Christmas in nearly upon us, but planning has already started for the new year. Please enjoy our fourth annual Christmas card, and join us in celebrating the completion of two of this years projects.
- Avenue restoration complete
- Working party progress and 2015 dates
- Christmas Greetings
- News from the house
- Musical connections at Kings Weston
Avenue Restoration complete
After two years planning the memorial project is complete
We are extremely pleased to announce the completion of the memorial avenue project at Kings Weston. Following two days of work by Bristol City Council Tree Pips team, and a day of community volunteer work on December 2nd all seventeen trees that form the avenue are now in place. This restores a feature last seen complete over two hundred years ago!
The trees are all planted in the same locations as the originals that Sir Robert Southwell planted in around 1700. As we were measuring the site the low sun illuminated subtle lumps and troughs in the surface of the grass that corresponded exactly with the original planting so we had a good guide that we were in just the right place. On the second day in December some volunteers from KWAG, a small team from the HSBC community volunteers and local school children from Our Lardy of the Rosary School and Kingsweston School came out to lend a hand. The trees went in quickly and the finished result returns just a little of the original, formal context to the front of the house.
We are aware that there were some concerns that the trees were being planted in the open field, but we hope everyone will agree there's a very limited impact to the open nature now they're in. Certainly they make much less of an impression from most angles than might have been thought for such a big project. We hope that the avenue goes on to establish itself over the next couple of years and becomes a fitting memorial to Tim Denning, late co-founder of KWAG, in whose name it was restored.
Many thanks again to Bob Pitchford for his photographs recording the days events. For a full collection of photos of the project as it developed please take a look at our web gallery here.
Working Party progress
Laurel removal targets achieved!
A second major undertaking also concluded this month. Finally we have completed the clearance of the suffocating laurel that has blighted much of the Echo Wood, at least the section between the ponds and the Echo we committed ourselves to clearing from June onwards. Our December 6th working party hit into the toughest patch in the far corner of the wood adjacent to the Georgian path. The results speak for themselves in the before and after photos. For a full gallery of images from December take a look at our gallery here.
But don't worry if it looks a little bare right now. The bulbs we planted in October will bring in some welcome colour in the spring and we intend to reintroduce some native woodland trees back into the area again soon, hopefully with more assistance from Tree Pips.
Already we have plans coming together for next year. On Friday 16th and Saturday 17th January we will be running step-building workshops to make a start on the connection of the upper and lower paths through Penpole Wood. The location is close to the ruins of the echo and the path an historic one that has fallen from use. We will be led by The Conservation Volunteers who will teach us how to construct the steps and provide all of the materials. If you are interested in coming along we would appreciate you letting us know ahead of the event so we can pass on numbers to the group leader.
The full programme of next years Working Party events for your diary is as follows:
Fri/ Sat Jan 16th/17th
Sat FEB 14th
Sat MARCH 14th
Sat APRIL 18th
Sat MAY 16th
Sat JUNE 13th
Sat JULY 18th
Sat AUGUST 15th
Sat SEPT 12th
Sat OCT 17th
Sat DEC 12th
Other projects are likely to include clearance around Jubilee clearing in Penpole wood, continuing work on laurels in Echo Wood, and conserving the avenue leading towards the cricket ground.
Our fourth annual Christmas card
It has become something of a KWAG tradition to produce and issue and electronic Christmas card and we hope that you'll enjoy this year's offering. The image appears below, but please Download the Christmas Card here if you'd like a full copy with the greeting inside. This year the image chose is of the Loggia, the little pavilion designed by Sir John Vanbrugh close to the back of the house that still remains today as a private residence.
We now have four Christmas cards including those from previous years and we'd be interested to know whether anyone would be interested if we got sets printed for next year and to help raise funds for KWAG's work? Please do let us know if you would be interested or think this would be worthwhile.
News from the house
The cafe reopens! And a magnificent new mural for the Vanbrugh Room
After a short break the cafe at Kings Weston House has reopened! Freshly redecorated and refurbished by Norman Routledge and the Kings Weston House team the cafe has started serving teas and coffees but hopes to be serving a full and varied menu again very soon. A new log burning takes pride of place in the original Vanbrugh fireplace, ideal for the winter months.
We're delighted that it's back as a resource and focus for everyone using the park and we're pleased too that it will be expanding into more of the basement in early 2015. For dog walkers this will mean that part of the space will welcome your pet for the first time, but don't worry if you're not a doggy person, there will be plenty of new space to enjoy away from four-legged friends.
Another new addition to the house has slowly been developing in the large Vanbrugh Room. A magnificent mural by local artist Ian Thomson now fills one wall and will eventually extend throughout the whole room. The first wall sports an expert recreation of a late Georgian painting by Bristol School Artist Samuel Jackson. The 1790s panorama from Kingsweston Hill overlooks the same view across the Severn still be enjoyed from the Vanbrugh Room's windows, but before the industrial expansion of Avonmouth.
The Vanbrugh Room has always been bereft of much architectural interest and a bit bland, but this new addition has injected some much needed drama.
Musical connections with Kings Weston
Beyond Lark Ascending
Many will know the fascinating story of the relationship between Ralph Vaughan Williams and Philip Napier Miles of Kings Weston House and how Lark Ascending was finished and first performed locally, however there is much more to the musical history. Philip Napier Miles was a well regarded amateur composer in his own right and was an accomplished musician. Unsurprisingly he had a wide circle of friends with similar interests of whom Vaughan Williams was just one. Another was Maud Wingate who went by the exotic pen-name of Carlyon de Lyle and who comes into the Kings Weston story in the first two decades of the Twentieth Century.
We are unsure how the relationship between Napier Miles and Wingate came about, but we do know that Maud was married to John Alleyne, going by the name of Captain Bartlett, and he was very close to Frederick Bligh Bond, the estate architect to Kings Weston and friend of Philip Napier Miles. Capt Bartlett was a committed spiritualist and he was the medium who conducted 'automatic writing' sessions with Bligh Bond where they are supposed to have recorded the spirit of a dead monk of Glastonbury Abbey, whose revelations Bligh Bond used in his archaeological excavations of the celebrated site from 1908.
It is highly likely that the shared interest in music would have brought Wingate and Napier Miles into contact through Bligh Bond at about this time. Writing under her Carlyon de Lyle pseudonym Wingate published several works including Idyll's of the King, Blaise - The Sylvan Suite, a musical tribute to the Blaise Castle Estate, and The Lily Pond, subtitled Kings Weston, and dedicated to Philip Napier Miles.
The Lily Pond was published as sheet music in 1924, and to cement the connection to Kings Weston a romanticised view of the Kings Weston lily pond was used for the front cover. The pond opposite the former stables remains today and the illustration clearly depicts one of the small classical pavilions, the garden walls and the square pond edge with the sun (or moon) rising over the brow of Kingsweston Hill beyond. Unfortunately the artist's signature is illegible (John Chapman?).
We were very fortunate to be contacted recently by a pianist, Phillip Sear, who have found KWAG's web site invaluable when he was researching the piece. Mr Sear also arranged for an image of the front cover for us to share. Most excitingly he has made a recording of the piece available on-line. Perhaps it doesn't conjurer the same mood that might be evoked when looking at the lily pond today, but you can hear Maud's, Carlyon de Lyle's, interpretation of The Lily Pond (Kings Weston) here.