How did modern inventions create conditions that led to new homes looking older and more rustic? Look back to the Domestic Revival school of design which took off in England from the 1870s and overlapped the Arts and Crafts movement.

English Victorian architects had been obsessed for decades with the Gothic Revival style but younger more progressive practitioners were in love with all things newfangled; including train travel and the bicycle.

Combining the two, a city-based architect and his young contemporaries could plonk their shiny new velocipedes and penny-farthings onto the goods carriage of any steam train, climb on board and head off for a day trip to the country. Country cycling and picnics were all the go with the educated young city people who stopped off to sit in sunny meadows in their three-piece suits, to chew on a wheat stalk and contemplate the abject wonderfulness of the country idyll. Minus the long hours and hard mucky graft of course.

It was in these country lanes that younger English architects encountered centuries-old rustic rural cottages with high-pitched roofs, dormers, gables, thatch, rooflets and timbered framing.

Struck by their honesty of construction and style, a few took such concepts back to their city desk drawing boards. The Domestic Revival style was born. It was pushed into being by younger design pioneers like Norman Shaw, WE Nesfield and George Dewey.

Ironically, what emerged were new English middle-class city homes designed to look like the old cottages of rural peasants. As Arts and Crafts also took off, emphasising good handmade qualities versus mass production, the two combined. There was an emphasis on Queen Anne and Tudor era flourishes. This ‘new’ style spread across English cities, ‘garden suburbs’ and later to crossed the sea to Ireland. The 1910-built Burnaby Estate in Greystones, deemed by some to be Ireland’s first proper modern suburb, is a typical take on Domestic Revival. But very few of the rural cottage inspired homes were constructed in the country.

Architects have always looked to periods in the past for inspiration for the latest homes and it runs in cycles. So revivals get revived.

‘Within 10 minutes we had bought a 10-bed country estate house and a castle’

The Blackrock villa built by the Earl who ‘did a Prince Harry’

Increased building costs, interest rates, cost of living crisis – How much is your house worth in 2023?

The Georgians revived the Greek and Roman, Victorians revived the Gothic and the Edwardians revived the rustic Tudor and Queen Anne styles. More recently in Ireland we had Georgian style flourishes in the bog-standard suburban estates of the 1980s and faux Tudor Revival/ Domestic Revival style influences in the estates of the 1990s onwards. More recently 1930s influences are re-emerging.

Clownings, a large country home outside Newbridge in Co Kildare is something of a rarity in that it appears to be a revival of the Domestic Revival style at scale, but in a wholly rural setting.

Constructed in 2000 between Newbridge and Naas, it comes with all the rooflines, gables, porches and chimney stacks you’d expect to find in a contemporary English architect’s sketch of the 1880s; along with a stately looking cone-roof tower at one corner to boot. The only obvious diversion from the Domestic Revival playbook is the very Irish stone facing. A particular attraction here is the very romantic handmade central sweeping staircase in the hall; perfect for debutante photos. At 4,700 sq ft, Clownings is almost five times the size of an average family home and it also comes with an attic of 700 sq ft. There are marble chimney pieces and floors in Canadian redwood.

There’s a master bedroom suite with an ensuite and a walk-in wardrobe. It has three receptions, four more bedrooms (two are ensuite), a study, a big kitchen/diner, a main bathroom, downstairs wc and utility. The house also sits on a significant holding of 8.2 acres. While some rooms could do with updating, a huge plus is its B3 rating for BER. Coonan of Naas seeks €1.2m.

‘Within 10 minutes we had bought a 10-bed country estate house and a castle’

The Blackrock villa built by the Earl who ‘did a Prince Harry’

Increased building costs, interest rates, cost of living crisis – How much is your house worth in 2023?

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