Midleton, East Cork: €600,000-€950,000
Size: 298 sq m (3,188 sq ft)
A 125-year slice of Midleton town history enters a new phase with the proposed sale of the Deanery, a Victorian redbrick house plus charming courtyard with stable, orchard, and two acres, all of it largely walled-in, within a five-minute walk of the town centre and close to pedestrian routes to the commuter rail station.
Being sold by the Church of Ireland, which intends to build a replacement deanery, it’s “arguably one of the finest houses in the town”, according to estate agent Clare O’Sullivan of Sherry FitzGerald O’Donovan: she grew up in the near locality and knows its importance, role, and place in the town’s esteem.
A classical, Victorian red-brick building, typical of rectories across the country (it’s not dissimilar to the former C of I rectories in Glanmire and on Cork city’s Blackrock Rd, for example) being provided for the Church Temporalities Commission, it was designed by Diocesan architects William Henry Hill, an intergenerational design family firm of father and sons: they left a legacy of church and secular buildings across Cork and beyond across two centuries. WH Hill included Arthur Hill, father of Myrtle Allen, of Ballymaloe, the doyenne of east Cork and Irish hospitality and dining.
The Deanery was put up for construction by tender in an advertisement in the Cork Examiner in 1895, and was built by 1896, according to parish records.
Now, the purchase of the Hill-designed deanery, at Midleton’s Townparks near the Jameson/Irish Distillery campus, the country’s largest whiskey distillery, will be seen as something of a prize and a plum property.
It has much of the feel, and appeal, of a country residence, wholly private behind its perimeter 10’ high stone boundary walls and sweeping curved entrance pillars along Dungourney Road. In all, it stands on a clearly defined 1.95 acres, and is being sold with the option of going in several lots.
The rock-solid, red-brick built 3,200 sq ft deanery can be bought on 0.6 acres, which includes the lofted two-storey courtyard limestone and red-brick stables and outbuildings, plus decades’ old orchard complete with a rope ladder dangling from the most venerable of its spreading fruit trees, for a price guide of €600,000.
Meanwhile, a further 1.15 acres of relatively overgrown field to the west can be bought on its own, and is zoned for town centre use in the 2013 Midleton Development Plan. It’s bounded to the west by a row of homes at Bromley Court, and may, subject to planning approval, take a niche residential development of up to perhaps a dozen single-storey homes, it’s suggested, with an outline sketched by Bourke Architects showing access via the current, main-gate entrance to The Deanery.
That otherwise landlocked 1.15 acres is guided at €200,000, and is largely screened from The Deanery by some exceptionally tall limestone walls — they’re of such a quality around the property that the walls today could hardly be built for the cost of this €200,000 piece of land alone.
The Church of Ireland authorities hope to build a modern replacement deanery inside the existing entrance gates, along the side which could form an access road to the any future development on the other lot, the 1.15 acres fringed by Bromley Court and Lauriston estates.
To facilitate this sub-division of the entire 1.95 acres, planning permission has recently been sought for a second, new entrance to the existing deanery, in lieu of what’s currently an unused pedestrian gate, facing the long terraces of artisan cottages on Clonmult Terrace along Dungourney Rd/Connolly St.
While there’s plenty of ground and garden and outbuildings to go with The Deanery in its €600,000/0.6-acre lot offer, there may be some who’d like to buy the entire thing, with its future development scope a possible pension option. If so, then the house, site, and grounds totalling 1.95 acres, including the proposed site for a new deanery, can be bought
all-in for €950,000, advises Ms O’Sullivan, and would assure the utmost privacy and security.
The robust residence, with limestone contrasting plat bands, plinth, sills, and original sash windows, including a double-height bay window facing south, is in sound overall condition, but has not been lived in for a couple of years and will need upgrading and investment.
Well proportioned, with 11’ ceilings and a practical room layout, plus a modern lean-to conservatory by its front door (with ornate glazed side panels), it has original fireplaces in all of its main rooms, plus in all of the bedrooms, both the main house and annexe, along with two staircases, and some original Victorian sanitary ware such as sinks and an elaborate cast iron bath in the annexe.
The hipped roof, in slate with terracotta ridge and finials, has been attended to in recent years, and so most extra expenditure in its next ownership is likely to include things like insulation, sash window conservation, plumbing and upgraded heating, and improving energy efficiency, plus decor to finish.
The gardens and grounds need a bit of TLC, but the bones are all good, with some very mature beech trees, old apple trees, and the winsome, cobbled, compact, and completely charming courtyard? It could be a labour of love in its own right.
In a descriptive assessment of Midleton’s deanery, the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage states: “This former rectory retains much of its original form, which incorporates both classical and Victorian features such as the regular fenestration rhythm and full-height bay window. Chromatic and textural variation is achieved through the use of limestone dressings and brick walls. The outbuilding to rear is notable for its architectural quality, which is of a standard not usually associated with such structures.”
Meanwhile, the Price Register shows just six Midleton house sales over €600,000 since 2013, and two are coastal, at East Ferry; most are period homes, with the top sale close to the town being Charleston House, at Ballinacurra, which made €880,000 and which, too, could arguably be described as one of Midleton’s very best properties.
VERDICT: Get thee to The Deanery.