Inside Tipperary’s 18th century 10-bedroom Sopwell Hall Estate, currently on the market for €8.5 million
21st May 2023
Set on 300 acres, this Tipperary estate features a distinguished country manor, attractive parkland, mature woodland, and — wait for it — a 16th century castle.
Situated in a triangle of the historic towns of Birr, Roscrea and Nenagh, Sopwell Hall Estate was built in 1745 to the best traditions of early Georgian architecture and elegance.
Currently on the market for €8,500,000 via Callum Bain of Colliers, this 10-bedroom, five bathroom property is centrally positioned deep within mature parkland at Ballingarry.
The accommodation at Sopwell Hall is grand and beautifully executed, with the principal house comprising some 14,235 square feet. The castle, built circa 1590, is now unoccupied but remains largely intact. The stone outbuildings are of the highest quality and richly augment the house and castle.
A Studio, Gardener’s Cottage, Bailiff’s House and two Gate Lodges complete the accommodation to present some 18,342 square feet of possible accommodation in total.
Built in 1745, to a design attributed to the renowned architect Francis Bindon, Sopwell Hall is imposing yet welcoming and conforms to the best traditions of early Georgian architecture.
Symmetrical in composition, Sopwell Hall is a beautifully balanced structure occupying a slightly elevated site with commanding views over the surrounding gardens and countryside. The house stands three storeys over the basement, with direct access from the ground and basement levels.
All the windows on the seven bay façade and the round-headed front doorway have cut-stone block architraves and large keystones, which on the upper storey break into the frieze of the entablature under a pronounced cornice. Each side elevation has three window bays, one with block architraves and the other a Venetian window. The overall effect is extremely elegant and aesthetically pleasing.
Substantial compensation monies received on the dispersal of wider estate lands hugely benefited the house and core estate, with exceptional expenditure apparent on the building of significant stone outbuildings and considerable upgrading works to the house interior between circa 1866 to 1868.
From the gravelled forecourt to the front of the house wide limestone steps lead through both outer and inner doors into the magnificent reception hall. Spacious and well-proportioned it is lined with distinctive fluted Doric pilasters and divided by a screen of arches. Fine ceiling plasterwork includes twin ceiling roses and decorative cornicing.
The large marble chimney piece is original to the 1745 build and has an open fire. An interconnecting arch links to the stair hall. To the left of the main hall is a study and to the right a charming timber panelled morning room, with original marble chimneypiece and decorative ceiling work.
The drawing room and dining room are each impressive and, again, accessed from the central main hall. Displaying the very best features and proportions of fine Georgian architecture each is filled with natural light, has impressive large marble chimneypieces with open fires and ornate cornicing.
The stair hall incorporates a fine 18th-century carved timber staircase lit from a large Venetian window on the stair return and from the large top-lit domed landing above. Concealed doors lead to a guest WC and a roof terrace. A secondary stair hall accesses the floor below and the upper floors. A small kitchen on this level serves the dining room. A feature of the main reception rooms and, indeed, the entire house is the abundance of natural light with ample tall and large glazed windows.
The broad carved staircase, complete with original handrail and spindles, leads to a generously large landing on the first floor. Impressive architecturally, there are six matching scagliola sienna marble columns and a large, perfectly proportioned domed ceiling, with a glazed atrium at the apex, which is surrounded by fine plasterwork. There are five principal bedrooms and four bathrooms on this floor.
The master bedroom suite occupies the south-eastern corner. The bedroom enjoys a dual aspect and has a marble chimneypiece with an open fire and interconnecting doors to an en-suite bathroom and to the second bedroom, which could be used as a dressing room and links to its own bathroom. The bathroom, off the master bedroom, is charming with the design inspired by a bathroom in the Chateau de Rambouillet in France.
The third bedroom has a dual aspect with fine parkland views towards Knockshegowna Hill (Cnoc Sí Uwa, which translates as ‘Hill of Fairy Una’) and an interconnecting door to the fourth bedroom, which in turn connects to an en-suite bathroom. These rooms combined could make a large suite with a bedroom, dressing room and bathroom.
