Above: Happy Christmas from KWAG
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- Working Party Progress - Meadow margins
- National award recognition for Kings Weston
- Consultation launched for Great Court
- A future for Bristol's parks
- On the Verge
Working Party Reminder - Saturday 16th December
Reminder: November's working party will take place this Saturday 16th. PLEASE NOTE this Month we meet again at SHIREHAMPTON ROAD CAR PARK at 10am. This month we will be recommencing work clearing laurel and natural spacing within Penpole Wood. This is part of the City Council's Forestry Commission supported works. 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. 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 Progress - Meadow Margins
A rather wet working party took place in November, but it didn’t deter our keen volunteers from making an impact on the restoration of the parkland. Last month’s focus was to reunite the area of scrubby woodland below the house with the open meadow of the landscaped park. The area below the coffee shop terrace had become isolated by self-seeded saplings and undergrowth and the wooded edge has encroached a great deal into views. The work will precede tree works and meadow restoration secured by the City Council as part of planning consent for new National Grid pylons along the Severn estuary.
Above: Looking up towards kings Weston house before and after November's work.
KWAG’s volunteers thinned a lot of the undergrowth whilst maintaining the evergreen shrubs that formed part of the Eighteenth Century planting. These holly, yew, and Portuguese laurel were heavily pruned and will regenerate come next spring.
The work has enhanced views of Sir John Vanbrugh’s Loggia from and helped it contribute once again as a pivotal element the historic park. The Loggia, a Grade I Listed building built in 1718, is visible once more from the coffee shop terrace and hanging high above the open meadow below.
Work also continued downhill as far as the main access to the estate from Lawrence Weston. Our light thinning of undergrowth here has increased visibility in the area and the house itself is now glimpsed from the public paths. A huge lime tree, one of many historic specimens in the park has also become a visual focus in an otherwise overlooked area.
Right: The Loggia from the meadow before and after work by KWAG volunteers.
Below: Panorama showing the broader effect of KWAG's work on the area
National Award Recognition for Kings Weston
Below: KWAG's Chair, David Martyn, collects the Award from Lloyd Grossman
Kings Weston has again received some national notoriety. Last week KWAG’s co-founder and chairman was invited to London to receive a Heritage Hero award for his voluntary work on the estate. The award was presented as part of the Heritage Alliance’s Heritage Day at RSA House. The Heritage Alliance is England’s biggest coalition of heritage organisations, representing groups as diverse as the National Trust and the Historic Houses Association, to more specialist conservation bodies. The Alliance said “England’s heritage sector simply couldn’t function without the hard work and dedication of its volunteers. The Heritage Heroes Award, supported by Ecclesiastical Insurance, is the Heritage Alliance’s celebration of the amazing achievements of volunteers.”
The Alliance’s chairman, Loyd Grossman, said ‘every day, thousands of people around the country give up their time for free on projects like King’s Weston without public recognition. The heritage sector is dependent on volunteers to save and cherish heritage that would otherwise be lost. David Martyn has worked incredibly hard and achieved stunning results. I hope his success will inspire others to give up their time and get involved with local heritage projects’.
As part of his acceptance speech Mr Martyn recognised the efforts of all KWAG’s volunteers in supporting the estate, whether through working party events, helping behind the scenes, or even those members who support the group from afar. It is heartening to know that in just six years KWAG’s efforts promoting and conserving the estate are being noticed at a national level.
Consultation Launched for Great Court
The last planting beds on the garden front of Kings Weston have recently been completed by Norman Routledge and his team at the house. Focus is now turning to the main front of the house facing the Home Park. Plans are being drawn up by the house to look at creating a new formal forecourt in front of the main steps.
Above and right: initial proposed views of the Great Terrace (Credit: Quentin Alder Architect and Roland harmer illustrator)
The new formal area is intended to reflect the original Great Court that once lay in a similar area. Although smaller in size it is intended that the design will use the same classical proportions.
