Another really exciting historical find!
Most of the family members of the owners of Kings Weston House are buried in the parish church at Henbury. We have posted a few of the most important memorials here before including one by the famous sculptor Grinling Gibbons (1648-1721) for Sir Robert Southwell.
Now we have identified ANOTHER important Grinling Gibbons monument in the church and dedicated to Sir Robert’s wife Elizabeth Dering and their son Rupert. After Elizabeth’s death in London 13th January 1681 her body was brought back to Kings Weston and buried, but the memorial wasn’t set up until some time later. When it was it was a far more elaborate and accomplished piece of work by Gibbons than Sir Robert would have as his own stark memorial.
Grinling Gibbons’ memorial to Elizabeth Southwell of Kings Weston and her son Rupert, both buried in Henbury parish church. On the right is her portrait which still hangs in Kings Weston House.
Grinling Gibbons received £20 for his labours on the monument in 1684 and a further £30 was paid to his business partner Arnold Quellin in October the following year who ‘composed’ the inscription.
We are able to make the identification of this monument by Gibbons thanks to the help of Roger Forse at the church who kindly offered to seek out Elizabeth’s memorial for us, and it appears here for the first time properly identified as a work by one of Britain’s foremost craftsmen.
June’s working party was a real slog. The hot weather always tires you out quicker, but with a dozen or so volunteers we managed to get on top of the situation and return a bit of form back to the Circle.
This area, at the end of Shirehampton Road car park, at the entrance to the park, was once the historic focus of the whole estate. Avenues and paths once radiated out from a circular grove and the main carriage drive ran through its centre on the way to the house down the Lime avenue. Whilst the track and some of the avenues remain the Circle itself was in danger for becoming entirely overgrown.
The working party undertook the clearance of the major wall of brambles and undergrowth and managed to return a sense of circular enclosure to the area. Once again you can get views between the different paths and we hope that the Council will now undertake to maintain the area more frequently to prevent its decline again.
A full gallery of photos can be found here.
The Circle at Kings Weston from a 1720 estate plan
This year there has been a great development in the meadows along Shirehampton Road. Since the Council stopped regularly mowing them their intention has been to let these areas turn to wild flower meadow, but it takes time for native species to establish.
This year there has been a rise in the amount of Yellow Rattle in parts of the park which is a great addition. Yellow Rattle is a semi-parasitic wild flower that saps nutrients from the soil making it harder for grasses to grow. In turn this enables other wild flowers to come up through the greensward where they would otherwise be suffocated by dense grass. Many wild flowers prefer less nutrient rich soils so the Yellow Rattle is a welcome arrival which will enable the meadows to thrive.
We have been continuing our research into the history of Kings Weston and hunting down material from more and more obscure sources. This included a recent foray to Neath and the Neath Antiquarian Society where we discovered a pair of very interesting watercolour paintings.
The artist and date are unknown, but they are likely to date to the early Nineteenth Century, around 1800-1820. One is particularly interesting as it is the only known view of Kingsweston Inn from this period. Its early form is clear from the painting showing it with its central tower (viewing point?) before victorian modifications reduced it in scale and replaced it with a gable. It isn’t entirely clear in the artists depiction whether the cutting and iron bridge have been constructed, but this occurred in 1821 and the implication seems to be that these pre-date that.
The other painting, clearly the pair to the one of Kingsweston Inn, shows Park Lodge just below it on Shirehampton Road. The lodge there today, now a listed building, replaced this earlier cottage at the gates to the private parkland. We were delighted to be able to add to the catalogue description of this item for the Neath Antiquarian Society as this painting had lost any identification of it’s location, but is similar to another painting held in the Bristol Record Office.
Park Lodge, Shirehampton Road, c. 1800-1820. Courtesy of Neath Antiquarian Society
Since the Georgian Viewing Terrace was cleared last year a lot of new species have been popping up in the area. With the overshadowing gone and undergrowth cleared many windflowers have found a new foothold including an explosion of these greater celandine along the terrace pathway. We hope they continue enjoying their new home here.
An exhibition is running at Kings Weston House between the 3rd and 11th June shows what the youth of nearby Lawrence Weston hope their area can be put back on the map. Come along and see what the future might hold or maybe join them on 9th June when the Lord Mayor will attend and award the prizes. Cafe opening hours are 9:30am-4pm
Announcing our next event! Wild and Free!
SUNDAY 6th July will be WILD AND FREE at Kings Weston! Wild and Free is being held in partnership with Bristol Natural History Consortium and the National Trust and will be a day of family focussed events running from 11am to 4pm. The event will be focussed on the Circle, close to the end of Shirehampton Road car park. Come along on a bug hunt with our experts and see what you can uncover, or join in with our Nature Artefacts Roadshow by bringing along your strange and unusual nature finds for identification, or even just something you want to learn more about.
Nature walks will run at 12pm and 2pm and help you discover the natural highlights and habitats of the Kings Weston woodlands. Or take a grab-bag and lead your own expedition, bringing back your discoveries and see how many you can collect from our identification sheets. Wild and Free should be a good woodland romp for the whole family in the company of knowledgeable experts to help uncover the park’s hidden ecology.