September's Kings Weston newsletter
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We find out how KWAG has done in the Historic England Heritage Angel Awards on Monday 7th. Follow our Twitter account for live updates of the ceremony from 5:30pm on the day. 


The House from the replanted avenue

This month:

  • Lifting the curtain- uncovering the past
  • Doors Open Day
  • Tickets for Capability Brown study day
  • Lily pond problems
  • Annual big Bulb Plant
  • History update: WWII in the Home Park

Don't Forget! - Working Party Reminder

Reminder:  September's working party will take place next week, on Sat 12th. Meet at Shirehampton Road public car park at 10am. We're planning to continue carrying out light clearance nearby along the South Walk between the Circle and the Echo, continuing the progress on our "Lifting the Curtain" project made over the last few months. Although we are now closer to the Woodland car park than Shirehampton Road car park there is an event happening at the house on this day.

Our ongoing work  will involve the removal of self-seeded saplings and light undergrowth, but there will be tasks to suit all abilities. Please come along with suitable clothing for the weather on the day, bring hand-tools if you have some suitable,  and we hope to see you there.


Lifting the curtain - Uncovering the past
Working Party Progress

Our longest running project turns up more unexpected discoveries

August was the sixth Working Party in what's now become our longest-running project: Lifting the Curtain. We've received a huge amount of positive feedback on the clearance of undergrowth with lots of visitors stopping to comment on the work - something that is always as much reassuring as it is gratifying!

We're now well over half way to the Echo along the South Walk. Although the potential to re-open views of the house is lessened by the depth of the undergrowth in this area we're still managing to restore glimpses of it and the Severn beyond. Last month two more mature parkland trees were uncovered extending the line of trees we've already salvaged along the walk.

It was something of a surprise to rediscover a set of concrete steps as we were working. Although we'd known they were supposed to exist from local memories this was the first time we'd been able to locate them on the ground. The steps date from the Second World War when they were installed to access all parts of the military camp strung-out along the slope in this location. Our thanks go to Jim and Celia Ellis who returned a fortnight after the working party to begin clearing them. The steps, now fully uncovered, link the South Walk with the lawns around the house and will provide a great new addition to the existing paths.

Our WWII discoveries didn't end there however, and you'll be able to find out more in our history update below.

Doors Open Day (Sunday 13th September)
Take the opportunity to spend a Sunday discovering Kings Weston

Kings Weston House will be open to the public for Free on  Sunday 13th September 10am-4pm. As part of the Doors Open Day weekend.

People will have an opportunity to visit other venues on the main day, the Saturday, before taking a more leisurely time around Kings Weston House and grounds on the Sunday. As always the cafe will be open, and KWAG will be hosting our regular exhibition and tours. It will be a great chance to learn more about the history of Kings Weston and see how the restoration of the house has progressed. We will also reprise our popular art exhibition and sale after last years success; this will be held jointly to raise funds for KWAG and local Twyford House Art Group. Some of our recent discoveries will be on view too!

If you are able to help out and help supervise the exhibition we would really welcome the assistance from anyone. You needn't know everything about the park, or KWAG, but it is a great opportunity to meet everyone and get involved. Please email us or phone 07811 666671 if you can spare any time on the 13th to help us.


Capability Brown study day
Tickets are still available for this event to be held at Kings Weston

There's still an opportunity to join KWAG at an exclusive event in conjunction with The Association of Gardens Trusts and Avon Gardens Trust in partnership with The Garden History Society. KWAG will benefit from this event with funds to help our continuing work. To find out more and book a place please head over to this dedicated web page

Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown at Kings Weston: A Re-assessment
Research and Recording Study Day – Kings Weston, Bristol

Tuesday 22 September 2015 9.30 am to 3.45pm – £50

The event takes place on Tuesday 22 September 2015. As part of the celebration of the Tercentenary of the birth of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown next year. Guest speakers will help us discover more about the Southwell family and the Kings Weston estate, the importance of Brown in the British landscape movement and a re-assessment of the influence of Brown at Kings Weston in the light of current research.

