Fit for a princess - Kilkenny's Bonnettstown House hits the market

Bonnettstown House is considered one of Ireland's 'most perfect medium-sized early 18th century country houses'
Bonnettstown House is considered one of Ireland's 'most perfect medium-sized early 18th century country houses'
Jim O'Brien

Jim O'Brien

Bonnettstown House at Bonnettstown, Co Kilkenny was built in 1737 and since then its portals have welcomed an eclectic bunch of owners and occupants including a Russian princess.

The two storey over basement residence set on 28ac is for sale by private treaty with a guide of €1.1m

Standing on the ancient territory of the O'Shees, the house was built for Samuel Matthews, Mayor of Kilkenny, whose name and the date of May 14 1737 are inscribed on quoins at either side of the front entrance. Surprisingly the property has had only three owners in its 280 years but lack of numbers is made up for by the eccentricity of some who made their home there.

The Knox family took over from the Matthews. Three Knox sisters lived at Bonnettstown and were joined by their cousin Commander Geoffrey Marescaux de Saubrait who had spent the period between the two World Wars touring the capitals of Europe. He brought with him a White Russian princess, Lubov Glebov, who took up residence in the top floor of the house.

A frequent visitor at Bonnettstown was American photographer Andrew Bush. While hitch-hiking through Ireland in 1978 he got a lift from Commander Geoffrey and subsequently spent so much time at Bonnettstown he did a PhD on the place and published a book of photographs showcasing the property between 1979 and 1982. He remembers his time there fondly in the company of the Commander, his brother Laurence, Miss Daphne Knox and Madame Lubov Glebov.

Writing about them he said, "They were an unusual bunch......One told of her escape from peasant revolutions and the Russian invasion of post-Hitler Germany, another of sailing the Mediterranean for thirty years and of commandeering rescue missions in Walruses, another of working for the Tanganyika Police and as a film extra beside Charlie Chaplin, and another of riding horses and cultivating exotic flowers."

The gardens extend to seven acres
The gardens extend to seven acres

The property was bought in 1982 by Michael and Annette Hogan who completely renovated the house and gardens. It is described by Roseanne De Vere Hunt of Sherry FitzGerald Country Homes as a superb early Georgian holding in the heart of the country and yet just 10 minutes from Kilkenny city. In Burke's Guide to Country Houses, Vol 1: Ireland, it is described as "one of the most perfect medium-sized early 18th Century country houses in Ireland".

Impressive

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Limestone steps lead to the spacious entrance hall where an impressive staircase opens on to the first floor. The ground floor is home to a dining room, drawing room and study with views over the gardens. The kitchen is also on this floor.

The main staircase leads to a return with a large original window and on to the first floor with four double bedrooms (two ensuite) and a bathroom. The attic is fully floored for storage. There is also a 'back' staircase originally used by staff while another leads to the basement where a further ensuite bedroom is located along with a games room, a study, an office, a wine cellar, a boot room and a storage room.

Out of doors, the original cobblestone coach yard contains three stables, three coach houses and numerous storage buildings.

The land is made up of 14ac of grazing, 7ac of woodland and 7ac occupied by the house, avenue, coachyard and gardens.

The most striking feature of the property is the walled garden that contains a lake with an island reached by a bridge and the remains of an 11th century castle. O'Keeffe auctioneers, Kilkenny are joint agents in the sale.

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