It’s a novel conversion

EVEN the prices have Great Expectations — up to €750,000 for the best apartments — but Havisham House at Rochestown in Co Cork is something to write home about.

Four genuinely top-of-the-range apartments have been fitted into the period home, from just under 1,000 sq ft to over 1,750 sq ft, and priced from €400,000 to €750,000.

Charles Dickens reputedly stayed in this Georgian period house in the 1800s. According to local stories, he heard of a woman nearby, jilted on her wedding day ('the wedding day arrived, but not the bridegroom', he wrote) are said to have inspired the figure of Miss Havisham in Dickens' novel, Great Expectations.

However, there are rival claims to that classic story's inspirations in the UK, with Restoration House there said to have been the inspiration for Satis House (Miss Havisham's abode in the novel).

While the dusty image of a woman left in her wedding dress, with cake and dress fading to dust, remains in the realm of literature, not a cobweb has been left in the makeover of Cork's Havisham House, a name fancifully fashioned for it when it was a hotel in the 1990s (it previously traded as Norwood Court.)

Developers Howard Holdings have just completed their development here of apartments and townhouses in a scheme called Estuary Court and Mews, but clearly kept the best until last, with the final launch of just four large apartments in the main old house.

Havisham House has had a full makeover, re-build and fit-out under the attention of conservation architect Peter Murphy of Frank Murphy and Partners who also worked on Michael Flatley's Castlehyde magnum opus in North Cork.

The two best units are on the entry and overhead floors and the lower level is split into two smaller two-bed apartments priced at €400,000 and €500,000.

The mid-level 1,560 sq ft three-bed apartment is under negotiation, according to sales agent Peter Cave of Hamilton Osborne King, and he seeks €750,000 for the top floor 1,760 sq ft three-bed apartment.

"They are the best-finished apartments on the Cork market, there genuinely is nothing else like them available," he says, predicting interest from empty nesters and older couples trading down to an easily-kept property.

They have immense views over Lough Mahon, getting better as you rise through the building. The two best apartments have 13ft-high ceilings, large open-plan kitchen/dining/living areas and huge master bedrooms. The interior design is a subtle modern take on the classical, with money lavished on plush bathrooms and sleek Italian Scavolini brand kitchens with slim grey quartz worktops.

Builders were Murnane and O'Shea who delivered a high level of finish and quality joinery.

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