Grand country house boasts royal history in Wexford for €1.5m
Park House is a fine Georgian residence, but its quirks make it stand out from the crowd
The townland of Park in Wexford town is a fascinating place. The road which runs through it is lined with grand houses, each on six- or seven-acre plots. The area is actually part of Wexford town - it's a 1.5km walk to the main street - but feels like deepest countryside. Houses don't come up for sale in Park; they quietly pass from one generation to the next.
Until now, that is.
Park House, a fine, imposing Georgian home, 4built some time in the 1780s, has just come on the market. "Although we're calling it a country house, it's actually in the town," says John Radford of selling agents Sherry FitzGerald. "You've the tennis club nearby and the boat club and the River Slaney. The county council offices are up behind it. But once you walk in the gates, you'd think you were in the country."
Park has the feel that Dublin's Foxrock had before it became over-developed: a leafy, prosperous sort of place, removed from the hustle of the city yet within touching distance of it. And Park House is as grand as anything Foxrock has to offer.
Whoever pays the €1.5m asking price is getting a lot for their money: the house itself, of course, on six acres with six bedrooms, three reception rooms, a study, kitchen and any number of pantries and storerooms and a sauna, but also a fine gate lodge with its own stables and cobble-lock courtyard.
They are also getting a slice of Wexford history. There is a miniature round tower in the garden and a belfry-style tower and arcaded bower by the lake (yes, there's a lake as well), both erected by the Pierce family, who were famous as owners of Pierce's Foundry in Wexford town. There is a quaint summer house overlooking the lake and a well-kept walled garden with an orchard.
Park House also boasts an unusual feature that may appeal to a safety-conscious buyer: an air-raid bunker at the back of the house. "It was built by the Pierce family in the 1930s," says John Radford. "It could be turned into a home cinema or a games room."
The sale history of Park House is as fascinating as the house itself. The Harvey family were early owners. They were a military family - James Harvey joined the Coldstream Guards aged 15 and fought at Waterloo. The house passed to the Pierce family in 1896 and the wealth generated by their foundry enabled them to make many improvements.
Philip Busteed Pierce believed that the use of tractors on farms was "a passing fad" and the business declined. He also refused to install a phone. He did, however, manage to make contact with Colonel Roy Smith, who bought Park House and 43 acres from him in 1963 for £7,500.
Smith sold it to the last surviving member of the Dutch royal family, Baroness Louise Catherine Antoinette Van Zuylen van Nyevelt, in 1964 for £8,000. The pair continued to live there together and the colonel certainly behaved as if he still owned the place, but the nature of their relationship remained a mystery.
The baroness sold Park House in 1972 for £50,000 to the Whalley family. The present owners bought the house in 1985 for £140,000 and have updated it and maintained it to a high standard.
"The first thing most people ask when they look at a period house is: how much more am I going to have to spend on this?" says John Radford. "But this house is in turn-key condition. It has been so well kept, both the house and the grounds."
There is a grandeur and grace about Park House, with its panelled hallway and study, big windows and fine rooms, but its scale is not intimidating. If any house with this amount of land, woods, a lake and a walled garden can be called manageable, then Park House is it.
Park House, Park, Wexford, €1,5m
Joint agents: Sherry FitzGerald Country Homes (01) 237 6300; Sherry FitzGerald Radford (051) 426 161; Viewing: Strictly by appointment