Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

£6.5m Northern Ireland mansion going for almost half price... is this our biggest cut of the recession?

Mourne House and its current owner, Marion Russell
Mourne House and its current owner, Marion Russell
Mourne House
Mourne House
Mourne House

An historic mansion has had its asking price slashed from £6.5m to £3.5m in what is believed to be the biggest post-boom cut in the Northern Ireland housing market.

Mourne House in Kilkeel, which dates back to 1806 and was the ancestral home of Lord Kilmorey, was on the market for £6.5m with estate agent Templeton Robinson in 2010 – for the first time in its history. But the value of this massive country estate in Co Down has now dropped by almost a half in a sign of how the property price crash has gone right to the top.

Despite the grandeur of this stately pile – it has 17 bedrooms, seven bathrooms, eight reception rooms, courtyards, stables, two cottages, two gate lodges, gardens, an arboretum and 140 acres of parkland – the plummeting property prices have hit home.

Owner Marion Russell, who lives at Mourne House with husband Alan and daughters Eleanor (4) and Annabelle (3), said she was once offered £10m to sell up – but turned it down.

"We had an offer of in excess of £10m for the place in 2007, but said 'thank you very much, but we're not ready to move'," she told the Belfast Telegraph.

"Since then the market has changed and there is a great opportunity for someone to buy the house. Originally, we believed it would be bought for development as it is a key site for a hotel and has a championship golf course nearby. But little is happening in that sector at the moment as the banks are not lending. That aspect of the market cannot be tapped into."

She said: "It is a wonderful opportunity for someone to buy at a bargain price. Family demands mean we want to move now."

Marion, who grew up at Mourne House, says the property has evolved over decades with various wings being added.

"As each earl lived here they would put their own stamp on the place," she said.

The impressive residence is set between mountains and coast.

Marion added: "It is probably the most private property in Ireland. Unless you're in an aeroplane, you can't see it."

As well as the Russell family, a nanny, estate manager and workforce also live on-site to run and manage this incredible home.

"It is a party house, and we took full advantage of that as we were growing up," said Marion.

"We would go into one of the rooms which had doors which opened out into the garden. We could happily party away there and granny upstairs didn't know anything about it."

The house has been extensively renovated by the Russells, and Marion admitted she will miss it.

Mourne House is said to be the first place to have a monkey puzzle tree when seeds were brought back from overseas in the 1800s.

Most of the main reception rooms open on to patios or formal gardens. A morning room was used to entertain visiting royalty – Edward VII was a frequent visitor – and politicians. With seven bedroom suites, a nursery wing, the captain's room with a marble fireplace and butler's bedroom, its new owner can expect 'to the manor born' style.

The third earl built the famous Globe Theatre in London.

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