On the site of the Station Road flats once stood Henbury Court, just one of a number of grand houses that attracted both notable guests and sight-seers to the village during the 18th and 19th Centuries.
In as early as 1784, coach excursions ran from Bristol, ending with a special dinner at the Salutation Inn, to view the stately houses set amongst the woods.
In around 1807, Thomas Stock, a sugar refiner and committed Methodist, demolished his first home, on the Blaise Estate side of Henbury Road, and built the grand Henbury Court on Station Road. Here he entertained Joseph John Gurney, a noted Quaker minister and his sister Elizabeth Fry, who together campaigned for more humane prison conditions and an end to capital punishment (for her work, Elizabeth Fry is depicted on the £5 note) and Amelia Opie, author and wife of the portrait painter John Opie, among others.
The Blaise Mansion, completed in 1798 and designed by William Paty for John Harford was frequented by the politician William Wilberforce, who led the parliamentary campaign against the slave trade; Queen Adelaide; Hannah More, writer and educator; and Edmund Burke, MP and philosopher. Wilberforce described the house as "the sweetest residence of a private gentleman to be found in England".
It has long been a place of pilgrimage for tourists and others interested in Bristol's history. Named Scipio Africanus by his owners after the great Roman general who conquered Africa in 202 BC, the young black slave was born in 1702 and died aged 18 in 1720.
Later, John Harford built Blaise Hamlet to add to the picturesque architecture of the village. Not everyone liked the grand houses of Henbury though; Humphry Repton, the famous landscape gardener, described them as "villas of cumbrous importance" and planned the drive of Blaise Castle at the top of Henbury Hill to avoid them.
Source: Henbury and Brentry Newsletter by Olivia Lacy