Lily pond problems
The Grade II* Listed pond has sprung a leak

We had some bad news recently that the Eighteenth Century lily pond opposite the old stables on Napier Miles Road had begun to leak. The pond, along with the walled garden and two lodges are Grade II* Listed and on the national Heritage at Risk Register. All of the structures now form part of Kingsweston Special School and are owned by Bristol City Council. Unfortunately the pond is now virtually empty and the reasons for the sudden loss of water isn't known. 

We've been liaising with the City's Conservation Officer and with Historic England to try and get the issue addressed as a priority and have offered our support to the school to help them get the problem recognised and rectified. As winter approaches, and with the water gone, the structure and lining of the pond will be especially susceptible to further damage. We hope that a forthcoming survey of the pond will establish what's happened and how it can be fixed, though we fear that this will not be possible quickly.

We'll make sure to keep up the pressure and report progress on the problem a updates.

Annual Big Bulb Plant
Our popular family event returns this October

After the success of last two years Big Bulb Plant we are running it again this year, but with THOUSANDS MORE BULBS! The Big Bulb plant is a free, family-friendly event where you can get involved in one of our easier going working party events. The event is completely free with all the native wild flower bulbs provided!

This year we have a great mix of natives all ready to be slipped in the ground in areas around the Echo and down the South Walk. The event will run on Saturday 10th October,  between 10:30am and 3:30pm and we'd love to see you there. Please bring a spade if you have one, but gloves and some tools will be provided.

We'll circulate more details closer to the time, but please forward this email to anyone you think might be interested in lending a hand. A poster for the event will be available shortly. 

History Update:
WWII in the Home Park

A series of fascinating discoveries have come to light in recent weeks

Surprisingly it's the more recent history of Kings Weston that we have less historical evidence for than earlier periods. A lack of original material is a particular problem when researching the Second World War at Kings Weston when necessary secrecy meant that fewer records were kept. We know that it played and extremely active role during the war with two army camps; one on the Shirehampton Park Golf Course and one on Penpole Lane. These were "Camp Seamills" A and B respectively and mainly housed regiments of Black US Army soldiers that formed the Port Companies used to unload war supplies and arms arriving in Avonmouth.

We're less clear about how Kings Weston house and the surrounding area of the Home Park operated during the War. From contemporary aerial photos, and from the remaining concrete bases, we know that there were several dozen barrack huts built along the South Walk and as far as the Echo, but we've yet to establish who they were used by.

Our recent work clearing the area below the South Walk has uncovered a lot of the ruins of the former army camp, but last month we uncovered some interesting artefacts from the area. Close to where the newly-revealed concrete steps descend towards the house there is a very large concrete slab base from a building much larger than the other barrack blocks. It was close-by that we found a rubbish dump with a lot of contemporary finds amongst a lot of tipped ash. You can see where we found it using this link to the Know Your Place website.

Most interesting was probably this well-preserved enamel sign. Further research has shown that this came from the inside lid of a wooden crate used to store "A W Bombs". These 'bombs' - actually incendiary grenades - were produced in large numbers from 1940 onwards and were issued to the Home Guard in the event of German invasion - a real threat at that point in the war. Fortunately we didn't find any of the glass flasks that contained the white phosphorous that would still have been dangerous today!

Also uncovered were the shards of a very large mug with the printed date 1942 on the base - could this have been from a nearby N.A.A.F.I canteen? Amongst other artefacts was a 1940s Brylcreem bottle; an evocative reminder that men lived and slept in the huts scattered about the estate.

This month seems to have had a WWII theme running through it as we also acquired two period photographs that we are hoping people might be able to help with. The setting for both is clearly on the front steps of Kings Weston House. The front windows have been boarded over as protection against bomb damage for the paintings still in place in the Saloon beyond it. In front are posed British servicemen and women from a wide variety of regiments. One photo shows just the officers, and the other, shown below, shows a wider group of staff. The only clue we have to the event, or organisation represented here is the pencil note on the back of the photographs "Capt' Myles".

We'd be really interested to know more about this photo and if you can add anything please let us know. Can you find out who Myles was, what does this group of people represent, or do you even recognise anyone? Please let us know if  you can  help us. A much larger version of the photos can be found on our website here.

If you value our work please consider donating to help support our projects. Follow THIS LINK to donate safely and securely towards KWAG's work

Copyright © 2015 Kings Weston Action Group, All rights reserved.

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