Tag Archives: Robert Goff

Edwardian Sketch comes to light

Many people local to the Kings Weston estate will be aware of the death two years ago of local Historian Ralph Hack. Ralph had amassed a large collection of research and original material about the whole area including Kings Weston and we’ve been keen to track-down his archives since then. 

View towards the Echo, Robert Goff, 1910

Recently portions of his collection came to light at Bristol Auction Rooms, and we were keen to try and identify anything that might relate to the house and its history. Amongst the lots was a pencil drawing that particularly stood out. Catalogued only as a view  at Kings Weston, dated 1910, and signed “RG” it is a well executed sketch of the view looking towards the Echo from the house. We were in a fortunate position to recognise the sketch, and the monogram, as being the work of the artist and etcher Robert Goff. 

Goff was the brother-in-law of Philip Napier Miles, the last private owner of Kings Weston house, and he evidently spent some time there sketching and developing compositions for his etchings. Whilst we don’t know if the drawing ever developed further it’s a fascinating companion to an image we’ve hosted here before: the opposing, engraved, view looking down towards Kings Weston House in 1907.  It’s unlikely we’ll ever know if the two images were ever intended to be seen together, but, rest assured, we’ll be keeping our eyes out for an engraved version in the future!

“The Sentinels” Kings Weston. Etching by Robert Goff, 1907. 

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.

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)
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)