Now and then you come across a house that is truly unique. And the big old mock Tudor Edwardian at 180 Butterfield Avenue in Dublin's Rathfarnham achieves this status on a number of levels and at certain points in time since its construction 115 years ago.
It all starts back in the late 19th Century when the Arts and Crafts movement began in Britain and spread around the world. It got to Ireland properly in the early 1900s and was all the rage for about 20 years.
The gist of it was, those with money decided: "We've been buying mass produced stuff made in factories since the industrial revolution kicked off. Now it's all become a bit of a bore. So now we rather like the idea of going back in time so we can own some proper handmade stuff with character."
It started with people like William Morris and his hand-painted wallpapers, and the work of architect Augustus Pugin. The quality handmade philosophy spread through furniture, clothing, textiles, and to all aspects of house building and finishing.
Lounge with marble fire surround, parquet floor, arched ceiling with Velux windows, and glazed doors leading outside
The good news for the hitherto downtrodden, exploited and ignored Baldricks of carpentry, brick laying, glass work, plumbing, plastering and roofing was that suddenly they and their workmanship (rechristened "craft") were thrust into the limelight.
They were encouraged to show off a bit. The brick layers went into spirals and multi tones with their chimney stacks and ridging; the joiners (now artists of sorts) expressed themselves in stair balusters and panel doors.
Because the Victorians decided that the best handmade and rustic looking stuff was from the Tudor era, they began reproducing Tudor build characteristics in their property. So we got gables with wood beams and covered porches. This imitation style, today known as "Mock Tudor", moved to Ireland and was deployed widely in new city suburbs - at that point in locations like Dublin 4 and Dublin 6.
But in Irish country realms, home builders preferred to stick rigidly with the Georgian, or, by this point, imitation Georgian model that had served them for generations. Because of this, there were very few Mock Tudor Edwardian country houses built in Ireland.
Which brings us back to 180 Butterfield Avenue which is one of the very few examples of a genuine Edwardian Mock Tudor farm house. Constructed circa 1904, perhaps for a hobby farmer businessman, it was situated on large acreage back when Rathfarnham was at the heart of County Dublin dairyland. What is doubly unique is that it is still with us, and with three quarters of an acre of land attached today. This is likely because it was acquired, along with its land, in the middle of the last century by the Hallmark Greeting Card company, which built a factory on the original site, with the big old house believed to have been utilised as an office building.
Hallmark closed in 2000, but its timely tenure ensured that this property survived the big house blitz of the 1980s and 1990s. Anything with more than an acre in the suburbs was pulverised by the wrecking ball to make way for estate development in a time before effective protection listings came on board.
Acquired by its current owner 20 years ago, and restored and extended 15 years ago, the five-bedroom house comes to market for €2.5m. Originally 3,000 sq ft, another 2,000 sq ft or so have been added here and there in appendages which are in keeping with the style.
Inside it has all the aspects of Arts and Crafts on show - elaborate chimney pieces, all very different and one for each reception room.
Through the leaded glazed double doors, the main hall with its checkerboard floor tiles has elaborate ceiling plasterwork and beautiful baluster work on the stairs. The former ballroom is now a games room. There's a formal drawing room, a living room, a dining room, a study, an enormous open plan kitchen/dining space with a robust Aga and a huge central island unit.
The house has five bedrooms and the master chamber has its own Jacuzzi en suite and dressing room, and three other bedrooms come with en suites also.
Aside from sitting on three quarters of an acre, like most period country homes it also has the benefit of a gate lodge. This has two good sized bedrooms, one of which is en suite, a kitchen/dining room, main bathroom and a living room, This could be rented out for about €2,400 per month. The main house is set well back from the road, with automatic entrance gates opening onto a sweeping gravel driveway.
Another Arts and Crafts touch which might have been associated with the original builder and owner and which provides a source of mystery today is the stained glass work featuring the motif of a red six-pointed star which features on round windows throughout the home.