Welcome to KWAG's November newsletter
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Above: A Victorian view across the Severn from Penpole Point.


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This month:

  • Big Bulb Plant 2017
  • KWAG's new bin finally installed 
  • Kingsweston Iron Bridge - More encouraging news 
  • Vanbrugh Exhibition at Central Library 
  • Douglas Hastings' Dog Post 
  • The appeal of Penpole Point 

Working Party Reminder - Saturday 11th November

Reminder:   November's working party will take place this Saturday 11th. PLEASE NOTE this Month we meet again at Kings Weston house car park at 10am. In a change from the last few months working parties we will be moving to a location below the Coffee Shop terrace and thinning self-seeded trees towards Lawrence Weston. 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.

We're looking to prioritise work for the next few months of working parties. Is there an area on the estate that you think needs attention? Please get in touch and let us know your ideas so we can look to include them in our 2018 programme. Email:


Big Bulb Plant report  
Last Month the annual Big bulb plant took the place of our regular woring party. We are hugely grateful to the many volunteers, including families, who came out and helped plant the thousands of bulbs KWAG bought for the event.
Bluebell bulbs were focussed along the back path in Echo Wood that KWAG volunteers have been gradually clearing over the last few months. Native daffodils have gone in around the avenue towards Penpole Point from the Circle, and cyclamen have been planted beneath the lime trees in front to Kings Weston house.
Due to the popularity of the event we were able to get the bulbs planted in much quicker time than we ever imagined. This enabled some of the more enthusiastic volunteers to continue with the final clearance of the cherry laurel;, opening up views from the woods directly as far as the house itself. We hope that this year’s planting will join the many tens of thousands of bulbs we’ve planted across the park over the last four years in producing an ever-better display.

Above: A family plant bulbs on the avenue. (Photo Bob Pitchford)
Below: Bluebells being planted in Echo Wood.        
Bottom: A large party on the avenue to Penpole Wood. (Photo Bob Pitchford)

KWAG's new bin finally installed   
 Below: The new bin at the end of the Woodland car park
After more than a year the bin organised by KWAG, and funded by clean and green grant funding from the local Neighbourhood Partnership has been installed. This brings the number of bins within the park to three, each spaced out along the main central walk between the Shirehampton Road Public car park, the house, and the Echo.

Litter and dog mess have been a perennial plague at Kings Weston, though, gradually, over the last five years, the problem has begun to improve. We’re grateful for dog owners who have been responsibly removing waste over the years, and the improved facilities, and generally better maintained appearance have no doubt encouraged more respect from others.

The new bin is located at the far end of the Woodland Car Park behind the house. It’s not quite in the intended location, but hopefully will become well used as people discover it. The bin will be maintained and regularly emptied by Bristol City Council parks department as part of the instillation and funding agreement.

Kingsweston Iron Bridge - More encouraging news
Below: The replacement bridge spandrel 
It's been almost two years to the day that the Iron Bridge over Kings Weston Road was hit by a lorry; It's still not repaired, but things are now moving behind the scenes. A contractor has been appointed to work with the Council to make the repairs. We are still some way off agreement on what needs to be done and how, but exploratory work should begin soon.

In the meantime we have photographic evidence that the replacement cast iron spandrels actually exist! We'd been told these had been cast some time ago, but details were sketchy, though it is good news that they have indeed been manufactured. Looking at them you'd have thought that replacing them should have been a relatively simple job!

KWAG remain resistant to proposals that require the complete removal of the bridge, albeit temporarily, for repairs to be undertaken. As a Grade II Listed structure it needs to be treated with exceptional care, and repair in-situ is much more likely to be in the best interests of the structure, and the Council’s bank balance. We have been promoting improvements to lighting and signage to try and prevent similar accidents in the future.

Below: The meadow below the house has been flailed again and gradually comes back to life. 

