Stormont Estate: points of interest
Find out about the gardens, trees, statues, memorials and other interesting features on the Stormont Estate.
Prince of Wales Avenue and lime trees
The avenue leading up to Parliament Buildings is lined with 305 red-twigged lime trees which were first planted in the 1920s. They were planted in such a way to give the illusion that the trees are giving the visitor a better view of Parliament Buildings. The Prince of Wales Avenue is commonly known as ‘The Mile’.
Lord Craigavon’s Tomb
James Craig (1871 to 1940) Viscount Craigavon and First Prime Minister of Northern Ireland began his political career in 1903 when he was elected to Westminster as a Unionist MP.
It was between 1912 and 1914 that he rose to prominence as one of the leaders of the unionist anti Home Rule movement.
In 1921 he succeeded Edward Carson as the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party and on 7 June 1921 he was appointed the first Prime Minister of Northern Ireland until his death in 1940.
Lord Craigavon’s tomb is on the east side of Parliament Buildings. Following her death in 1960, Viscountess Craigavon was also interred in the tomb.
One of the most easily recognisable sculptures on the Estate is the imposing Carson’s Statue situated at the roundabout at the top of the Prince of Wales Avenue.
The 12 foot figure stands on a granite plinth to which is attached four bronze plates showing significant events from Lord Carson's political life.
Lord Carson was a barrister, judge and politician and was the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party between 1910 and 1921.
The statue was sculpted by Leonard Standford Merrifield and was unveiled in 1933 with Lord Carson in attendance. He is one of the few non-monarchs to receive a state funeral.
Reconciliation is a sculpture by Josefina de Vasconcellos. Originally created in 1977 and entitled Reunion, it shows a man and woman embracing each other.
It was renamed Reconciliation upon the request of the Peace Studies Department of the University. It was unveiled for the second time, under the new name, on de Vasconcellos 90th birthday - 26 October 1994.
In 1995, to mark the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II, bronze casts of the sculpture were placed in Stormont Estate, Coventry Cathedral and Hiroshima Peace Park in Japan.
In 1999, a fourth cast was placed in the newly rebuilt Reichstag in Germany as part of the Berlin Wall memorial.
The Gleaner statue was created by John Knox and was shown in 1951 as part of the Festival of Britain. Following the exhibition it was moved to Stormont. The sculpture shows a woman on a bended knee gathering, with the inscription ‘Thrift is the Gleaner Behind All Human Effort.’
The Battle of the Somme took place during the First World War, between 1 July and 18 November 1916. It took place in the area of the Somme River, in Northern France. It was one of the largest battles of the First World War and by time fighting had petered out in late autumn 1916, there were more than 1.5million casualties.
The Battle of the Somme is particularly remembered in Ulster due to the high numbers of Ulstermen who were lost in the first two days of fighting. A group of now mature Cedars surround the granite stone which reads 'This group of Cedars presented in memory of the 36th Ulster Division by Major General Sir C. Herbert Powell K.C.B. who raised it in 1914.'
The rose garden to the north of the Massey Avenue entrance was created in 2013 during a major refurbishment of the shrub beds. The purpose was to create an area of quiet reflection complimented by a sympathetic planting scheme. The circular bed has an outer ring of 1.5 metres high roses with the inner circle planted to give almost non-stop flowering throughout the summer. The variety of the rose is 'Remembrance'. Lavender is planted in both the outer ring and inner circle which gives a striking contrast during spring and summer.
Barrage balloon anchors
There are barrage balloon anchor points on the right-hand side of the Prince of Wales Avenue which were used to protect Parliament Buildings during the Second World War.
Barrage balloons are large balloons filled with air and anchored to the ground using steel cables. The purpose was to force aircraft to fly at higher altitudes, making bombing less accurate and to act as an obstacle to any low flying aircraft. The cables often caused damage to the aircraft, causing them to crash or make their approach more difficult.
WWII bomb crater
There is a WWII bomb crater on the left-hand side of the Prince of Wales Avenue. It was created during a Luftwaffe air raid during the Belfast Blitz in 1941 and was never filled in.
The Belfast Blitz took place in April and May, with almost 1,000 lives being lost. The crater is surrounded by fencing and is regularly cleared of weeds and foliage so that visitors can view it.