A rambling Edwardian pile on what looks like a lovely, tree-lined road in Bray. €2,100,000 for c. 6,000sq ft of living space and roughly 2 acres doesn’t seem so wild… Does it? ganlywalters.ie/539952/Ard-S … ay-Wicklow
It has languished since 2011, dropping in 2013 from €2,500,000 however still looks like no takers. With a bit of updating, maybe a pool, it could be a truly great estate in my eyes for those who for whatever reason have €2m and don’t want to live in a nice part of Dublin… Or those with a penchant for monarchy at least
No matter how large and fancy the house is, it will always be in Bray.
Bray town centre has been going downhill for 20 years and is now basically just cafes and charity shops. Greystones now has the fancy shops and for everything else people drive to Carrickmines and Dundrum.
It is also in the wrong part of Bray. Not close to DART, seafront or Bray Head which are the main amenities in my view.
Amenity is a question of proximity. I live in Bray but don’t live on top of the DART, the seafront, Bray Head, Mermaid Theatre, Kilruddery House, Powerscourt gardens, the interesting streetscape, Greystones walk, N11, shops to supply for a wide range of everyday needs etc. But because of near-proximity: whether walking, cycling, skateboarding, car… these amenities have come to constitute my environment in a way that they can’t for my mate who lives in say, Rathgar. Or my sister who lives in Greystones.
King Edward Road would be a perfectly fine place from which to access all the amenity of the wider area by virtue of proximity. About as perfectly fine a base as they come: if preferring a quiet, leafy D4 ambience immediately around your house instead of nearer-seafront posh.
The question of Bray as a place to live centers, really, on how comfortable you are sharing an environment with all sorts: from upper class to working class and below. If comfortable with that, then you find yourself living in an area far richer in amenity-proximity than it is in tracksuit bottoms.
I’ve gotten to know Greystones pretty well and once considered a move there. I concluded it a dull place to live - when evaluating amenity-proximity. Is it 47 places you can buy a cup of coffee in the main street? Grand if you like coffee, but if you want to buy/do much else of substance then you’ve to travel away from Greystones to buy/do it - with Bray probably being your first port of call . Bray is a town, Greystones a village
Which is not to say that I wouldn’t play the “Bray as perceived undesirable” card for all it was worth in driving down the price of King Edward Road!
Bray is a fine place to live, don’t get me wrong. It has a sense of community that you get in a smaller place but is lost in suburbia. I think it represented extremely good value about 2012 - prices seemed to have fallen 60%-ish from peak and you could get 100sqm close to town, DART and seafront for around €350k.
This house is a strange niche though. This is a trophy-type property. And it needs a buyer with millions in cash who wants to spend it on something quite particular. But to be honest most people with that kind of money won’t want to live in Bray!
And I’m not defending Bray as such, rather, I’m wondering about the narrow sense of what constitutes a good place to live. There is this general clamor for houses in well-heeled, but otherwise dull, suburban locations.
Amenity-proximity (to coin a phrase) is a way of expressing the number of obstacles you have to overcome to avail of a particular amenity. Take the case of Bray’s seafront. I can, on a whim decide to take the young fella down for a scoot. Break in the weather and he’s been cooped up for the day? Let’s go now! On the bike and in 5 min’s we’re availing.
Amenity-proximity is very subtle: it would be altered (in this case) in the event the Putland Rd hill climb occurred on the way there, rather than on the way back. The spontaneous decision to head to the seafront in those circumstances would face the obstacle of having to face a hill climb to get to it. And so, I can be expected to avail of the amenity less often - on account of that obstacle.
Whilst anyone can take a trip to the seafront, the more obstacles you face (time, petrol costs, loading the car, parking) the less you will avail of it. Amenity-proximity is vital in that regard.
If those with “that kind of money” wouldn’t consider living in Bray then I wonder what “that kind of money” is after. Does having 2 mil* to spend on a house necessitate you having to have a superficially attractive, but amenity-proximity poor address?
Although not having that kind of money myself, I still made a comparison between Bray and Greystones and concluded the ‘better-but-dull address’ was far-outweighed by superior amenity-proximity in Bray. Anyone can do the same, whatever the money.
