Six-bed on spectacular site with 270 degree sea, lighthouse and mountain
It is rare that you can’t see your neighbours, or at least some part of their home from yours, no matter the price tag.
Almost entirely bounded by sea, the peninsula of Howth has some very private holdings, especially those on its south side.
At the very end of a dog-leg cul-de-sac off Ceanchor Road you’ll find Censure House, a six-bedroom property that includes a one-bedroom staff apartment. It was built about 12 years ago on the site of an existing Regency villa named Ceanchor House that had belonged to the late Jennifer Guinness.
When the Guinness home came to the market in 2007, the first time in about 100 years, it had a price tag of €12 million. Guinness described it as “a very special place”, which is a bit of an understatement. Below are a series of images which illustrate the painstaking care and pride that has gone into the grand house.
Set into the rockface the house is sheltered from the elements by mature trees but boasts sea views to its south, east and west – all warmed by its south-facing aspect.
When Guinness had lived here, the Regency villa, dating from the 1830s, was painted pink and while it had a swimming pool, lawn tennis court and a paddock for ponies and donkeys, some of the ceiling heights at basement level were just 7ft, explain its current owners.
The estate also abuts the cliff walk so despite the elevation you can exit a gate and nip down the cliffs to take a dip in the sea at Jameson Beach, one of Howth’s few south-facing swim spots, within a matter of minutes.
They bought it in 2008 when it was a relatively modest property of about 4,000sq ft.
As building scions they took it back to its two exterior walls and rebuilt the current home within the period shell, more than tripling its original size.
They rebuilt it, tanked it and insulated it, creating a six-bedroom house, set over three floors, that has period-style grandeur all housed within a contemporary shell with an impressive C1 Ber rating. The works took 2½ years to complete.
It now opens into a double-height hall, where one bedroom was removed to bring in light and sets a grand tone from the get-go. The front door still has its enormous original lock, with a key the size of your hand.
The main living space is to the left where there is a dual-aspect drawing room that leads through to the library, an office with lots of smoked oak bookcases. This is where the owners put the fireplace that had been in the original drawing room.
This takes you through to an enormous, dual-aspect living-dining-kitchen, a white design by Leicht, where the owners have seated up to 70 for dinner.
There is access to the outside from all three rooms. From its many terraces the house boasts a vista that extends to about 270 degrees, visibility being better in winter than in summer for now it is punctuated by flowering trees.
When the haze lifts, you can see all the way to Bray Head and the Sugarloaf. At night there’s the pulse of the Baily lighthouse to the left and a crescent of lights picking out the seafront from Sutton all the way to Dún Laoghaire.
The estate includes fine mature trees such as an ancient cypress, eucalyptus and sycamore. The garden is fragrant with the smell of wild garlic, bluebells, and the sweet coconut-smell of the gorse.
There is a greenhouse, potting sheds and stables, a lawn tennis court that is now used by grandchildren, and lots of blossoming fruit trees. Paul Martin did the landscaping.
All told, the property extends to about 1,365sq m (14,700sq ft) but that includes a whole wing devoted to the pool house, which includes an indoor swimming pool, a state-of-the art plant room for its heating system, a cedar-clad sauna, separate steam room and jacuzzi.
The pool can be covered and used as a dance floor with room for a band to set up. Its doors open out to a terrace with the gardens rolling out below. This part extends to about 285sq m (3,067sq ft).
At basement level there is a self-contained one-bedroom flat for staff, comprising 65sq m (700sq ft), and a games room, where ceiling heights are now a very roomy 2.5m. There is also about 45sq m of storage, larger than the average one-bedroom apartment.
The main living space of the house extends to about 750sq m (8,000sq ft), which is large, but not so big as to feel overwhelming. There is a lift to all floors.
The interior is first class. Its design was overseen by the owners’ daughter, who works with a large London architecture and interior design practice whose commercial projects include The Trafalgar St James Hilton hotel, as well as private homes around the globe. And its classic contemporary finish stands up to scrutiny throughout.
Upstairs on the first floor there are six bedrooms with either marble or stone finishes in all of the en suite bathrooms, which have separate bath and shower options.
The primary bedroom comprises about half of the first floor and includes a southeast-facing bedroom with access to a terrace, separate dressing rooms and an impressive en suite.
The house is a short drive to Howth. Dublin Airport is probably about a 25-minute journey while the city centre is a 40-minute car journey if you leave at 7am. Agent Knight Frank is seeking €15 million for the turnkey property.