The Old Rectory in Douglas is classical yet contemporary

APPROPRIATELY, there’s a view still to be had down from the wooded grounds of 2, Carrs Hill, to the exquisite spire and grounds of St Luke’s Church in Cork’s Douglas — the in-spired view is relevant, because this house was for most of its life the rectory that housed the various clergy and their families.

Douglas, Cork

€1.85 million

Sq m 353 (3,800 sq ft)

Bedrooms: 6 plus 2

Bathrooms: 4 plus 1

Best Feature: Grace and setting 

Built in the 1880s to the same sort of Church of Ireland Temporalities Board plan as seen in other C of I rectories, this fine, solid accommodating building last went up for sale in 2002, and it made just over €800,000 when sold at auction.

Back then, it was offered on 0.75 of an acre, and a new rectory was built by the Carrs Hill entrance, while a further half-acre site was sold for €420,000, and now houses a very large, contemporary private home. So, there’s three homes now, all privately-set, on the rectory’s original grounds, a five minute walk from the heart of Douglas.

It’s fresh to market this May, listed with Savills, who previously sold it when they traded as Hamilton Osborne King, in an earlier incarnation. Estate agents Catherine McAuliffe and Michael O’Donovan of Savills guide No 2 Carr’s Hill, at €1.85 million, knowing they have a bit of old Cork pedigree on their hands. Of course, it also helps that they have just recently secured the sale of the early 1900 Douglas home Curraghbeg, on 1.5 acres of gardens by Woodview/Well Road, for €2. 4 million, some €550,000 over their initial €1.85 million for Curraghbeg. And, they have the Edwardian classic Ellerslie on the Well Road, Douglas, under offer at c €2m - so, the suburb’s pretty hot once more.

The Old Rectory in Douglas is classical yet contemporary

Since this former 3,800 sq ft Douglas rectory was bought back in late 2002 for over €800,000 by a medical consultant and a young family, it underwent very significant restoration and conservation, under the watchful eye of architect Pat Higginson of McNamara Partners. Along with conversion and renovation of an adjoining coach-house across the sunny and sandstone-paved enclosed terrace, the work took the best part of two years, with the family moving in a decade ago, in 2005.

Considerable respect was paid to the building’s integrity and character, so even now most of the rooms are of identical proportions to the original, and only one of the six bedrooms is en suite — no carving up was done.

Where the most dramatic change was made was to the back, where a projecting wing is now home to a very large kitchen/dining/family room, nearly 30’ deep and 22’ wide. There’s a glazed roof light or lantern to suck in southern light, and three sets of French doors to the enclosed stone-flagged terraced, which catches evening light.

Maybe it’s the repeated sets of double doors, but it all feels very French: all it needs is minded drifts of Lavender for more than a hint of Provence.

The kitchen has the original oil Aga back in pride of place, between two sunny window seats, and kitchen units, the capacious and multi-drawered island, plus the mantle around the Aga are all in a baby blue colour, done by Celtic Interiors, topped with a tumbled stone, and appliances are by AEG. Off further is a utility room/pantry, with side door access for unloading shopping, and the guest WC next to it is an effective wet-room shower room.

The main portion of this quietly imposing home has two reception rooms, each with double aspect and fireplaces, either side of the main, arched and fanlit front door. Behind them, off an inner hall, are a study, on the one side, and a family room on the other, which links back via glazed double door to the huge kitchen space.

The Old Rectory in Douglas is classical yet contemporary

Overall condition is, naturally enough after all the time and energy expended, high, and there’s only minor decorative work to be done, things like changes of colours and appropriate furnishings: in fact, it’s the sort of place that can as readily go all contemporary, or back to being classical. There’s personality in the place, waiting to come out.

Upstairs off a large landing and down a back return corridor are up to six bedrooms (one has access to a hideaway loft space above a bed, enthralling for a child) plus main bathroom, and there’s access to a flat-roofed sun terrace above the living/dining wing, from where the re-roofed main section’s replacement Bangor blue slate can be admired.

The grounds include a veg/herb garden with raised beds just needing fresh planting up, and the bases of two old glasshouses are still in place. There are smature trees all around, and easy parking, while behind the bulk of the grounds rise up in tiers to a viewing point, accessed by a sweep of steps with border walls done in reclaimed old red-brick, sourced from Wilsons in Northern Ireland. Also extensively worked in a sympathetic way was the former rectory’s coach-house, now comfortably upgraded, with scope and a myriad of uses for new occupants.

VERDICT: Period conserved home of integrity, with a south-westerly aspect, on 0.75 acres of private within a walk of Douglas.


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