March 2022: Local History
My favourite house in Henleaze – or should we call it Henley’s?
by Harry Mottram
Ever since I laid eyes on number 166 Henleaze Road I have been smitten. The thatched conical roof and its tall chimney with its small, latticed windows makes the cottage one of the most photographed homes in Bristol.
Built in 1810 as one of a pair of lodges, it was originally constructed to mark the entrance to Henleaze Park House – now sadly gone and replaced by St Margaret’s School.
Many have wondered if the Grade II listed detached house is a relation to the equally quirky homes of Blaise Hamlet designed by John Nash and built for retired workers employed by the owner of Blaise castle House the banker John Scandrett Harford at around the same time. It seems possible that Nash was if not the architect, then the inspiration for the design.
In Veronica Bowerman’s The Henleaze Book, she explains that the original thatch was reed rather than straw. It has since been rethatched several times including in 1958 and in the 1990s.
Number 166 may look as though it is still the quintessential 19th century cottage taken from the pages of a folk story, but if there is a lesson for modern builders the property looks much the same as it did when it was constructed although no doubt the interior has all the modern conveniences available. It has seen Napoleonic troops march up Henleaze Road, the British Empire wax and wane, the quarry workers trudging to work at the bottom of the hill, the sound of bombs and sirens during the Second World War as well as the vast increase in traffic along Henleaze’s main shopping street.
Of course, it is not the only lodge in Henleaze with number 12 Drive opposite the church, along with 84 Henleaze Road being the main lodge for Henley Grove. Note the name Henley – as it is believed by some historians that the name is a corruption of Robert Henley – who bought a house in what was then called Henley’s Park – later Henleaze Park.
And there is another lodge at 132 Henleaze Road built in 1844 now called the Grove Lodge and at 18 Henleaze Road known as Springfield House is the oldest known property in Henleaze with a date of 1727.
For details of the Henleaze Society visit https://www.henleazesociety.co.uk/
The Henleaze Book by Veronica Bowerman is available from all good book shops and online.