You might have noticed we’ve been a little quiet, but this is because we have EXCITING NEWS! Following our sneaky preview a couple of weeks ago that we have forthcoming research progress we can now reveal that we have sourced a huge new archive of material regarding Kings Weston and the family that once lived there. We are delighted that the present Lord and Lady de Clifford have asked KWAG to transfer their family records, those of the Southwell family and their heirs, to the Bristol Record Office to form part of the public collections there.
We have been very privileged in being able to go through the large volume of material and there are some really exciting finds coming out of it already!
Amongst the hundreds of correspondence there is a wonderful and almost unbroken set of letters sent by Katherine Southwell to her Son Ned (Edward Southwell III). She relays all the tittle tattle from court and goings on at Kings Weston to him as he travels Europe for two years before returning to Kings Weston to started remodelling the gardens and house.
We are continuing through these as we type, but there we are particularly excited by the confirmation that the landscape designer Thomas Wright can now be directly identified as working at Kings Weston in 1762. We know too that the carriage drives were laid out around Kings Weston Hill in 1831, and this delightful excerpt of Katherine’s letters comes from 1749 and sent from Downpatrick, the Southwell’s most important Irish estate:
“…above them is a fine ruined Cathedral, near it is such a round tower as as Killkenny. Your Papa has walled and planted the churchyard belonging to it between that and the almshouse Mr Trotter has planted a grove which, when grown will be very pretty, in the middle of it the statue of Jupiter which went from Kings Weston, who is now called St Patrick, and now with his companion Vesta, now St Bridget, is had in great veneration by the poor Irish who rub their beads and say their Ave Marias before them”
Downpatrick Cathedral before its reconstruction in the early C19th
A brief visit yesterday to Kings Weston revealed that work on the new dog poo and litter bin has begun. The concrete base has been poured in a position behind the Echo and close to the path crossing the Iron Bridge. Hopefully the bin itself will be in soon too.
The fallen tree across the Echo path was also in the process of removal with rangers from Blaise Castle estate busy sawing it into manageable chunks for removal. Finally we were delighted to see that the scaffolding has finally come down from the front of Kings Weston House giving the first uninterrupted views of Vanbrugh’s house in many decades.
Park Rangers tackle the fallen tree over the Echo Path
Concrete base goes in for the new dog waste and litter bin at Kings Weston
Once again our working party got away with the weather! What was forecast to be a stormy, wet day actually transformed into a sunny afternoon and although were were reduced in volunteer numbers we managed to achieve an enormous amount.
Swathes of brambles have been removed as well as a number of saplings, opening up views between the ruins of Penpole Lodge and the dial once more. Take a look at our gallery to see exactly the difference we made in just five hours last Saturday.
January’s working party was our biggest yet and THIS SATURDAY, the 15th Feb is the follow-up, continuing clearance on Penpole Point (weather permitting).
We will be starting at 10am on Sat 15th Feb and be gathering at Penpole Lane, close to Oasis Academey. From there we will be walking the short distance to the working part area where we will be until about 3:30. You can find where we’ll be on this map https://maps.google.co.uk/maps/ms?msid=210919455143110258951.0004efcb6628f06e600a2&msa=0&ll=51.492386%2C-2.674586&spn=0.001633%2C0.003009
Come along and lend your time to help us in this clearance. You can see some of what we all achieved last month here http://www.kwag.org.uk/gallery/jan-18th-2014-2/january-18th-2014-penpole-point/
A recent discovery came our way, a previously unknown painting by the Bristol artist Joseph Walter. It shows the view looking out from Penpole Point on the Kings Weston estate at sundown some time about 1840. This was a popular spot for artists up until the trees started to grow up and obscure the views. The small oil painting shows the seat at the stone dial being used by a small group of visitors taking in the spectacular views as the sunset develops. The river Avon below is busy with shipping and further vessels are at anchor in the King Road.
You can see this painting, along with many other views we have collected on our new paintings gallery here http://www.kwag.org.uk/gallery/historic-images/kings-weston-paintings/
As part of an informal consultation exercise Bristol City Council are asking for feedback on their proposals. We are keen to promote a much better environment for visitors to the estate and ensure that walkers using its many paths linking disparate parts of the park are better protected. We have highlighted concerns about some junctions along Kings Weston Lane, and crossings over Shirehampton Road, but you too have the opportunity to be let the Council know your thoughts.
Are you a regular walker on the estate, do you use the car park, or have you had problems on the roads that cross through it? Now is your chance to say something. Take a closer look at what’s proposed here: http://www.bristol20mph.co.uk/how/lawrence-weston-shirehampton-henbury-brentry-southmead