Come along and enjoy the Autumn colours as they turn over the next few weeks
Above: Autumn comes to the meadowland to the north of Kings Weston house
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- Big Bulb Plant 2017
- Working Party - More laurel work
- Garden Works at the house near completion
- Exciting new production at Kings Weston
- Growing concern at Penpole Lane site
- Tree Graffiti: A hidden history
Working Party Reminder: Big Bulb Plant - Saturday 14th October
Reminder: September's working party will take the form of our Annual Big Bulb Plant and take place this Saturday 14th. PLEASE NOTE this Month we meet again at Kings Weston house car park at 10am. More details on this even are given below.
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. 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.
Big Bulb Plant 2017
This month’ working party, on Saturday 14th October, takes the form of our annual Big Bulb Plant! This is KWAG’s fifth year of running the family-friendly event which began with our Heritage Lottery funded Bioblitz project in 2012.
The Big Bulb Plant is a FREE family-friendly event where you can help make your mark on the historic estate by helping plant some of thousands of native bulbs in the woodland. We encourage anyone who might find our usual working parties too gruelling to come along and take advantage of some of the easier tasks we undertake.
The events start at Woodland Car Park at Kings Weston house, and we will be planting bluebells close to the Echo Path in the area we’ve just cleared of cherry laurel. If we run out of bluebell bulbs we will move over to Shrehampton Road car park where more daffodils will be planted along the verges.
What you will need:
• Suitable clothing and gloves if you have them
• A spade or trowel if you have one, but spades will be provided
The main planting location will be here:
Working party update: More laurel work
Above: Looking towards the Echo from the Georgian pleasure walk, before and after work
Volunteers have continued hard work in felling and removing the invasive cherry laurel from the woods around the Echo path. The Georgian pleasure walk around the back of the woods provides the most level and gradual gradient up to the Echo and our efforts have sought to create a safer and more attractive route as well as allowing the natural woodland to regenerate.
October’s work extended the clearance further towards the house. Afterwards new views were beginning to open up through the evergreen jungle in its direction house, but further work will still be needed to complete the task. This will be scheduled for November’s working party.
Our Big Bulb Plant this month will bring some initial life back to the forest floor for next spring, and we hope to plant new native saplings in the areas where the laurel has overshadowed all natural regrowth.
Above: View from the pleasure walk towards the house before and after work.
Below. Looking through the woodland before and after the removal of cherry laurels. (Pleasure path on right)
Garden works at the house near completion
We didn’t have enough time last month to update you on the progress with the gardens at Kings Weston house so this month is our first opportunity to showcase what Norman Routledge has achieved along with his garden designer, Al Smart, and his small team of labourers and volunteer planters. Work on the woodland car park and formal garden is almost complete and a major milestone was reached on 9th September when the fountain was formally turned on. There was a brief ceremony and ribbon-cutting by former MP Charlotte Leslie before the water feature was out-performed by torrential rain! The water feature was much admired throughout Doors Open day, along with the new planting, trees, footpaths and bridges that have appeared gradually over the course of this year.
Left: The fountain before the garden front of Kings Weston house.
Right: The new garden and woodland car park from the roof of the house
The designs cleverly utilise the former service trench running through the old ruins of QEH school for the new stone-lined and stepped rill, whilst the gardens themselves return a long-lost formality to the garden side of the house. Planting has been selected to ensure year-round interest and a large number of new specimen trees, species inspired by historic descriptions of the estate, punctuate the beds, adding structure and interest. . Some of the ruins of the school have been retained and transformed into a secret garden for weddings and private events, whilst the woodland car park is screened from the new lawns by a stout hedge of whitebeam.
Further work is planned for the Echo end of Norman’s demise at the edge of the woodland, and work on the car park continues, but, we hope you’ll agree, the improvements in the garden, so far achieved, provide a striking, attractive and admirable new setting for the historic house.
Above: The new fountain and rill looking in the direction of The Echo
Exciting new production at Kings Weston
A heritage Lottery funded project will be coming to Kings Weston House next month. The architect of Kings Weston house, Sir John Vanbrugh, was also a well-regarded playwright, and this event will see his most famous play performed in the house. The Provoke’d Wife is a rollicking Restoration comedy written in 1697. November’s performances will be a new adaptation by Briony Waite and Charles Thompson and is a site specific and immersive version set in the glorious baroque surroundings of Vanbrugh’s own Kings Weston House.
