1750 – Bellinter House, Assey, Co. Meath

Architect: Richard Cassels

Bellinter House was home to the Preston family for nearly two centuries and is one of the finest examples of country architecture in Co. Meath. Bellinter House was built in 1750 by Richard Cassels as a country house for wealthy Dublin brewer John Preston in an estate of around 600 acres of grazing and woodland. The Preston family, who made their fortune as Dublin merchants, built up considerable landholdings in County Meath in the 1650’s by buying land from Cromwellian adventurers.

Cassels was considered to be the leading country house architect of his day and his style was a distinctive type of Palladianism characterized by restrained but grand external facades married with flamboyant Baroque interiors. Bellinter House was his last commission before he died in 1751.

The house was both a retreat from the city and a functioning estate house. The main floor was the area to which the public were admitted with the first floor being for family life. The basements were for the servants. One wing contained the servants’ quarters and the kitchens while the other contained the stables. The vaulted stables had oat lofts overhead. One gate at one end of the house led to the stableyard while the other led to the farmyard.

The estate was purchased by the Irish Land Commission in the 1960s and broken up into farms of 50 acres or less. The house and 12 acres of land were purchased by the Sisters of Sion in 1965 and they took up residence in 1966. In the early 21st century it was converted to a boutique hotel and spa.