Still muddy and wet, but Spring's on its way!
Above: The house in the Spring sun earlier this month
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- Working Party future projects
- New painting found of the parkland
- Bulbs ready to blow!
- Mother's Day lunch at the house
- Historic document surfaces at auction
Working Party Reminder - Saturday 14th March
Reminder: March's working party will take place this Saturday 14th. We're returning to the area close to the Echo this month to re-trim laurels first felled in 2014. Work will include lighter work than usual and should be easy for most abilities. PLEASE NOTE A CHANGE OF MEETING LOCATION this Month we meet again at KINGS WESTON HOUSE CAR PARK at 10am. This month 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 - Future Projects
For the first time in eight years KWAG was forced to cancel last month’s volunteer working party event. The unprecedented cancellation was due to a severe weather warning put out by the Met Office ahead of storm Dennis. Although it spoils our perfect record of working parties the safety of volunteers had to come first and we will catch up on the proposed work at this month’s event. See above for details of where we’ll be and when.
Rather than leaving our update blank this month we decided to highlight some of the areas we hope to tackle the rest of this year. Some will be returning to areas to keep on top of past progress, but there are a number of new projects that we’re planning. Though we’ve got a full itinerary some of these may still be subject to alteration. Most of the projects we're planning are shown on this interactive map.
Below: poor drainage is causing paths problems throughout the parkland.
We are negotiating with the Parks department over how KWAG can help with the pressing issue of badly maintained paths. We hope they will be able to offer training and materials so KWAG volunteers can then look at making repairs. There’s nothing yet agreed, but this may occupy several working parties later this year. We are also looking at coppicing a lot of historically coppiced hazel in Penpole Wood and are exploring when the best time to undertake this would be; this too may be added to our working party dates or perhaps run as a separate event.
Cherry laurel clearance remains important for the health of the native woodland, but we’re trying to make sure this is mixed up with other activities. The summer months are proposed to tackle laurels threatening to grow over the Middle Path through Penpole Wood. This is an historic Georgian pleasure walk that we’re keen to conserve. We’ve asked again that the Council clear a tree across the path that’s recently fallen so we can do this work. Also on the same path the area of cherry laurel next to the Scout’s Chapel, remnant from last year’s working parties, will also be tackled along with the spreading growth that’s escaping downhill towards Lawrence Weston.
Below: Cherry Laurel is beginning to block the middle path in Penpole Wood.
Ahead to the Big Bulb Plant that we hope to run again in October we’ll be looking to clear cherry laurel close to the walled garden on Kings Weston Road, and plant the banks with spring bulbs. This would restore the open character of the historic View garden here.
Penpole Lodge will again be the focus of our attention with the further cutting back and natural spacing of self-seeded undergrowth to the west of the Lodge Ruins, and to reverse encroachment on the path along the length of Penpole Point. The close of the year will see us tackle the area at the bottom of the meadow below the house where the bridleway runs along the edge of the field. This too is designed to reverse the impact of encroachment onto the important limestone grasslands that offer a unique habitat in the City.
Below: Without livestock grazing encroachment into the meadow lands has been a long-term problem.
Finally we intend to get very muddy over at the ponds on the Echo Walk in the summer. The ponds have been a focus for us previously, and one has certainly revived well offering good habitat for frogs, the lower pond remains choked with logs and mud. With the opening-up of the area around it we hope that this too may revive if we can again clear it out.
Above: The last time the ponds were cleared out in 2014.
New painting found of the Parkland
A recent auction’s turned up a new painting of Kings Weston. Showing the celebrated view south from the Shirehapton Park portion of the estate it dates from 1880; before the Portway spoiled the scene. The watercolour is by Alfred Edward Parkman (1852-1930) who was a prolific local artist specialising in views of historic Bristol, but here he strays out of the city and records the panoramic landscape view above the Avon.
The area where Sea Mills now stands is open fields, but the railway, opened in 1865, already makes its mark through the scene before winding unseen in a cutting immediately below the artist. The pines on the left were the remnants of a plantation first planted in the early 1700s and were a popular local landmark until they were felled in about 1919 for the Portway. The whole of the area of grassland seen here in the foreground would be entirely quarried away with the coming of the road, and the extensive civil engineering contributed heavily to the road remaining one of the most expensive per-mile ever attempted in the UK. The image has already been added to the Know Your Place website at the location it was painted.
