Nothing has been spared in renovation of a grand Georgian property which includes 185ac of farmland that has been worked in recent years by Gurteen Agricultural College
Sopwell Hall on 300ac near Cloughjordan and Ballingarry in north Tipperary has a story that is quite the reverse of many great houses and estates of its size.
It was bought with 60ac by its current owners, Michael and Sarah Ramsden, in 1985. Since then the former art dealers, and owner of Saskia Interiors, added 240ac to the land holding and completely refurbished the main house, two gate lodges. A gardener’s cottage and a bailiff’s house have been secured and maintained.
They also added a walled garden and replaced the site of a Victorian conservatory with a sunken garden. An 185ac portion of the estate has been leased to nearby Gurteen Agricultural College and is in the best of heart.
The entire estate is for sale by private treaty and guided by Callum Bain of Colliers at €8.5m. Sothebys are joint agents
The house and lands are situated in a triangle between the towns of Birr, Roscrea and Nenagh. The nearest small town is Borrisokane, which is 8km away.
Sopwell Hall is not the first grand house to stand on the site as the estate traces its existence back to Killaleigh Castle, built in the 16th century by the MacEgan Clan. The castle stands near the current residence and, while roofless, the imposing building is in relatively good structural condition.
An 800m avenue through open parkland leads to the restored main residence. The seven-bay, three-storey over basement Georgian house was commissioned by Francis Sadlier and built in 1745. The estate passed to the Trench family in 1797 and they remained in-situ until the Ramsdens bought the place in 1985.
The sumptuous accommodation includes five principal reception rooms, including a library, and 10 bedrooms. In very good condition throughout the house has been meticulously brought back to its former glory by the Ramsdens.
A studio, gardener’s cottage, bailiff’s house and two gate lodges complete the accommodation.
To the right of the main house a high archway leads to an enclosed courtyard and an adjacent yard comprised of an impressive range of stone outbuildings that were reroofed during the renovations. Leisure facilities include a tennis court.
A dated farmyard, comprised of older buildings along with the bailiff’s house, is in the enclosure of Killaleigh Castle.
The current owners carried substantial improvement works in the gardens and wider pleasure grounds. The walled garden added by them contains a fruit orchard with apple, pear, plum, medlar, walnut and cherry trees, along with a flower garden, herb garden and vegetable beds.
The estate is home to a variety of ancient and specimen trees including some fine Spanish chestnut, an ancient beech wood and a rare Siberian crab-apple tree.
The woodlands include indigenous oak, beech, ash, larch and spruce. The estate is home to much wildlife including red squirrels, pine martens, foxes and hares along with buzzards, owls and falcons.
Woodland and grazing
Auctioneer Callum Bain says 74ac of the land is in mature woodland and 20ac in a commercial plantation. About 185ac of grazing lands are let annually on an 11-month con-acre basis to Gurteen Agricultural College.
A 20ac parcel is let on conacre to a local farmer.
This land has been recently reseeded and is described by Mr Bain as the best of limestone ground fit for any farming purpose.