Bridgeland Street was one of the first planned streets in Britain outside of London.
Work commenced in 1693.
Its designed road width of thirty-three has a religious resonance. Ninety-nine year leases are ‘three times the life of Christ’ three times thirty-three. Each house was built to a standard specification for the merchant class. Ground floor walls two and a half bricks thick and upper floors two. No damp course but the bricks were laid on a three feet high base of stone. Interior walls of lathe and plaster provided good sound proofing, heat retention in winter and a temperate atmosphere in summer. All principal rooms are eighteen feet square and nine feet six inches high.
One of these houses, originally built at a cost of £255 plus two guineas in gold, for John and Elizabeth Hooper has been the home of doctors Mr. and Mrs. Candler for fifty years. In 1772 their house was insured by the Sun Insurance Company for £500 and its contents for £100 hence the plaque on the courtyard wall.
Having entered the single front door visitors are led along a passage into a small pebbled courtyard where 1693 is picked out in white stones. An overwhelming evocative atmosphere persists of mob capped maids in long pinafore dresses going about their daily duties. Perhaps they still do for there is a pump and usually ten feet of ice cold, if somewhat muddy, water available. It has been suggested the water level rises and falls with the tide but I prefer to believe it is according to the maids’ requirements.
Standing in the courtyard a sign post states ‘7 Miles to New York Ferry’.
Interestingly there must have been sixteen others for this one is number seventeen. Carved from red Cumberland sand stone it raises the question of how did it get to America and who brought it back? Did it go as ship ballast or part of an order for another purpose? All of the oldest houses in New York are made of it.
Beyond the dairy one is confronted by a delightful array of flowers and mixed shrubs. Attempts to name them all makes ones head spin, dianthus, clematis, roses, mahonia, geraniums, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Discreetly shielded amongst the shrubbery are two vegetable patches that would delight Peter Rabbit and his kind. It could be said ‘oats and beans and barley grow’ in profusion. This high walled haven has no hedges but paradoxically its small distinct areas make the garden appear larger. Each little amphitheatre provides one with a relaxing peace and security. Today centuries of love and enthusiasm are presided over by a long haired brown Persian cat, a magnificent sycamore and a Bramley apple tree.
Each June, the Doctors Candler open their house and garden for the pleasure of others. Those, so privileged, enjoy the warm hospitality of our charming hosts who, in so many ways, support research into Parkinson Disease. This year they raised a magnificent sum of over one thousand pounds. Long may theydoso!