Below: Kings Weston Park, 1880, Alfred Edward Parkman (1852-1930)
Bulbs ready to blow.
The results of last year’s Big Bulb Plant are beginning to show, and what a difference this will make when the field of daffodils comes into flower! The whole area of The Circle, near Shirehampton Road car park, has come up with plants. Whilst they’re not all yet in flower they look to be gearing up to a spectacular display later this month and we hope visitors will enjoy the new additions. Past years planting of Bluebells and daffodils are also coming on.
Above: Looking across The Circle towards Kings Weston House.
We hope to run the Big Bulb plant again in 2020, but it relies on funding which we are still looking for. Please, if you have enjoyed the displays we hope you will be able to support us with a contribution to support future planting. Please follow the link to Paypal above if you would like to donate online, or cheques can be sent to the address at the foot of this email and made payable to the Kings Weston Action Group.
Below: The ground thick with daffodils.
Mothers' Day lunch and afternoon tea at the house.
Kings Weston house is taking bookings for lunch or afternoon tea to celebrate Mothers' Day on the 22nd March. This should be a lovely opportunity to spoil that special family member while enjoying the interior of the house, and perhaps take a walk to see the daffodils in flower!. Get in touch with Kings Weston house to make your booking.
Southwell's Royal command - Historic document surfaces at auction
Another interesting artefact that’s appeared in auction recently is this Seventeenth Century document; it’s the warrant appointing Sir Robert Southwell to be ambassador to the Elector of Brandenburg in modern day Germany. The warrant was issued in 1679, the same year as Sir Robert had bought Kings Weston and was in the process of moving his family there. He’d been keen to retire from life in King Charles II’s court following his wrongful implication in a Catholic plot. Court life had become fraught with intrigue and Sir Robert was eager to step away from it. He’d had a distinguished career, but ahead of his permanent move to Kings Weston resigned all his court positions, but the King maintained his trust in a faithful servant and entrusted him with an important diplomatic mission "for the purpose of promoting our friendship and diplomatic relations in accordance with our mutual wishes".
Above: Sir Robert Southwell by Godfrey Kneller. Circa 1675.
Below: The warrant appointing Sir Robert Southwell as ambassador and giving him the protection of the King.
Sir Robert regretfully accepted the instruction from the king, but it’s interesting that the warrant describes him as “our faithful and diligent servant”, indicating the regard and trust placed in him by the monarch. The mission was connected with a scheme to construct an alliance against France, and it took Southwell to the prince of Orange, the future King William III, and the court of Brunswick–Lüneburg. His onward progress to the Brandenburg Court at Potsdam was curtailed due to plague in the city and Sir Robert gladly returned home to Kings Weston where his family waited.
It was his contact with William of Orange that no doubt put him in good stead when William came to the English throne in 1689. Abandoning his retirement he re-entered court life and was quickly appointed Secretary of State to the Kingdom of Ireland; a position that was to prove important for subsequent generations of the Southwell family. The friendship between the men was affirmed when the King was entertained overnight at Kings Weston when the pair returned from Ireland and the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.
Above: Engraving showing King William's arrival at the mouth of the Avon and progress to Kings Weston house.
The document is on velum with an engraved border, but the text is hand written, and at the foot it’s signed “Carolus R” by the king. Possession of the document conferred protection and total freedom as the King's agent and ordered that he "shall not be dealt with in any way violently or unkindly".
Sir Robert was amongst the best travelled courtiers of the age and his travels can be tracked on this map . The warrant is an important document that tells us not only of his importance to the government, but also something of his relationship with King Charles. It’s also significant in being his final commission before his planned retirement to his new estate at Kings Weston.
Should anyone be in interested in acquiring the document it's for sale very soon, 11th March at Bonham's auction house. The estimate is £800-£1200.
Below: KWAG's map showing all of Sir Robert's know travels.