Belfast Telegraph

Riddle over who designed Methody’s gothic cottage as it's put on sale for £150k

By Claire O'Boyle

Confusion has been building over a stunning Victorian cottage for sale in south Belfast.

The gothic-style property, on the market for less than £150,000, was initially thought to have been designed by Sir Charles Lanyon's portfolio, the famous architect behind landmark Belfast buildings such as Queen's University, Custom House, Belfast Castle and the Palm House at Botanic Gardens.

But conservation documents appear to show the Victorian cottage was in fact designed by someone else entirely - lesser-known architect William Fogerty.

'Porter's Lodge', which sits at the Lisburn Road end of College Gardens was built in 1877 and has recently hit the market for a £149,950.

Previously the Master Boarder's home for Methodist College, the school has let the property go now that boarding has come to an end.

According to literature from Methody about the history of the school, the Porter's Lodge was the "only College building designed by Sir Charles Lanyon, and deserves mention for that reason".

However, the Queen's Conservation Area guide says the "1 1/2 storey building" was made to designs by a man named William Fogerty".

Dawn Warnock from GOC estate agents, which is selling the cottage, said: "Methody own a lot of the properties along College Gardens, and the cottage was one that essentially came with the Master Boarder's job. Now the job is gone, they don't need the property - which is great news for people interested in Belfast architecture."

The B-Grade Victorian cottage has just one bedroom, but the GOC advert describe it as "deceptively spacious" with a roomy lounge and feature bay window, including leaded glass.

A unique feature of the house is its hidden staircase which leads to the first floor and the double bedroom with "glorious original stained glass window" and access to a second room, which the sellers say could work as a spacious dressing room or study, complete with a gothic window.

The cottage comes complete with a modern downstairs bathroom as well as a garden laid in lawn with mature hedging.

Dawn explained that while the property is open to different uses including everything from offices to a quirky bachelor pad, its Grade B listed status means a total overhaul won't be on the cards.

"It will have to go through more checks and balances than the average Joe property would have to get," she said.

"It could make a great office in an amazing location, it could be a great, unique home for someone quirky, a first-time buyer or someone interested in preserving historic buildings. Compared to similarly priced apartments nearby it's got a garden, it's bigger and it's got parking. The price is great and we're already getting lots of interest.

"And we're not surprised because it is an exquisite chocolate box property, central to Stranmillis, the bustling Lisburn Road and within easy walking distance of Belfast centre. Not only is this centrally located property both quirky and pretty, it also offers a good sized garden.

"The property will be suitable to first-time buyers, downsizers, those looking for something that little more exclusive, those with particular interest in architecture or preservation and those considering change of use to commercial use such as architects office. We expect a high demand."

Nicola McVeigh, chief executive at the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, said: "The building at 34 College Gardens, formerly a porter's lodge, is listed and in a conservation area. These designations recognise the building's historical and architectural significance.

"Small in scale, it appears perfectly proportioned in the Victorian Gothic style, corresponding well in character and materiality with Methodist College and Queens University buildings. Its form is attuned to other smaller scale gate lodges to be found along the Lisburn and Malone Roads, many of which are also listed, and benefit from thriving continued use. The unique scale, form and character of this building should be seen as an opportunity and should be respected in future plans."

Sir Charles Lanyon was born in Sussex in 1813 and went on to be an apprentice civil engineer with Jacob Owen in Portsmouth. He followed his mentor to Dublin but later moved to Antrim and became mayor of Belfast in 1862 as well as serving as Belfast Harbour Commissioner and High Sheriff of Antrim.

No one at Methodist College was available for comment.

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