A Harbour Grace house whose origins are subject to speculation and folklore, Hampshire Cottage may be the oldest house in the community.
According to local folklore, lawyer James Bayley built Hampshire Cottage in 1826 on land that was once part of the Webber plantation. The Webbers were a family from Boston who arrived in Harbour Grace in the 1750s to set up a business.
Bayley's house was rumoured to have served as a garrison house for British officers during the War of 1812. Though there is no proof of this, there is evidence of the house being in existence around that time. A sketch of Harbour Grace drawn in 1815 shows a house similar in design at the same location.
If it is the same house, as in the sketch, it has had its share of luck in surviving. In 1832, the first of Harbour Grace's three Great Fires swept through the community. It destroyed much of the centre part of town, but stopped just short of the property where Hampshire Cottage stands.
The first clear evidence of the house is in a 1841 William Gosse watercolour painting of Harbour Grace. The distinctive dormer window at the rear of the house is clear in the painting. Additional proof of its existence dates from 1841 and survives in the form of a sale agreement by the Crawley family, who owned the land at that time.
In the 1850s the house changed hands once again, this time purchased by Joseph Godden, a Harbour Grace jeweller and watchmaker. Details of the transaction are unclear, and it is not certain exactly when the Goddens bought the house or from whom, if they moved in immediately or rented the house. At one point in the late 1850s it served as the residence of E. E. Brown, the member of the House of Assembly for Harbour Grace.
At some point shortly after this, the Godden family moved into Hampshire Cottage. The house remained in the Godden family for more than 100 years until Lillian, the last of the Goddens living in the area, died in the 1970s.
The house stood vacant for the next 20 years and fell into a state of severe disrepair. The Town Council of Harbour Grace was preparing to tear down the house when concerned local citizens stepped in. The house was restored with the assistance of more than $50,000 in grant money. Jerry Dick purchased the property and continued the renovations and now operates the cottage as a bed and breakfast.
Hampshire Cottage is a large two-and-a-half-storeyed Georgian-style house built with timber frames and clapboard exteriors. The roof is gabled with a large lean-to along the rear, with a low-sloped roof. One of the outstanding features of the house is a long, narrow rear window; it is located in the stairwell and extends the full height of the house, forming a dormer at the top. On the front of the house are four sets of Venetian-style windows with their wide central panel and narrow sidelights.
Located on Water Street in Harbour Grace, the house is in what used to be the community's "Park Street." Hampshire Cottage and a half-dozen other buildings make up the richest area of the community, inside the Harbour Grace Registered Heritage District. It was made a Registered Heritage Structure in February 1992. This structure was also awarded the Southcott Award for heritage restoration by the Newfoundland Historic Trust.
Also view Hampshire Cottage Registered Heritage Structure on the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador web site. The Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage Web Site has on its site only a portion of the registered heritage structures in Newfoundland and Labrador. To view a complete list or search for a particular structure visit the Heritage Foundation's Property Search page.