Child’s paradise in rambling Victorian
Tucked behind galloping foliage Knockrath is a charming giant where children could lose themselves for hours
Description: Rambling six bed with coachhouse and and an adjoining Montessori school Agent: Sherry FitzGerald, Greystones Knockrath on Church Lane in Greystones is one of those properties easily missed – which is surprising given its size and presence.
This is explained by the fact that it is tucked away behind galloping foliage: a small forest of laurel and several mature trees, among them a towering eucalyptus. But despite that, Knockrath is a giant of a house.
Through the entrance gates, a tarmac driveway c url s around the lip of a lawn set into a hollow, creating a grassy amphitheatre in front of the house. The driveway splits; to the right is a self-contained other property, that is nonetheless joined to the main house (of which more anon), a garage and outhouse – Knockrath’s original coach house, according to the current owner.
The left sweep of the driveway leads to the house itself, wrapping around the property and bringing the visitor to the west-facing main entrance.
The porch and hallway are paved in what look like the original Victorian tiles. The stair rail is of striking pitch pine and a date – 1893 – is carved into the top of the newel post. The house itself dates from the 1880s, according to the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. Like many of Greystones’ older properties, Knockrath has stories to tell.
It was first the home of an Elizabeth Jane Eustace, an elderly Church of Ireland widow by the time of the 1911 census, who shared the house then with two grown-up children, a 37-year-old engineer son and a 47-year-old spinster daughter.
Later in the 20th century, the house was a maternity nursing home run by its then owner, midwife Maria Langrell and her husband Isaac. By coincidence, the current owner, Marguerite Fairclough, was nursed there as a newborn baby.
She and her late husband bought the property in 1993 and raised five children there. In the family heyday, Knockrath was a magnet for frequent visits by wider family and friends; a wooden climbing frame-cum-treehouse in the garden suggests the place still holds its attractions for grandchildren. To a child, Knockrath would seem vast.
“You could have a band playing in one part of the house and not even hear it in here,” says Ms Fairclough, standing in the kitchen.
The total floor area is about 460sq m (just shy of 5,000sq ft) and the property is for sale through Sherry FitzGerald for ¤1.4million.
There are four substantial reception rooms on the ground floor, all of a similar size. Left of the hall, front to back, are the drawing room, the dining room and a family room. Two have original marble fireplaces and all have distinctive square bay sash windows with original shutters and tall ceilings; two are dual-aspect.
To the right of the hall and facing front is a dual-aspect morning room. Behind it is the kitchen and breakfast room.
There is a clutch of small rooms – toilets, cloakrooms, pantry rooms and a back hall – on the ground floor, centred mostly around the kitchen and breakfast room.
Upstairs are six bedrooms, all doubles by today’s standards, and several of them substantial, dual-aspect rooms with fine views over the front and rear gardens.
Returning to the aforementioned “more anon”, off the kitchen is an entrance to a warren of other rooms. This is where Ms Fairclough ran a Montessori school in what was probably a servants’ annex off the kitchen and which looks like a semi-detached Victorian-era cottage.
Source of income
Here there are four very good-sized rooms (one very large that was probably the classroom/playroom) that could be turned into a self-contained home for a relative or used as a source of rental income.
The same applies to the nearby coach house which, like the former school, is accessed by that fork in the driveway.
Knockrath is charming and substantial, and has bags of po- tential. Inevitably, after such a long history and the sort of wear and tear that comes with a nursing home and toddler school, there is room for a good dose of refreshing TLC.
The rear kitchen area and the main entrance porch would benefit from modernisation, but this is a house that would make for a fine family home given its rambling garden – ideal for riotous children to lose and find themselves in.
A site is marked out at the front of the property and may be sold separately but without significantly detracting from the main house. The adjoining property is owned by a developer, a fact that may encourage interest from that quarter.
‘‘ You could have a band playing in one part of the house and not hear it in here