Country houses for sale

The Irish estate which turned millers into aristocrats, on the market for the first time since 1820

This estate in Carlow's horse racing country has come up for sale for the first time in almost 200 years.

Milford House, set in 50 acres of wooded parkland at Milford, is a timeless Georgian which has been in the same family since it was built in 1820 by a family of millers who became successful businessmen.

This beautiful spot on the banks of the River Barrow, five miles south of Carlow town, is on the market via Jordan Auctioneers in Newbridge, Co Kildare, and Knight Frank in Dublin and London, who quote a guide price of €1.375 million.

Home to successive generations of the Alexander family – millers and entrepreneurs who built the house –  its sale follows the death last year of John ‘Black Jack’ Alexander, at the ripe old age of 89.

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The Alexander connection with Milford dates from the late 1780s, when John Alexander – from a Northern Irish family of Scottish extraction whose members included the Cable-Alexander baronets – bought land in Ballygowan and the surrounding area and teamed up with local miller, John Connolly, to build a flour mill on an eight-acre site alongside the river.

He later bought Connolly out and further developed the mill, which, by the mid 19th century, was the largest flour mill in Ireland.

Despite the abolition of the Corn Laws in 1846, which dented the profitability of the enterprise, and a major fire in 1862, the site remained the focus of local employment into the 20th century.

In 1891, the mill was modified to generate electricity, making Carlow the first inland town in Ireland or Britain to receive electric power. The hydro-electric plant, which was refurbished in the 1980s and currently feeds into the National Grid, is also available should a new purchaser be interested.

Although now in need of refurbishment, following a partial remodelling in 1955, when the parapeted roof was added and some chimneypieces replaced, Milford House retains some splendid plasterwork and fireplaces.

It offers 10,946sq ft of accommodation on two main floors, with further rooms for improvement on the lower-ground floor.

The main ground-floor reception rooms are light and beautifully proportioned, the drawing room interlinking with both the library and the dining room to create an impressive entertaining space. A large master-bedroom suite, four further bedrooms and three further bathrooms are located on the first floor.

With leading racehorse trainers Jessica Harrington and Willie Mullins as near neighbours, this part of Carlow is horse country par excellence.

Although only 50 acres of lush parkland remain of what was once a 2,000-acre Alexander family estate, there is plenty to tempt a buyer with equestrian interests in the original stud complex, which has independent access and includes a stud groom’s house, hay barns and 25 boxes in two yards.

Milford House is for sale through Jordan Auctioneers and Knight Frank at a guide price of €1.375 million – see more pictures and details.