I wouldn’t be overlooking that protected status. Bray is quite something in that regard: if it has an inch of cornicing and a lick of lead-paint then it gets protected. Whereas Greystones, Da Burnaby has the less onerous status of architectural conservation area.
*I’m assuming, for the purposes of the point, that King Edward’s price reflects fair value. IOW, t that that 2mil would buy you a lot less in Greystones and so, the amenity of the house itself would be reduced in a decision to spend 2mil in Greystones.
I think it’s best to consider markets as quite local.
The reason for this is that people get attached to an area for social reasons and due to the get-in-the-queue nature of Ireland’s school system, although it’s not a uniquely Irish phenomenon - see the Lambo-on-the-housing-estate phenomenon in the UK.
I currently live in a mixed area, a bit like Bray, but nowhere near it. Most of my middle-class-family neighbours are there because one of the couple grew up in the area and the price was right. We’re there because we had no ties to anywhere in Dublin, it was convenient for the airport and the price was right. If my neighbours had more money they probably wouldn’t move very far, maybe to the poshest bit of the postcode but no further.
When people move further it’s usually due to work or schools driving the decision.
I’m not sure how far up the market this thinking extends.
Anyway, there are plenty of people who would like a big period house on at least an acre for their 2 million and this rules out pretty much anywhere in south Dublin.
Points taken and largely agreed with - on return to Ireland I started in the city centre and worked southwards until I found somewhere I could afford. No previous ties to Bray at all - but now here and realising amenity-proximity, my ashes will be dispersed from Bray Head!
When it comes to multi-million properties I imagine trophyism (in both the facile and substantive senses) a significant element the thinking. Folk with those budgets won’t necessarily have grown up in such areas.
Bray is one of the strangest places in Ireland…I could never figure it out. It’s lovely in parts, as in the road this house is on, while there are echoes of its Victorian past and faded grandeur everywhere. But I was out there one weekday mid-morning recently and I thought I’d wandered into an English sink estate. I never saw so many tracksuits and women with “Croydon facelifts” on the main street. They were everywhere scowling and glaring at anyone who looked crooked at them. I thought some of them were fighting or arguing but they were in normal “loud” conversation mode. Anyway, I was parked on the Quinesborough Road and even at that time of the day there were drunks hanging around near the Post Office. (Maybe it was dole day?) The amount of litter around the place that day was depressingly awful too.
I’m usually out there a few times a month and I always seem to spot something odd or truly bizarre. For example - could any locals explain to me why there’s a large “painting” of Elvis Costello and a duck on the wall at the entrance to a housing estate on Herbert Road?
I didn’t want to outline my bias towards this house in the original post but I also live in Bray I definitely agree with york about “amenity-proximity”, whatever people might think about Bray’s reputation, it is undeniable that there is a great selection of amenities that are very readily accessible, even on foot, throughout the town and just beyond. I can’t think of another town ~30-40mins from Dublin with the range of shops, schools, attractions, the sea/harbour and the mountains.
I also have to concede I agree with HiFi here… Bray has some really nice roads (read: King Edward, Church Road and some by the beach) with large, period properties but also a smattering of desolate areas. However, I feel this house really is worth a lot to the right buyer, maybe c.€1.75-1.9m. The right buyer would probably end up being someone originally from Bray who has moved away, become successful and now wants to “settle” somewhere quiet(er). I definitely wouldn’t turn down the opportunity to move into it
Funny you should ask, a cousin of mine, an artist, lives on the other side of that wall and thought he’d spruce it up. Maybe it’s the beginning of Bray’s transformation into a hip, artsy quarter
What I like about Bray is that it has all the amenities of a big suburb but is quite well bounded, funneling people toward the Main st. You are more likely to bump into people in Bray than you would in Dun Laoghaire or Clontarf which have more entry points. But my (limited) experience of people with the kind of cash to buy this house is that they don’t particularly want that kind of camaraderie .
Bray has plenty of social housing too. Some of it is on the outskirts but a lot of it is 1930s-1950s vintage and quite close to the town centre. Much of this lies quite close to fancy private housing. The town is very socially mixed in that regard. If you don’t want this try Greystones which has almost no social housing at all.