The story begins with Lord Rake and Colonel Bully drinking the night away again. Their Ladyships and the maids are scheming and intriguing about love as usual, but nothing is quite what it seems. The French maid’s real name is Thomas, and Sir John Brute is running around London in his wife’s dress; Truly, Puritanism is out of fashion...
The Stepping Out theatre group are also working with Historic England’s Heritage Schools to give children the opportunity to get involved and experience this historic play. This really is a unique opportunity and we highly recommend taking advantage of one of the many performances next month.
Tues 14 - Sat 25 November
Performances Tues - Sat 7.30pm
Matinees Sat 18 and 25, 2.30pm
Tickets £12 / £10
Gala dinner on Saturday 18 November at 5.30.Tickets £30, dinner and play
Benches project kicks off!
In the last week of September a small party of KWAG volunteers set out to start installing benches as part of our sponsorship scheme. We are hugely grateful to the donors of the five benches we’ve received funding for, and KWAG have also committed funds towards two others.
Initially we planned to install just the first two benches, but the speed with which our volunteers work shouldn’t be underestimated, and we decided to take the opportunity to install two more whilst we had the labour force and the fine weather. The estate now has the first four solid oak benches installed and the donors will be notified shortly when the brass plaques are ready to go on.
We hope that everyone will enjoy these new facilities around the main walk circuit, and look out for future benches as we install them. If you are still keen to sponsor your own bench please take a look at July's newsletter and see how you can contribute to this project
Top-right: KWAG volunteers plant one of the two new benches along the lime avenue
Middle-right: The last bench of the day located overlooking Shirehampton Park
Below: The new bench at the top of the Concrete steps on the South Walk.
Growing concern at Penpole Lane site
We are exceptionally concerned about the recent clearance of the Karakal, now "Fairway's" site on Penpole Lane. Following the refusal of planning permission earlier this year, one that sought to turn it into a self-storage business, the owner has now cleared the whole of the area across the back of the site, next to Penpole Woods, identified by the City Council as an allocated wildlife corridor.
All of the vegetation, trees and fencing have been stripped from the site and we were told that the plan is to erect new security fences and lay tarmac to extend the car park. As far as we are aware this does not have planning consent and we have raised our concerns about the damage to the Conservation Area, wildlife corridor, and Grade II Historic Landscape being caused.
Above: Looking from Penpole Wood towards the Karakal warehouse across the stripped wildlife corridor.
Left: The bare earth will require a planing application to be lodged if the applicant is seeking to extend the existing car park.
We have been further alarmed at a new planning application to fell over a dozen mature or maturing trees that surround the site and currently shield the existing warehouse from the parkland. KWAG has already launched our objections for the following reasons:
- The trees offer visual protection between the historic parkland and the Karakal. The warehouse is identified as a negative feature of the historic landscape within the Council's own Conservation Management Plan for the estate and their loss would result in far greater harm to the landscape.
- A large number of the trees are not within the ownership of the applicant, and are outside the site boundary. As such they belong to the City Council and are not the applicants property to remove.
- The application states that there are condition issues with the trees. There’s been inadequate tree or ecology assessments submitted with the application to support this statement and therefore it should be refused for lack of information.
- The applicant has made no commitment to the City Council's tree replacement standards, or provided suggested locations for that planting that would be acceptable within the framework of the City's Conservation Management Plan for the estate.
Above: Diagram showing the wildlife corridor now stripped of undergrowth, and the trees now proposed for felling.
Right: The plan submitted with the application showing the location of trees to be felled, including a large number outside of the applicant's ownership and within the public park (click to view larger).
If you would like to add your objections over these plans please go to the City’s planning website, search for application number 17/05550/VC, click on the yellow “Make a comment” button and follow the instructions on the online form.
A planning enforcement officer will be visiting the site shortly and we need people to keep us abreast of any further changes. We are grateful to everyone who got in touch to tell us about this worrying development.
Following some reports of fly-tipping of garden waste along the Echo Path, we’ve since had an apology from Norman Routledge at Kings Weston house. One of his labourers dumped some of the greenery cleared from the new gardens along the path, but we are assured that it should decay quickly. Thanks again for everyone who brought it to our attention.
Tree Graffiti: A hidden history
Would you believe that tree graffiti is now a serious topic of research? Well we’ve always been on the lookout for notes from the past engraved on the trees at Kings Weston, but sadly we’ve never found anything from the WWII soldiers who were camped there. However, this turned up at our recent working party and we wondered if anyone knew who carved it? Who was B.K. and what were they up to at Kings Weston in May 1962?
If you know of any more marks on trees we'd love for you to get in touch and show us where they are.