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Willoughby Living

Did you Know There’s an Actual Castle in Castle Cove? And it’s Currently Up for Sale!

December 20, 2020

We have some truly amazing historical properties on the lower North Shore, and now our very own magical Innisfallen Castle is on the market – so we can all have an online sticky beak inside!

Innisfallen Castle is a beautiful slice of Australian history right here in the lower North Shore – it’s the property after which Castle Cove was named. It was in 1904 that a prominent politician named Henry Hastings Willis oversaw the completion of the magnificent castle, a prime example of perpendicular Gothic architecture.

According to the Willoughby District Historical Society & Museum, “the large castle-like building was constructed from sandstone quarried on site and features a crenellated tower on the northern side, three-stories high with a separate staircase that two maids used for their quarters. Each corner is graced by a solid stone circular turret and the exterior walls are two feet thick. The interior joinery is of cedar with seven foot doorways and ceilings 14 feet high. The decoration has a strong Federation theme with many Australian wildflowers depicted in the plaster and stained glass. Willis named his creation Innisfallen Castle after a ruined abbey at Killarney, Ireland.”

Image: Picture Willoughby

Access to the property was by motor launch from The Spit to a private wharf below the property. All the furniture and fittings were brought in by boat and carried up the hill be hand. Later the family used a horse and sulky to travel over the partially-formed Cammaray Road to collect mail and newspapers from near Roseville station. The house was not connected to the town water supply or electricity grid until 1967.

Henry Willis died at in February 1950, but his son, Dr Henry Hastings Willis, and daughters Urania and Calliope continued to live there. The land was gradually sold off until there was only 0.8ha remaining.

Around 1985, the descendants of Henry Willis attempted to subdivide the land around the Castle, to be used for construction of several town houses, and turn the Castle into a wedding reception centre. As the land earmarked for the town houses was previously donated to the Castle owners by the government to enhance the Castle grounds, it was felt that profiting from this was inappropriate and our own newly formed Willoughby District Historical Society campaigned strongly for the property to stay in tact. As a result, Willoughby Council rejected the rezoning required to build the townhouses. Permission to run a business from the Castle was also rejected.

Innisfallen Castle’s Glory and Glamour

Innisfallen Castle’s lavish sandstone facade is set on top of a vast 8300-square-metre lush estate overlooking the calming blue waters of Fig Tree Cove. The two buildings on the property include the castle itself and a separate accommodation that would be ideal as a guest wing or living quarters for the staff. Other selling points (if you really need more) are…

– Grand entrance vestibule with striking leadlight windows
– Soaring high ornate ceilings, timber floors, marble fireplaces
– Formal and informal living/dining rooms with galley kitchen
– Middle Harbour views, enormous bedrooms, sun filled bathroom
– Separate self-contained guest wing can be used for domestic staff
– Tennis court, expansive gardens, abundant off-street parking

If you Happen to be in the Market for a Castle…

For potential new owners, there’s some good news. The DA’s approved plans from architects Fender Katsalidis to allow for a third building to be built. It will include a home cinema, 20m swimming pool, gym, championship tennis court and wine cellar. Together, you get a seven-bedroom stately home with Middle Harbour views and… turrets!

Innisfallen Castle
Image: Belle Property

Who Owns the Castle Right Now?

Three generations of the Willis family called Innisfallen Castle home before maintenance and restoration costs forced them to sell it in 1988 to lawyer and former Olympic water polo champion, Peter Montgomery, for $5.25 million. It makes him only the second owner in the castle’s long, 117-year history.

Now, expressions of interest for the property are open. According to Domain.com, “there is no guide on the property, but the agents are hoping to set a record for the lower north shore given an estimated $4000 value per square metre, which equates to more than $33 million.

The district high is currently set at $25 million for the Mosman mansion Hopetoun that was bought by Swans chairman Andrew Pridham last year.”

Contact details

Address: 14 Cherry Place, Castle Cove
Enquiries: Belle Property, Tim Foote, 0416 090 191
Listing: https://www.belleproperty.com/listings/984647/innisfallen-castle-14-cherry-place-castle-cove-nsw-2069/

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