But anyway back to the original point. Both Bono and Neil Jordan lived in Bray (presumably cash buyers) 30-odd years ago but moved up the coast as soon as their means permitted. The right buyer is maybe someone with means but wants to be in Bray because they want very close proximity to family. But if you have a lot of money and like positional goods you are not going to pay €2m to live in Bray.
As many have mentioned, I think the market for this is successful people who are originally from Bray who want to be in Bray for personal/family reasons. I’m sure there are plenty of people who fit that bill, and some of them are surely not full of airs and graces and are happy to continue to live in Bray. There could also be people who never left Bray who are looking to upgrade. Just look at the house next door, whose owner is from “humble origins in Bray” and probably spent a good whack of money to live there, opting for this road over more desirable S Dub locations. He has a lovely house, grounds kept immaculately, etc, but the house appears to be only a fraction of the size of Ard Soluis.
Not sure where Ard Soluis’ supposed 2 acres of land and tennis court are, though - they should really provide an aerial shot roughly outlining the site, as the only gardens I can clearly make out on satellite are only about 0.8 acre, so there’s clearly a large area of forrest or something included that isn’t being properly highlighted.
Just looked it up on the land registry and can see the full site now. Great site to be fair - Cambrae has the biggest site on the road, but I think overall that Ard Soluis is the best house on the road given the extensive grounds (about 1.95 acres), perfect SW orientation and great big house. Would like to see the gardens in person, can’t imagine what the 1.1 acres that appears to be completely wooded, but somehow has a tennis court hidden in the centre of it, would be like in person.
I tend to avoid it - unless wanting something specific. Traffic is one reason but you can work around the main street easily by car to get to it’s doorstep. I don’t mind tracksuit bottoms in the least (I mean, I spent much of my youth fulfilling my blow requirement in the least salubrious areas of Dublin so Bray strikes me as fairly tame) but I don’t go looking to immerse myself in that environment either!
I’ve noticed here, as elsewhere, an almost invisible class stratification. As you say, there’s immense social mix here: from the roughest to the smoothest. And there are lines which act almost as an invisible force field between classes. For example: North Bray (Dargle Park area and Fassaroe north of it) is at the bottom of the heap and you notice a division around mid way up the main st where the density of folk from the North thins out. Or Sidmonton Park, nestled in the best near-seafront area. There you’ll see the professional classes and their kids and the odd quiet eastern europeans - but never a tracksuited one. Whereas the playground on the seafront, just a 5 min walk away is used by all.
I staked out a house with a view to purchase a number of years ago - just off the seafront. I wanted to see what happened when the late night drinking ended. A stream of folk wandered up Warburton Terrace (a road which connects the seafront to the parallel road behind it, Meath Rd.
85% of the drunken hoard hit Meath Road and turned right towards the town. 10% turned left and headed south. 5% went through the junction and on up past Sidmonton Park to Sidmonton Road. If you were looking for a big period number on Meath Road, the difference between living left or right of that junction is infinitely immense.
Location, Location, Location has a fair old micro-element to it.
Maybe that’s where the “€2mil to live in Bray!” falls down somewhat. I’m supposing a person trading something to get something they value more - and perhaps a quasi-estate is it. In reality, King Edward Road itself feels no different than the leafiest areas of D4. And it’s surrounded by reasonable well-to-do-ness to provide insulation. After that, it’s a question of accessing the amenity you want from the large menu, and leaving that which makes you uncomfortable.
It’d be interesting to compare what 2mil would get you in areas of posh Dublin equally distant from the less gentrified areas/social housing as King Edward road is. Sandymount say…
Whilst a nice house, Kylemore is the least impressive of the road’s period houses. It has pretty poor orientation, a small site relative to the others and there’s an estate right up against two sides of it. It’ll still get more interest than Ard Soluis though I’d imagine, given it’s ‘affordability’ or easier scale.
Nothing the addition of some windows upstairs couldn’t resolve. A protect structure unfortunately (as is most everything in Bray). Even if so, the Wicklow Heritage Officer strikes me as a pragmatic sort and after taking one look at this ugly duckling, might well allow you to have at it.