Welcome to KWAG's August Newsletter
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A new working party location this month, and Doors Open Day details for September.  

Above: From Kingsweston Hill looking towards Sea Mills, circa 1930 


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This month:

  • Working Party update - Retracing our steps III 
  • News in brief
    • Parks department restructure
    • Bridge update
    • Doors Open Day 2019
    • Penpole Lane planning 
    • Strawberry fields 
  • Research update: Know Your Place

Don't get caught out!
Working Party Reminder - Saturday 17th July

Reminder:   August's working party will take place this Saturday 17th, but at a different location! This month we're focusing attention on the ruins of Penpole Lodge and will be meeting at 10am opposite Oasis Brigstowe School on Penpole Lane. Work will involve removing undergrowth that's started to reclaim the walls, and removing other self-seeded growth around the ruins.  PLEASE NOTE this Month we meet again at OPPOSITE THE SCHOOL ON PENPOLE LANE at 10am. We will be working here:

Please feel free to come along any time during the day, but we do prefer to be able to do health and safety briefings as a group at 10am if possible. There will be tasks to suit most abilities though this month it will be principally focused on trimming regrowth, with some felling vegetation. 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. Please keep an eye on our Facebook Page in case of any change of location, or call 07811 666671 on the day to find us.



Working Party update - Retracing our steps III                            
July saw the last of our cherry-laurel clearance, for the moment at least. We carried on tidying work left over from 2016 when we last passed through the area between the Circle and the White Oak in Penpole Wood. A wall of laurel had defeated us three years ago and we were keen to capitalise on our previous work.

Working parties in the summer months often conflict with holidays, but we managed a reasonable turnout last month and made some pretty significant progress. Again we held a bonfire to avoid disfiguring piles of waste and managed to remove a lot of what had been left decaying since 2016.

Above: Before and after looking towards the White Oak 

Several large cherry laurels were felled, sectioned, and either burned or stacked into piles. The area is now open again on the west side to the White Oak and we hope the improved light will benefit saplings we planted in the area after our last working-through.    

Below: The tangled cherry laurel gives way to light, and, we hope, regeneration by native species. 



News in Brief                           

The summer months are often quieter on the news front than the rest of the year. Unfortunately we were unaware of a concert held recently at the house to commemorate the supposed 1719 completion of Kings Weston house, and were unable to help publicise it ahead of last week; but here’s a round-up of various items around the estate:

Parks department restructure
The Parks department of Bristol City Council has again been restructured. This means that again there is a reduction in manpower across the various city sites, and resources are stretched at Blaise and Kings Weston. Unfortunately Ben Skuse and Jon Williams who we had previously been liaising with, no longer have day-to-day involvement with Kings Weston, so we need to find out who is now going to be able to discuss future conservation work with. Fortunately Sarah Blazier, community coordinator, is still in position, but only three days a week, so we hope to maintain some continuity.

Doors Open Day 2019
Kings Weston house is taking a break from Doors Open Day this year, but KWAG are intent on holding the annual event. Rather than the usual opening in the house in 2019 our exhibition and guides will be housed in The Echo. Weather dependant we’ll have the former statue on display on her original plinth and a range of artefacts and documents to browse. Unfortunately this is not included in the official Doors Open day publicity, but we hope you’ll help spread the word.
KWAG’s event will be at The Echo between 10am and 4pm on Sunday 16th September. Free short tours of the garden will be given hourly at 10:30, 11:30, 12:30, 2:30 and 3:30.  Come along and find our more about Kings Weston and meet some of our volunteers who do so much to conserve the estate.

 Below: Doors open day 2011, the first time we exhibited in the Echo. 

Bridge update

Following our last update on the significant planning issues facing the Council’s Highways department issues we are unable to report much more. Unfortunately we are yet to hear back from Councillor Kye Dudd, in charge of highways, nor from the Mayor’s office. Whilst it is disappointing there’s no political direction on this it is summer, and we know there have been a number of holiday absences. We know that a meeting between the mayor’s office and highways will be taking place in the coming days and we hope for an official response shortly. KWAG are meeting Dorothea restoration, a metalwork specialist, at the Bridge next week to discuss options.