Work on designs is likely to continue over winter and a Planning and Listed building application will follow. The illustrations here are to help everyone get an idea of the character of the proposals and get feedback on them to help Norman and his architect, Quentin Alder, develop designs that respond to people’s thoughts.
If you have any suggestions, ideas, or concerns please forward them to us so we can coordinate a response to Norman. Unless you ask otherwise we will keep any feedback anonymous. Please email us at email@example.com, call 07811 666671, or post your comments to us at the address at the foot of this newsletter as soon as possible, or before 1st January 2018.
Below: Scale plan of the proposed Great Court
A Future for Bristol's Parks
Those of you who live in Bristol may be well aware of the ongoing impact of Local Authority cuts in parks budgets. We are fortunate at Kings Weston that the impact so far has been relatively minimal, though some projects, such as paths restoration and the re-landscaping of the old tennis courts have stalled.
By April 2019 the council has a target to reduce what it spends each year on parks by at least £2.8 million. To try and plug some of the ongoing costs the city would like to explore opportunities to create income; this may have an impact on visitors. Kings Weston is identified as one of the parks that already hosts events and may have capacity for more. As such it is important for all parks users to have the opportunity to have their say.
If you would like to read more about the proposals, and fill-in the consultation questionnaire, please follow this link and complete the online survey: https://bristol.citizenspace.com/neighbourhoods/parks-and-green-spaces/
If you would like your comments to relate specifically to the Kings Weston estate please note this in section 7.
Below: Winter in the park
On the Verge
The area recently worked on by KWAG volunteers, just below the coffee shop terrace, Is an odd corner of the Kings Weston estate. Hard up against Kings Weston Lane in its gulley to the east it has always been an abrupt edge to the Landscaped grounds.
Before the present house was built the slopes descending towards Lawrence Weston here were laid out as formal kitchen gardens, though would have been sorely exposed to the brisk winds off the Severn. The top of the slope offered spectacular panoramas across the estuary and, in 1705, a banqueting house was built on a terrace overlooking the kitchen gardens. When Sir John Vanbrugh came to rebuild the house for Edward Southwell his plans extended to major landscape interventions. The small banqueting house received a new façade in 1718, one that looked back into the park and along a vast new terraced promenade; this building forms the core of the current Loggia.
As garden fashions changed the whole of the area below the banqueting house and Loggia were deformalised and the topography took on a form much the same as today's. By 1772, when the area was surveyed by Isaac Taylor, only the Loggia remained, and the terraces and formal gardens swept away. In their place the open parkland swept unbroken to an area described as “verge plantations”. On his plan Taylor identified a railed fence separating the newly planted area from the recently created rolling meadowland below the house; the remains of this Georgian fence can still be found in the area recently cleared.
Above-right: The Loggia, designed in 1718 by Sir John Vanbrugh. Seen here in 1927 (Country Life)
Below: The view from the loggia across the meadow land. Hieronymous Grimm, 1788 (Bristol Museum and Art Gallery)
Below: Taylor's 1772 estate plan with later alterations annotated
Within the plantation new trees and shrubs were laid out as part of a pleasure walk that connected the house and Loggia with the Home Farm and Menagerie below. This planting would have been intentionally picturesque in style and some of the holly, yew, and Portuguese laurel from this era are still growing there, though the path has long become lost. Maps show there to have been many evergreens incorporated within a design intended to frame the open meadow and focus the eye on Kings Weston house commanding the ridge above it.
As time went on the trees and shrubs grew up and the view of the Loggia from the park was sadly obscured. The pleasure walk and planting continued to be maintained until the 1930s, but since then there has been little attention spared on them. Since WWII and the cessation of regular livestock grazing, this has resulted in the gradual encroachment of self-seeded trees beyond the historic fence line and the loss of the tamed edge of the meadow. Today trees cover almost twice the area of the original verge plantation and have further obscured the house and Loggia from within certain areas of the park. It is hoped that KWAG’s work, and forthcoming work as part of the National grid contributions, will help enhance the setting of Both Grade I Listed buildings and the park as a whole.