Working parties to recommence with new arrangements.
Above: Kings Weston house across the formal garden.
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- Working Parties recommence
- Keeping up appearances
- Developments at Kings Weston House
- Doors Open Day and Big Bulb Plant updates
- Historic artefacts donated to KWAG
Working Party Reminder - Saturday 15th August
PLEASE CHECK THE DETAILS BELOW OF WORKING PARTY ARRANGEMENTS NOW WE ARE RECOMMENCING.
Reminder: August's Working party will take place this Saturday 15th.
We have a plan to restart working parties following the relaxation of pandemic restrictions. The working party will take place on Saturday 15th. We will work in two groups, not exceeding six people in each, and maintain social distancing. Both groups will be working in adjacent areas, and on different tasks. Firstly we want to carry on with the trimming-back of laurel regrowth begun in March. A second party will require heavier labour and be tasked with straightening the main path near the Echo where grass has encroached on the alignment. This will require the use of mattocks and spades. We will provide these and hand sanitiser.
Both Groups will meet at 10am in the woodland car park at Kings Weston House. When you arrive please make sure to keep distances at 2m, bring a mask if you would feel more comfortable, and the groups will separate from there to the two work areas.
Above: Diagram showing the loss of the line of the path at the Echo.
Jim Ellis has already been in contact with some volunteers, but if you would like to come along please let us know in advance so we can monitor numbers and also let us know if you would prefer to be in one group or another. The groups must operate individually, so once you are allocated a group you will not be able to move to the other. We will also need to take a register of names and contact numbers.
If you are aged over 70, or are in a category identified by the Government as at greater risk you may need to check government guidance and only attend if you are fully comfortable with the arrangements given above.
Sorry that this is so much more complicated than usual, but we have to minimise the risks, even when working outside and in fair weather.
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.
Keeping up appearances
Over the last few months our regular working parties have been cancelled, but volunteers have been able to continue individually, or in bubbles, to keep on top of some jobs around the estate. The Circle has been kept tamed this year since the daffodils died back and areas re-seeded with grass where persistent bare patches remained. It’s been satisfying to see that, since we began regular sweeps of this area the brambles have subsided, the grass become established, and the whole area has become a smarter entrance into the parkland.
Above: Two before and after panoramas taken from the Echo path.
Other work has involved tackling brambles re-grown at the Echo Walk that had, within a surprisingly short few years, grown to 9ft deep thickets. We appreciate that many people enjoy blackberry picking, but there’s plenty of areas left still, and the management of brambles in the main visitor areas is important to conserve the historic character of the park. This year especially there is a bumper harvest of berries and no one should go short!
Another area of work has been on the north side of the ancient lime avenue tackled last in about 2013/14. This spot is where some of the ancient trees have been lost from the avenue and an open area has resulted. We plan to add this spot to our daffodil planting if we can find the funding this year. More on this below.
Below: Before and after clearing brambles at the Echo showing the 9ft deep jungle!
Developments at Kings Weston house
Regular readers will know of the ongoing sale of the lease of Kings Weston house by Norman Routledge to a new owner, John Barbey. John is already resident on the estate at the Loggia behind the house since 2014, but will be taking over the main house at the end of August. We asked him for a few lines to update us on the progress.
Below: John Barbey in 2017.
"Having at last exchanged Contracts with Norman Routledge for the purchase of Kings Weston House, what was only imagined has become a reality and we will assume guardianship of this marvellous place on September 1st.
However, acquiring Kings Weston during this Global Pandemic has been such a bizarre experience. Has been a little like getting Sleeping Beauty’s Castle after the dramatic spinning wheel event !! Except that we are now waiting for the magic touch of the Vaccine before the Court and Princess Aurora come out of their comas !
Seriously, we were trapped for 3 months in California by the sudden announcement of the Travel Ban and the Lock-Downs in both nations in March. Then thanks to general government shut down and private offices nearly entirely closed, the simple mechanics of a real estate transaction slowed to a snail's pace. Finally the world began to awake again, and we have been back in England for 5 weeks and are well
I am joined by my long-time business partner Joshua Hugo Garcia, his wife Katty, and their daughter Kaylee, and building upon the amazing work of Norman and John Hardy before him, we hope to reawaken the air this House had back in its moments of glory 300, 200, and 100 years ago, as well as we are able to do this !! Kings Weston House was literally made for celebration and large gatherings, so the pandemic we are all living through has been especially uncanny.
At least now the public can wander about outside enjoying the vast grounds without getting too close to the all-pervasive microbe. The commanding view of the Bristol Sound and the Welsh mountains beyond is still there to lift our spirits and Paige Reed’s Coffee House is open again for service outside half the week, and we are set upon improving the tables on the Terrace outside it !!
We are trying to take the long Interim before life returns to normal in Kings Weston House as a positive, since major repair and decorative work can continue inside the house and around the house outside, and we will have months to do this work thoroughly, and to assemble the core management team going forth.
