In Pictures: This €395k Irish gate lodge is full of scandi style
Summerville Lodge was the gate house for a country home, today it's a top suburban trade down, writes Mark Keenan
In a tradition of small building on a grand scale, Ireland once had 10,000 gate lodges. This tradition started out with stout medieval castle gate houses and ended with tiny decorative cottages stationed a meagre stone's throw from the main house they served. In between, gate lodges evolved and remorphed through endless building fashion fads, from imitation mini Greek or Italianate villas, to tiny Gothic revival mini castles, to the pint-sized Edwardian mock Tudor pad at the tail end of lodge building.
Today the country's foremost expert on gate lodges, Kimmitt Dean estimates that most of them are now lost - around half have already been demolished, while many of those surviving are now in a perilous condition, often more expensive to restore than to demolish.
Gate lodges, designed to house a gate porter, date from a time when labour was cheap and big country house owners had an army of staff - from head butler right down (in some cases) to the garden hermit - a pauper hired to live permanently for years in an ornamental garden cave or hermitage. The latter was dressed in a blanket or fur breeches and often a pointed dunce's cap to act as a sort of living garden gnome.
For his part, the gate porter was on duty 24/7 and along with opening and closing the gate he vetted and formally greeted visitors, kept a visitor's book, and undertook an outpost security role against intruders or wandering vagrants. He often kept a blunderbuss as a deterrent. But in later years the gate lodge resident along with the lodge itself became nothing but a decorative status symbol, much like the living gnome before him.
Summerville Lodge at Windy Arbour in Dublin 14 is listed among the 216 notable gate lodges of Leinster documented by Kimmitt Dean's 2016 book, The Gate Lodges of Leinster: a gazeteer. Dean tells us Summerville Lodge was built in 1870 as a "standard single storey hip-roofed lodge with brick highlights as segmental arches to openings, toothed dressings, keystones and quoins, all picked out in black and white paint" (more recently coloured grey and cream).
Summerville Lodge also reminds us that many long established city suburbs were once in the country - the Dundrum area was brimful of big house country estates many of which operated dairy farms. Today only Airfield remains of 30 dairies in the area. It also reminds us how the suburban lodge has often outlasted its mother house thanks to the need for building land. The former big house - presumably called Summerville - appears to be long gone and there is an estate of 1990s homes in its place. This estate is somewhat more poshly-named Sommerville.
Summerville Lodge was built back in 1870, likely by city retailer George Heather, who then resided in the big house attached. Windy Arbour was a stop off (an Arbour) for coaches on the road to Dublin. Nearby Dundrum, five minute's walk away, was a country village health resort based on the restorative properties of its goat's milk.
Summerville House is typical of the gate lodges provided in the 19th century close to Dublin City. The property has just been placed on the market through the Lisney agency asking €395,000. Unlike a lot of surviving gate lodges in the suburbs, which have been orphaned from their big houses by development, it has been restored comprehensively and sympathetically. A good deal of design flair has also been employed here, not least with the occasional exposure of original random rubble stonework to lend a bit of wholesome rustic character.
In the gate lodge tradition, it combines grand design (a villa style) with small internal dimensions. There are essentially three rooms here, a bathroom and a tiny hall. From the hall it's left into the living room and dining room. This has at its centre, a cast- iron fireplace with an ornate surround and a slate hearth. The floor here and throughout the house is tiled in cream porcelain, apart from the bedroom which has boards painted Scandi style.
A step down takes you to the substantial kitchen and breakfastroom, also tiled and with traditional style units in a duck-egg hue. There are floor and ceiling cupboards and polished hardwood work tops. There's a built-in Whirlpool hob and oven with a chrome extractor overhead. It's also plumbed for a dishwasher. The window overlooks the garden to the front and side.
Then comes the bedroom which also overlooks the garden and it has original folding shutters on the window. The bathroom is very smart indeed in a fin-de-siècle style black and white tiles and an Edwardian-style sink. The heating is gas fired. Overall it measures 581 sq ft, which is a good size for a gate lodge. For more mature couples who want to trade down in some style from a larger empty nest, this home is a decent option.
Aside from being located near one of the country's favourite shopping centres at Dundrum (there's also cinemas) there's a Luas station at each side: at both Windy Arbour and Dundrum. It's a short walk to the Dodder Linear Park at Milltown which runs for miles each way along the river. With the trade down balance money put aside from the sale of a bigger house in this area, this purchase will still see you keeping the bank from the gate for years to come.
Dundrum Road, Dublin 14
Asking price: €395,000
Agent: Lisney (01) 2963662