Friday 24 May 2019

Historic house once home to farming royalty

Prumplestown House Prumplestown, Castledermot, Co Kildare Guiding €4.5m for the whole, on 298 acres (or sold in five lots)

Prumplestown House
Prumplestown House
Prumplestown House
Prumplestown House
Prumplestown House
Prumplestown House
Prumplestown House
Prumplestown House
Prumplestown House

Words by Katy McGuinness

A tree-lined avenue leads from the country road running down from Prumplestown Cross past an attractive gate lodge right up to the front door of Prumplestown House, a truly beautiful country home dating from the mid-19th Century.

It is believed that the Duke of Leinster had a hunting lodge here in the 17th Century, and that part of that original house may have been subsumed into the current structure, thought to have been completed in 1856, although 1837 is the year recorded on a plaque on the front facade. The look of the house is Victorian rather than Georgian, and it is quite charming.

Since 1897, Prumplestown has been in the ownership of the Wright family, the most recent owners being two sisters, Shirley and Audrey, to whom it was left as tenants in common by their father, Alan.

Audrey lived at Prumplestown until her death in 2012, since when the house and its farmland have been tenanted. Shirley died in 2014. As the sisters' children are dispersed across the globe, they have now decided - with some reluctance - to sell the house and its land, bringing 120 years of Wright family ownership to an end.

The Wrights were Kildare farming royalty, revered for their purebred championship Shorthorns, which won at the Spring Show in the RDS on numerous occasions. Later they had a herd of purebred Hereford cattle - also prize-winners - and in the 1970s Alan Wright introduced Simmental cattle from Austria into Ireland for the first time.

The walls of Prumplestown are lined with photos of some of these champion beasts - Prumplestown Oriel, Prumplestown Gamecock and Prumplestown Officer among them- majestic animals all, and the farm office at the back of the house is adorned with rosettes won by the family's rare-breed Suffolk sheep. There are silver trophies in recognition of sugar beet success awarded by the South Kildare Agricultural Society, and the shelves of the morning room are lined with herd books. Prumplestown is very definitely a proud farm house, located in the heart of Quaker country, known for its high-quality tillage land. The Quaker village of Ballitore is a few miles away and the names of some well-known Irish Quaker families are to be found on the headstones in the cemetery there.

There are two principal parts to Prumplestown House - the front section and a later wing that runs perpendicular to this. To the right of the entrance hall is the dining room, which leads to a large drawing room with a bow window. A gorgeous conservatory - which looks as if it could be restored - is heady with the scent of an old-fashioned deep-red rose, and there are signs of promise on the vines which (correctly) have their roots outside with the vines themselves punched through. Last year's crop of grapes was a bumper one by all accounts.

You have to duck your head beneath the sturdy bow of a bloom-laden wisteria to pass through the door to the first of two walled gardens. Here, there are lovely trees, including some old apple varieties, and sections that would once have been planted with cutting flowers for the house and vegetables. A dotey potting shed is a perfect refuge, ideal for whiling away the hours. The grass tennis court that lies beyond the second of the walled gardens is now overgrown, but could no doubt be reinstated if there was a will to do so.

Back inside the house and the morning room lies to the left of the entrance hall, as do a cosy sitting room, kitchen - toasty thanks to a four-door AGA - scullery, pantry and lavatory.

Upstairs there are six bedrooms, all of which have views over either the walled garden or the surrounding parkland, and two bathrooms. "One hundred years of clutter" has been cleared out of the house with the professional assistance of Arabella Paige, of Grangecon, and there is some nice gentle staging of riding boots, tennis rackets, bowler hats and the like around the house which feels real rather than fake.

A large downstairs basement/wine-cellar is in need of complete refurbishment.

Throughout, the house is much brighter than many period houses thanks to plentiful windows and 12ft ceilings that make for airy, well-proportioned rooms.

Because Prumplestown has had so little done to it in recent years, most of the period features - the unusually-shaped front door, decorative ceiling plaster-works, fine timberwork in window shuttering and detailed architraves, deep skirtings and wide floor boards - are intact.

Outside there is the house yard, with plenty of storage, a garage and stables in which the old butter churn and knife sharpener remain in situ. Beyond is a second yard with stabling for working horses and an old granary, and then all the modern farm buildings.

Prumplestown House is utterly beguiling, and would be a dreamy project for a family with the resources and energy to take it on.

With a fair wind, it's about an hour's drive to Dublin city centre, although on a sunny day in early summer it would be hard to drag oneself away to make that journey.

Era: 1856

Size: 669sqm

Auction Thursday, May 16

Viewing: By appointment

Joint agents: Colliers International (01) 633 3700 / REA Dawson (059) 915 1142

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