November's volunteer Working Party is sadly cancelled due to Lockdown II.
Above: The chimney arcade of Kings Weston house prominent above the replanted lime avenue.
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- Big Bulb Plant update
- Iron Bridge updates
- Are you a Lark Ascending family?
- Plans and photos: two new historic finds
Working Party Reminder - Saturday 14th November - CANCELLED
Regrettably we have been forced to cancel this weekend’s volunteer Working Party event scheduled for the 14th November. This is in light of the current second Lockdown, and the new restrictions. We support Bristol Council’s Parks team in their request that no group volunteer events should happen until the Lockdown is lifted. We apologise for this, and we hope we will be able recommence in December with work around Penpole Point.
Cafe during Lockdown
Morgan's coffee shop at Kings Weston house will remain open for take-away service during Lockdown II. It will be open Tuesday through to Sunday, between the hours of 9am to 4pm.
Takeaway services will include hot drinks, cold drinks, cakes, pasties, quiches and hot soups now that winter is coming, and potentially some treat boxes brownies/cake/cream teas to help get you through this lockdown. Toilets will not be open until Lockdown is lifted.
Big Bulb Plant Update:
It seems an age ago now, back in October, when we ran our Big Bulb Plant. Despite the constraints of working within the restrictions of the Global Pandemic we managed to orchestrate an event that gave opportunities for local families and regular volunteers to help plant 6000 daffodil bulbs along the ancient Lime Avenue. We had to be careful in not ordering too many bulbs, and limiting our expectations, but the turnout was good and we were forced to let some of our regular volunteers go by lunchtime, in order that there were enough bulbs left for the remaining booked families. Sorry to anyone who had to head home earlier than planned, but your hard work in the morning was gratefully received!
The area was set up with social distancing measures in place, and fenced areas for small parties to work within, and this worked effectively during the day. With the help of lots of kids and parents we have successfully filled the whole of the area. We also have to thank everyone who kindly, and generously donated to KWAG to support the project, and also to the Co-Op who have matched volunteer donations with a grant.
Naturally we won’t know how successful we’ve been until next Spring, but we anticipate that the new area will complement that planted in 2019 around the Circle. Keep your eyes peeled for bulbs showing their heads, maybe as early as January!
Iron Bridge Update
Some will have read a recent story in the Bristol Post about the Iron Bridge across Kings Weston Road, and the escalating bill faced by the Council for the scaffolding that presently holds it up. The sum expended on the rented scaffolding is £44,000 - an astonishing sum. Yet there has been no progress from the Council Highways team to address issues raised by Historic England, The Georgian Group, Avon Gardens Trust, and other organisations who objected strongly to the Planning Application; the planning and Listed Building applications remain open and undetermined.
When we last heard from the planning officer, last year, it was being kept open for further information and design changes from the applicants, the Council highways team. These have not been forthcoming and the applications are no further advanced than they were this time last year, despite it now being five years since the damage first occurred. Applications should have been determined by August 2019 after an additional three months was added to allow for new information to be provided.
Unfortunately Mayor Marvin Rees’s statement in the Post was inaccurate over the situation with Historic England, and the nature of the current delays; Historic England are also waiting to be re-consulted on any new submissions. The Mayor is also quoted as saying “there is currently no allocated funding or timeframes of commitment to raise and reopen this bridge” which appears to contradict statements from other local politicians last year.
Below: KWAG's proposal to repair and protect the bridge.
KWAG consulted widely last year on an alternative, cheaper, solution to restore and protect the bridge which was well received widely, both by local residents and the conservation groups. Until now we have awaited an update on the planning situation, in the hope that the proposals might be adopted by the Council; however, there’s been no such commitment or, indeed, any progress at all. In partnership with the Save the Green Iron Bridge campaign KWAG have committed to secure planning and Listed building consent for its alternative proposals and, if necessary, seek funding to implement them ourselves. We have delayed our application long enough now, to allow the Council to adapt their own proposals, but we will now submit our Planning and Listed Building applications shortly and, unless they are determined within the appropriate timescales, seek their determination by the Planning Inspectorate.
Are you a Lark Ascending family?
At the beginning of the year we reported on 2020 being the Centenary year of the first performance of Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending, and its close connections with Kings Weston and Philip Napier Miles, who conducted the performance. We also promised to update you on a celebratory performance to be held in the same venue it was premiered; Shirehampton Public Hall. Well we’ve recently been contacted by The Bristol Ensemble confirming that their performance will be going ahead, albeit with a smaller, socially distanced, performance where possible.
The Bristol Ensemble plan on recreating the concert and will Live-Stream it on the night of the 15th December. They have contacted us hoping to find people who have a family connection with the first performance, 100 years ago. We’re not sure of anyone, but we know that there are many families still local to Shirehampton who might have attended that now-famous event, and might like to attend this performance. If your family, or someone you know, have any connections with the first performance please get in touch directly with Jo Fallowfield at The Bristol Ensemble firstname.lastname@example.org.
More details on the performance, including a link to the original programme, can be found on the Bristol Ensemble website, and we hope to be able to update you with Live-Stream details next month.
Below: Autumn sun below the Coffee shop terrace.
Plans and photos; two new historic finds.
The Miles family, who lived at Kings Weston for most of the 19th Century, were famously private, and the public were kept well away from the house, behind the parkland boundary. Photos of Kings Weston are, therefore, surprisingly rare for such an important historic building, especially from before the 20th Century. We’ve recently uncovered what’s considered to be the earliest photograph of the house, which we reproduce here. The scene seems little changed from today, looking across the lawns towards the building, with the evergreen border sheltering the garden front from the excesses of the wind, and as such it’s difficult to date. All we have to go on is the small size of the card, a “carte de visite”, and the name of the photographer, Maurice Batiste.
Batiste was a Frenchman who arrived in Bath in about 1871 where he set up business in Bladud’s Buildings. His career is little documented but for several court records where his temperamental mood appears to have got him into trouble on several occasions. By 1881 he’d moved on again, so we can be fairly certain his Kings Weston photo dates to the 1870s and, but the quality of the card, probably the earlier part of that decade.
Above: The earliest known photo of Kings Weston house, Maurice Batiste, circa 1870s.
The British Library has recently published a vast catalogue of topographical drawings and plans from the collections of George III. It’s probably unsurprising that amongst the collection there’s something of the famous Kings Weston estate represented. Of particular interest is a high quality copy of a notable estate plan of 1720. Bristol Archives also holds copies of this plan, but this is the first time one has been more publically available.
Although not identified by the British Library the tiny signature of W. Hallett appears in reverse in the cartouche, so we can attribute it to this otherwise unknown engraver. The 1720 plan is the first known measured survey of the estate, and shows in detail the house and parkland, immediately before Sir John Vanbrugh began erecting new garden buildings at The Echo, and rebuilt Penpole Lodge. The detail of the gardens, courtyards, radiating avenues, and formal layout of walks through Penpole Wood have been fundamental in understanding the landscaped grounds of the park during the early Georgian era, and the ntext of Vanbrugh's Baroque house, before it was de-formalised later the same century. .
Below: W. Hallett's 1720 estate survey of the Kings Weston estate. (British Library)