Welcome to KWAG's September Newsletter. No.82.
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Check out our plans for our 8th Big Bulb Plant coming soon.  

Above: The Echo in 1915 from KWAG's recently published collection of postcards of the estate. 


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This month:

  • Working Party update: Back in the swing 
  • KWAG's 8th Annual Big Bulb Plant
  • Postcards from Kings Weston  
  • Stone Survivals 

Working Party Reminder - Saturday 12th August

Reminder:   September's Working  party will take place this Saturday 12th. 

The working party will take place on Saturday 12th. Like last month we will work in two groups, not exceeding six people in each, and maintain social distancing. Both groups will be working in adjacent areas, and on different tasks. Work will complete the projects running last month, continuing the trimming-back of laurel regrowth and a second party  tasked with straightening the main path near the Echo where grass has encroached on the alignment and closer to the house. This will require the use of mattocks and spades. We will provide these and hand sanitiser. 

Both Groups will meet at 10am in the woodland car park at Kings Weston House. When you arrive please make sure to keep distances at 2m, bring a mask if you would feel more comfortable, and the groups will separate from there to the two work areas.
Jim Ellis has already been in contact with some volunteers, but if you would like to come along please let us know in advance so we can monitor numbers and also let us know if you would prefer to be in one group or another. The groups must operate individually, so once you are allocated a group you will not be able to move to the other. We will also need to take a register of names and contact numbers.

If you are aged over 70, or are in a category identified by the Government as at greater risk you may need to check government guidance and only attend if you are fully comfortable with the arrangements given above.
Sorry that this is so much more complicated than usual, but we have to minimise the risks, even when working outside and in fair weather.       

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 Update: Back in the swing                             

In August we ran our first working party since February. Although we had to work under new guidelines we were still able to focus activities in two areas and made some quite noticeable progress. Only able to work in groups of a maximum of six we ensure that two groups worked in locations well separated but close by, and each with a health and safety trained volunteer overseeing efforts.

Above: Animation showing the progress on the Echo path.
Below: A long view towards the Echo showing the reinstatement of the path extents. 
On the Echo Path encroachment along the east side was dealt with by lunch time, and a smaller group continued work on the other side for an hour or so after. This was challenging work after weeks of little activity, but this group succeeded in straightening part of the axial route between the Echo and Kings Weston House.The realignment restores the Victorian walk closer to its original width, with the soil and grass pushed back. The work will also have the added advantage of increasing the drainage capacity of the gravel path to reduce run-off causing muddy sections at the bottom of the slope.

The second group continued the trimming cherry laurel regrowth in Penpole Wood. This was what we’d started in February before working parties were interrupted but the global Pandemic. The impact is quite noticeable, and shows how a much reduced group size can still achieve great things!

Next week we will continue the same work to complete both the path straightening and the laurel trimming, before October and the big bulb plant.

Below: Cherry laurel regrowth in the Echo wood before and after volunteer efforts. 

KWAG's 8th Annual Big Bulb Plant                          

KWAG will be running annual Big Bulb Plant on Saturday 10th October this year. The event remains a FREE family day, but this year we need to ensure attendance is more carefully managed due to the ongoing pandemic. Rather than turning up on the day we are asking any families, or bubbles, to pre-book slots during the day to come along and help out KWAG’s regular volunteers.

Planting will be focused on a strip of recently cleared and prepared land alongside the ancient lime avenue between the house and Circle. We’ll be planting daffodils to complement and extend the display planted last year on the Circle nearby.

If you would like to come along with your family please book a time slot or several time slots if you would like to spend more time, using this link.

The working area will be divided into sections and two sections will be available for family groups or bubbles of up to five people, whilst others will be planted out by KWAGs regular volunteers. Sections will be carefully organised and rotated to make sure social distancing is maintained, and ensure all the areas can be well planted with daffodil bulbs.

Postcards from Kings Weston                          

A major new addition has been made to our website recently. You can now browse a collection of over 100 historic postcard images from across the Kings Weston estate.

In the early decades of the Twentieth Century postcards could be sent between towns in a matter of hours, with several deliveries a day; they were the text messages of their era. The collection dates mainly to the years before the First World War, before the telephone became the quickest way to communicate. The picturesque Kings Weston estate offered photographers great opportunities for to produce popular views for cards, and they seized on Penpole Point, the Iron Bridge, and the lily pond for their chocolate-box qualities. After the First World War postcards began a slow decline. Amongst the collection are a few representing the inter-war period, but only a couple from after WWII.

