Recently we were approached by someone in Spain, who had recently acquired a fragment of Kings Weston’s history. Fermin Fernandez Izquierdo had chanced upon a solid silver cigarette case engraved on one side with the first few bars of “West Country Overture” and on the reverse with the initials P.N.M and a date. Those familiar with the history of Kings Weston will recognise the initials as those of Philip Napier Miles, the last squire of Kings Weston house, who died without an heir in 1935. Miles was a well-known and accomplished amateur composer, and a little delving in the University of Bristol archives establishes the piece of music as one of his works, most likely the Lyric overture in G minor: ‘From the West Country’, finished 16th March 1898. Ironically the piece wasn’t completed in the West Country, but from Miles’ Italian villa in Alassio!
The date inscribed on the case, 1.2.99, records the marriage of Philip Napier Miles to Sybil Marguerite Gonne, fifth daughter of Baron de Hochepied Larpent, which took place in London. The solid silver case was most likely a wedding gift, perhaps a personal one to the groom from his new wife; perhaps the wedding was the West Country overture, an introduction to a new relationship that would take the couple back to Kings Weston.
Thank you to Fermin for sharing his find with us.