1891 Nichols Manor house

Lordship Manor

When Captain Nicholl was carrying on his privateering campaign, he captured a wonderful chandelier from a Spanish galleon. It probably had been taken from Spain to a cathedral in Mexico. The captain presented the chandelier to the old Episcopal Church in Stratford. There it used to hang, a mass of cut glass, shimmering in light from church windows. Residents of Stratford, who remember that beautiful old work of art, regret that it could not have been preserved for the new edifice. But when a newer church replaced the old building, the lovely chandelier became a prey to relic hunters. It is assumed that nearly every old Episcopalian in Stratford possesses a pendant from that antique mass of crystal.

Lordship Manor was a great house with center hall and stairs that would delight fancies of an Old Salt. The stairway started from the front hall, mounted to the second floor, over and down again, just as one might on shipboard do up to the hurricane deck and down again by stairs fore and aft. Rooms in the mansion originally were large, but were altered in later years. Captain Nicholl owned a large dairy farm, but since he spent much time on the seas, he had a manager to take charge of it. His name was Nelson Crane. When Mr. Cranes sister married Turner Hall, their bridal trip was make from Kent to Stratford by ox cart, for this was previous to the existence of the Housatonic Railroad. Mr. and Mrs. Hall visited Mr. Crane at Lordship Manor. The incident was similarly repeated when years later; one of their daughters became the wife of Frank Hopson and as a bride went to Lordship Manor to reside for a number of years. The reclamation of Lordship from mosquitoes was due to William Hopson and his brother Frank Hopson. He building of a dike ridding the land of mosquitoes was to the credit of William Hopson. This backed water away from the manor giving a chance to lay out a stretch of real lawn. Frank Hopson made this beautiful in front of his home by planting it with red-top grass and crimson clover. It made such a charming sight that folks came from neighboring towns to view it. The Hopson children, Grace and William used to play in this lovely place and loved it. The Hopson brothers purchased the original farm, also many bits of salt meadow leading to it. Nearly every farmer in Stratford owned a piece of salt meadow at Lordship. The Messrs. Hopson had a successful market garden and dairy farm and it became a desirable location. Under their administration Lordship, with the mosquito question down to normal, began to draw attention of folks seeking the shoreline for a summer place of residence. William Hopson sold some land to Frank Staples, Orange Merwin and Charles Armstrong in 1894. Then these three men built summer homes on the waterfront. Mr. Hopson at that time was experimenting on the salt meadows by pouring kerosene oil on all stagnant pools and puddles where water settled. This killed mosquito eggs in their breeding places and practically exterminated the pest. Mr. Hopsons next move to continue this good work was the following year, when he cut wide, deep ditches across meadow land in order to permit tides to rise and fall without flooding and overflowing the meadows. Mud, peat and bog squares which were cut out when ditches were constructed were used as a foundation for a good road across the meadows by which Bridgeport and Lordship were connected. Previous to that year, 1895, all travel from Lordship to town was by way of Stratford. The following year Elliot Upson, President of the Naugatuck Ice Company; Frederick Strong and Edward Spargo of Bridgeport and Charles Wilmot of Orange, New Jersey built homes on the waterfront. Soon after in 1896, Mrs. B.I. Ashmun, A.W. Burritt, Frank Wilmot and George Windsor each added summer cottages to the colony. This group of summer colonists now settled along the waterfront, organized the Lordship Golf Club. This proved a source of pleasure to them and their families for a number of years. Then the Lordship Park Association began selling building lots and this interfered with the golf course. The bungalow owned and occupied by Dr. and Mrs. Frederick Hindsley formerly was the golf clubhouse and had been the center of many enjoyable dances and teas among colony residents. Major Hincks and son William joined the ranks on Lordship shore in 1899. These first 11 houses built on the waterfront are standing today. All lots sold after that date, were back from the shore with a road running in front and up over the bluff. The first telephone at Lordship was installed in 1898 at Stratford Lighthouse, where Captain Theodore Judson and family were living. Residents were allowed to connect with this wire and three or four took advantage of the privilege. As neither water nor gas pipes were running to Lordship for a number of years, every cottage had its own well and strange to say, every will has filled with very fine water. Some of these wells were operated by windmills. Since 1898 a number of different corporations have handled the land and Lordship gradually has grown into quite a village, possessing a store, school house, a Sunday school and an Improvement society. For awhile, previous to 1911, Burritt and Hawes operated Lordship. Then Wilkenda Land Company (Williamson, Kenworthy and Davis) sold lots and brought gas, electricity, water, telephone lines and such modern improvements to Lordship. On Decoration Day of this year 1925, saw the formal opening of a new road over the meadows and a fine 29 passenger bus went into operation from the Plaza in Bridgeport soon afterwards. Lordship Manor has changed much. In the early days the manor grounds were fenced in and within the enclosure was a statue of Captain Nicholl, who first made Lordship famous. A great bell on the barn used to call all farm help together. Less than 50 years ago it is said that this property was offered for sales for less than the value of a good cow. It has changed hands and fluctuated in value many times since Captain Nicholls day. The Havilands had a stock farm at Lordship before the Hopsons arrived and put in action the first constructive step which was made of a mosquito infected place, one of the most charming sections of the coast around Bridgeport.

1891 Nichols Manor house

1891 Nichols Manor

1891 Lordship Manor from marsh

1891 Manor from marsh

1890s Nichols farm house front view

1890s Nichols farm house

1891 Nichols farm house north view

1891 Farm and barn

1890s Nichols farm house front

1890s Nichols farm

Views above are when the house faced Long Island Sound. Sometime early in the last century the house was moved 90 degrees to face Fourth Avenue.

View of Lordship Manor from the shaded lawn leading to barns, showing the famous manor which was the home of Captain Nicholl, who attained fame as a successful privateersman in the War of 1812. Today Lordship has become a most desirable summer colony. It was made habitable from the famous Stratford mosquito through the efforts of William Hopson who started extermination them in the early 1890s. An interesting bit of land lies on a point called Lordship in Stratford. Deeds of land dated 1650 to 1660 frequently refer to Mills Lordship or Lordship Meadows. From a sparsely settled farm land separated from Stratford by stretches of salt meadow, it has grown to be an attractive summer colony, linked up to town by an excellent road, bus line and with city conveniences of water, gas and electricity. The first settlement of Stratford in 1639 included 17 families. Among them was Richard Mills, who married a daughter of Francis Nichols and it is thought came to Stratford in 1639 with the Nichols family. Ten years later Mr. Mills sold his property to Joseph Hawley and moved to New York stated. Just how Lordship received its name is not accurately known. Several versions have been given as the source of a name originally confined to salt meadows land. Orcutts history associated the origin with the family of Richard Mills. The one accepted by folks who have been intimately associated with the manor is that Captain Nichols, to whom the place belonged, later imported farm hands from Ireland and that these men referred to their employer as His Lordship. It was back in 1815 that the first dyke was built at Lordship and three years later Captain Nicholl, which name was then spelled with double L built the house and barns. Captain Nicholl commanded a privateer for the government during the War of 1812. Off the coast of Norway and England he took some valuable prizes, nearly a score of which are to his credit.

All photos courtesy of the Stratford Historical Society

September 15, 1859: POTATO CROP RUINED: The potato crop in Stratford has proved almost a total failure. A gentleman who occupies the farm known as the Lordship bordering on Long Island Sound and who planted 112 acres states that he shall lose at least $1,000 due by the rot and blast.