Property veteran Stephen Vernon buys €3.25m Salterbridge estate

Historic house and gardens in Waterford bought as retreat by entrepreneur

Salterbridge estate, Co Waterford

Salterbridge estate, Co Waterford

 

Businessman Stephen Vernon is set to become the third owner of the historic Salterbridge property in Cappoquin, Co Waterford after agreeing to purchase the house and just under 140 adjoining acres from its owners, Philip and Susie Wingfield.

Mr Vernon, who enjoyed a hugely successful career as a property investor and developer in Ireland over three decades, described Salterbridge as a “beautiful property ” and confirmed that he is due to move into the house in June. He declined to confirm how much he has paid for Salterbridge but he is believed to have gone close to the asking price of €3.25 million.

“It’s got superb gardens, beautiful trees and flowers, and a lot of lovely features. I won’t be there all the time but it’s something to make my life more pleasant,” he told The Irish Times.

Mr Vernon also owns properties in Dublin and Glandore, Co Cork. He is due to move into a three-bedroom penthouse apartment in Lansdowne Place in Ballsbridge next month, too.

The property had been for sale since mid-2020 through joint agents Sherry FitzGerald Country Homes and Sherry FitzGerald Reynolds, and was also marketed by Christie’s International Real Estate.

In terms of accommodation, Salterbridge comprises a 1,450sq m (15,600sq ft) main house, and the steward’s house, beside the stable yard and farm yard. In addition there are two gate lodges, one of which has three bedrooms and the other, a one-bed, has been restored by the Irish Landmark Trust. There is also extensive farmland, which is rented to a local farmer.

Salterbridge was built in 1751 by Richard Musgrave on land acquired from the Lismore Estate, and is described as regency picturesque and grade-one listed.

The Wingfields took ownership in 1947. They moved with their family from Dublin in the mid-1990s to live in the steward’s house and be close to Philip’s parents. In 2004, they moved to the main house after Philip’s mother died.

Before the second World War, the lands were a major supplier of daffodils to the Savoy Hotel in London, and their blooms still cover the lawns every spring.

Mr Vernon established his career in Ireland from the early 1990s with listed company Green Property. Its flagship investment was the Blanchardstown Centre in west Dublin, which was built from scratch to become the country’s largest retail complex.

Blanchardstown was sold to private equity giant Blackstone for €950 million in 2016. In 2013, Mr Vernon established Green Reit plc with Pat Gunne investing in commercial property and logistics parks. The sale of Green Reit to UK-headquartered Henderson Park Capital was agreed in 2019 for €1.34 billion.

Mr Vernon is no longer actively involved in property development but he remains a busy investor. He has a stake in and is a non-executive director of Staycity, the Dublin-based aparthotels group, is a backer of Viva Air Colombia, an airline founded by Declan Ryan, and holds stakes in a number of pharmaceutical companies and early-stage businesses. He is also chairman of clean energy group Urban Volt, and is on the executive board of Holles Street. In 2016, Mr Vernon won EY Industry Entrepreneur of the Year award.