because of how useful it has been to the staff at Mount Stewart as they work on a project to restore the walled rose garden at Mount Stewart.

Head gardener Neil Porteous began visiting PRONI as we catalogued the estate files and from the detail of this letter was able to write the brief for the Rose Garden project at Mount Stewart. Neil said it was like Lady Edith was speaking directly to them about what she wanted and therefore Neil was able to quote her own words in his brief almost 80 years later.”

PRONI have been cataloguing the estate files of Mount Stewart that make up part of the Londonderry papers (D3099, purchased by PRONI in 2013) and working with the National Trust (namely Neil Porteus, Head Gardener) to make them available to staff working on the estate at Mount Stewart. Neil Porteus informed PRONI ‘What is lovely about the document is that Edith speaks directly, telling the recipient what she likes, scent being her chief consideration. How she likes the old fashioned Roses, but also the best of the modern fragrant sorts. So, I was able to quote Edith, based on this document to inform the brief for the Rose Garden Project. A perfect discovery!’.

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