Rare and wonderful home on Sandford Terrace for €3.95m

Built in 1823, this two-storey over basement house is a fine home with beautiful garden

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Sheltered from the main part of Sandford Road by a fenced in coppice, the houses on Sandford Terrace, somewhat confusingly also known as Sandford Road, have an illustrious list of alumni.

Former president Mary Robinson lived here and Helen Dillon’s notable garden is open to the public (see dillongarden.com) at number 45. Number 47, for sale with Sherry FitzGerald for €3.95 million, doesn’t let the side down either, whether in terms of history, house or garden.

One of the good things about living in a notable house is that its story is usually well documented. Notable people have a habit of recording their lives, or of having their lives recorded for them. At number 47, now the home of Anne and Peter Kelly, it all started in 1823, when wine merchant Mark Monsarrat bought the site and built an elegant two-storey, over-basement double-fronted residence with a stable and outhouses and a lovely long back garden.

The garden became even lovelier when, in 1913, Augustine Henry moved in. Henry had discovered a passion for plants while working for the British customs service in China. He introduced the buddleia, also known as the butterfly bush, to these islands. The Kellys have a photograph of Henry, taken in 1913, planting a hybrid poplar (the only one of its kind in Ireland), which still stands in the generous gravelled parking area to the front.

Henry hosted Douglas Hyde, the Yeats sisters, James Stephens, Roger Casement and Erskine Childers during his time at number 47. In 1914, he opened the door to Mary Spring Rice, soaking wet from her adventures gun-running on the Asgard. Wearing “a smart red petticoat”, she sat down to beef, salad and white wine – perhaps left over from Monsarrat’s days?

Elsie, Henry’s wife, wrote a vivid account of the period in her diaries, The World Upturning, and the garden is as much a testament to her passion as it is to his.

The Kellys discovered the house while a friend was living there. “I loved it and said ‘if you’re ever leaving, let me know’,” remembers Anne.

They moved in in 1988 and have maintained both house and garden beautifully since, while making some changes, including removing part of the first floor to create a double height den at garden level and adding an Opus Award-winning extension in 2006. This is a glassed-in space off the kitchen that leads on to a balcony terrace. The doors concertina back so on summer days, the whole dining area can be opened to the sunshine. First-floor kitchen The kitchen had originally been in the basement and was north facing, so it was moved up to the first floor. One of the three upstairs bedrooms – the fourth is at garden level – was also partitioned to make space for the couple’s four children.

Now they have left home this has been returned to its original size. A lovely cast-iron bath from downstairs now takes pride of place in the principal bedroom’s en suite.

“The house is flexible,” says Peter. “I’m sentimental about old features and we’ve kept them where they don’t conflict with modern living.” He has kept the original servant bells – “they’re in the garage somewhere” – and the old granite horse trough is still in the courtyard.

He has also planted potatoes in the parterre area at the end of the lawn, so whoever buys the house will have a crop for kitchen suppers.

Acre of grounds The house is set on just under an acre of grounds, and has 360sq m (3,876sq ft) of accommodation. This includes a gorgeous dual-aspect drawingroom, diningroom, livingroom, familyroom, utility room and lovely touches such as an arched garden door, complete with shutter should storms arise.

There is an enormous original lock on the front door – all brass and polished wood, a sweeping Georgian staircase, timber floors, deep windows and, of course, the garden – which Augustine Henry would doubtless be proud to explore.

A copy of the original 1823 parchment deeds allows the new owners to, among other things, have unimpeded access for their servants and horses, and to cut timber.

Such an expanse of pristine gardens in this part of Dublin 6 is a rarity. And we know what’s rare is often wonderful.

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