A slice of countryside charm in the heart of a city.
We visited the beautiful Blaise Hamlet in July 2019. The tiny hamlet is made up of nine cottages built around a green in the Henbury district of north Bristol. Hidden away adjacent to busy roads and a stone’s throw away from the M5, it is an idyllic oasis of calm; a reminder of bygone days.
The hamlet was built around 1811 for retired employees and servants of John Scandrett Harford, a quaker, banker and philanthropist, who owned the nearby Blaise Castle House. John Nash, the hamlet’s architect, was inspired by the Picturesque idea of creating three dimensional pictures. It has been described as the ‘ne plus ultra of picturesque layout and design’ and is the first example of a ‘rural suburb’ and was intended to improve the appearance of the Blaise Estate. Nash had also built the Brighton Pavillion and Regent’s Park but often said that Blaise Hamlet was the project which gave him the most satisfaction.
Each cottage is unique. Some have tiled roofs, some have thatched but they share common features like tall chimneys, dormer windows and overhanging eaves. The focal points of the green are the sundial and the water pump, erected in memory of Scandrett Harford by his son.
The Picturesque style of Blaise Hamlet was the inspiration of the 6th Duke of Devonshire and Joseph Repton’s design of Edensor, the estate village of Chatsworth House. The chimneys on the cottages at Blaise Hamlet also inspired the redesign of cottages at Old Warren in Biggleswade, Berkshire.
The Picturesque style of Blaise Hamlet was the inspiration of the 6th Duke of Devonshire and Joseph Repton’s design of Edensor, the estate village of Chatsworth House (see the picture of a lodge on the Chatsworth Estate in Edensor, right). The chimneys on the cottages at Blaise Hamlet also inspired the redesign of cottages at Old Warren in Biggleswade, Berkshire.
The site of the village is not level, which inspired its irregular pattern and the cottages are said to face different directions in order to prevent neighbours from gossiping! Nowadays, the cottages are owned by the National Trust and are still lived in. Although the interiors have been modernised, the outsides of the cottages have kept their olde-world charm and a trip to the hamlet is a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.
After visiting Blaise Hamlet, why not visit the Blaise Castle estate? The 650 acres of parkland are a great spot to walk the dog and there is a café if you’d like a quick pitstop too. As well as Blaise Castle House, which houses the Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery, and the Old Dairy (also built by Nash), you can walk up to the castle which is a hilltop folly and was built in 1766.