Category Archives: Information

Laurel clearance concerns

Please be reassured…

KWAG appreciates that there is some concern locally about the felling of laurel in Penpole Wood. We do understand that the degree of change can be challenging, but we’d like to assure everyone that the work KWAG are doing is necessary for the future protection of the Ancient Woodland.

Over the last few months KWAG volunteers have been undertaking two projects directed by the Forestry Commission; Natural Spacing and the removal of Laurel. Natural Spacing is good practice to thin-out poor quality saplings to allow the best ones, and most importantly the existing mature trees, to thrive with less competition. It promotes growth and reduces the risk of disease.

Cherry Laurel is an invasive foreign plant, and has serious implications for the health of natural woodland; it suffocates all other competing native species by preventing light from reaching the forest floor. It also decays slowly leaving a cocktail of toxins in the soil that retard the growth of other trees and ground cover.

It’s also on the Dogs Trust list of poisonous plants for dogs.

Laurels recently felled

Laurels recently felled

Although laurel’s been present at Kings Weston for centuries, introduced as an ornamental shrub, it’s now run wild, threatening the nature, fabric, and diversity of the Ancient Woodland; as such it needs to be removed.

Although it will look bare for a short time, especially now in winter, the removal of the laurel will allow the forest floor to regenerate naturally with native trees and undergrowth; That it looks so bare right now is largely because the laurel has already suffocated everything at ground level.

The process will ensure the survival of the Ancient Woodland for future generations, ultimately increasing the diversity of woodland habitat and species.

The majority of the feedback we’ve had has been resoundingly positive, but we appreciate the loss of familiar thickets will upset some people. Please be assured that KWAG are working to a brief defined by the Forestry Commission, and supported by Bristol City Council, and that the work is designed to save Penpole Wood from permanent decay, not to damage it.

You can read more about Bristol’s Biodiversity Action Plan for woodlands, and the benefits of re-opening the forest floor to native growth here:…/369f1561-116b-40d0-8cf9-50eaa6…

Planning application takes gardens project forward

We know that the inevitable loss of the lime trees on the ancient avenue has come as a great shock and sadness on many people in the park, and so many people have spoken to us about it. We are looking to prioritise how we can replace the lost trees as soon as possible, but this won’t be at least until the next planting season next winter. This will give us plenty of time to secure the funding we’ll need to support this.

However, there are many other trees in the park that we are less sorry to lose, and a recent application to fell trees within the Conservation Area has been submitted for planning. The application from Kings Weston house marks the next stage in the restoration of the grounds. Norman Routledge, the owner of the house and the area of grounds immediately around it, is keen to repair and enhance the grounds and one priority that everyone has agreed on is improving the current woodland car park.


Undersized for use by both the house and park visitors it’s led to vehicles damaging the park and paths. The new proposals will see the establishment of a better designed, and more appropriate car park that will tackle the problematic issue of some of the brick ruins around the house. As a first stage a planning application has come forward for the felling of many of the poor-quality sycamore and ash that currently engulf the ruins and are obstructing views of the Echo. These trees have grown up entirely unmanaged only since the 1950s and the area is identified in the City’s Conservation Management Plan for this work.

A full copy of the application can be found on the City’s Planning website (search for ref: 16/00359/VC)…/…
It’s accompanied by a professional tree survey that’s reassured us that there are no trees of good quality of high habitat value being proposed for felling. We are hoping that the council will apply policy to ensure that trees felled will be replaced with higher quality specimens in the next phase of the proposals, and as such we are minded to support this proposal.

If you have any thoughts please comment on the planning application.

New acquisition

A historic document has just come our way related to Kings Weston. It is a contract between Edward Southwell II of Kings Weston, his Court acquaintance James Vernon, and John Lambert, a builder of Lambeth to complete a building at Spring Gardens In London. Spring Gardens was the London home of the Southwell Family and they sought to develop the land they leased from the Crown from the 1730s onwards. This document from 1754 is an interesting insight into Edward Southwell’s development of the site around his Spring Garden Mansion.

Spring Gardens was located on the south side of Trafalgar Square, where The Mall now joins it. It disappeared under the construction of Admiralty Arch at the start of the Twentieth Century, but you can see where it was on this map. The area shown here was the house and garden of the Southwell’s in 1777 after they had leased much of their surrounding property for development.

The document is particularly interesting for its three wax seals, all bearing the arms of Edward Southwell II surmounted with the armorial goat. Edward’s signature bestrides the best of these seals.

spring gardens

Bioblitz data available now!

Thanks to Liz and Extraverte Community Projects we now have a full list of all that was found during the Kings Weston Bioblitz. You can download your own copy from here:

This is really the starting point for us now and we want to use this information in whatever way we can to improve people’s awareness of the natural history of the estate. The web site will be one way, but we are running a series of free nature walks this summer and a bulb-planting session in September. So don;t miss out and get in touch if you’d like to find out more.



Today, I managed a little time away from base camp where I was mostly on “site” duty to accompany a walk to find spiders.  I took my camera with me and here are a few pictures of what I saw on the walk (clue:  not all of them are spiders).

DSC_5836 Scorpion Fly DSC_5838 Scorpion Fly   DSC_5848 Spider DSC_5855 Cow Parsley DSC_5856 Spider DSC_5857 Spider DSC_5861 Bluebells     DSC_5871 Harvest Spider

It’s all happening at BioBlitz headquarters

The field lab at Kings Weston House is abuzz with naturalists identifying and verifying the species discoveries from around the site. As well as microscopes to help identify grasses via their minute differences, there is also a range of kit for people to come and borrow.

If you have an unidentified species, or need some help with ID, pop into the field lab!





What’s on today at BioBlitz 2013

If you fancy a foray into the world of BioBlitzing, take a look at what’s on today. You can hunt down creepy crawlies and, if you’re feeling brave, get up close and personal with spiders! Or play it safe and enjoy one of our guided mammal and woodland walks. We’ve also got naturalists on hand to answer your questions.

And if you feel like exploring under your own steam, come and borrow some equipment from our field lab and see what you can find!

What's on today at BioBlitz 2013

BioBlitz programme for 3rd & 4th May

This is our poster showing just the basics of what will be happening on Friday and Saturday as part of the Kings Weston BioBlitz. There will be plenty more bug hunts and plant searches happening throughout the event as well as bird box making at the house on Saturday.

Help spread the word and come along to discover how nature and history come together on our unique estate. post

Spring is busting out all over…

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As the BioBlitz approaches the Kings Weston Estate is waking up and preparing to put on a show. Spring has come late, but nature is making up for lost time with a display of wild flowers.

Bluebells are already out in Crabtree Slip Wood close to the Avon, and cowslips are in the meadow close by. Meanwhile celandines are out in abundance across the estate.

This weekend should be a great opportunity to get out and discover more about the flora of Kings Weston with the help of knowledgeable naturalists from the Bristol Natural History Consortium.

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