Vanbrugh Exhibition at Bristol Central Library  
To coincide with the production of Sir John Vanbrugh’s The Provok’d Wife at Kings Weston between the 14th and the 25th or November KWAG’s exhibition on the house and estate will be in Bristol Central Library throughout the month. The play, first performed in 1697 is being revived by the Stepping Out theatre company and is a unique chance to watch a Vanbrugh play in the setting of one of his own buildings.
The play has been given a modern treatment, keeping with the spirit of the original, but adding more music and dancing. Audiences can expect a sumptuous blend of baroque and Latin American music, which director Briony Waite says ‘go surprisingly well together’. The costumes will be based on Restoration clothes, but have been given a touch of spice to lend a party feel.
Stepping Out Theatre is a charity that helps people experiencing mental illness. Founded in 1997, the company has helped thousands of mental health service users, empowering them to connect with the arts and the wider community. Patron Mark Rylance says; “If you want to hear something true, go and hear what Stepping Out Theatre are saying.” The performances have been supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund  
Tickets for the play are £12 or £10 for concessions. The gala dinner on Nov 18 is £30 – tickets for the matinee or evening performance need to be bought separately. For more info, visit

Below: Actors outside Kings Weston house. (Bristol 247 and  Adam Gasson /

Douglas Hastings' Dog Post 
Another recent embellishment to the Kings Weston estate has come in the form of a new sculpture next to Kings Weston house. The timber post has been salvaged from a fallen cedar on the South Walk and has been worked by local sculptor and woodcarver Douglas Hastings at the invitation of the team at Kings Weston house.

Hastings work is more frequently inspired by the Buddhist carving of Thailand, a country he spends much of his time in. He’s a regular feature of the verges of Penpole Lane where he regularly comes to carve statues of Buddha, but in his latest work he has chosen to immortalise the many dogs who visit Kings Weston. Each of the dogs has been based on photos provided by their owners and carved in a spiralling procession up the post. The dogs, each individually named, have been picked out in paint to further enliven the sculpture.  

Below:  panorama of the parade of dogs on the new sculpture:                                                                          Above Right: Visitors admire the new addition. 

The appeal of Penpole Point   

PenpolePoint, at the far western extremity of the estate, has been a popular vantage point overlooking the Severn for generations. The stone dial was erected there by the Merchant Venturers as a shipping mark, but became the focal point of innumerable rambles through the parkland from the Georgian period onwards. Until the last few decades the romantic views obtained from the dial continued to attract visitors, but sadly the views have been gradually lost to rampant tree growth.

A few recent discoveries illustrate the past popularity of the Point. Perhaps two of the most enjoyable are a couple of stereoviews taken by a private individual around 1900, a single view of each of which is shown here. Far from the stuffy demeanour of the usual Victorian photograph the two gentlemen are seen first in relaxed pose, then, no doubt after some intense clambering, astride the dial in a gesture parodying the pose of some self-important statue. The two images are fascinating for both their personal insight into the two tourists, but also for the detail of the dial and the long-lost Penpole Lodge in the background.

The Point must have always had a lure for romantic couples to get away from the city and share the views each other’s company. When KWAG posted these on our Facebook page we were delighted that they elicited a response from Mrs Stephanie Keates, and we hope she will not mind us sharing her image onwards. She tells us that the photo was taken in 1964 when she and her husband-to-be were courting and that they have recently celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary.

Top and above: Single images of two stereocscope view of Penpole Point, circa 1890-1900.
Left: Photo taken by Mrs Stephanie Keates of her husband-to-be in 1964

The fame of Penpole Point was wide, and visitors at the turn of the Century could purchase one of many postcards of the view, or the dial, that were on sale in Shirehampton and throughout the city. A far more rare souvenir of the estate would have been the little bone china trinket we’ve also recently picked up. The transfer-applied scene depicts the dial and Penpole Lodge, and the whole is crudely coloured by hand. It dates to the first decade
of the Twentieth Century. Perhaps this little memento was commissioned by a local shop in Shirehampton and retailed to ramblers returning to the station from their hike to enjoy the view.       

It is ultimately KWAG’s ambition to re-open some of the views from Penpole Point, but many of the trees that have grown up since the 1960s are far more substantial than what our volunteers are able to manage. The treacherous quarry-like edges on both sides of the point also create safety problems in accessing the area both for assessment and for clearance. Hopefully, at some point in the future, we will be able to fund the opening-up of at least some viewing corridors through the trees.    

Above: China beaker with Penpole Point depicted. Circa 1900-1914    
Below: The restored views across Somerset from the South Walk this month 

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