Sandford House is particularly notable as the home of the William Henry and William Lawrence Bragg, Nobel Laureate scientists. The Braggs were some of the world’s earliest pioneers in the use of x-rays in medicine. They developed x–ray crystallography which later facilitated the discovery of the structure of DNA by Crick and Watson, one of the foundations of modern biological science.
William Henry Bragg had arrived in Adelaide in 1886 as Professor of Mathematics and Experimental Physics. Shortly after he married Gwendolyn, the third daughter of Sir Charles and Alice Todd. They lived in North Adelaide until 1897 where their two sons (William and Robert) were born. Bragg bought this block of land on the corner of East Terrace and Carrington Street in 1898. He designed a large, two-storey house with Edwardian Gables (now obscured).
Charles Todd laid the foundation stone on 9/9/1899. Like their North Adelaide house it looks out over the parklands to the Adelaide Hills, a view the family loved. Here the two boys grew up and a daughter was born. It was also here that William seriously contemplated the research that was to blossom in Adelaide and take him to international renown and where Lawrence studied for his examinations at school (St Peters College) and at Adelaide University.
The Bragg family left Adelaide in 1909, William for Leeds, and Lawrence for Cambridge. In 1915 they were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for the invention of x-ray crystallography. In the same year Bob was killed at Gallipoli. Lawrence remains the youngest person ever to win the award; later he became the head of the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge and President of the Royal Society and Royal Institution. Both of the Braggs were later knighted for services to science.
The house that the elder Bragg built on East Terrace was sold to Sir James Wallace Sandford, prominent company director, member of the Legislative Council and many public boards. In 1960 it became the home of the newly formed Public Schools Club, an old scholars association and remains their club rooms today.