Former Mount Charles estate in Co Meath for €2.25m
Galtrim House, a Georgian on 110 acres, was where the Countess of Mount Charles entertained guests for many years
- Address: Galtrim House and Estate Dunsany Co Meath
- Price: € 2,250,000
- Agent: Savills
Galtrim House, an elegant regency-style Georgian house that hides behind a towering copper beech tree was constructed in 1805. The three-bay two-storey overbasement property was designed by the architect Francis Johnston – who also designed the GPO (General Post Office) and a significant part of O’Connell Street.
Johnston’s masterpiece is considered to be Townley Hall in Louth, built for the Balfour family in the early 1800s. The daughter of the house, Anna Maria Balfour, was a keen draughtsman and collaborated with Johnston on Townley Hall – and he then designed Galtrim for her and her husband, Rev Vesey Dawson.
The last chatelaine of Galtrim, Eileen Wren, Countess of Mountcharles, also had architecture in her blood; she was a descendant of Sir Christopher Wren – one of the most acclaimed English architects in history. His masterpieces include St Paul’s Cathedral and Hampton Court Palace in London.
Eileen Wren was originally the matriarch at Slane Castle, coincidentally also designed by Johnston, which is now home to her son Henry Mountcharles. “She was out hunting one day in 1970 and fell in love with Galtrim. What really appealed to her were the sizes of the reception rooms, as she loved to entertain,” says Mountcharles.
The 511sq m (5,500sq ft) house has a very sophisticated internal layout, which runs off the central hallway, with spatial arrangement focused on convenience and comfort.
Galtrim comes across as quite feminine – even Rubenesque. There are curved doors on both the ground and upper floors – which must have been a challenge for the carpenters of the early 1800s. The bow window in the drawing room is so deep it consumes half the room, and its incredible aspect gives a sense of being part of the landscape.
The dining room – which is exceptionally large for a property of this size, has lots of architectural details, including intricate coving and an opulent fireplace.
There are five bedrooms on the upper floor, and a host of rooms at basement level, including the old kitchen. The countess used a small kitchen off the dining room at hall level, but there are a multitude of possibilities for a new culinary space.
The two-bedroom gate lodge echoes the curved projecting bay of the main house, and offers additional accommodation for staff, guests or as a rental property.
The estate includes 110 acres of land where Wren famously bred horses over the years, including Last Suspect – the outsider that won the Grand National at 50:1 in 1985. A keen rider, she was the joint master of the Meath Hounds and continued to ride into her latter years. The library and flower room walls are lined with paintings and photographs referencing her love of all things equestrian.
The stables are quite extraordinary, repeating many of the architectural details of the main house – and could, if new owners wished, be converted into unique accommodation (subject to planning).
Beside the stables are old staff quarters dating from the 1980s. These need a complete overhaul, but the fact that the property has dual entrances means these and the stables could easily be cut off from the main house, if new owners chose not to pursue equine interests.
The land itself, at 110 acres, has an agricultural value of €1.1 million. Selling agent Savills is seeking €2.25 million for the entire estate – which includes the main house, gate lodge, stables, staff accommodation and land.
Galtrim House has a wonderful air about it; it is large enough to entertain on a grand level, yet still manageable to run as a family home.
“She really enjoyed and appreciated this house and would want new owners to do the same,” says Mountcharles. “It is the closing of an era for us but the start of a new one for whoever purchases Galtrim.”
On the wall of the drawing room hangs a painting of Eileen Wren by Simon Elwes, which she bequeathed to Mountcharles. After many happy decades at Galtrim, she will finally return to Slane.