Wednesday 21 August 2019

Tudor-mad English couple spent years preparing their dream home in Tipperary


The exterior of Grove House
The exterior of Grove House
The hallway and staircase with open fireplace in The Old Grove
The fountain in the garden
One of the bedrooms
The dining room

Gabrielle Monaghan

Here in Ireland we have plenty of Neo Tudors from the Edwardian era, with their red bricks, stained glass and fanned beams. And because we liked them so much, we built almost as many mock Neo Tudors in the last 20 years, to replicate the Edwardian mock-ups of a previous century. Therefore it wholly ironic that we have had nothing in Ireland that even vaguely resembles original Tudor styling in a home. Until 19 years ago.

Enter the builders of The Old Grove (it's quite recent in fact). This English couple with a love for the real thing scoured outlets of reclaimed materials and antique fittings over the years in anticipation of their Tipperary project with their own 16th century styling aspirations.

And it is quite something. The couple bought a 6.1-acre site near the south Tipperary village of New Inn. They had already clocked up experience revamping and building Tudor-style homes in England, according to the vendor of The Old Grove, who has just placed it on the market.

The English pair lived on the site during the years-long build, which began back in 2000. They had sourced stone from Belfast, a 150-year-old oak staircase from France, 200-year-old terracotta floor tiles for the sunroom, reclaimed red brick for the exterior from the UK, and salvaged oak beams for the ceilings. While those pieces mightn't have been of the 1500s, they were sourced to look the part and royally so.

The Tudor period, which coincided with the eponymous dynasty between 1485 and the early 1600s, ushered in an era of economic prosperity and a subsequent wave of house-building in England. But the Tudor period in Ireland was a decidedly more turbulent time. Henry VIII had become the first English monarch to declare himself King of Ireland, and his reign saw a process of plantations and conquest that was continued after his death, during the reigns of daughters Mary I and then Elizabeth I.

Tudor architecture is loosely defined, but it saw the emergence of the chimney stack and enclosed hearths - rather than a great hall based around an open hearth that was typical of earlier medieval architecture - as well as brick and stone masonry with half-timbers.

The couple who built The Old Grove used more subtle Tudor-inspired hallmarks, such as a half-timbered, red brick exterior, gable frontages, oak beams and panelling, tall brick chimneys, some geometric landscaping with fountains, and inglenook fireplaces. They sold it to the current owners five years ago who must now themselves sell up and move on for career purposes.

The 3,821-sq ft property, its sculpted gardens and grounds are set at the foot of the Comeragh and Knockmealdown Mountains. The Old Grove is approached by an avenue lined with 85 mature trees - mostly sycamores. To the rear, there's a fountain, an ornamental pool and a waterfall. A porch leads to an entrance hall and its French period oak staircase, flagstone floor and fireplace. A side hall to the left leads on to the library, a guest wc, the kitchen, a sunroom and the living room. The latter space features an inglenook fireplace with a Hamco log burner, oak flooring, an oak beam-ceiling and French double doors that open onto the rear garden.

The large kitchen has a terracotta floor, a double Belfast sink, a four-oven Aga, country-style units and granite worktops. There's an oak-panelled formal dining room and adjoining drawing room, with a brick inglenook fireplace, oak mantle, oak flooring, and a further set of French doors to the back garden.

This terracotta-floored sunroom has double French doors that lead to a patio area. Off the kitchen is a utility room and a boot room. Upstairs, there are six bedrooms - enough for each of Henry VIII's wives. Five of the bedrooms are ensuite and the master has an ensuite bathroom and a walk-in wardrobe. Outside is a large two-storey double garage which houses a gym.

There's also a show-hunting arena near the paddocks for the current owners' Connemara ponies. They also added an American barn with six loose boxes using bricks and beams from the same source as the main house. You can pick up the whole package for €725,000.

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