Child’s par­adise in ram­bling Vic­to­rian

Tucked be­hind gal­lop­ing fo­liage Knock­rath is a charm­ing gi­ant where chil­dren could lose them­selves for hours

The Irish Times - Thursday - Property - - The Market - PE­TER MURTAGH 1.4m

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

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