Thursday 22 August 2019

Homes in this old Greystones enclave rarely come up for sale - this one's going for €1.395m

Lyndhurst St Vincent Road, The Burnaby, Greystones, Co Wicklow

Asking price: €1.395m

Agent: Sherry FitzGerald (01) 287 4005

Edwardian peace: Lyndhurst in the “Old” Burnaby
Edwardian peace: Lyndhurst in the “Old” Burnaby
Lizzie Le Blond
The large double family sunroom
The front hall entrance
The brightly lit lounge
The formal dining room
Flashman: Colonel Fred Burnaby as painted in a rare relaxed moment

A key ranking is reserved on the "Great British Nutters" website for Colonel Frederick Gustavus Burnaby; pugilist, swordsman, cavalry officer, explorer, freelance spy, adventurer, hot air balloonist and all round good egg.

Described as a gregarious but vain and reckless dandy, the 6' 4" officer with the 47" chest was known for twisting pokers into knots with his bare hands, vaulting billiard tables and carrying two ponies, one under each arm, down the stairs at Windsor Castle. You all know the sort.

Fearless Fred became a household name and the toast of Victorian society for his derring-do account of his forbidden 1,000 mile trek inside Russian -controlled Asia, travelling in disguise with his tea caddy and trusty Tartar dwarf guide at a time when westerners were forbidden at risk of death. A Ride To Khiva (available free online today) became a British bestseller and saw Fred, who spoke fluent Russian and Turkish, come to be regarded as a sort of Victorian era James Bond.

Fearless Fred then out-Fogged Phileas when he made an acclaimed and heroic solo crossing of the English Channel in a hot air balloon in 1882. His kit included a bowler hat, two beef sandwiches, a bottle of mineral water and a box of good cigars. No umbrella.

The large double family sunroom
The large double family sunroom

Despite being pursued by ladies from many great houses, high flying Fred became smitten by the charms of a Co Wicklow raised 18-year-old named Elizabeth Hawkins Whitshed. And he proposed. She said yes.

Elizabeth wasn't your average stay-at-home-for-sewing-charades-and-crumpets type of wife. She was a trailblazing mountaineer (credited as the first 'manless' climber) an explorer, a pioneering photographer, author and early film maker. Elizabeth inherited lands beside Greystones in Wicklow but had been orphaned and guardianed by the British Lord Chancellor of the day. But pioneering Swiss mountain scaling trips through the glass ceiling didn't impress everyone. She wrote: "My grand-aunt, Lady Bentinck, sent out a frantic SOS. 'Stop her climbing mountains! She is scandalizing all London and looks like a Red Indian!'"

Meantime, Fred had heard of a rescue mission to retrieve General Gordon from the siege at Khartoum and insisted on tagging along. However, when the 1,400 strong expedition ran into the Sudanese at Abu Klea, the wicket got rather sticky. The greatly outnumbered British force formed into a protective firing square. But Fearless Fred charged straight out of it, sabre drawn, to attack 13,000 antsy fundamentalist dervishes; and got himself speared through the throat.

Fearless Fred was dead.

Back home, to commemorate him, widowed Elizabeth established Ireland's first planned housing estate and named it after her fallen hero. Then she went off climbing more mountains, got married twice more and ended her days known as Le Blond, Lizzie Le Blond (her last hubbie's name).

Today the garden city style late Victorian and Edwardian Burnaby estate is somewhat famous nationally for its origins, for peace and quiet and beach proximity. But is especially revered in Greystones where more established residents of the erstwhile expanded seaside town believe you're not really local unless you're a Burnabite. And that means the 'old' Burnaby, not the 'new' end where the 'blow ins' live.

Lizzie Le Blond
Lizzie Le Blond

Largely developed in the early 1900s, its original inhabitants were said to have included (in the spirit of Fred), a choice bunch of pith-helmeted, handlebar- moustachiod ex British officers, come to retire to Ireland by sea with bullet- proof pensions after decades of having a crack at Afrikaaner, Dervish and Zulu. Residents also included leading Irish nationalists with both Eamon De Valera and Michael Collins reputed to have resided in its leafy lanes.

Today the biggest issue with the "Old" Burnaby is that so few homes actually come up for sale here. One of the few is Lyndhurst at St Vincent Road which has been owned by the same family for the last 60 years. It comes to market this week through Sherry FitzGerald with a price tag of €1.395m attached.

Designers of larger homes built in this little Edwardian window in time somehow got it perfectly right in terms of proportion, lighting and craftmanship - something the English style garden city movement homes are known for.

Lyndhurst has high ceilings and most of its original period features including decorative cornicing, centre roses, original timber paneled doors and sliding sash windows.

The accommodation comprises an entrance hall with drawing room to the left and a dining room to the right, both with open fireplaces. The drawing room is dual aspect and has a bay window with window seat. The kitchen and breakfast room is to the rear of the house with a corner stove and windows overlooking the gardens. The utility room is accessed off the kitchen and provides access to the rear gardens. It has original period floor tiling.

There's a family/sun room with floor to ceiling windows and French doors to the patio area. Upstairs on the return are two double bedrooms, the family bathroom and a separate wc. On the first floor are three further bedrooms to include the main bedroom with fitted wardrobes and a double sink.

The brightly lit lounge
The brightly lit lounge

There's also a half an acre of gardens attached for children to get lost in, for wild imaginings of feats of derring do.

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