The Bradley history…and a century in one family
The Bradley was built around 1845 when tree-lined Bayshill Road was just being developed with exclusive villas on one side and elegant town houses on the other.
In 1850, the house was bought by the Reverend Charles Bradley for his retirement years. He lived here with 12 of his 21 children and his second wife Emma Linton. His first wife died after giving birth to his first 11 children.
Several of his children went on to success, including :-
During recent renovations to room four we discovered, after stripping years of paint from a mantelpiece, the signature J.Bradley scratched into the top, we have recently discovered this was John Bradley. Educated here in Cheltenham, he gained a scholarship at New College Oxford, however after only a few weeks of starting there he drowned in the Thames when the boat he was on capsized.
The Reverend Charles Bradley died here in 1871 at the age of 82. He had an accomplished career and published numerous books of his sermons. Some of them are still in use today and a copy of one of his books can be found here in the drawing room.
After Bradley’s death, the house was bought by a Mrs Fanny Shaphard. She lived here with her daughter, several lodgers and three maids until it was sold in 1912 to Great Aunt Madge. She was an eccentric lady of means. In 1928 she drove her Baby Austin car through France, Germany then over the Alps into Italy on her own Grand Tour! We have several photo’s of her on her adventures in her car the drawing room.
Madge undertook a major renovation when she bought the house. At that time it still had gas lighting and only two lavatories for the entire house. Work included replacing six fire places, now found in the larger rooms of the house in the art nouveau style of the day. The fire places to the rear of the house are still the original Georgian ones, all were still in use until the 1950′s.
Electricity was installed in the house for the first time, though mainly just for lighting. Baths were also installed with their own gas boilers called geezers and extremely noisy by all accounts!
She bought the house not to live in but as a refuge for widows returning from the colonies of the British Empire. Once the elegant wives of high society, many were left almost penniless by the inheritance law at that time and forced to return home. We have many photo’s of these first ladies in the house, they all had pets and from the writings Of Madges Diaries, it seemed a happy household with lots of poetry writing, painting and of course much time spent with their lapdogs!
This way of life carried on through the two world wars until the 1950′s. Then a very young slicked back Uncle Martin inherited the household that included a very elderly housekeeper called Mrs Bannister who even in her late eighties rode a bike to work. She eventually asked Martin at the age of 90 if she could retire!
Over the next fifty years little changed in the house apart from the installation of gas fires and a good covering of wood chip wallpaper on every wall and every ceiling!
In 1999 for the third time in one century the house undertook the beginning of its third major renovation, this was to include hot running water and central heating for the first time! The original lead plumbing was removed, the exisiting 1912 wiring system was replaced and all the original sash windows where restored and acres acres of wood chip wallpaper stripped and the walls restored.
Due to the small amount of work done to the house over the 100 years, it remains one the most important complete historical regency houses in Cheltenham, it boasts a wonderful collection of antiques.
In 2015, the house was purchased by the de Savary Family to add to their international collection of unique and special inns and hotels.