Parochial elegance for the modern era for €875k
The old parochial house, Ashford, Co Wicklow €875,000
There are many former parochial houses in towns around Ireland, sturdily built 19th-century properties with fine original features, built within a stone's throw of their parish church and designed to house the parish priest, his curates and a housekeeper - and entertain the bishop should he call.
The Old Parochial House in Ashford is an elegant example of the type. Dating back to the 1870s, it sits on 0.64 acres of mature grounds, and is set between the Church of the Holy Rosary and a grotto.
Bought by the vendor in 2001 from the local parish, the house had been vacant for some years and required modernisation.
The vendor, who works in the construction industry, set about rewiring, plumbing and adding a new heating system and the house is consequently in extremely good condition.
Some of the ecclesiastical features have been retained - an upstairs oratory for example, with lovely stained-glass windows has been repurposed as a bathroom, but the windows in their sandstone setting have been kept.
A sweep of gravel leads up to the front of the house, with an entrance hall with mosaic-tiled floor and glass-framed inner door that makes for a light-filled hallway.
Then comes an impressive double-aspect drawing room with marble fireplace, original sash windows and cornice work all restored. The floor boards are also original and have the sheen that comes with years of scrubbing, polish and wax. One imagines many a cup of tea was enjoyed here with visiting parishioners calling to discuss the matters of the day.
Other reception rooms include a study and double-aspect sitting room again with features intact. A back hall leads on to a WC, generous utility room and pantry. One huge selling point for families - and those who love to entertain - is the spacious southwest-facing orangery that was added to the rear of the house and forms a large open plan living area with a glass atrium inset into the ceiling. The result is a sunny room that looks out over the gardens and can be accessed via double doors.
A back door leads through a side hall and into the garden with plenty of space to deposit wellies, coats and all the clutter of school bags and sports gear. Off the open-plan living area is the kitchen, decked out in cream country style units, and situated so that whoever is on kitchen duty also has a view. Upstairs, there is plenty of accommodation for a large family with five bedrooms, one en suite, a bathroom and a separate WC/shower. Some rooms have open fireplaces which are still usable.
A double garage in the grounds has been wired, plumbed and insulated and only needs painting and timber-work to be completed as a granny flat or accommodation for an au pair.
Ashford was relatively unchanged by the Celtic Tiger, perhaps because the M50 motorway bypassed the village and it retains its country charm. It has taken on a starring role in the TV series The Vikings, however, as the set has been built close to the Old Parochial House.
The famous Mount Usher gardens are a few minutes' walk and it's believed that the large laurels on the grounds originated from there. For families, there is a new playground behind the house, a national school and a new community centre which opened nearby last year.
Greystones Dart station is a 15-minute drive, and Dublin city centre is just 46 kilometres away.
Words by Fran Power
Size: 350 sqm
Agents: Sherry FitzGerald Country Homes (01) 237 6300 and Sherry FitzGerald Catherine O'Reilly (0404) 66466
Viewing: By appointment only