The golf course on Shirehampton Park often puts off potential visitors, but it remains an integral part of the historic landscape. This oil painting, “In Shirehampton Park”, recently surfaced showing the pastoral scene in the Edwardian Era. The Golf course began in 1904 and extended to eighteen holes in 1907. This painting shows the scene before the setting out of the course in the eastern side of the park, and illustrates the rolling pastures dotted with parkland trees which sadly have not survived later landscaping schemes.
The artist. CW Goodridge, was apparently an amateur, but anyone with further details of him or his work would be very welcome.
The area recently worked on by KWAG volunteers, just below the coffee shop terrace, Is an odd corner of the Kings Weston estate. Hard up against Kings Weston Lane in its gulley to the east it has always been an abrupt edge to the Landscaped grounds.
Before the present house was built the slopes descending towards Lawrence Weston here were laid out as formal kitchen gardens, though would have been sorely exposed to the brisk winds off the Severn. The top of the slope offered spectacular panoramas across the estuary and, in 1705, a banqueting house was built on a terrace overlooking the kitchen gardens. When Sir John Vanbrugh came to rebuild the house for Edward Southwell his plans extended to major landscape interventions. The small banqueting house received a new façade in 1718, one that looked back into the park and along a vast new terraced promenade; this building forms the core of the current Loggia.
As garden fashions changed the whole of the area below the banqueting house and Loggia were deformalised and the topography took on a form much the same as today’s. By 1772, when the area was surveyed by Isaac Taylor, only the Loggia remained, and the terraces and formal gardens swept away. In their place the open parkland swept unbroken to an area described as “verge plantations”. On his plan Taylor identified a railed fence separating the newly planted area from the recently created rolling meadowland below the house; the remains of this Georgian fence can still be found in the area recently cleared.
Within the plantation new trees and shrubs were laid out as part of a pleasure walk that connected the house and Loggia with the Home Farm and Menagerie below. This planting would have been intentionally picturesque in style and some of the holly, yew, and Portuguese laurel from this era are still growing there, though the path has long become lost. Maps show there to have been many evergreens incorporated within a design intended to frame the open meadow and focus the eye on Kings Weston house commanding the ridge above it.
As time went on the trees and shrubs grew up and the view of the Loggia from the park was sadly obscured. The pleasure walk and planting continued to be maintained until the 1930s, but since then there has been little attention spared on them. Since WWII and the cessation of regular livestock grazing, this has resulted in the gradual encroachment of self-seeded trees beyond the historic fence line and the loss of the tamed edge of the meadow. Today trees cover almost twice the area of the original verge plantation and have further obscured the house and Loggia from within certain areas of the park. It is hoped that KWAG’s work, and forthcoming work as part of the National grid contributions, will help enhance the setting of Both Grade I Listed buildings and the park as a whole.