Historic artefacts donated to KWAG

Donor, David Pickering (right) and his partner John with the box with its Kings Weston contents. 

Last month we shared some photos and memories of David Pickering whose uncle, Fred Whapshare. Since then David has very generously donated a number of historic items with Kings Weston connections to KWAG.

Central to the small collection is a beautiful box veneered in beautiful Coromandel wood, with robust but elegant brass edges and handles. During the reign of Queen Victoria, Coromandel was considered one of the most exotic, luxurious and expensive woods to work with and it was the veneer of choice for some of the finest boxes. It’s of little surprise that such a fine wood was selected for use on a possession of the Miles family who lived at Kings Weston between 1834 and 1935. In the top a rebated brass plaque has the initials HCWM joins the arm-and-anchor arms of the family; from this we can attribute the box’s ownership of Henry Cruger Miles, widely known as Cruger.

The Coromandel travelling case of Cruger Miles, 1874.
The Miles arms and monogram of Henry Cruger William Miles on the top of the box

He lived with his brother, Philip William Skinner Miles, at Kings Weston for much of his life. He never married, but was a highly regarded in Bristol, being High Sheriff of the City, a Master of the Merchant Ventures, and the principle supporter of the rebuilding of the Cathedral nave. On his death in 1888 he bequeathed all his possessions to the only heir, his nephew Philip Napier Miles, amongst which we assume was this case.

The interior of the box

It’s designed as a travelling case, with handles, a robust but elegant exterior, and an interior fitted out with compartments, a silk lining, and a detachable mirror. Some of the original contents are happily still contained. A cut-throat razor and a silver travelling shaving brush are, sadly, the only survivors, but enough to be able to date the box to 1874 from the hallmarks.

Razor and travelling shaving brush, dated to 1874.

Now housed in the box are a partial set of gilt livery buttons carrying the Miles family arms. These, Mr Pickering tells us, were dug from the garden of a cottage on Kings Weston Lane that his Uncle and Aunt lived in until after WWII. Perhaps they were stripped from an old uniform and discarded when new clothes were procured.

 Four gilt livery buttons bearing the Miles arms and dug up from a cottage on Kings Weston Lane.

Another item with a direct Kings Weston connection is an engraved copper printing plate. On this, written backwards, is an invite to dinner with Mr and Mrs Napier Miles at Kings Weston, with the details of the invitee and time to be filled in by hand when the plate was used to print invitations. It must date to after Napier Miles married in 1899 and his death in 1935, but it’s not possible to narrow down dates further.  

Copper plate for printing dinner invited for Napier Miles and his wife. The image reversed on the right to show the text. 
Fred Whapshare, head gardener at Kings Weston’s, secateurs

The last item is a more palpable link to My Pickering’s own family connection. A pair of secateurs was owned by his uncle in his role as head gardener at Kings Weston. We shared a photo of Fred Whapshare in our last newsletter and the garden tool was his, and shared with Napier Miles when the latter borrowed them, on occasion taking them to use at his Italian villa at Allassio. 

We’re incredibly grateful to Mr Pickering for the kind gift of these items, that will now form part of our growing collection of books, images, and artefacts with Kings Weston connections.      

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