A novel Co Wicklow idyll in need of a revamp for €3.3m
A Georgian house on 45 acres outside Newcastle offers a challenge for restoration enthusiasts
When Elizabeth Hamilton looked back on her years at Mount John House outside Newcastle, Co Wicklow for her novel An Early Childhood, published in 1963, she painted a florid picture of an Irish country idyll – mature parkland and blossoming gardens with the Georgian house the jewel in the crown of this modest, 45-acre estate.
The house was taken on about five years ago by Tessa and Arthur Collier as a labour of love. In the years since Hamilton’s time Mount John had fallen into serious disrepair. But Tessa had known the house from her own childhood when the Kennedy Kisch family had lived there. They had an early involvement in the development of Dublin shopping centres, including St Stephen’s Green. The lands were ideal for Tessa to breed her prizewinning Connemara ponies, and the house just needed to be restored.
Sadly the greatest improvement that’s been achieved is a thorough re-roofing of the original house and the placing of storage heaters in the larger rooms. The rest is very much a blank canvas, and a challenge a restoration enthusiast might relish – once they’ve digested the detail of a structural engineer’s report.
The Irish Times takes no responsibility for the content or availability of other websites.
The core structure of this seven-bedroom house will appeal to purists. The two bow-ended reception rooms either side of the front hall have lovely proportions, with the morning room linking through French doors to a sunny curvilinear walled garden terrace. The leaded fanlights over the front door and top landing are original. Even the servants’ bell system survives in what remains of the original kitchen and scullery.
But apart from the major job of rewiring, plumbing and restoring the sash windows (shutters are working) some innovations and additions down the years will need reversing. For example, the front and south façade are clad in slate – a very unusual and not entirely attractive feature. Two downpipes flank the ionic columns on either side of the fine front door, rather ruining the overall effect.
At some point too, previous occupants appear to have had a slight preoccupation with bathroom facilities. The house has no less than five bathrooms, every one of which could happily be knocked through, not least the one on the first floor which detracts from what should be a well-lit landing space.
The original fireplaces – including an Adams – which were stolen when the house lay vacant will need replacing.
This is one of the attractions of Mount John: it wouldn’t take a whole lot – apart from hard work and money of course – to recast its 420sq m (4,520sq ft) in whatever mould a new owner would like.
The lean-to conservatory and kitchen to the rear of the house could easily be rased and rebuilt as a modern kitchen and living space, making better use of the huge courtyard onto which it backs.
The stone outbuildings are many and varied and include the original coach house – recently restored as a large studio or games room, with a garage/workshop adjoining to the rear. In addition, there is original and new stabling, stores and a tack room. With a haggard here, a small paddock there, and a fine kitchen garden, the scale of the gardens would suit a farming hobbyist.
A recently refurbished two-bed lodge protects the wrought-iron gateway to the winding timber-fenced avenue, and is included in the €3.3 million asking price through agents Sherry FitzGerald. The property is located just off the M11 motorway, about a 35-minute drive from Dublin.