Monthly Archives: January 2015

kings weston house kingsweston

New animation of Elizabethan Kings Weston

A bit of an experiment on our web site, but this is the first ever MOVIE we’ve hosted here.

Over the last few years we’ve undertake a lot of research that has changed knowledge about the buildings and landscape around Kings Weston. A hugely important part of testing our theories, and exploring new ideas has been the use of 3D computer modelling. We’ve posted still images of this work before, but now we can share something a little more exciting!

This short movie is an accurate reconstruction of the Elizabethan mansion at Kings Weston based on all available data we have on it. It is, most famously, illustrated in an engraving of 1711, but other information also exists in the form of drawn plans, and descriptions of the interior of the house before it was completely demolished in 1713 to make way for the present building.



This animation shows how prominent the pair of viewing towers were, and the intended castle feel in the inner courtyard, then the main entrance to the building. It is interesting to note that when the same courtyard was redesigned by Sir John Vanbrugh he chose to repeat the idea, and echo ancient castle architecture in his own designs.  The two towers are still evoked by the arcaded chimney when viewed from the rear of the house today.

More info on the early history of the house and its illustrious owners can be found on our dedicated web page.


January 2015. A 2-day step building epic

Our first working Part event of 2015 was something a little different. With the support of The Conservation Volunteers we were led in a two-day step-building course which has trained us up to complete a long set of steps that will restore an early Georgian Footpath through Penpole Wood.

The path links the main, top path through the woods, and one that clings to the hillside about halfway down and dates from the mid Eighteenth Century. The linking path between the two appeared on maps until the 1970s and has gradually fallen out of use as trees have fallen across it and the path surface degraded.

Our January work is just the start of this project to reinstate it. We installed about 20 steps over the two-day  training course which covered the two most hazardous areas on the route. The bottom part of the path had been lost beneath laurels and rubble, but now has fifteen new wooded steps allowing safe traffic to the main part of the path, and the top section where it meets the main Penpole Wood footpath has also got much improved access.

We are really grateful for The Conservation Volunteers for training us in this work and we hope to be able to complete the path with the remaining 40 steps over this year.

Take a look at our full gallery of work-in-progress shots here.

Coffee break time looking from the new stone steps towards the timber ones in the distance. The stones, relics of the demolition of Penpole Lodge, lie scattered around

Coffee break time looking from the new stone steps towards the timber ones in the distance. The stones, relics of the demolition of Penpole Lodge, lie scattered around

Spot the difference

Kings Weston House is still host to an incredible collection of family portraits of the Southwell family who lived there between 1679 and 1833. But their likenesses can be found elsewhere too. A recent trip to Downpatrick, Northern Ireland, uncovered a little sister portrait to the vast canvas by Sir Godfrey Kneller in the Saloon at Kings Weston. The paintings depict Lady Elizabeth Cromwell, wife of Edward Southwell who rebuilt Kings Weston.

The two paintings are shown together here, probably for the first time since they were painted, and the similarities are striking. The Kings Weston Painting is signed by the artist Kneller, but the other, held in the County Down Museum, is not. The latter is likely to have been made as a copy at some point in time though it’s history has not yet been unravelled.
The same museum also has a matching painting of Edward Southwell, identical in detail of the one of him hanging at Kings Weston, but the pose is reversed! This probably shows that it was copied from a contemporary engraving, rather than directly from the original as his wife’s may have been.

An article about the Downpatrick paintings is available to download, though sadly the author appears to have been unaware of the Kings Weston paintings when they were writing it.


New historical resources now on-line

We have now added a new selection of important historical documents to our downloads area including catalogues to a glittering fourteen day auction of the entire contents of Kings Weston House! The auctions took place in 1833 and 1834 following the death of the last of the direct line of the Southwell family, Edward Southwell IV, 21st Baron de Clifford.

The auctions detail almost all of the furnishings, artworks, books and personal items built up by the Southwell family since the Seventeenth Century and include some keen insights into the development of the family’s house and estate over the Century.

Amongst the five thousand books from the library are rare volumes by famous friends of the various family members, books on art and architecture relating to the design of the house and grounds, and with a wide range of languages represented, suggesting the taste and education of the owners.

To see these new documents head here