Saturday 24 June 2017

This unsuspecting thatched cottage in Wexford has its own sauna

Lovingly restored Wexford retreat has a brook flowing within its garden
Around 200 years old, Slade Cottage has been sympathetically modernised
Around 200 years old, Slade Cottage has been sympathetically modernised
A stream runs alongside the cottage
Nearby Tintern Abbey

Alison Gill

The Normans landed at Bannow Bay in the year 1169, when three ships commanded by Robert Fitz-Stephen arrived at the behest of Dermot MacMurrough to support the latter's claim to the Kingdom of Leinster. Another group of Normans arrived the following year at Baginbun, on the other side of the bay.

The only remnant left today of this early Norman presence is the ruins of the 13th century St Mary's church. The rest of the town is said to have sunk beneath the sands in the 16th century, when the silt in the bay rose and swept over Bannow Island.

Sauna in the bathroom
Sauna in the bathroom

Many centuries later, in 1991, a different set of foreigners landed at Bannow, this time from America. They fell in love with a small thatched cottage and brought it back from the brink after a lot of blood, sweat and tears. Slade Cottage, which was about 200-years-old, was carefully restored and extended to add more living space.

In 2003, the Americans sold it on to a Dublin couple, who were delighted to get their hands on such a gem, without having to put in any of the hard work.

The reception with vaulted ceiling and mezzanine
The reception with vaulted ceiling and mezzanine

It was used as a family holiday home for years and has recently been let out as a holiday rental. It is letting out for about €700 a week, so would make a good little earner when not in use. The reviews from holiday-makers seem to sum up the place perfectly: "The house is stunning, a perfect blend of traditional cottage and modern design. It's very spacious and perfectly set near a beautiful beach."

The house

The kitchen
The kitchen

A lot of thought went into the restoration of Slade Cottage, and the owners at the time were adamant they wanted to retain its character.

The property is entered through a half-and-half door into the tiled hallway. There is a bedroom to the right, which has an en suite bathroom with a cast-iron bath.

The halfdoor
The halfdoor

The main living room is also off the hall and has a vaulted ceiling with exposed beams, Liscannor slate floor, an open fireplace and stairs up to a mezzanine or loft area, which could be used as a study or a kids' hideaway. There is an archway up here into a carpeted bedroom.

Back downstairs, a glass hallway with sliding doors brings the old and new buildings together. The first room in the extension is a guest shower room.

The patio
The patio

The kitchen/dining room is where most time will be spent as it's large and comfortable. It has a vaulted ceiling, dark timber flooring and a fireplace with gas fire. The units are lime-washed oak with white counter tops and a free-standing antique island. There is a bay window seat with views out to the brook at the side of the house. A utility off the kitchen has a gas boiler and dryer.

The master bedroom is dual-aspect with a gas fire and double doors out to a patio. The en suite bathroom has one of the best features in the house - a Finnish sauna.

The grounds around the cottage are just short of an acre. There is a mature garden to the front and a brook flowing through the back garden. There is a courtyard for parking and a shed with an outdoor timber storage area. A patio area has a round table and chairs, which would be a perfect spot for a barbecue on a sunny evening.

The property is heated by gas central heating, and has dual European and American voltage.

The locale

The cottage is at the end of a quiet lane, just 100 yards from the sea at Blackhall Strand. The nearest town is Wellingtonbridge, which is small, with a couple of pubs and a Supervalu supermarket that doubled in size at the end of 2015 and provides employment for many locals.

Wexford and Waterford towns are both about half an hour away by car, and a journey to Dublin takes just over two hours.

Things to do

If the sun is shining, your day won't take much planning as you are only a few yards away from the beach. Blackhall Strand is one of Wexford's quieter beaches and is popular with families and walkers.

If you're fed up with the kids walking sand through the house, you could bring them to Ballycross Apple Farm, which is only 20 minutes away from the cottage, in Bridgetown. It's a working farm that dates back to 1863.

There is a 5km trail running through the farm so that visitors can walk around and see the animals, and chat to the staff. Kids can take part in feeding times, and then head out for a pony ride. Adults can browse around the farm shop where you'll see the apples being juiced, sorted and boxed. There's also a gift shop, and a café selling freshly baked waffles and crepes.

Tintern Abbey, founded by the Earl of Pembroke in 1200, is only 10 minutes away from Slade Cottage. Visitors can take a tour around the site and see the remains of the nave, tower, chapel and cloister there. Tours of the property, which became the living quarters of the Colclough family in the 16th century, are also open to the public. Coffee and homemade cakes are served in the tea rooms.

Eating and drinking

The Homeplace Café in Wellingtonbridge is a great option for breakfast and lunch. The weekly healthy option that's created by Brian Moore of Moore Fitness has become very popular with the locals.

The Hollow Bar & Seafood Restaurant in nearby Ramsgrange is best known for turning locally-caught fish into very large and satisfying meals. They also do takeaway of 'posh' fish and chips.

Button & Spoon in Bridgetown is a vintage-style tearoom that would be a good venue for Mother's Day or a hen's afternoon, if you fancy a nice afternoon tea and glass of bubbles.

For a drink, Neville's Bar in Fethard is where locals and visitors meet after a day on the beach.

Or Roches in Duncannon is a traditional pub with a great atmosphere and fine selection of craft beer.

The crowd

It's hard to escape the fact that Wexford is full of Dubs in the summer. The short drive to many beaches makes it a no-brainer for many. The good news is that Blackhall Strand beside the cottage isn't one of the beaches that gets thronged in high season, which makes the possibility of bumping into your neighbours while on your holidays less likely.

What's not to like

There's a brook flowing through the gardens on the property so parents of toddlers would have to keep a close eye on them.

Slade Cottage

Bannow Bay, Wellingtonbridge, Co Wexford

Asking price: €495,000

Agent: Colman Grimes Estate Agent, (01 4670 838)

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