The Hyde Nursing Home

Reproduced from Bridport News - Information suppled by Sally Batty, Deputy Manager of The Hyde

During the reign of Henry Vlll, a John Hyde 'held 60 acres of land in Walditch for Katherine, Queen of England, by knights service'. The house was probably named for him.

The Hyde has been in the Gundry family since 1810 - probably the most well-known family in the Bridport area, having founded the nets works in the town during the 17th Century. Soon after they took possession, they extended it substantially and according to Hutchings' History of Dorset, in 1864 Gundry was the 'largest owner of soil in the parish'. In 1853, the front section of the house was added and in 1884 the substantial Coach House and stables at the back were built, together with the Real Tennis Court in 1885.

Not much remains of the original house, as the Tudor section was destroyed by fire in the 1920's. The only part that remains is the office area on the lower ground level. Around 1930, the rear of the property was reconstructed.

The last owner's grandfather was a particular friend of the Prince of Wales at the turn of the century and a further wing was planned to house the prince on his visits. The plans included a billiards room with coach house underneath and the prince was very interested in playing real tennis. However, Mr Gundry was killed in a riding accident and his plans were abandoned. He did leave his mark on the house by covering the walls of the dining room in Russian leather with embossed gold leaf. Apparently this vision originated in a Russian monastery and was bought in London at the turn of the 19th Century.

The house originally had 25 bedrooms, the kitchen was in the basement and had a huge open fireplace with a spit. Everything had to be carried to the big dining room.

Although the house was older, the gardens were the showpiece of Mrs Gundry, who put in a herbaceous border to provide flowers for the house, a herb garden and croquet lawn with formal pleasure gardens and a number of greenhouses. The display house had a reputation for the wealth of its flowering plants, sent from London and changed every week to provide interest for the family's dinner guests. There were six full time gardeners in the kitchen garden and the family were self- sufficient in both fruit and vegetables. The crowning glory was the typically Victorian ten-acre woodland garden.

It has been neglected for decades until now, when horticultural manager Neil Collins began restoring it. Some features reverting back to former glories are the Glade Garden with its water features and the rare Victorian tree bridge, the carp (fish) pond and a dogs' graveyard. The vegetable gardens have already provided blue potates, yellow beans and white carrots - as they would have done in their heyday.

At the start of World War ll, 200 men from the 58th Sussex Field regiment arrived in Waldich. The village school was the signal store, the tennis court a dining room, a side room the sergeants' mess, the yard and shed was the cookhouse, with the battery offices in the terrace opposite Hyde Cottages. The Hyde itself was the officers' mess

Joseph Gundry sold the house and 246 acres in 1987. Mrs Carole Colburn bought the house and coach house with 22 acres to use as a residential home. It had a natural spring, but by 1990 the people in the 38-bed home needed mains water. Unfortunately, the cost of refurbishment proved too much and the house was sold to Court Cavendish in 1993. Expansion plans were granted for 74 more beds, but work was too expensive and never carried out. A merger with Takare PLC formed Care First in 1996, which was then bought by Bupa in 1998. The home still has 24 beds, 9 nursing rooms and remains a Bupa home.

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