Love all at tennis ace’s Killiney home – asking €2.3m
Former home of Wimbledon tennis ace Joshua Pim with gardens and tennis court
Tennis champion Joshua Pim once owned Secrora on Killiney Hill, Dublin. Photograph: Getty Images
Back in the day, Secrora, on Killiney Hill Road, was home to tennis hero Joshua Pim. Pim – whose family were also reputed to have invented the favourite summer drink of tennis watchers, Pimms – was no ordinary man. As well as winning both the Wimbledon singles and doubles championships twice between the years 1891 and 1894 – and this after recovering from typhoid – he managed to fit in a career as doctor and was medical officer at nearby St Columcille’s for 42 years.
International championship tennis seems to have been much more fun in those days, far removed from the hot-housing-from-infancy regime today’s prodigies endure. Pim’s trophy-winning doubles partner was Frank Stoker, cousin of the author of Dracula, Bram, and Pim himself must have cut quite a dash – he was one of the first people in Ireland to own a motor car.
Today, the owners’ daughter Grace, remembers her parents buying the house from Pim’s surviving daughter, May, in 1977, says: “I remember the day Mum and Dad brought us here to look at it.
“We were told to stay in the car, but of course we didn’t. May saw us out in the garden playing and said that she’d always wanted to see a family here again.” She got her wish. “There were five of us here under five for a while, and Dad used to call it his heaven on earth. I feel the same way,” she adds.
Gorgeous gardensKilliney Hill Road is a salubrious spot. The Edge lives across the road. There are spectacular sea views, and a rambling lane leads down to the Dart station and Killiney beach.
Secrora, which is for sale with Savills for €2.3 million, has gorgeous gardens of its own: approximately three quarters of an acre , including, naturally, a tennis court – the first thing you see from the granite front steps.
There is also a vegetable garden, patio, side courtyard, floral borders and brilliant hideaways.
At the end of the garden, Grace’s daughter plays on the swing, hanging from a tree in an area that she and her brothers and sisters always called “the little forest”.
Garden lovers will find treasures including a lemon verbena tree with fantastically pungent leaves.
“There’s an original in a garden nearby,” Grace says. “All the lemon verbena trees in the area come from it.” There’s also a weeping willow, now gracefully tall and trailing, that her parents planted when they arrived.
Once inside, there’s a bright hallway, and the matched pair of dining and drawingrooms to the right and left that you’d expect from a house of this era, and which retain a whiff of their earlier decor.
“It’s an easy place to be in,” Grace says, “though I’d love to know how they lived here back in the day, I imagine the ladies sitting in these rooms.”
The 240sq m (2,583sq ft) of accommodation is friendly rather than formal, rambling over two floors of the original double-fronted house, plus the old coach house which is now a playroom/den.
Secluded patioAs this opens on to the secluded patio, it’s easy to imagine new owners perhaps moving the kitchen, which is currently a galley area off a main breakfast room, into this spot.
Grace’s parents did the original conversion, as well as updating the plumbing and wiring, and adding the all-important central heating, when they moved in. “Though for me I wouldn’t change a thing,” she says.
Upstairs the five bedrooms share a family bathroom and WC, while along a passageway is the back bedroom where the servants would have slept. “That’s when houses like this had a cook general and parlour maid. These days that’s probably me,” she says.
“It was lovely to have the stories directly from May Pim, and of course we can pass them on too . . .” To the next lucky custodians of this piece of Irish sporting history.