Chocolate-box pretty rectory in Co Wicklow for €1.5m

Secluded five-bed has spectacular gardens, a coach house and an indoor swimming pool

  • Address: The Old Rectory, Ashford, Co Wicklow
  • Price: € 1,500,000
  • Agent: Colliers
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The Old Rectory in Ashford, Co Wicklow – chocolate-box pretty on 1.6 hectares – comes with a coach house, a stable block and arena, and a disused indoor swimming pool in a separate large building. It’s the sort of secluded period house with instant appeal that buyers in this upper price range dreaming of moving to the country – but not too far from the city – imagine. The asking price, through Colliers, is €1.5 million.

It was built in 1878 and remained a rectory for nearly 100 years, and the detailed pile of historical documentation that comes with it notes “4 marble Chimney pieces . . . £7” and “Servants Room – 1 Rim Lock & Brass furniture . . . 2.6” – indicating that the parish intended the rector and his family to live in some comfort.

The five-bedroom house, with 341sq m (3,670sq ft) and which can’t be seen from the road, has been modernised over recent years – the current owner, an interior designer, has paid particular attention to upgrading the decoration throughout in sympathetic style – and many of its period features are intact and its layout largely unchanged.

The living room
The dining room
The kitchen

The original front door opens into a small porch and then into the hall, off of which is the grandest room in the house: the drawingroom, which has a white marble fireplace, deep ceiling coving and tall sash windows facing south and west. There’s a smaller familyroom and a formal diningroom, both with marble fireplaces. One of the most unusual rooms on this floor is what the agent calls “the library bathroom” – a guest WC lined with bookshelves.

To the rear – past the servants’ bells – is the large eat-in country-style kitchen – with an Aga of course – while French doors open on to a sunny patio in the garden at the side of the house. There’s also a small office, a pantry and a utility.

Upstairs – the unusual window over the front door throws light in to the landing – are five bedrooms, one en suite and most dual-aspect, as well as the large family bathroom.

The main bedroom
The rear garden
The rear garden

The two-storey coach house could make attractive living accommodation subject to planning, and further on there’s a not entirely sympathetic swimming pool building in otherwise very pretty surroundings; the now unused pool was originally outdoors – probably the definition of optimism – and was installed sometime in the 1980s before being enclosed.

The grounds are spectacular, with trees planted by the house’s first residents and which include, with typical Victorian flourish, a weeping blue cedar, a weeping beech, an Indian bean tree, myrtle, magnolia and a strawberry tree.

The house last changed hands nearly 30 years ago, when the current owners, a family of keen riders, moved from Monkstown in Co Dublin and arrived with their four small children. The property had been owned by writer Gordon Thomas, who lived here for about 20 years, and indeed he showed the family around when, having seen in The Irish Times that it was for sale, and on the way back from collecting the children from the local pony club, they knocked on spec and bought it before the auction. Electric gates now make that sort of impromptu knocking less likely.

The owners first decided to downsize in 2016 and put the house on the market with the same asking price as now. It featured in the New York Times and according to the owners went sale agreed to an American woman who subsequently pulled out of the sale. Not having the heart to immediately put it back on the market, they decided that with the arrival of grandchildren they’d simply enjoy it – and particularly the grounds – for a few more years. Now though, they say, it really is time to move.