Tuesday 15 October 2019

Stokestown House - once a wedding gift to a bride - goes to market for the first time ever for €1.75m

Forget placemats and vouchers, Sarah Drake got a brand new riverside mansion and estate as a wedding gift, writes Mark Keenan

Stokestown House
Stokestown House
A view over the Barrow Estuary
The bathroom showing off the wider Franklin-style windows
The front entrance
Stokestown House, an aerial view
The family room also benefits from the wider window setting
A formal dining room
The traditional tiled kitchen
Mark Keenan

Mark Keenan

The see-saw power politics of Tudor/Stuart era England dictated that even a regent could lose his or her head at any time. What's more, those who did the lopping, could quite easily be the ones to have their own heads removed as the tides of power reversed.

The protagonists didn't come with rounder heads than the Deane brothers of Gloucestershire (although given a 13-year age gap, some sources suggest they were cousins). Older brother Richard was a hardened puritan who became Oliver Cromwell's lieutenant of artillery, fighting at key British Civil War battles like Naseby where he made a big impression. After the Wars he signed Charles I's death warrant as one of the 'regicides' sitting on the commission that directed the king be beheaded.

Richard Deane subsequently became a "general at sea" for Cromwell but perished at the naval Battle of Gabbard where the English defeated the Dutch for control of the North English Channel. However, despite both being dead when the Restoration came, neither he nor Cromwell, who had died of fever, escaped the ire of the returning Stuart regime.

When Charles II took the throne, he launched a campaign against the regicides and their allies. Even to the degree of digging up those who had already perished. Leading commission signatories - Cromwell, Ireton and Bradshaw - were disinterred and publicly 'hung' together at Tyburn on January 30, 1661, the anniversary of Charles I's execution. Their heads were placed on high poles at Westminster. Some time after 1672, Cromwell's bonce blew down in a storm and was snatched out of the street, finding a life of its own in assorted exhibitions and shows before it was finally interred in 1960 in Cambridge. Richard Deane's body, which was buried in Westminster Abbey, was dug out and thrown in a commoner's pit.

The family room also benefits from the wider window setting
The family room also benefits from the wider window setting

Almost all of the other signatories of Charles I's death warrant were hunted down to be executed, to die in prison or to flee abroad. Cromwell's allies were all in the cross-hairs.

But here in Ireland, Richard Deane's younger brother Joseph had luck on his side. Joseph, like Richard, had fought with Cromwell in the British Civil War and later accompanied him in his fighting in Ireland. The younger roundhead Deane so impressed the Protector that he was rewarded with extensive lands in Ireland which included Crumlin and Terenure in Dublin as well as Wexford, Kilkenny, Cork and Waterford. Staying in Ireland might have kept him under the Restoration's radar. Despite his uber roundhead status, Deane managed to remain unmolested in his newly acquired holdings in Ireland; clinging on until Charles II's death in 1685. After the Battle of the Boyne and yet another sea change in the regime, he became an MP for Inistioge and was Sheriff of Dublin before he died in 1699, leaving a formidable dynasty behind him. His son would become Chief Baron of the Exchequer, in essence a one-man supreme court representing the new king in Ireland. The Deanes had arrived and would not be dislodged.

Among the illustrious Deane family ancestors was Joseph Berkeley Deane of New Ross, attached to the Wexford portion of the original holdings. In 1810 Joseph expressed his love for his wife-to-be, Sarah Drake, by building her a fine house as a wedding present overlooking the Barrow Estuary just south of the busy port and market town.

The Drake family of Stokestown, Co Wexford, also arrived in Ireland in 1641. In the saddle with Cromwell was Roger Drake of London, himself a descendant of the famous Sir Francis. Roger also came to Ireland with Cromwell in 1641.

Since then, the incumbent Stokestown House dwelling family's name changed through marriage to Drake and most recently (and perhaps ironically), to Stewart. Remarkably, in its 210-year history, Stokestown House has never been sold once. Until now.

Today it has been launched to market for the first time ever, with a price of €1.75m and 82 acres of riverside farmland attached. For for a large period country house - it spans 6,200 sq ft or six times the floor space of an average semi detached - like the first Joseph Deane, it has remained remarkably unmolested.

The traditional tiled kitchen
The traditional tiled kitchen

The advantage in having had Stokestown passed down directly in unbroken succession is its originality. Homes from this era and type tend to have been overhauled to their detriment in the 20th Century by religious orders who acquired them for schools or monasteries and carved up their interiors, or the Land Commission handed them to farmers who tore out chimney pieces and fittings to flog them off. Or they ended up as hotels, subdivided for the tourism function.

Today the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage lists Stokestown as a building of both historic and artistic merit. The detached three-bay, two-storey country house, has a hipped slate roof, granite ashlar chimney stacks and an urn-topped classically detailed porch, all of which are noted in the Archive.

The house is situated towards the middle of the estate with a south-westerly aspect overlooking the River Barrow estuary.

The elevations are of locally sourced stone while the windows are of the Wyatt style with square headed openings and cut granite sills. To the rear of the residence is the stone coach yard with a range of stables and general stores. A derelict gate lodge is situated at the main entrance with electrically operated wrought iron gates.

Those extra wide Wyatt style windows in the bigger rooms (to dodge window tax) bring in plenty of natural light. Inside, original features include ornate stucco work, door casements, the original mahogany doors, deep skirting boards and much sought after original wide board wooden flooring.

The accommodation includes, on the ground floor: the entrance porch; an entrance hall; an inner hall around the staircase; and the four main reception rooms including the drawing room, dining room, a sitting room and a family room.

Stokestown House, an aerial view
Stokestown House, an aerial view

There's a decent sized kitchen and breakfastroom and a selection of walk-in storage rooms and sculleries. On the first floor there are seven bedrooms, two with ensuite bathrooms, as well as the main family bathroom.

The house will require modernisation and a certain amount of upgrading to suit modern day living requirements. Among the jobs you'll need to pencil in is the provision of a new heating system.

The original gate lodge located at the main entrance to the grounds is in a derelict state. However, mentioned also in the Inventory of Architectural Heritage for its historic value, it could be easily restored to house a relation or staff member or indeed to be rented out.

To the rear of the house is the gated courtyard with a number of stables, garages, kennels and storage sheds. The courtyard is constructed in the same fashion as the main house with stone elevations and slate roofs. Behind the courtyard is an area of mature woodland extending to approximately 4.5 acres,

The lands are laid out in paddocks, bounded by mature woodland, and enjoy extensive elevated frontage to the River Barrow. The gardens around the house extend to four acres. There are 35 acres of mature woodland and plantation forestry leaving 43 acres under grass and tillage. The heritage towns of Enniscorthy and New Ross are close by in a pivotal tourist enclave.

For those who want to keep their heads and go to ground in an historic home in coastal Wexford, Colliers International is seeking offers of €1.75m.

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