Twin 19th century mansions in Laois offer the best of both worlds for €4.75m
Period Laois country seat comes with replica former dower.
TO find two historic mansions located together on one Irish country estate is unusual enough but to have them standing together, one beside the other, is almost unheard of.
Such is the case at Capard House and the second adjoining house known as 'The Wing." The main house was the seat of the eminent Pigott family, who aided Cromwell here in the mid 17th century and were rewarded extensively with lands in Limerick and Laois - what was then Queen's County.
Having built a number of houses in succession on the same site on the family estate in Rosenallis, the Pigotts' fortunes were improved enough by the 1790s to warrant the construction of a truly grand country seat. Work started on the house at the end of the 18th century and didn't finish until 1815.
The Pigotts, various members of whom served as High Sheriffs of Queen's County, hosted the Williamite army under General Ginkel at Rosenallis. Southwell Pigott was Ginkel's aide de camp and was by his side at the pivotal Battle of the Boyne.
The Dutch general stayed at Capard estate and an original copy of the Treaty of Limerick was passed down through the family to be handed to the National Museum in the 1960s.
The main house - a seven-bay home over two storeys and built in cut stone, is a neo-classical early Georgian with a Greek Doric portico. The story goes that 'The Wing', a similarly designed but rendered version which is somewhat smaller and today painted cream, was built around the same time in order to house the family's servants.
This is mistaken. Pigott records confirm that it was built as a dower house for Elizabeth, mother of John Pigott who occupied the main house in the early 19th century. A later owner, Colonel Robert Pigott, caused a scandal by having seven children out of wedlock with Teresa Keogh, possibly his servant. Perhaps this is where the 'servants' home' story originated.
Despite the monicker 'The Wing', the two buildings are separate - albeit within a short walk of one another. They both face the same way and the main house sits slightly forward of the other.
Today the original house largely retains all its original period features and is decorated in a plush, extravagant and colourful period style with touches of the baroque. Most of the original Georgian joinery is still intact. In contrast, 'The Wing' contains many thoroughly modern rooms. The result is a pair of dwellings which can cope with any type of social event or party.
The estate was bought by a Dublin businessman back in the 1990s when he saw it advertised in a city estate agent's window. For the next 25 years he and his partner embarked on a huge restoration programme both inside and out. This included the extensive gardens which have been remade in grand style under the supervision of the renowned garden designer Arthur Shackleton who has also worked on famous gardens at Ashford, Glin, Dromoland and the Lyons Demesne.
The main house has eight bedrooms, seven of which are ensuite. The portico entrance leads to the entrance hall with black and white marble tiles from which double doors lead to the main hall.
There is decorative plasterwork with gilt edging, and a stone and mahogany cantilevered staircase leads upstairs.
Key reception rooms include the drawing room with a timber floor, a white carved matlepiece, gilted cornice and centre rose. The dining room has a white Adam-style fireplace and the library comes with a brass surround marble mantelpiece.
There is also a "small" dining room. Accessed from this floor are the old service areas which include a wine cellar, a serving dining room, kitchen, breakfast room, pantry, office and a study. The kitchen is traditional in style and comes with a sandstone flagged floor. There are granite worktops and a four-oven oil-fired Aga cooker with a five-ring Neff gas hob and electric cooker.
Over at the five-bedroomed 'Wing' there's a ground floor entrance hall, a modern kitchen, a dining room with an oak and Greek mahogany inlay floor. There's a drawing room, a study and a bathroom with Jacuzzi bath and shower. This building also has a second "catering" kitchen. There's a "hot tub room" with a Jacuzzi and two showers, a guest changing room and a party/banqueting room which can seat 60 people. This comes with a partly sprung timber floor for dancing. Upstairs has a games room, living room, two studies, and a huge bathroom with a free-standing oval bath and multi-jet showers.
The gardens include many architectural features with a neo classical folly and water landscaping. There's a bluebell woodland, a two-acre walled garden and a farm.
The price has just been cut to €4.75m from a more ambitious €5.5m.
Capard House/The Wing, Rosenallis, Co Laois. Asking price: €4.75m. Agent: Savills 01 663 4350.