Rowallane Garden in Saintfield is delighted to announce that two new stone lions have been installed on Avenue Ground in the garden, replacing the two lion sculptures that were stolen in December 2016.
Members of the public were outraged when the beloved stone lions that had guarded Rowallane’s Avenue Ground for over 100 years went missing. Despite coverage on social media and great support from the local press, the lions were never recovered. Greatly missed, The National Trust, which cares for Rowallane Garden, decided that the stone lions should be replaced to allow future generations to enjoy and connect with this important part of Rowallane’s history.
With the new lions now in place, the National Trust is asking for your help to choose their names.
Name nominations open on the National Trust Belfast Facebook page (@nationaltrustbelfast) on 30/04/2018 and everyone is being encouraged to submit their creative ideas.
Nominations will close at 5pm on Monday 7 May. Entries will then be shortlisted and published on Facebook and the public will be asked to vote for their favourite two names with the winning names being announced on Thursday 17 May 2018.
Bringing back Leo
Frances Bailey, lead curator for the National Trust in Northern Ireland explains why the decision was made to replace the two lions: ‘Having had the company of the old lions for over 100 years we all felt their loss deeply and so did our visitors. It would have been inconceivable to leave the plinths where they sat empty and so we took the decision to commission two new lions to take their place.
‘Skilled stone sculptors at Cliveden Conservation took great care to recreate the curled manes and characterful expressions of the old lions and we are confident that the new lions will be greeted warmly by all. ‘
Tom from Cliveden Conservation had this to say about the challenges of creating the stones lions: ‘Working from historic and contemporary photographs, our carvers were able to prepare clay models (maquettes) of the lions and present them to the National Trust for approval. After some minor adjustments, work started on hand carving the lions from Swinton sandstone. It was fantastic to watch our two sculptors working side by side making every effort to retain the character of the original beasts, a similarity between the new lions and include their own style. Cliveden Conservation has been delighted to have been involved with this project and we look forward to finding out the names that are bestowed on the new Rowallane guardians!”
Rowallane Garden’s new lions can be seen on the Avenue Ground and the public are being encouraged to come along and see them for themselves.
For information on Rowallane Garden, including opening times visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/rowallane-garden