Please Stay Safe, Stay Well and be Patient, Kings Weston will return stronger than ever !! "
No doubt the change of ownership of the lease will bring changes to the house and estate, but we are confident that the house will be in good hands and we hope to work closely with John and his new team to ensure the historic importance of Kings Weston is better revealed in line with the 2014 Conservation management plan.
Left: A large model currently being commissioned by John Barbey to illustrate the appearance of the Vanbrugh house which is planned to be the centrepiece of the "architecture Room" to be introduced on the first floor.
Doors Open and Big Bulb Plant updates
Sadly this year’s Bristol Doors Open Day has been cancelled in its usual form. This robs us of the opportunity to reveal the history of Kings Weston to new visitors, and to collect donations to continue our work. Doors Open Day has been KWAG’s biggest single source of revenue in previous years and this is a difficult loss to our programme. At a time of big changes at Kings Weston house it’s also disappointing not to be able to make introductions to the new faces behind the scenes.
One of the biggest annual outlays of KWAG funds is on the annual community Big Bulb Plant. It’s important that this remains a free event for local families, and we have plans to run it again this year in some form. We would love to build on the success of last year’s event and the incredible results.
Already we have started preparing and area along the lime avenue path leading to the house. Brambles have been re-cleared, roots dug out, the area raked and seeded with grass that will hopefully be established enough by October to be a fit spot to plant more daffodils. All we need now is funding to meet the £600. We hope you might consider helping us in meeting this target through any donation you can make. We can accept cheques, or use the PayPal link above to make a safe transfer to us.
Right: The area on the lime avenue now cleared of brambles, sown with grass seed, and prepared for 2020's Big Bulb Plant.
Historic artefacts donated to KWAG
Last month we shared some photos and memories of David Pickering whose uncle, Fred Whapshare. Since then David has very generously donated a number of historic items with Kings Weston connections to KWAG.
Central to the small collection is a beautiful box veneered in beautiful Coromandel wood, with robust but elegant brass edges and handles. During the reign of Queen Victoria, Coromandel was considered one of the most exotic, luxurious and expensive woods to work with and it was the veneer of choice for some of the finest boxes. It’s of little surprise that such a fine wood was selected for use on a possession of the Miles family who lived at Kings Weston between 1834 and 1935. In the top a rebated brass plaque has the initials HCWM joins the arm-and-anchor arms of the family; from this we can attribute the box’s ownership of Henry Cruger Miles, widely known as Cruger.
Above:Donor, David Pickering (right) and his partner John with the box with its Kings Weston contents.
Below: The Coromandel travelling case of Cruger Miles, 1874.
He lived with his brother, Philip William Skinner Miles, at Kings Weston for much of his life. He never married, but was a highly regarded in Bristol, being High Sheriff of the City, a Master of the Merchant Ventures, and the principle supporter of the rebuilding of the Cathedral nave. On his death in 1888 he bequeathed all his possessions to the only heir, his nephew Philip Napier Miles, amongst which we assume was this case.
It’s designed as a travelling case, with handles, a robust but elegant exterior, and an interior fitted out with compartments, a silk lining, and a detachable mirror. Some of the original contents are happily still contained. A cut-throat razor and a silver travelling shaving brush are, sadly, the only survivors, but enough to be able to date the box to 1874 from the hallmarks.
Above: The Miles arms and monogram of Henry Cruger William Miles on the top of the box.
Below: Razor and travelling shaving brush, dated to 1874.
Now housed in the box are a partial set of gilt livery buttons carrying the Miles family arms. These, Mr Pickering tells us, were dug from the garden of a cottage on Kings Weston Lane that his Uncle and Aunt lived in until after WWII. Perhaps they were stripped from an old uniform and discarded when new clothes were procured.
Another item with a direct Kings Weston connection is an engraved copper printing plate. On this, written backwards, is an invite to dinner with Mr and Mrs Napier Miles at Kings Weston, with the details of the invitee and time to be filled in by hand when the plate was used to print invitations. It must date to after Napier Miles married in 1899 and his death in 1935, but it’s not possible to narrow down dates further.
Above: Four gilt livery buttons bearing the Miles arms and dug up from a cottage on Kings Weston Lane.
Below: Copper plate for printing dinner invited for Napier Miles and his wife. The image reversed on the right to show the text.
Below: Fred Whapshare, head gardener at Kings Weston's, secateurs
The last item is a more palpable link to My Pickering’s own family connection. A pair of secateurs was owned by his uncle in his role as head gardener at Kings Weston. We shared a photo of Fred Whapshare in our last newsletter and the garden tool was his, and shared with Napier Miles when the latter borrowed them, on occasion taking them to use at his Italian villa at Allassio.
We’re incredibly grateful to Mr Pickering for the kind gift of these items, that will now form part of our growing collection of books, images, and artefacts with Kings Weston connections.