In the same way that Eastern Shore nature captures our attention, the variety of its homes, with a vast range of eclectic styles and designs, captures our imagination.
If you sojourn through Kent County with camera in hand, you won’t want to miss the Brampton Bed and Breakfast Inn. Just minutes from downtown Chestertown, 25227 Chestertown Road, Brampton is a legacy of living history. The large brick portion of the home is one of the most iconic examples of antebellum construction in Kent County.
Sited on a 20-acre wooded enclave, Brampton is a 10,000 square foot home. This three-story, five-bay wide structure, topped with a canted metal roof, displays a cross gable above the central bay. Further enhancing the architecture are paired brackets on all sides of the cornice. As originally built, the home’s welcoming porches surround three sides. In many ways Brampton resembles the Kent County Courthouse, built in 1860.
Brampton is a “telescope house” (one that was added onto as families expanded or wanted more rooms for entertaining) — popular on the Eastern Shore for more than 200 years. The original part of the home was a clapboard house built between 1830 to 1840 on a different site and later was moved to its current location. The imposing three-story structure in the front was added later.
More striking than the exterior, the interior features a period-popular floor plan that consists of a center stair hall flanked by two main entertaining rooms. Michael Bourne and Eugene Johnstone, in their book, “Historic Houses of Kent County,” describe some of the interesting attention to detail found in this home.
“The balustrade of the stair is not the usual mahogany structure, but rather is made with a turned and carved newel post of walnut with acanthus leaves, rope molding and flutes on an octagonal base. The remainder of the balustrade which extends to the third floor is also made of walnut. The doors, sash, and baseboards are likewise also made of walnut, the only such use of the fine wood in the county. The two flanking rooms have somewhat standard marbleized slate (now painted) mantles which were originally fit with integral arched coal stoves. In the center of the ceiling of the two large front rooms as well as the first and second story halls are original plaster medallions.”
Brampton has a storied history. John Beale Bordley (reputed as being an early advocate of crop rotation to replenish the soil and increase harvest yield) is recorded as the first owner in 1798, and the property was known as Fairy Hill. In 1857, Henry Ward Carville bought the farm, and a year later moved the clapboard house to its current location, adding to the brick structure.
In 1886 ,Harrison Vickers purchased the property at auction, owning it until 1937. Tenants occupied it during most of the family’s ownership. While tenant occupied, the front rooms were used for agricultural and meat hanging, the aged stains still visible on the flooring.
In 1937, Dr. Frank Hines and his wife purchased the declining manor house at the height of the Great Depression, finding it in extremely poor condition. The two side front porches and the Belvedere (the enclosed walkway at the top of the home that would have been called a Widow’s Walk if it were on the coast), had been removed so the wood could be sold. The Hines family protected the home from further neglect and disrepair, changing the name to Brampton (the origin goes back to his mother’s family lineage in England). They owned it until 1950.
In the ensuing years, various people owned this manor home but it was not until the late 1980s that significant changes were made. In 1986, proprietors Michael and Danielle Hanscom purchased Brampton with the intention of restoring and converting it into a bed and breakfast. Their vision and determination converted this antebellum home into the 12-bedroom bed and breakfast it is today.
The Hanscoms rebuilt the side porches and the Belvedere, restoring the home to its former grandeur. They also corrected the failing support system for Sophie’s Suite and created a modern dining room below.
In addition to the repairs to the main house, the Hanscoms also built five outbuildings. Of these, only two were built from the ground up. The other three were existing structures behind the house that were converted. One was a smokehouse, another a carriage house, and the third a storage building.
As son Lucas, who along with his wife, Rachel, now runs day-to-day operations, said, “You don’t actually learn things until you do them yourself and have to make things work. No one prepares you with all the skills or insights to renovate a historic building.”
Brampton is a classic combination of antebellum style married perfectly with modern construction techniques and luxuries, like jetted whirlpool tubs and heated towel racks.
Take a weekend, explore historic Chestertown and imagine life in the 1800s, while resting and relaxing on the front porch of the Brampton Bed and Breakfast Inn. You’ll be glad you did.
For more information, visit www.bramptoninn.com.