Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Friday 20 July 2018

Pictures: Northern Ireland castle on 207ac of top quality land could be yours for €2.6m

Emma Deighan

One of Northern Ireland's most prestigious castles and estates has gone on the market for £2.3m (€2.614m) in what is an "extremely rare" opportunity for developers.

It is the first time Gilford Castle Estate in Co Down, a B1 listed building dating back to 1865, has been put up for sale in more than 100 years.

According to Savills, the property agency listing the site, interest from both local and international investors is expected to be high.

James Butler, head of country agency at Savills, said: "It is extremely rare for an estate with such an impressive castle and over 200 acres to be offered for sale in Northern Ireland.

"Given the range of assets at Gilford Castle Estate, I anticipate interest to come from local and international buyers looking to purchase an estate for a variety of purposes."

Gilford Castle spans 207 acres of land above the River Bann on the outskirts of Gilford village. It is also home to an "extensive range of traditional outbuildings" including a former farm yard, sawmill and kennels.

It will be sold as one or five separate lots.

The main residential element of the site has a kitchen, hall, four reception rooms and six bedrooms.

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It also has two flats with seven bedrooms and three reception rooms between the two, while internal period features include decorative cornicing and ceiling roses, sash windows, hardwood floors, marble and oak fireplaces and a staircase overlooked by a detailed stained-glass window.

Farm

The agricultural element is a key feature of Gilford Castle Estate. Situated within a contiguous block, the land lies on either side of the River Bann. It rises from about 100 feet above sea level on the River Bann and to about 200 feet above sea level on the southern boundary.

The topography is undulating and a feature is the excellent access throughout the estate, via the public road and a network of internal roads and tracks. The arable land is generally free-draining and is laid out in fields of a good size and shape for modern agriculture.

The depth and quality of the soil make it capable of growing a wide variety of arable crops, which have, in recent years, included potatoes, beet, cereals and excellent grass swards.

The farmland is let on a Conacre basis to a number of local farmers.

The land can be classified as follows:

  • Arable/pasture: 127ac
  • Woods: 63ac
  • Road, yards, buildings, river, etc: 17ac
  • Total: 207ac

The last time the castle was sold was more than a century ago when it was purchased by James F Wright in 1913.

It has remained in the family's ownership ever since. James Wright was the son of a mill owner from Co Monaghan who had become a successful Hong Kong and Manila merchant and stockbroker.

His wife, Mary Menary, was the niece of Sir Thomas Jackson, third chief manager of The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (now known as HSBC), who was responsible for financing the development of Colonial Hong Kong under the first large scale bank.

James and Mary furnished their Gilford home with memories of Manila and Hong Kong.

Prior to their ownership, in the 1860s, a portion of the estate was purchased by Benjamin Dickson, a partner in the local linen thread company of Dunbar McMaster.

He used the then fashionable architect William Spence to design the present-day mansions.

In 2004, the Belfast Telegraph reported that GML Estates agreed to buy the site and convert the mill into a 132-bed luxury hotel and the grounds into a golf course in what was expected to be a £30m "world class resort".

Open winner Darren Clarke was called on board to realise the golfing aspect of the site, but the project never materialised.

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