This beautiful €4.35m Georgian home comes with an orchard, a barn and seven acres of garden
Georgian home offers space to spare less than half an hour from Dublin
Wilford House in Shankill was originally known as Wilfort and is a late Georgian country pile dating from the 1790s. Back then, the journey into Dublin city centre by horse-drawn carriage must have been quite an expedition, but these days - with a fair wind and outside of the rush hour - you could reach St. Stephen's Green via the N11 in just under half an hour.
Once the home of Harley Hodson (whose ancestor Dr John Hodson is said to have assisted Charles I in his escape from Oxford in 1641), Wilford House passed into the ownership of the Toole family until the 1870s, after which it was home to a succession of military men, including Major John Harvey, Captain Arthur Hill and Colonel Rowan-Hamilton.
When the current owners of Wilford House purchased the property in the early noughties, they embarked upon a full top-to-toe renovation that must have required nerves of steel and extra-deep pockets.
Once the work was done, they settled down to enjoy the house, hosting family events such as a wedding for one of their daughters in a huge marquee on the lawn to the front (going so far as to build a bridge over the haha to bring their guests from the house to the party), and frequent summer barbecues with their grandchildren in the secluded private garden to the back.
Now the owners are ready to downsize, and Wilford is looking for what estate agents like to call 'a special buyer', which means someone who not only has the resources to purchase the house in the first place, but also to invest in its continuing upkeep and maintenance.
To reach Wilford, one takes the Bray North exit off the N11 and the first exit off the roundabout leading back towards the village of Shankill. Wilford is located behind the first set of gates on the left and occupies a huge site of seven acres, most unusual this close to the capital. All of the acreage is in garden and beautifully landscaped, with numerous water features and swathes of mature birch and lime trees to ensure privacy.
The house is located at the end of a sweeping gravel driveway. Double doors from the entrance porch lead to an octagonal hall with alcoves, ornate cornicing and a fine centre rose. To either side of the hall are the two formal reception rooms, with the drawing room to the right and the dining room to the left. Each has marble period mantelpieces and three shuttered windows overlooking the gardens.
Two tall panelled doors at the rear of the hall open out into an oval stairwell, with a gentle spiral staircase leading to the upper and lower floors. The return is on three levels, and each is taken up with a suite of rooms, including bedrooms and bathrooms on the upper levels, and an office and family sitting room on the lower level.
The rooms have curved walls and beautiful curved original doors, and the view down the staircase from the top is wonderful, lit from above by a Georgian cupola with decorative plasterwork.
A pair of matching master bedrooms is at the front of the house on the first floor; these both have en suite bathrooms and dressing rooms, and magnificent views out towards the Sugarloaf and Little Sugarloaf.
At ground floor level is a playroom, a cinema room with overhead projector and a giant fixed screen set in a mahogany cabinet.
The kitchen is country-style, with a fitted kitchen/breakfast room, a full range of floor- and wall-mounted kitchen units, American-style fridge freezer and a cream AGA with additional electric module to the side. Ancillary to the kitchen are a laundry, a wine cellar and a guest lavatory. The current owners installed a dumb waiter to bring dishes up and down to the dining room, located directly above. The house feels warm and comfortable throughout.
While previous owners undoubtedly kept horses at Wilford, and it will be open to new owners to do the same, the current owners have not. What was the coach house is now used, at ground floor level, primarily as an office and meeting room, with a storage area for garden equipment.
Above is a generous three-bedroom apartment that could be used for staff accommodation - and new owners will definitely need help if they are to maintain Wilford in its current immaculate state.
On a damp autumn day, the grounds are busy with bird life and a gardener is hard at work collecting windfalls in the orchard, which has several varieties of apple, pear and plum.
Bisecting the orchard is a 50-foot hazel bower, planted for that family wedding, which leads to a pavilion in which the happy couple made their vows. It must have made a lovely background for the wedding photographs.
Wilford House also has a large barn which could be put to any number of uses, whether as a recording or artist's studio, or simply as a very desirable teenage den.
Shankill, Dublin 18
Asking price: €4.35m
Agent: Knight Frank, (01) 6342466