Tuesday 19 September 2017

Peek inside this beautiful period home in Monkstown on the market for €3.5m

Thomas Drew's best-preserved house has come to market
The exterior of Gortinore
The exterior of Gortinore
The first-floor return snug with Drew's initials carved into the window
Mark Keenan

Mark Keenan

Period homes in the Scots baronial revival style are as sparse as hen's teeth in Ireland, but on Alma Road in Monkstown, Co Dublin, we see an even greater rarity - a set of semi-detached houses both built to an internally elaborate baronial revival format.

They are here courtesy of the architect Sir Thomas Drew. Such was his monastic attention to craft and detail, it took him eight years to build his own abode - Gortnadrew - which was completed in 1875. Then he finished Gortinore, its near identical twin in 1877.

Drew was consulting architect for both St Patrick's Cathedral and Christchurch Cathedral, and designed St Ann's Cathedral in Belfast along with the famous Rathmines Town Hall with its four-faced tower clock - both completed in 1899. He was knighted by Queen Victoria the following year.

Recently, MVK Architects was brought in to restore Gortnadrew, which had some of its original aspects removed after a time spent in flats. This house had previously been owned by entrepreneur Sarah Newman of Dragon's Den fame.

The hand-cut heart pattern on the brass door handles
The hand-cut heart pattern on the brass door handles

At Gortinore on the other hand, almost all of its original features have survived from 1877, including bespoke fitted furniture originally detailed for the first occupants.

Today, Gortinore has been placed for sale by its owners of many years with a price tag of €3.45m.

The kitchen and breakfast room
The kitchen and breakfast room

In an interview with Sir Drew in the Irish Builder in 1901, the writer observes of his working rooms: "Sir Thomas Drew has not ostentatiously striven, but there is unquestionably something - whether it is in the well chosen articles of furniture, the pleasant, quiet tone of colour, or the nice old Georgian mantel (snatched from destruction), or what, I know not, but there is something."

The same is true of Gortinore, his most complete surviving house which bears his initials in one of its many simple, yet truly beautiful, stained glass panels. These are everywhere, but particularly in the hall entrance area with soft blues, greens and ambers creating an array of lit jewels.

This baronial interpretation of an urbane Dublin house is tenderly romantic, flowing and more free than the stiffer Georgian/Victorian equivalents. Thanks in part to its current long-time owners - both enthusiastic conservationists - it's all here today pretty much as was when Drew signed off on it.

Gorgeous craft is in evidence everywhere. Take the immensely intricate and hand-cut heart pattern detail on the door brass - not only on the knobs and surrounds, but even on the inset latch plates. The panel doors are in original unpainted pitch pine. The crafting of space and light is breathtaking in a house that has no less than seven different levels and continuously seducing the eye to look elsewhere - drawing you on through it.

The carved timber winding staircase rises through the three floors
The carved timber winding staircase rises through the three floors

Its spine is a thin elegant carved timber staircase which winds up and down through the three main floors and sub levels. When viewed from below, it seems to ascend forever - obviously Drew's intention. There are fitted wooden cupboards and boot presses, bespoke designed for the house, which make you reach out to follow the lines of the craftsman's chisel.

Its main chimney pieces, in a carved white marble, carry a beautiful overlapping bay leaf design and inset with an alternate array of blue floral design tiles. There are box bay windows with cushioned bench seats offering views of the sea.

The drawing room with white marble chimney
The drawing room with white marble chimney

Steps go down to the garden level with a wine cellar, family room, a double bedroom, a study, shower room and storage room.

On the first floor is the drawing room with fine intricate coving and a plume pattern centre rose and ornate white marble chimney piece. The dining room has a bespoke antique fitted dresser and a similar chimney piece.

The front porch with stained-glass detailing
The front porch with stained-glass detailing

There's a kitchen and breakfast room in what was once a main reception, which includes fitted wall and floor units, a double stainless steel sink, Siemens dishwasher, Bosch five-plate gas hob, Neff double oven and Hotpoint fridge/freezer. On the first floor return is a contemplative snug with a big picture window with stained-glass detailing.

There are three double bedrooms on the second floor, the main with walk-in closet and an ensuite bathroom. The fifth double bedroom and a study sits on the top floor.

The house is being sold by top-end specialist Janet Carroll.

Gortinore

Alma Road, Monkstown, Co Dublin

The first-floor return snug with Drew's initials carved into the window
The first-floor return snug with Drew's initials carved into the window

Asking price: €3.45m

Agent: Janet Carroll (01) 288 2020

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