Sunday, 2 September 2012

Castle Dillon Sale

 Image courtesy of © Sarah Hutchinson Burke – Please do not use without permission

Here is a golden opportunity for readers to acquire one of the finest stately homes in Northern Ireland.

I've already written about the illustrious family that once lived here, the Molyneux Baronets.

I'm grateful to Jonathan Bamford for alerting me to the news about Castle Dillon.

There are more images here.

Castle Dillon, County Armagh, is on the market. The maximum reserve price is £250,000.

  • 21 Bed Mansion House/Private Nursing Home
  • 2-storey/9-bay centre block with single-storey/3bay wings
  • Numerous Reception Rooms/Bathrooms/Kitchens
  • Stores/Conservatory/Lift/Set in grounds overlooking Lake
  • Extensive Refurbishment will be required
Property Description

Castle Dillon House is externally a large and somewhat austere mansion, built for Sir George Molyneux, 6th Baronet, in 1845. The designer was William Murray.

It has a two-storey, nine-bay centre block; with single-storey, three-bay wings. Both the entrance front and the garden front, which faces the lake, are similar and plain, apart from a pillared porch on the entrance front.

The interior is no less austere: a large hall with a screen of columns dividing it from a central corridor which ran the whole length of the House, with a curved stair at one end.

At the garden front, a saloon flanked by the dining-room and drawing-room. There was a library and a morning-room on either side of the hall.

The entrance gates, dating from 1760, once described as "the most costly park gates perhaps at that time in the three kingdoms", were erected by Sir Capel Molyneux, 3rd Baronet.

Sir Capel also erected an obelisk near the Park in order to commemorate the winning of independence by the Irish Parliament in 1782.

The sizeable walled demesne lies in pleasantly undulating countryside, with a lake at its centre. An anonymous guide wrote in 1839 that,

‘… the demesne is laid out in a style of elegance, rarely imitated in this country, and which would do honour to the best taste. Here every natural advantage of hill, wood and water, appears admirably improved by the correctest aid of art …’

It is laid out as a mid-18th century landscape park, though there is little remaining planting, with some woodland at the lake and very few parkland trees. The site has been forested and intensively farmed in recent years.

The first house was built circa 1611 and, when that was burnt in 1663, another followed.

The walled garden has gone but two gate lodges survive, one possibly by Sir William Chambers and an eye-catching obelisk erected in 1782, still impresses outside the demesne walls.

The baronetcy became extinct when the 10th Baronet, Sir Ernest, died in 1940; though Castle Dillon was sold in 1926 and has served for various purposes, including a nursing home for almost 20 years, since then.

The property accommodated around 76 residents and was always around 98% full and very successful. Unfortunately the company who acquired it from the Sandown group of nursing homes got into financial difficulty and the property was closed down and left vacant.

It was then vandalised but the main structure is still excellent and can be reinstated as a Nursing Home again as the demand for beds in the area is very high.

Another possible use, subject to planning permission, would be a hotel and leisure facility similar to Galgorm Manor and Spa or a Wedding Venue.  Another option to be considered is the conversion of the building into luxury apartments.

Only very seldom does the opportunity to acquire a property such as this arise and for interested parties, early viewing is recommended.

To be auctioned at the Stormont Hotel, Belfast.

Open Viewing Dates: Viewing By Appointment Only

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