The fifth bedroom retains the original 1745 oak panelling and has an interconnecting door to a shared bathroom with the fourth bedroom and/or can utilise a family bathroom across the hall.
A laundry room with linen shelving is positioned off a secondary stair hall, which accesses the second floor and floors below. The second floor provides five further bedrooms and a bathroom and has a games room, study, large store and access to the roof.
The lower ground floor has a large axial central hall that opens at ground level to both the courtyard and the sunken garden. It includes a sitting room with an open fire. A large kitchen has glazed double French doors to a South facing garden terrace, an open fireplace with a vintage water heater, and a range of fitted timber wall and floor cupboards with solid timber worktop, a large Belfast style sink, an integrated Viking Professional electric oven with six gas hob plates, clay tiled flooring, spot lighting and interconnecting door to a pantry.
The old servant’s hall has an open fireplace and 5 recessed alcoves. The Wine Cellar has 20 wine bins and additional racks. A boot room, store, laundry, boiler room, estate office and staff apartment complete the accommodation on this floor. The staff apartment has a bedroom, bathroom and small living room or lobby.
The Studio is positioned in the upper floor of the adjacent courtyard buildings and is a large space comprising some 660 square feet or 61 square metres and has a solid fuel stove, fitted cupboards, book shelving and timber flooring.
Positioned immediately adjacent to the main house the courtyard comprises an impressive range of single and two-storey cut-stone outbuildings that include a Coach House, garaging, a Studio, workshop and various stores. Exceptional expenditure on their building is apparent as they are extensive and surprisingly elaborate for outbuildings.
They are thought to have been constructed between circa 1866 to 68 following the receipt of substantial monies for the sale of estate lands. Combined they extend to some 3,346 square feet or 311 square metres of net internal space.
The Sopwell Hall Estate is a haven of tranquillity and privacy that is rare in the 21st-century. Positioned at the end of a half-mile drive Sopwell Hall occupies a central position within its own estate and enjoys a panoramic view over the park and woodland. Interspersed with mature specimen trees the parkland pasture surrounds the house. The outer parts of the estate comprising a perimeter woodland belt and creating a great sense of privacy and seclusion.
The Castle, called Killaleigh Castle, is long unoccupied but largely intact. Built, circa 1590, by the Gaelic MacEgan Clan as a fortified Castle or Tower House under an Elizabethan grant until 1662, when the Clan’s lands were forfeit. Killaleigh Castle with its immediate lands and over 1,000 acres coming into the possession of Col. Thomas Sadlier, Adjutant General to Henry Cromwell, for his military achievements. Through buying up debentures on lands awarded to fellow officers who wished to return to England he had an accumulated estate of over 5,000 acres by the end of the 17th-century.
The castle was in a ruinous state and Col. Sadlier rebuilt it and doubled it in size, adding a second overlapping rectangular section in the mid-17th-century and, presumably, the unusually tall chimneys. It is a fine example of the transition from basic fortified castles to more comfortable castles or houses, albeit still with fortification as evident from the mâchicoulis.
In 1745 a Francis Sadlier, grandson of Col. Thomas Sadlier, built the imposing Sopwell Hall to become the principal and statement house on the estate, with the castle then uninhabited. The Sopwell Estate ownership passed to the Trench family in 1797 through the marriage of his daughter, Mary. The Trench family remained in ownership until 1985, when the current owners purchased Sopwell.
Whilst in need of complete restoration the castle appears to be largely structurally sound and comprising some 3,976 square feet or 369 square metres could provide useful additional amenity, were it required and subject to any necessary consents. It stands within a walled enclosure that also contains the Bailiff’s House and a long range of single storey outbuildings.
The Bailiff’s House comprises some 1,480 square feet or 137.5 square metres of potential accommodation. The outbuildings extend to some 5,812 square feet or 540 square metres of net internal space. Killaleigh Castle and the Bailiff’s House are positioned a short distance from Sopwell Hall and can be accessed from an internal roadway or independently from the rear or castle entrance.
Tipperary’s Sopwell Hall Estate is currently on the market for €8,500,000 via Callum Bain of Colliers.