Penpole Lane planning 
A recent planning application has been made on the Karakal site on Penpole Lane, but don’t panic, it’s none of the previously fought proposals. For a number of months a portacabin has been on the site, behind the warehouse itself, and is being used by a garden business and therapist. This application seeks consent to retain that cabin. KWAG are relatively relaxed considering the scale of the unit, it’s background location, and the ultimately reversible nature of the unit. We would ask that any planning approval be of a temporary nature to give us confidence that it didn’t expand further in the future, but otherwise there would be slim planning grounds on which to object. The planning application refference is 19/03453/F  if you search for it here:

Below: Details of the planning application now online. 

Strawberry fields
Last month we published photos of a bumper wild raspberry crop; this month we’re all about the strawberries! Following mowing on The Circle we were careful to preserve a thriving bed of wild strawberries. This area was densely engulfed in brambles until our recent efforts, and it’s exciting to see that regeneration has been so quick. Quite a crop of the tiny berries were collected.


Research Update: Know Your Place                               
Ever since KWAG’s been running we’ve regularly updated people on recent discoveries, new views of the historic park, and finds made during our conservation work; we’ve made sure that the majority of these are recorded on the City’s Historic Environment Record for future generations to enjoy. This has been accomplished through the use of Bristol City Council’s amazing Know Your Place website. Know Your Place, commonly abbreviated to KYP, is an incredible history resource where maps from different eras are stacked to compare how the modern city has developed over time. As well as hosting a large number of the city’s archive collections it’s open for communities to lodge their own historic points of interest.

KWAG has submitted almost 200 individual entries which now appear as green or blue diamonds on the ‘public contributions” layer of the site. Clicking on any of these brings up an information box with the basic title, and clicking on the arrow in the box will take you to a more detailed description; The images too will respond to a click to expand into a larger size. It can take a little while to get used to navigating around the various map layers and collections, but once mastered it’s easy to loose hours, if not days, exploring the site! 

KWAG’s added a number of historic paintings and photos that we’ve come across over the years; these stretch from the Eighteenth Century, like this 1781 painting from the collections of the V&A museum, to the 1960s when this watercolour was painted, recording the house during a brief period when it’s chimneys were taken down. Some of the City Museum’s collections have also been recorded by KWAG volunteers and added to the site including this panorama from Kingsweston hill.   

We’ve also pinpointed some hidden features; the “stone doughnut” was once part of a rooftop urn on Penpole Lodge, but today sits at the bottom of Penpole Wood were it rolled during demolition of the building in the 1950s; A city boundary marker lay hidden amongst the cherry laurel before KWAG’s volunteers rediscovered it, and it’s now located on KYP; and the Georgian slag-block-lined rectangular pond in Shirehampton Park is revealed in its location behind the current golf club shed.

With all our crawling about in the undergrowth it’s not surprising we come across some historic artefacts. You’ll find some stone chisels where were uncovered them in the ruins of Penpole Lodge; no doubt these were used in its demolition. From the War years we’ve found dated NAAFI crockery, and an alarming enamel warning sign, both of which are now located on KYP. 

As well as KWAG’s entries there are dozens more different collections that detail Kings Weston over time. Of particular interest are the Vaughn postcard collections, held at Bristol Archives, and the British Library collection of paintings by Hieronymus Grimm from the 1780s.

Instead of the usual research update here in our newsletter we recommend the KYP website as a great opportunity to explore for yourself. We hope that you’ll find something of interest in KWAG’s submissions to this site, or in the other layers, but the site is open to everyone to add their own photos and memories. Click on the pencil icon in the tool bar, top-right, and pick a point on the map. You’ll be taken to a form where you can fill in details and upload images. We’d love you to add something of your own for us to discover sometime soon.  

To visit the Know Your place website visit this link:


07811 666671
KWAG, c/o 75A Alma Road, Bristol, BS8 2DW
Copyright © 2019 Kings Weston Action Group, All rights reserved.

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