Views around Kings Weston house itself are relatively rare. It may have been the retiring character of Philip Napier Miles that saw him reluctant to see his home recorded in popular postcards. But a significant number that do record the house stem from the period it was used as an auxiliary Hospital during the Great War; perhaps the cards were sold in aid of Red Cross charities that Miles keenly supported. These were published by S E Robinson who ran the Post Office in Shirehampton and record many of the wounded servicemen who were sent to Kings Weston to recuperate. 
Above: Postcard view of Shirehampton Lodge at the entrance to the landscaped parkland
Below: The house in service as a WWI Auxiliary Hospital. 

S E Robinson is again well represented amongst cards of Penpole Point that appear to have been a keen obsession of postcard photographers, with the spectacular views across the Severn of particular note. Sadly these views have gone; along with nearby Penpole Lodge that’s another frequent feature of cards. Spectacular views also attracted photographers to the southern part of the estate, on Shirehampton Park, where the impressive panoramas above horseshoe bend were a popular retreat for locals. As unlikely as it sounds the driving of the Portway through the same pastoral scene didn’t diminish its interest for postcard views. Perhaps it was the marvelous feat engineering that attracted purchasers of these views, many of which feature the new carriageway as much as the views beyond it. 
Below: The view from Penpole Point at the turn of the Century. 
These postcards are an important visual and social record of the times. Many have been written and sent, and occasionally you will find interesting snippets about the estate.One written from Kings Weston house and sent in 1906 is from an unnamed young lady who wrote "This is just a view of the house, but I am living at my mother's. I have exactly the same work to do here as I did at the Castle, the housework. Instead of this I wish myself at home. Tell Jack I wish I never saw the place."

You can look at the whole collection one the website at:
Below: The recently opened Portway with a train to Avonmouth passing below. Circa 1923. 

Stone survivals                              
A recent local auction brought some artifacts with a Kings Weston connection to our attention. As many people will know the present Kings Weston house was preceded by an older mansion, one swept away in 1711 ahead of reconstruction to the designs of Sir John Vanbrugh starting the following year. This earlier house appears to have been built by Sir William Wyntour.

Queen Elizabeth I appointed Sir William Vice-Admiral of England, the second most powerful position in the Royal Navy, and was succeeded in that position by Sir Francis Drake. Sir William was knighted by the Queen in 1573 and was pivotal in the repelling of the Spanish Armada in 1588. In 1561 William had purchased the manor of Lydney in Gloucestershire, on the north side of the Severn, and rebuilt the house there. He accumulated other Gloucestershire lands, and in 1570 bought the Kings Weston estate; As at Lydney it’s likely that he erected a grand new mansion here shortly afterwards. The recently rediscovered artifacts appear to be fragments of that house.

Above: The Tudor Kings Weston House recorded in an engraving of about 1711, just before it was demolished. 
Below: Two decorated fragments from the same fire surround. The figures either side of the coat of arms in the centre suggest youth, on the left,  and old age with a scythe on the right. 

Eight decorated stone fragments make up the collection of stonework. Several can be identified as parts of decorative fireplace surrounds, one is a section of a mullion window, and there are a pair of carved stone heads. Two portions of stone have been reconstructed into a tall heraldic lion, though now heavily defaced. The lion retains an odd lead insert that might have been a lance or banner that it’d once clasped in its paws. The heads are badly weather-beaten and have been exposed to the elements longer than the other fragments, though they are still recognisable as that of two men; one with a beard and one clean shaven.

Above: A pair of badly weathered stone heads, supposedly showing Sir William Wyntour and his son. 
Below left: A heraldic lion repaired from being in two pieces. Possibly from a gate pier, or a roof parapet decoration. 
Below right: Antony Scammel  (1937-2019) who discovered the fragments in a wall in 1967.
When the collection came to auction it was described as “reputedly” from Kings Weston, though the circumstances of their discovery have since been established more accurately. The fragments were discovered in a boundary wall, on the “west side of Kingsweston Hill” by local amateur antiquarian Antony Scammel. Scammel was a well-known collector of historic artifacts and coins, and recorded the find in writing on the back of a print showing the old house that also formed part of the auction lot. He recovered the stones in 1967, but aside from the rough identification of the find spot we are still unsure of the exact location.

What we can tell from the stones is their rough date, from the style of the designs, and that they were deliberately broken up to use as building stone. Stylistically they accord with having been part of Sir William’s Tudor mansion, and the quality of the design and execution shows that they were from a high status building. Certainly a heraldic lion gate finial or roof ornament would most likely be found on a house of Kings Weston’s size and quality rather than a smaller house in the same vicinity. We must take Mr Scammel’s assessment that the wall in which they were found was Eighteenth Century on face value, but this would tie in well with the documented demolition date of the old building. Mr Scammel’s attribution of the sculpted heads as Sir William Wyntour and his son can be less certain.


07811 666671
KWAG, c/o 75A Alma Road, Bristol, BS8 2DW
Copyright © 2020 Kings Weston Action Group, All rights reserved.

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