Tag Archives: Kings Weston

A Delve into the Museum Stores

A recent visit to the back rooms of Bristol Museum and Art gallery has uncovered some interesting new finds. The museum holds an extensive collection of material on Kings Weston including paintings, prints, drawings, and artefacts. This particular visit was focussed on uncovering, and recording, some of the less well known images of the historic estate.

samuel-jackson-kingsweston-hill-copy
Above: The view from Kingsweston Hill, a watercolour from the late C18th by Samuel Jackson (BMAG K181). Below-right: Sunset from Kingsweston Hill, circa 1790,Nicholas Pocock (BMAG Mb1996)

pococke-sunsetThere are a number of memorable paintings in the collection, just a small number of which we share here. Most are from the estate at the height of its fame in the late Eighteenth century, with many by notable artists of the “Bristol School” such as Francis Danby, Samuel Jackson, and Nicholas Pocock.
Of special interest was a large portfolio of art etchings by the eminent artist Robert Charles Goff (1837-1922). Most of the dozens of etchings are little to do with Bristol, but are significant for their connection with the last members of the Miles family. The collection was gifted to the museum in 1936 by  Mrs Sybil Napier Miles, the wife of Philip Napier Miles the last private owner of the estate, and her sisters. Goff was their brother-in law, having married Sybil’s sister, Clarissa, in 1899.

Below: The Sentinels, Kings Weston, Robert Goff, 1907(BMAG Mb2555)
goff-1907-sentinels
The Goff’s and the Miles’s were close and Robert and Clarissa were frequent visitors to both Kings Weston, and Napier Miles’s villa at Alassio in Italy. On Robert’s death in 1922 Clarissa came to live permanently with her sister and brother-in-law at Kings Weston, and presumably brought the artist’s portfolio of work with her.

Sadly for Sybil, both her husband and sister died in 1935 within weeks of each other, leaving her with a huge estate and the contents of the house to manage alone. Evidently she sought to ensure that Goff’s artworks were kept together as a single archive and, in memory of her sister, donated then to Bristol Museum and Art Gallery the following year. In this way the provenance of the works can be directly connected back to the artist’s ownership.

Amongst Goff’s works in Bristol museum are two etchings of Kings Weston. One, of 1907 we have discovered before and our Tree Trail guide sports a low resolution version of it, and the other completely new to us. This second view is taken from the Shirehampton Park side of the estate, where the parkland drops steeply down to Horseshoe Bend of the River Avon. It is a particularly pleasing composition with the once-famous pine trees framing glimpsed views back upstream to the Avon Gorge. This scene has sadly succumbed to the ravages of time and the Portway Road now passes through this very area.

In due course copies of all the artworks recorded will be uploaded to KWAG’s website to accompany the galleries of historic views.

Below: The Avon below Kings Weston, Robert Goff, drypoint etching. (BMAG Mb2552)

goff-shirehampton-park

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:
https://www.bristol.gov.uk/…/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.

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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)
http://planningonline.bristol.gov.uk/online-appl…/search.do…
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

Bristol BioBlitz launches Bristol99 this weekend at Kings Weston. Get ready for a 30 hour wildlife extravaganza!

3 DAYS TO GO UNTIL THE BRISTOL BIOBLITZ AT KINGS WESTON – HURRAH!  This year, it marks a particularly special occasion – the launch event of Bristol99, a pilot project to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Bristol Festival of Nature.  For 6 weeks, starting with the Bristol BioBlitz, Bristol Natural History Consortium will be working with partners to deliver a huge variety of FREE activities (currently, about 40 and counting!) on some of Bristol’s best wildlife sites – the 99 Sites of Nature Conservation Interest.  From the 30 hour wildlife recording extravaganza that is the main Bristol BioBlitz, to a gentle cycle ride along the Malago Valley looking at wildflowers, an evening bat walk, or a glimpse into the world of the water vole, there truly is something to tickle everyone’s taste buds.

Bristol99 concludes it’s journey around Bristol at Bristol Harbourside, for the big finale – Bristol Festival of Nature, on the weekend of 15th/16th June.  Bringing together over 150 organisations for an exciting and interactive programme, it is the UK’s largest FREE natural history event and a truly great day out, whether or not you are a wildlife aficionado!

So why not make Bristol BioBlitz the start of a summer exploring the wildlife hot spots of our wonderful city? Come along to a few of the Bristol99 events in the weeks to follow, and then join us at the Festival of Nature!  I can’t think of a better, or cheaper way to have fun in the (hopefully) sun!

By Lucy Gaze