When the “school field” opposite the front gate of historic Powerscourt House in Co Wicklow was rezoned for housing, Powerscourt managing director Sarah Slazenger immediately saw the significance of the development for the internationally known estate.
Although technically outside Powerscourt’s walled, 47-acre gardens – voted third best in the world by National Geographic magazine – the field was owned by the estate.
Its setting occupies a pivotal position overlooking St Patrick’s Church on the edge of Enniskerry village and it enjoys the same iconic views of the Great Sugar Loaf that are enjoyed by the historic house itself.
“We wanted to be sure the houses that were built here would reflect something of our style, to maintain the important biodiversity in woods and walks, and because the location is right opposite our gate and so close to the village,” Ms Slazenger told The Irish Times.
The result is Dargle Demesne, a development of just 27 large houses which the Powerscourt Estate is developing as a joint venture with Justin Dunne of Westin Homes and Hayfield Homes.
This is no pastiche “olde-worlde” attempt to ape the historic Powerscourt House, the houses themselves seem to echo a New Hampshire-style barn – complete with upper floors part timber clad with arts-and-crafts touches in the brick details and round windows.
The original design was drawn up by architects Brazil Associates, who have done much transformative work on large period homes across south Dublin.
But the same attention to detail that typifies Powerscourt is there in the quality of stone and cobble finishes to roads and paths. It is there in railings separating the new homes which mirror those on the long drive to Powerscourt House.
Trees and hedging are predominantly beech, again mirroring the many mature specimens across the road. Two bungalows, set either side of the entrance to Dargle Demesne reflect the ‘gate lodge’ effect of a grand estate.
The house types are called Wisteria, Marigold, Foxglove, Dahlia and Paeony, among other flowers. Jude O’Loughlin of NDBA Architects, who completed the design, said the context was that of a “garden suburb”.
With 27 houses, some of the “types” must of course be repeated through the development, but it doesn’t look like that, as the variants are mixed in while individual homes are turned to different angles on irregular-sized plots, bordered by hedges and trees. No two houses, side by side, look the same.
Inside, the homes are all that you might expect for prices heading towards €2 million. Large, light-filled hallways and reception rooms with unusually high ceilings are predominant.
Walls are panelled in wood, there are “boot rooms” and snugs and studies and Lamartine fireplaces. Enormous kitchens big enough to hold a religious service feature handcrafted, painted units with pillars and panel surrounds by Irish-owned Cawleys Furniture. Silestone worktops are by Cosentino. Doors are Salzburg silk grey by Doras.
Of course, downstairs heating is underfloor while the bells and whistles include CAT 6 cabling for data and telephone points, along with infrastructure for wireless intruder alarms, cable TV, high speed broadband and smoke, heat and CO2 detectors.
Controls are in cupboards we once would have called the “hot press” and which Carol Mulligan of agents Knight Frank now calls “the engine room”.
Upstairs the panelled wood theme continues, painted in soft pastel shades which reflect the countryside around. In many of the houses it is possible to lie in bed and gaze through large windows at that amazing view across the trees to the Sugarloaf.
Master bedroom suites feature walk-in or walk-through wardrobes with bathrooms and sanitary ware by Villeroy & Boch. Power showers feature massage rain heads and bathrooms feature sumptuous free-standing bathtubs.
There are three house types released in phase one, officially launched on Thursday April 27th through Knight Frank. These are the Dahlia, a three bedroom detached bungalow of 124sq m (1,335 sq ft) available for €1.175 million; a four-bedroom detached, two-storey running to 235sq m (2,530 sq ft) from €1.595 million; and The Peony, a five-bed detached of 265sq m (2,852 sq ft) from €1.795 million.
Slazenger says the Powerscourt Estate is keen to develop links with the new owners who will be offered a free annual Powerscourt Estate membership offering unlimited entry to Powerscourt gardens, waterfall and 3km of walks including the river walk. A deal has also been worked out with Powerscourt Golf Club to hold space for those who are interested in joining.