Meath lodge with barn and stables can be yours for €1.95m
€1.95m sporting lodge in Meath is outsized for royal reasons
Published 17/06/2016 | 02:30
For a time in the 1820s, Co Meath became the fulcrum of high society life thanks to the aristocratic social climbing of two local landowning families and the intervention of royalty.
And it is here, atop a hill for all to see at Hayes near Navan, that we also find one of Ireland's biggest hunting lodges - a house constructed circa 1820-25 for hosting fox hunting expeditions, then the chief passion of aristos in these islands.
By Irish standards, at more than 5,000 sq ft, Kingston Lodge was a castle among hunting lodges.
Based at Naas and with lands in Meath, John Bourke, the Fourth Earl of Mayo who built Kingston, was a member of the Irish House of Parliament and among those shamefully bribed to vote for its dissolution and for support for the Act of Union of 1800.
The Fourth Earl had been chairman of committees in the Irish House of Lords. He received a whopping great pension of £1,332 per annum - a huge amount in those days - for his support for abolition and also handed a place on the Privy Council.
Politicking of a different sort was happening up the road at Slane after Elizabeth Conygham, wife of the Viscount Henry Conygham of Slane, became the lover of Prince Regent and upon his ascension to the throne in 1820, his offical mistress. As compensation, her husband was raised to the status of Marquess and also appointed to the Privy Council, enabling a much higher status dynasty at Slane Castle.
But this state of affairs meant the king was likely to visit Slane. And he did in 1821 amidst huge controversy shortly after the death of the queen amidst poisoning allegations.
Bourke was among those to receive King George, who stopped off on the Kildare estate but, ultimately, he was headed straight to Slane for a four day lock-in with his mistress. It was during this period that Bourke built Kingston in all its grandeur.
In the ridiculous Irish scramble to glean favour with royalty, might the Earl have thrown up Ireland's best hunting lodge to impress further Royal visits in the hope of drawing George on to Mayo's turf?
If so, it was for nothing - the king never came back.
Not only did he stick it as near to Slane Castle as he could on his Meath holding), but he also stuck it on top of a hill to be seen. And the name Kingston? We can only wonder.
The house has windows which are almost floor to ceiling - very expensive and modern for the time. It contains two majestic jutting bow ends. Each end houses the two main receptions - the dining room and the drawing room - which look out over the countryside from this hilltop pew.
Kingston is 'all front' in many ways because despite the frontage being extraordinary wide, it is essentially just one room wide in its main portions.
Kingston was bought in 2000 by its current owners and has since been completely restored with sympathy to its original detailing, with a new roof, rewiring, replumbing and general fit-out.
Aside from the main receptions, there's a hall, a study, a sitting room and a games room. The owners have modernised the kitchen and there's a boot room.
Upstairs there are five bedrooms, three bathrooms and a shower room. There's also a yard with a cut stone barn and stables above which there's a two-bedroom guest apartment with an open-plan living space.
The property comes with 49ac of land with formal landscaped gardens. A unique feature is the Cecil Aldon frieze of fox hunters on horseback riding around the room which underlines this home's sporting past along with its competitive origins.
Hayes, Co Meath
Asking price: €1.95m
Agent: Ganly Walters (01) 6623255