Welcome to KWAG's February Newsletter
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Visit now to enjoy the riot of spring colour across the park 

Above: Daffodils abound on the slopes above Shirehampton Park  


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This month:

  • Working Party update - Above the quarry garden IV 
  • Spring flowers put on a show 
  • News in brief
  • New paintings come to light  

Working Party Reminder - Saturday 16th March- more laurel clearance 

Reminder:   March's working party will take place this Saturday 16th.Following a few months of alternative work we will be returning to the main task of tackling invasive cherry laurel close to the main path through the woods, and above the former Quarry Garden.  PLEASE NOTE this Month we meet again at SHIREHAMPTON ROAD CAR PARK 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 focussed on 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 - above the Quarry Garden IV                             

The impact of laurel clearance if really beginning to show along the main path through Penpole. It’s the time of year that the Council Parks department start their audit of what’s been achieved on the Forestry Commission backed works.  Since this time last year our volunteers have felled more 2.4 acres of cherry laurel from just three zones within the wood! It’s generally astonishing what our volunteers can accomplish and our thanks go out to everyone who’s contributed to this achievement.

Below: Looking from the top of the quarry garden southwards towards the main drive through Penpole Wood. 

March’s working party continued working back towards the house along the top of the former quarry garden. Good weather and a good turn-out contributed to fast progress. We managed to meet our objectives in moving the clearance as far as another of the huge plane trees.
A single Portuguese laurel, a different, less invasive, species has been retained for visual interest, but, as always, the target has been the one introduced species.   

This month will see a continuation of the same work and we are hopeful that we can meet a path linking the main drive through the woods with the Quarry Garden.

Above: Looking east towards Kings Weston house 
Below: Eastward view across the cleared area    

Spring flowers put on a show                            

KWAG volunteers took a few weekends in clearing back  through the copses overlooking  Shirehampton Road in January and now that work has paid off. The daffodils have long been a feature there but had become a bit overgrown again after volunteers passed through in 2013. This spring they have returned to prominence again and are presently putting on a great show.

Above: Daffodils putting on a show on the banks above Shirehampton Park. 
Below: Violets taking advantage of the recently opened grassland. 
An added attraction has been patches of violets that haven’t been seen around this part of the estate before, but are clearly enjoying being out in the open again. Violets and primroses are up across the estate, and bluebells are clearly on their way.

If you’re not in a position to race up to the parkland to take advantage of the daffodils this week the ones planted under the trees of the ancient avenue to the house will follow on shortly; these were planted last October and are already suggesting that they will be a stunning addition to the park.

Below: Last October's Big Bulb Plant of daffodils along the ancient lime avenue 

News in Brief
Walking Tours                         
A reminder that there are still spaces left for our April history walking party. The first, run a couple of weeks ago, went week, though could have been better attended. Donations will go towards KWAG’s work on the estate. The weather was fine, but a little chilly, so we hope that the warmer days of spring will encourage more takers.  The next walking tour will be run on 6th April starting at 10:30 from Shirehampton Road car park. Click on the poster on the right for full details.  Drop us an email to confirm a space if possible or call 07811 666671

Tennis Court works                          
Work on the former tennis court area on the junction of Shirehampton Road and Penpole Lane has been gradual, but the Council are slowly working away to break-up the old tarmac, grub-out trunks and roots and spread topsoil to restore the area back into the grassland. KWAG removed the steel fence and much of the undergrowth back in March 2013, but the reinstatement works were first intended as part of the car park banks three years ago.

Below: Before and after work in March 2013 to remove the old tennis court 

Fairways changes    
Also on Penpole Lane, many have noticed changes on the Fairways site. After the threat of Yardarts dissipated we were contacted by someone asking our views on using part of the site for a gardening company.   As this would not have required planning, their plans were very limited in scale, and they plan to reinstate naturalistic planting to parts of the site the consensus has been that it’s a welcome change. We hope to continue developing a relationship with the local company to find opportunity to enhance the site in the future.
New paintings come to light                            

Two items of Kings Weston interest recently appeared in auction in Gloucestershire. Two paintings, both dating to the 1840s went under the hammer on the 7th. The first was a small and somewhat naive depiction of Penpole Point in oil. This small painting was unsigned and a little mangled. The view included Penpole Lodge and the dial further along the ridge, but all concertinaed into a compressed space with some alarming perspective at play! It was also odd in showing the dial raised on a mound, perhaps for artistic effect as we know it never had this pronounced feature.  The painting shows some of the many visitors who came to Penpole Point to take in the views; one even holds a telescope to out on the  early steamships plying their trade on the Severn.   
Below: Mid C19th oil of Penpole Point  with Penpole Lodge on the right.
The other painting is a large watercolour depicting the staircase in Kings Weston house by Thomas Leeson Rowbotham and is of historic as well as aesthetic interest. Rowbotham (1782-1853) was born in Bath in 1782 where he worked as a teacher of painting. He lived in Bristol from about 1825-35, where he made many drawings for G. W. Braikenridge who famously commissioned hundreds of paintings documenting the old city of Bristol in incredible detail. Over 400 of Rowbothom’s paintings form part of the museum’s Braikenridge collection. Rowbothom must have impressed the Miles family, owners of Kings Weston from 1835, as he was commissioned to paint the interior of both his mansions: Leigh Court and Kings Weston. A painting of the Drawing Room at Leigh Court is in the Bristol Museum collections.

Below: Rowbothom's painting of Kings Weston house from June 1848.
Below: Artist Thomas Leeson Rowbothom, 1782-1853
The Kings Weston painting is dated, June 1948, and this too is significant. After the death in 1845 of his father, Philip John Miles, his son, Philip William Skinner Miles decided to use his inheritance to refurbish Kings Weston as his new family home. Part of his works were to demolish  the ancient arcades that filled the stair hall of the house and open up the space with wide galleries and a new top-lit ceiling. The centrepiece of the space was to remain the original staircase designed by Sir John Vanbrugh and installed by 1716. This work began in 1846 and concluded with a ceremonial dinner for the labourers on August 21st 1847; this was held in the George in Shirehampton and not in the house itself!  

Skinner Miles appears to have commissioned Rowbothom to record the brand new interior he has just created. Everything looks neat with only a few belongings having yet been set up and paintings and furniture that later occupied the space not yet installed. The gas lamps fitted to the stair newels are feature now missing, but the scene is little changed today from Rowbothom’s meticulous depiction of the newly finished hall. 


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

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