Living by the Castle on Palace Street - Dublin 2

 

Built in 1766, number 2 Palace Street, an elegant four-storey over basement house beside Dublin Castle, is a rarity for several reasons. This is not least because, although an imposing, historic city landmark, the property is also in use as a family home.

The owner, artist, writer and historian Peter Pearson - who bought the house in 1992 for £90,000 - reckons that his is the only family living in such a sprawling period house in the area.

The value of the house has multiplied tenfold since then: it is for sale by private treaty for £900,000 (€1.14m) through Hamilton Osborne King.

The only remaining house dating from this period on the short street adjacent to Dublin Castle, this landmark is every historian and conservationist's dream. It retains a surprising number of original features, including solid wooden floorboards, sash windows, fireplaces and coving.

In some rooms, Victorian flourishes float on the original Georgian backdrop. The facade of the house - which prominently bears the name of its former owners, The Sick and Indigent Roomkeepers' Society - is a classic example. Victorian stucco embellishes the original windows, to striking effect. Meanwhile, 19th century quadrant windows maximise available light in several of the rooms. Typical of the period, the windows get progressively smaller as you ascend the building.

Another attractive feature of the windows is sound - and draught-proofing, meaning that, once inside, it's easy to forget you are in the noisy heart of the city.

Number 2 was built by a wine merchant with compensation he received after being displaced from nearby Parliament Street, in line with the requirements of the Wide Street Commissioners in terms of height and style. It had several subsequent incarnations, including as a haberdashery and silk merchant's.

The title deeds show the house was owned for a decade at the end of the 18th century by Robert Emmet's family, although it is not certain whether they lived there.

In 1855, the Sick and Indigent Roomkeepers' Society (a charity founded in 1790, now with an office at Leeson Street) moved in. After they sold the building to Pearson in the early 1990s, he spent 10 months refurbishing it and securing the structure by embedding steel girders under the floorboards and behind the walls. Once part of a terrace, the house is now semi-detached.

To the right of the outer hall, with its examples of original nymph plasterwork, is a room currently used as an artist's workshop. This leads through an archway into a rustic-style kitchen with units partly made from the charity's pay hatch windows. Off the kitchen is a substantial pantry.

The staircase to the upper floors is the original, leading to a charming sittingroom/ dining area on the first floor which was once two separate rooms. The family room to the rear is bow-shaped with a quadrant window.

A tiny area off the room was the hub of the heating system and is now used as a toilet. Here, you can see snatches of the original dogtooth Georgian ceiling cornice. A Phillips of Birmingham safe marks the midway point between two rooms.

The adjoining dining area has two magnificent sash windows with age-rippled glass which overlook the Italianate AIB building across the road.

A mural of City Hall by Pearson sits above the Victorian fireplace. On the third floor is a bedroom with en suite bathroom which was probably once a dressingroom. To the front is a room in use as a study.

The top floor is less ornate in character and is used as two bedrooms and a playroom with an en suite bathroom.

The cavernous basement is currently a storage area. There is a flagged yard at the back with a sun terrace. A protected structure, the house has section 19 designation from the Revenue Commissioners. Permissible uses include residential, office, restaurant, shop or hotel designation. Of course, number 2 could feasibly continue life as one of the most unusual family homes in the city.