Pastal parcel: Sutton Period Home of Late Antiques Expert Denis Drum & Champion Cook Mary Drum is for sale

 

Suttonian Mary Drum knows what it’s like to feel the pressure of lights, cameras and clock ticking action, as a contestant on a competitive cookery television programme. At a time when so many devote their evenings to the lockdown TV staples of property and competitive cookery vehicles, it could be said that she’s emerged as a winner in both.

Back in 2008 when Mary Berry was still selling sauce and MasterChef was just another humdrum off-peak show, Drum entered RTÉ’s pioneering Cook of the Year competition. She made her way through the heats and eventually to the final where she would emerge victorious and be crowned Ireland’s Cook of the Year.

“I wanted to do something different so I entered. I was really very nervous about cooking in front of the cameras. But when it came down to it, it was alright and I managed ok.”

In the grand final Drum nailed it with her prawn and salsa spring rolls starter combined with stuffed fillet of lamb with spring herbs. For desert, she laid out her speciality rhubarb ‘three way’ with a fool, a combination almond and rhubarb tart and a soufflé. The judges made her the overall winner.

Her grand prize was a crystal trophy and €10,000 worth of Kenwood appliances.

“As it happened I already owned a trusty 20-year-old Kenwood Chef that I used all the time. Then this huge pallet arrived outside the house with a mountain of stuff piled up on it. There were four toasters, four mixers, four coffee machines and loads and loads of other appliances. You can imagine what €10,000 worth of appliances looks like. By the time we’d unpacked it all, the house looked like an electrical shop! While it was wonderful to win the prize, we really didn’t know what to do with all this stuff.”

So Ireland’s newly crowned Cook of the Year got back on to RTÉ to see if they could suggest something. “They were really lovely and exchanged a lot of it for a voucher that I could use. It still took a year to dispose of all the remaining spare appliances. And on the day after the last of it went, my trusty old Kenwood blew up. So I had to go out and buy one!”

Mary is the widow of the late Denis Drum, a well known figure in the Irish antiques and fine arts sector, who sadly passed away in 2018. Dominating the business in Dublin’s north county, Denis was well known in Malahide where, with the local chamber of commerce, he was instrumental in driving measures to spruce up the village to the showpiece it is today.

In particular he was behind a drive to having electrical wires removed from the town and the installation of antique style French lighting. He also appeared on TV through the 1990s as a talented antiques appraiser on RTÉ’s Treasure Island, renowned especially for his knowledge of pottery and porcelain.

Denis made an impression with his wit and sartorial style with signature dickie bow and hat, including an Amish style summer straw hat which today hangs in the summer room at their home Melrose at Station Road, Sutton.

“Unfortunately people who weren’t interested in buying a thing would come along to his auctions just for the craic of hearing him. He was a tremendously funny man and fantastic to be around.”

Both from Sutton, Denis and Mary met in the Howth yacht club and married in 1978. They bought their home of more than 40 years that same year, in the same yacht club.

“It was over a pint. This man said he was selling his house. It was just a few doors up from where Denis was living with his family on Station Road. They shook on it. A higher offer came after but the owner refused, honouring a gentleman’s agreement. Denis moved seven doors down. We were so lucky, because I don’t know if we could have managed it had the price gone higher. It’s been an amazing family home for us in the decades since.”

For her part Mary previously worked in the property sector and more recently as a interiors consultant for Fired Earth.

“Naturally Denis was in charge of the furniture and hanging the paintings and I was in charge of the colour scheme.

“The house had been in the same family for almost 50 years and they had kept it wonderfully. We instantly loved its warmth and its lovely atmosphere and we did our very best to keep those original features preserved. We also wanted bright and vibrant colours.”

One of a pair of historic period adjoining semis on Station Road, Melrose is believed to have been built by the Lauder family. Jack Stack Lauder got into commercial photography early on through his father’s studio business, eventually remodelling himself as ‘Monsieur Lafayette’ (in a time when all things French were trendy).

He went on to establish a studio photography empire. Little brother Edmund also got into the family business but with a sideline in house building. Edmund built two homes for his daughters, Rhoda and Georgina, socialites and scratch golfers who played with the Mountbattens. He’s the most likely Lauder to have constructed Melrose which, in fact, adjoins Lauders Lane.

Among its original features is an extraordinary cast iron Victorian chimney piece in the main drawing room. The Drums had it carefully restored and by chance had managed to source a perfect match for its missing inset.

The original Aga was also taken out to be restored and re-enameled. It now sits at the heart of the kitchen. In the 1990s the Drums extended the house to provide more room for their four teenage children and added extra kitchen space, a bright day room and a sun room.

Enter into the main hall with original stained glass panels in the front door and the staircase sweeps upwards and then splits with one side curving left to some of the bedrooms while the other proceeds to the rest. There are four bedrooms and a family bathroom upstairs along with a wide landing that is almost a room in its own right.

Downstairs the original drawing room is to the right of the hall with its intricate cast iron chimney piece and a bay window which has been fitted with a comfortable window seat. To the left is the original dining room. This is Mary’s favourite part of the house. “We just had so much fun in there over the years.”

 

Enter into the main hall with original stained glass panels in the front door and the staircase sweeps upwards and then splits with one side curving left to some of the bedrooms while the other proceeds to the rest. There are four bedrooms and a family bathroom upstairs along with a wide landing that is almost a room in its own right.

Downstairs the original drawing room is to the right of the hall with its intricate cast iron chimney piece and a bay window which has been fitted with a comfortable window seat. To the left is the original dining room. This is Mary’s favourite part of the house. “We just had so much fun in there over the years.”

The extended kitchen with terracotta coloured tiles and yellow kitchen units, (and the aforementioned four-oven Aga) is large enough to take a six-seater dining table and chairs. Off this is a smaller ‘summer kitchen’ with a gas hob and electric cooker. It provides the best of both worlds. When the toasty warm Aga is turned off in the warmer summer months, you fall back to cooking in the annexe. Or for big home entertainment catering, you can have both kitchens on the go for that extra efficient cooking streak.

There’s a small rear garden but it is the substantial and enclosed and private west facing front garden where the family has spent most time outdoors.

With her family having flown the nest, Mary is reluctantly trading down and placing Melrose for sale. “It really is difficult to sell this house but I’d rather have another family enjoy it. I have to stress that it is very much a family home and a happy house. We have been its custodians for over forty years but now it’s time to pass it on.”

The area too is family friendly with two Sutton beaches within reach, the Dart to Howth and to the city centre and a range of primary and secondary schools nearby.

Melrose is being sold by Gallagher Quigley asking €995,000.