Wednesday 12 December 2018

Trading down: four period mansions in Dublin are selling luxury apartments steeped in history

Four huge period houses in Dublin offer luxury apartments with the floor space of a semi-d

Howth Lodge exterior
Howth Lodge exterior
Bloomfield in Donnybrook
Hallway at Howth Lodge
Rockford House in Blackrock
Sutton Castle
The dining area at Sutton Castle
One of the designer kitchens at Bloomfield House
Mark Keenan

Mark Keenan

How much would it cost to build a real country mansion sized house in Dublin today - and to craft it exactly as it was done in the 18th and 19th centuries?

Take Bloomfield House in Donnybrook, which was built for Blessington MP William Saurin in the 1700s. On its original two acre site, it would likely cost more than €25m plus today to buy and to replicate it and perhaps four times that to rebuild it using the hand made techniques and big teams of craftsmen required back in the day. With houses this size full teams of  stucco workers sometimes moved in for a year or more to get the job done, never mind joiners, masons and the other professions.

What about building Sutton Castle anew? The former country home of the Jameson whiskey family is a late Victorian neo Tudor mansion with 40 rooms standing on the cliffs of Sutton. It still has seven and a half acres of gardens and woodland attached. Completed in 1895, it was last on the market in 1997 when it is believed to have fetched the equivalent of almost €3m.

Take property inflation into account in the interim and that's circa €30m to buy today. To rebuild it as originally crafted, could cost closer to €80m. For an alternative take on grand seaside living you could consider rebuilding Howth Lodge, the former Viceregal summer residence overlooking Claremont Beach or there's Rockford Manor, the cut-granite country manor house constructed in Blackrock in the mid 1800s by Sir William Betham, both of which would cost tens of millions.

Rockford House in Blackrock
Rockford House in Blackrock

Because of the labour intensivity (it was cheap in those days) and the sheer scale of construction involved, houses like this won't ever be built in Ireland again. Having served interim periods as hospitals, schools and hotels, all four of those mentioned have however, recently been preserved for future generations by conversion into luxury apartments, most of which contain the equivalent of the floor area of an average three-bed semi. Today they are popular targets for those trading down from a big home - to live in an ever bigger one. All four converted period mansions currently have homes available for sale.

Gallagher Quigley is selling No 26, a 2,000 sq ft three-bedroom apartment within Howth Lodge and asking €1.25m. The views from the terrace run from Claremont beach to Ireland's Eye and beyond. There's a reception hall, a drawing room with a marble chimney piece, a modern open-plan kitchen and dining room, three large double bedrooms, (the main bedroom is ensuite) and two bathrooms.

Hallway at Howth Lodge
Hallway at Howth Lodge

There's also lock-up storage on site. It has crystal chandeliers, bespoke timber joinery, high ceilings, decorative plaster coving, double-glazed sash windows, herringbone oak floors and two car parking spaces.

At the Donnybrook end of Bloomfield Avenue in Dublin 4, seven two-bedroom apartments are on offer at Bloomfield House with bespoke fit outs by Taylor Howes including impressive SieMatic kitchens with Miele appliances. There are high ceilings, solid timber floors, underground car parking, a District Heating system with high pressure instant hot water and a heat exchange system. They span 1,100 to 1,500 sq ft and are priced between €1m and €1.2m through Sherry FitzGerald New Homes and Felicity Fox.

Bloomfield in Donnybrook
Bloomfield in Donnybrook

In Blackrock, Rockford Manor currently has Apartment 102 for sale through Savills. It spans 1,097 sq ft with two bedrooms and has high ceilings. Rockford Manor is located on Stradbrook Road and was carried out by Sorohans in 2002. There's a dual aspect modern kitchen and dining room which comes with granite worktops and double doors lead into the main reception with its feature fireplace, solid wood floors and original windows on three sides. The main bathroom has a corner bath with a thermostatic shower as does the ensuite off bedroom two.

The kitchen and dining room comes with wall and floor units, granite worktops and a Kupperbush oven, dishwasher and integrated washer dryer. It also has a wash hand basin, WC, wall-mounted mirror, and a recessed 1.5 bowl steel sink. The living room has sash windows facing the front of the house as well as both sides. Savills seeks offers of €575,000.

Sutton Castle
Sutton Castle

Meantime Holm Oak at 9 Sutton Castle allows a taster of life like the Jamesons of old. On offer through Gallagher Quigley for €850,000, the two bedroom, two bathroom apartment spans 1,430 sq ft with American white oak floors, a limestone fireplace, a Jacuzzi bath and 170 sq ft of external decking with views over Dublin Bay. Contained in the 'modern block', there's a living room and dining room with double doors to the sun terrace, a modern kitchen and an ensuite off the main bedroom. There are two parking spaces. The Jameson family coat of arms still adorns the front - Sine metu ("without fear") - and the elaborately beautiful main staircase has been fully restored, with original ornamental stags' heads peering down through it.

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