Westmeath lodge with a secret basement can be yours for €1.575m
'Italianate' lodge has a subterranean secret
Few country estate houses in Ireland have been built in the 19th Century Italianate villa style, never mind coming with their own entire "secret" basement level which hasn't seen the light of day in generations.
Ardglass House at Rathowen, which comes to market next week, is unique in a number of respects. It is believed to have been constructed in the mid-18th Century as a hunting lodge back when this region would have had thick forests overrun with deer. Back when the 'rakes' - pleasure-seeking sons of the aristocratic classes - gathered here for sport, the property had a few thousand acres attached.
Later it was acquired by the Bond family, who were big land owners in Longford. Major AM Bond who had the property in the 1830s was a former deputy lieutenant of Longford and was most likely the one who extended and completely refashioned the mid-sized hunting lodge into a different house entirely - to give it its current Italianate frontage and an additional 60pc of accommodation.
Three years ago Ardglass was bought by a Dublin-based family who fancied an outdoors life of horse riding and some farming within an hour of their city base. It had been on offer for €1m. The house, which comes with 75 acres, was in need of some work and, during their tenure, the current owners acquired it then and invested a further €800,000 between the house and the estate grounds.
Most of this was spent re-roofing the property and re-plumbing it throughout. Now, with work demands calling for far more travel abroad, their dream of weekend visits to a country life has been railroaded and they are opting to sell up with regrets.
But it means that Ardglass, which is 20 kilometres from Mullingar, comes back to market ready to walk into with an entire new heating system using reproduction period-style cast iron radiators, and a complete redecoration throughout. The house, which spans just under 5,000 sq ft, has an extra special feature in the hand-carved period mahogany staircase which turns into a dramatic split into two stairs on the return.
But a feature certain to intrigue a new owner is the prospect of opening up the old basement level which once served the original 18th Century hunting lodge. Past owners report this contained a number of rooms which most likely included an ice room, some sort of a wine cellar and food larders. It was sealed up sometime in the sixties or seventies as surplus to space requirements.
The house is especially well preserved inside, with all the period fireplaces, ceiling details and cornicings not only present but in unusually good condition.
The substantial main entrance, with a timber floor, elaborate cornice work on the ceilingand some decorative recessed arches, leads through to the staircase hall.
There's a drawing room, a dining room and a family room, and all of these come with polished solid wood floors, corniced ceilings and marble-surround fireplaces.
There's a butler's pantry, originally designed to house the dinner service and silver cutlery whose cleaning and keeping was usually assigned to the butler. This comes, as you might expect, with plenty of shelving.
There's a study with marble fireplace, a very large kitchen in a 1920s style with marble countertop, a four-door Aga and a Belfast sink among its features. Off this is a back kitchen with wooden units and, in turn, comes the boot room with a back stairs to the laundry room and the original kitchen, now a plant room housing the new duel boiler, water tank and water pump.
Upstairs there are five bedrooms, the most impressive of which is the master chamber which comes with an en suite bathroom with tiled floor, a roll top bath and separate shower. All but one of the bedrooms come with a marble surround fireplace, unusual upstairs in a house of this period which saw mostly cast iron versions. There's also a laundry room and a shower room on this floor.
In addition to the main accommodation the house also has a cottage on the grounds with a living room, two double bedrooms and a shower room.
The courtyard at the rear of the main house is entered through an arch and includes an array of single and two storey buildings along with five lofted stables, a coach house and garage. All this has been repainted and upgraded recently with new doors and shutters.
The house also comes with a Victorian walled garden, originally designed to grow vegetables, fruit and flowers for the main dwelling. No doubt a new owner will want to explore its hidden depths by reopening the underground level which could add even more space.
There's a farmyard with a series of barns and separate access to that of the main house.
The property comes with 74 acres laid out mainly in pasture - the current owners have produced their own beef here in the last few years.
Rathowen, Co Westmeath
Asking price: €1.575m
Agent: Savills, (01) 6634350