MP Danny Kinahan's childhood home in Co. Antrim on the market for £1.35m
Castle Upton, Templepatrick, Co Antrim £1.35m stg
Castle Upton in Templepatrick, Co Antrim, has been home to MP Danny Kinahan since the age of five. Having lived here for most of his life - he is now in his late 50s - it is understandable that he is now leaving with regret.
"It was a wonderful place to grow up," he says, "and my sisters, brother, and I had the most magical childhood here. The house and gardens were one gigantic playground. It has been a fantastic home for my wife, Anne, and I and our four children but now that they are all either away at university or about to head off, it is time to downsize."
Before he was an MP, Kinahan was a representative of Christie's in Northern Ireland so it's not surprising that he has the history of Castle Upton at his fingertips. The first Castle or Priory on the site is said to have been built by the Knights of St John around 1200 AD. Part of this construction remains in the basement of the modern Castle Upton. But the Knights were driven out during the Protestant Reformation in 1568 and the land granted to a Captain Humfred de Norton who sold to Captain Henry Upton in 1625. One of the later Uptons who inherited the property hired the celebrated architect Robert Adam to make improvements to the house in the early 18th Century.
"The date over the front door," says Kinahan, "is 1611, but I have seen an early ordinance survey map that shows there to have been some sort of construction here much further back. I think it started out as a fort and then a tower was added, and then another tower to make it a proper tower house. And gradually as the family became richer and more important they added to the property to make it more and more like a Scottish baronial castle. Then in the 20s and 30s the roof was taken off so there are no turrets left."
When Danny Kinahan's father bought Castle Upton in 1963, both the house and the yard were in a state of disrepair. "My father had just sold Lyle and Kinahan, the drinks business, and one day he came home and said to my mother: 'You know that castle I told you about? I've bought it!'"
The Kinahans gradually restored the castle and its gardens and it is now a very comfortable family home with magnificent reception rooms replete with period features. There are eight bedrooms. In total there is over 930 sqm of living space and 21 acres of land.
Danny's wife Anne has operated the house as a successful wedding venue for a number of years and, although she is no longer taking bookings now that Castle Upton is for sale, it would be open to new owners to use the property in the same way. Castle Upton is a 20-minute drive from Belfast city centre and the airport and there are local schools and shops nearby.
Agent: Savills Country (01) 663 4350; Savills Belfast (048) 9026 7820