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Sunday 25 February 2018

Fit for a duke - Ancestral home of the Duke of Wellington hits the market

This 64ac residential farm in Kildare was the ancestral home of the Duke of Wellington

Grangebeg House, located close to Naas and Kilcullen, is described as being in 'turn-key' condition
Grangebeg House, located close to Naas and Kilcullen, is described as being in 'turn-key' condition
Jim O'Brien

Jim O'Brien

Last week I travelled to the borders of Kildare and Wicklow to view a fine property, Grangebeg House, a Georgian residence on 64ac. The holding is for sale by private treaty and is guided by Jordan auctioneers at €1.5m.

The road south-east took me through great Kildare horse country. About 14km from Naas and 6km from Kilcullen, I came on the impressive gateway to Grangebeg. A tree-lined avenue with stud rail fencing leads to the house, a two-storey over basement residence that is well proportioned without being too imposing.

The place has an interesting history having been acquired by the Warren family in 1626. Henry Warren was MP for Kildare in 1642 and he married Elizabeth Eustace. Their grandson Richard assumed the surname and the arms of Wellesley, and from that line came Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington. The Duke's mother, Anne, lived at Grangebeg and is buried in nearby Gilltown Cemetery.

The Duke himself was born in Dublin in 1769, but never considered himself Irish. His biographer Lawrence James wrote: "Neither he nor his kin ever considered themselves as Irish. The Anglo-Irish aristocracy had nothing in common with the indigenous, Gaelic-speaking and Catholic Irish whom they despised and distrusted."

The Duke of Wellington, whose mother was born and raised at Grangebeg
The Duke of Wellington, whose mother was born and raised at Grangebeg

The hero of Waterloo had a low opinion of the Irish, describing them as "a nation of scoundrels" even though it's estimated that over 8,000 Irishmen - approximately 30pc of the Duke's men - fought for the British army that defeated Napoleon in 1815.

Paddy Jordan and Clive Kavanagh of Jordan auctioneers take me on a tour of the place, a fine property with a very homely feel to it. We felt so much at home that Paddy put on the kettle and made tea.

While the exterior of the house is very much as it was in the day, there are some tasteful modern touches such as the fully-fitted kitchen.

It has all the classic Georgian features, such as ornate plasterwork, coving, centrepieces and shuttered windows. There is a nice, lived-in feel to this house and while a new owner might wish to add their own touches, the place is in turn-key condition. The spacious reception hall, complete with fireplace, leads to the drawing room and the dining room on either side.

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Elegant

The bow-fronted drawing room is elegant, yet cosy, with plenty of light provided by bay windows and French windows leading to a patio overlooking the lawn and garden pond.

The property is laid out in seven fields of grassland with plenty of road frontage
The property is laid out in seven fields of grassland with plenty of road frontage

The dining room is a beautiful space with an Adams-style fireplace and lovely views over the parkland. Other accommodation includes a perfect study/library with floor-to-ceiling shelving and an open fireplace, a breakfast room off the kitchen and a cloakroom.

Upstairs, the bedrooms include the bow-shaped master bedroom which has great views to the south and west. Three of the six bedrooms have ensuite facilities. The basement includes a family room, a kitchen, utility, a shower room and three further bedrooms.

The house is set on lovely, mature, landscaped gardens that include a garden pond and a tennis court. The outbuildings are made up of the old and the new, including a coach house along with a range of Georgian stables and stores, while a more modern stable block is located across the yard from the older buildings. In all, there are 13 loose boxes. Other features include an exercise arena and a walled garden.

The land is in the main to the front of the house and all in grass laid out in seven fields with plenty of road frontage.

Given its location and condition, the place is definitely a fine family home with considerable equestrian potential. "It would be an ideal place for someone in the sport horse sector," said Paddy Jordan.

I know nothing about the Sport of Kings, but Grangebeg is one of those places an ordinary mortal like myself would consider buying were Lady Lotto to fall into his lap with a bundle of cash.


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