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History of Blaise Hamlet

A cottage at Blaise Hamlet
A cottage at Blaise Hamlet | © National Trust / James Eley

The site of Blaise Castle Estate has a history dating back to medieval times. However, it was John Scandrett Harford, a respected Bristol banker and Quaker, who bought the estate in the late Georgian period and began creating the buildings that still stand today. He and his son worked with the famous architect John Nash to build the small collection of cottages of Blaise Hamlet in the early 19th century.

History of the Blaise Castle Estate

John Scandrett Harford bought the Blaise Castle Estate for £13,000 in 1789. Six years later he commissioned the well-known Bristol architect William Paty to build a new house for him and his family on the estate.

Paty created a house that was large, but relatively plain, which matched the no-nonsense style popular with Quakers at the time.

Redesigning the grounds

Harford then invited Humphry Repton, the era’s leading landscape architect, to redesign the grounds. Repton soon went into partnership with Nash, the famous Georgian and Regency era architect.

Nash went on to eventually design the Royal Pavilion in Brighton and even worked on Buckingham Palace.

Nash and the cottages

It was through their partnership that Harford commissioned Nash to design the cottages in what is now Blaise Hamlet.

A wooden frame containing a series of nine small hand coloured lithographs of the cottages at Blaise Hamlet, Bristol
The cottages at Blaise Hamlet | © National Trust / Simon Harris

Cottages built in Blaise Hamlet

Harford hoped to build a group of cottages that would not only add to the estate but also provide housing for his servants when they retired.

In the early years of the 19th century, Nash created sketches of picturesque cottages and Repton’s son George turned them into reality.

The 'mini village' was born

Over the years, the ‘mini village’ was given its own green and village pump, which Harford’s son, John Harford Jr, had built as a memorial to his father.

Blaise Hamlet today

Fast forward a century or so to 1943 and Blaise Hamlet was donated to the National Trust. The cottages have been modernised and are still lived in today, but the exteriors have been carefully restored, keeping the tall chimneys, thatches and seats.

A cottage at Blaise Hamlet

Discover more at Blaise Hamlet

Find out how to get to Blaise Hamlet, where to park, the things to see and do and more.

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