Sunday 19 May 2019

And now for the real McCoy... A gothic castle which Winston Churchill visited regularly

  • Knockdrin Castle Mullingar, Co Westmeath

  • Asking price: €13.5m

  • Agent: Sotheby's International Realty (087) 2512929

An early Victorian neo-Gothic extravaganza: WinstonChurchill was a regular guest at Knockdrin Castle in Co Westmeath
An early Victorian neo-Gothic extravaganza: WinstonChurchill was a regular guest at Knockdrin Castle in Co Westmeath
The main hall
The top-lit staircase is carved oak

While An Culu is a thoroughly modern take on a fantasy neo-Gothic castle, Knockdrin Castle in Co Westmeath is the real early Victorian deal, from the days of the dandys and Byron. However, it will cost you a whole lot more too - €13.5m to be precise.

Owned by the Von Prondzynski family, a family originating from Prussian military aristocracy in what is now part of Poland, it is being marketed internationally by Sothebys.

It was built in 1810 by Sir Richard Levigne, to a design attributed to James Shiel, an assistant to the famous Francis Johnston. Located just outside Mullingar in Co Westmeath, it comes with 1,050 acres of which 550 is in woodlands.

This is the castle where Churchill reputedly became stuck during the Irish civil war during a visit to his friends here. It is said that Winston turned up at Mullingar train station demanding to be put on a train to Dublin despite the line just having been bombed. When a policeman refused Churchill said: "Do you know who I am?" to which the policeman retorted "Even if you were the station master's son we could not get you on a train to Dublin."

The main hall
The main hall

The castle is noteworthy as one of the leading examples of the transition from Classicism to Gothic. Knockdrin's late-medieval trappings are lightly worn and the castle is in essence a classical Georgian country house in Gothic dress.

Accommodation includes a main hall, drawing room, dining room, ballroom and library. The bedroom accommodation within the castle provides seven principal bedrooms. It has had its roof replaced by the current owners but will require modernisation.

The principal reception rooms face south and the decor is elaborate. The top-lit staircase is carved oak, like the doors throughout. Natural light is provided by a central glazed dome. The first floor gallery is decorated with fluted shafts and a sequence of ogee-headed niches around the walls. The grounds also include a 100 acre lake.

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