Peek inside this €3.25m Foxrock mansion with its own underground swimming pool
Ethos of the 'garden city' movement with an underground pool to boot
Foxrock is proof that big dreams scuppered by downturns often endure to make for lasting legacies. In 1854, the developers William and John Bentley and Edward and Anthony Fox were considered both brave and mad for imagining an affluent self-contained 'garden suburb' in the wilderness, miles outside of Dublin City. It would later become known as Foxrock.
Launched in 1861, their notion for a planned self-contained community with plenty of green space and leisure facilities attached came about after they leased land at Foxrock from the Anglican Church. They began Westminister, Brighton and Torquay Roads before building its railway station on the Harcourt/Bray Railway line. Leisure aspects of the garden suburb followed with a racecourse in 1888 and a golf club (it's still there) in 1898.
However, the development foundered and bankrupted its developers who did not live to see their dream through to fruition. But their garden suburb concept was a slow-burning winner. Foxrock caught on and today it is one of the capital's most sought-after addresses for all the reasons the Bentleys and Foxes first conceived and imagined.
The concept was well ahead of its time. It was not until 44 years later in 1898 that Ebenezeer Howard launched the renowned 'garden city' movement in England, defining more clearly the concept of wholly planned, self-contained communities surrounded by green belts and containing proportionate areas of residences, gardens, leisure, industry and agriculture.
Today, Westminster Road is Foxrock's most sought-after address and the house type most favoured by the top-end buyer tends to be the Arts and Crafts period model - for reasons of aesthetic, proportion and, as the name suggests, the quality of the hand-applied artistic flourishes; the craft and the workmanship.
Thornfield on Westminster Road is a detached four-storey Arts and Crafts residence built late for the genre in 1935. In 1999 it was bought for €900,000 by a family who found it jaded, and invested so much into refurbishment in a manner sympathetic with its period that the work took two full years to complete. This included extensions for a kitchen, the conversion of the 1930s garage building into a single bedroom mews house, and the reconfiguration of the main entrance from the side to the front of the property.
An entire leisure centre with a 30-foot long heated pool, a four-seater hot tub, sauna and games room was installed. But rather than despoil the style of this house, they dug down - to create a whole new floor beneath it. Above are three floors consistent with the Arts and Crafts style of the house. Everything from the twin Belfast sinks in the kitchen to the stand-alone claw-foot tubs upstairs has been selected for finely crafted form. Whether original, restored or added, every tile, board, tap and skirt has been considered carefully for quality and relevance.
The ground-floor entrance leads to the main hall with Celtic flagstone floor, carved staircase and original coving. At the centre is a large fireplace with an ornate white marble Adams-period chimney piece. This house has six bedrooms, four of which are elaborately ensuite. The master bed chamber has its own raised viewing balcony and a stand-alone roll top bath in its bay-window column, along with an ensuite with double shower and sinks.
The big features here are the two huge open-plan areas. The drawing room/dining room is the formal hub of the house and includes a marble chimney piece and an ornate carved mahogany drinks bar in one corner. Double doors lead out to the garden.
Added to the original structure is the extra large kitchen, breakfast room and family room space on two levels with a high set apex timber-panelled and vaulted ceiling. The Christian kitchen in cream has an Aga, twin Belfast sinks and a cream limestone floor. There's a TV room and the site is enclosed, secure and private.
Westminster Road, Foxrock, Dublin 18
Asking price: €3.25m
Agent: Sherry FitzGerald (01) 2894386