If you had won this week’s Lotto €3m plus jackpot and figured on spending €2m on a new abode (a million left over to play with!), just what sort of high-end house-hunting jaunt would you likely end up on?
Well if it’s high life in the city that you’re after, you may be tempted by a three-storey semi-d on Anglesea Road in Ballsbridge that has a price tag of €1.75m. A bit further out of the capital, a regency-style residence with four bedrooms on an acre in Enniskerry, Co Wicklow, is guiding €1.995m.
But if you want more bang for your buck, continue south for another 117km and there’s a 44 acre pocket estate on the market in Barntown, Co Wexford, with a 19th century manor home, converted courtyard and a newly built medieval-style castle all included in the sale, with an asking price of €1.95m. You’re not only getting a home with an established business on site, but also a little piece of Irish history.
It is thought that the original manor house on the land was developed by Thomas Perceval in the 17th century. Perceval was a supporter of Oliver Cromwell, and the story goes that Cromwell camped on the Barntown land before the brutal siege of Wexford town in 1649, as the main coach road from Dublin to Wexford ran right through the property.
It’s said that when Cromwell left Wexford, he gave Perceval jurisdiction over that area, and so the Percevals remained here until 1923.
In the late 1820s, the manor house that stands there today was built by Major James Perceval and the house that was built by Thomas was demolished. The family was well known in the area through the likes of Edward Perceval, who was the high sheriff of Wexford in 1798, and also because of their links to Spencer Perceval, the only British prime minister to be assassinated.
The property was bought by the Caulfield family about 30 years ago. They were running a guesthouse nearby when they went to view the estate in 1989 and decided that this could be an opportunity to expand their business.
“We had a smaller country house near the Kennedy homestead in New Ross when Slaney Manor came on the market, so we went to have a look,” recalls James Caulfield. “It needed a lot of attention, so we had to put a good bit of work into it and finally developed it into a fairly extensive business.”
James and his wife Ellen Esther moved into the manor house with their family and spent years making the necessary changes to bring the estate up to the standards needed before opening to guests.
This work involved converting all the outbuildings in the courtyard into 27 bedroom suites, with a bar area and dining hall, and also a self-catering apartment.
The main house was restored so that period features like panelled doors, decorative fireplaces, cornicing and picture rails were allowed shine once again. It was also redesigned to provide space for paying guests as well as the new owners and their family.
On the lower ground floor, there are two family bedroom suites, two further bedrooms and a few service rooms. The reception rooms, which include a drawing room and dining room, are on the ground floor. Also on this floor is the owner’s self-contained living area with a bedroom, sun room, sitting room and kitchen, which is fitted out for commercial use. On the first floor there are five ensuite bedrooms, and a further four bedrooms on the second floor, which would have originally been the staff quarters.
On the site, there once stood a Norman castle dating back to the 12th century called Kinsella Castle, but it had been demolished about 150 years ago. “There was nothing left of it but a hole in the ground,” says James. “They say they used the stone from the castle for the abutments on the old Wexford bridge.”
The couple decided to build a brand new castle in medieval-style that they could hire out for functions. They couldn’t get permission to build it exactly where Kinsella Castle once stood, but did manage to get planning to build on an adjacent site.
“It was quite a big project,” says James, remembering the blood, sweat and tears that went into the castle. “The stone is all hand-cut granite that was cut up the side of Mount Leinster in the old days and used to build houses. I bought the stone from about seven derelict houses in Carlow to build what you see there today. It was a slow job that went on for several years, but once it was done, it worked out very well for us in the end.”
The castle has a floor area of 13,454 sq ft with a grand reception hall that can seat up to 280 guests. There are four more bedrooms suites in the castle, including the bridal suite.
This means the estate can accommodate up to 88 people in the manor house, courtyard and castle. And for those looking for something a bit different, there is the option of staying in the mud-wall cabin in the woods. This small hut with an open-plan bedroom/sitting room and kitchen would have housed farm staff in years gone by.
The estate spans over 44 acres with separate driveways leading to each different building. The grounds are a mix of formal gardens, parkland and grazing paddocks.
James and Ellen Esther are moving on because the business is getting a bit much for them as they get older.
“It was a great time for us because we got to meet a multitude of very nice people, but I’m in my 83rd year now so we’ve finally decided it’s time to hang up our boots,” states James, who goes on to say that as big and grand as the house is, it is a very comfortable place to live, and is quick to point out that there are definitely no ghosts residing there!
Slaney Manor is about 5km from Wexford town and only 400m, as the crow flies, from the National Heritage Park, where 9,000 years of Irish history are brought to life through tours and demonstrations.
It is also only 1km from the junction of the N11 and N25, which connects Rosslare ferry port with Dublin.
Slaney Manor Barntown, Co Wexford
Asking price: €1.95m
Agent: Savills Country Homes (01 6634357)
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