Welcome to KWAG's December Newsletter
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After a spectacular Autumn why not enjoy a frosty, misty walk through the winter landscape at Kings Weston? 

Above: Sunset from Kingsweston Hill, circa 1790,Nicholas Pocock (BMAG Mb1996)

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This month:

  • Working party lays into laurels again
  • Developments at the house
  • Sunday Lunches at Kings Weston
  • Planning for an uncertain future
  • School memories
  • A delve into museum stores 

Working Party Reminder - Mince pie special!

Reminder:  December's working party will take place next week, on Sat 10th. Meet as last month at Shirehampton Road public car park at 10am. We return to that task of clearing laurel bushes from Penpole Wood. We will be working HERE.

We now have something of a tradition of bringing some festive fare along to our pre-Christmas working party so do bring along some mince pies to share around if you like.

Our ongoing work will 
continue work started last year to clear the invasive evergreens that are choking the native woodland, but 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 lays into laurels again

November saw our volunteer working party return to clearing invasive laurel from Penpole Wood. This essential work for the health of the woodland picked up where last year's efforts left off, and the next working party will aim to complete the first, and most prominent woodland compartment. As always we're hugely grateful to our volunteers, especially some new faces.

Above: the beech tree from the main path, before and after work. 

The target for last month was  another of the great parkland Beech trees that have become engulfed in the dense laurels. This work will reduce competition from the laurels, and improve air circulation around the trunk to minimise the risk of disease setting in. We had our work cut out for us, with a mixtures of both multiple stemmed growth and substantial boughs to cut through. Ultimately we made good progress, though it's a great shame that we have no  other option at present but to stack the branches whey they fall.

Unlike areas tackled last year, where there was nothing growing below the laurel canopy, there was a bit more diversity in the species already growing here. We have retained all these, and also added 40-50 beech saplings where they're most likely to survive. We took the opportunity to trim the mock orange bushes that line the path so that they can come back healthily next year and, now the sunlight can penetrate the area, perhaps flower in coming years.  

Above: From dark to light, the trunk of the beech tree revealed, the main path in the background.  

Developments at the House 

Regular visitors to the estate will ave seen the rapid progress on the garden front of the house under the direction of Norman Routledge. Although some of the work, including removal of the self-seeded trees and the ruins, was consented under a previous planning application there is now a new application submitted for more of the works we've previously invited comments on. 

The new planning application (Planning application reference 16/04837/F) involves the further reinstatement of the cafe terrace balustrade, and the design proposals for the layout of paths and the new woodland car park on the garden front of the house. These plans have been developed with advice from KWAG and other stakeholders through regular meetings of the Steering group meetings, and we hope that further information on proposed lighting, planting, and water feature will be appended to this application, or incorporated in a future one; We'll let you all know when more detail is available.  

Above: Proposals from the current planning application.

It's important to note that the lodged plans do not presently include the proposed access drive; these have been omitted currently pending further consideration. The feedback we received on this idea has been passed on to Norman and the Steering Group. Norman has created a short questionnaire to collect comments on the proposed new drive which would  exit the estate via the woods and onto Kings Weston Lane at this location. 

If you would like to provide feedback please download and complete this questionnaire and follow the directions at the bottom. 

Sunday lunches at Kings Weston

It's been some time since Sunday lunches have been served at Kings Weston house, so we're delighted to be able to report that they've recently returned. Lunches need to be booked in advance and are served in the Bistro area behind the cafe.  


Planning for an uncertain future.

Those of you who live in Bristol may well have seen the alarming news from the City Council that all spending non-essential maintenance work on buildings, roads, and parks will be frozen for at least the next three months. Whilst it's difficult to see the implications of this will be in the long term Kings Weston will not escape unaffected. 

We have had confirmation from the Council that the paths access improvements scheduled for Penpole Wood will be postponed indefinitely. With the winter already advanced this will mean that paths will return to the same state as last year and we recommend caution when navigating the muddier sections. We are also concerned that the freeze will further impact on the repair and reopening of the iron bridge, already delayed until next year. Of course, if we find out more we will pass news on. The freeze will also affect over-all management of the city's parks. The Head of Parks role, vacant for a number of months, was offered, but later declined, by an applicant. In the meantime the freeze on recruitment now means that the post will remain vacant for the time being. 

With the increasing pressure on the city to find ways of managing and enhancing parks, and with the change in political landscape in the city,  there is new willingness to engage with alternative models. With this in mind KWAG are keen to dust off an approach we made to the mayor a couple of years ago, Rethinking Kings Weston, and try and find a mutually beneficial way of working that would secure the future of the estate.

If you have any thoughts on our proposals, or would like to work with the KWAG committee on moulding the future of Kings Weston we'd be glad of any input. You can read our original proposal, Rethinking Kings Weston, here.   

School memories

We're aware than many of our followers have fond memories of their time at Kings Weston house when it operated as a school between, 1949 and 1960. 
We've just collected a new photo for our archive showing a school group on the steps of the house in May 1952. All we know is that this was class IX, but does anyone recognise themselves, friends or relatives in this photo? 

A delve into the Museum stores.

A recent visit to the back rooms of Bristol Museum and Art gallery has uncovered some interesting new finds. The museum holds an extensive collection of material on Kings Weston including paintings, prints, drawings, and artefacts. This particular visit was focussed on uncovering, and recording, some of the less well known images of the historic estate.  

Above: The view from Kingsweston Hill, a watercolour from the late C18th by Samuel Jackson (BMAG K181). Below-right: Sunset from Kingsweston Hill, circa 1790,Nicholas Pocock (BMAG Mb1996)

There are a number of memorable paintings in the collection, just a small number of which we share here. Most are from the estate at the height of its fame in the late Eighteenth century, with many by notable artists of the "Bristol School" such as Francis Danby, Samuel Jackson, and Nicholas Pocock.

Of special interest was a large portfolio of art etchings by the eminent artist Robert Charles Goff (1837-1922). Most of the dozens of etchings are little to do with Bristol, but are significant for their connection with the last members of the Miles family. The collection was gifted to the museum in 1936 by  Mrs Sybil Napier Miles, the wife of Philip Napier Miles the last private owner of the estate, and her sisters. Goff was their brother-in law, having married Sybil's sister, Clarissa, in 1899.

Below: The Sentinels, Kings Weston, Robert Goff, 1907(BMAG Mb2555)
The Goff's and the Miles's were close and Robert and Clarissa were frequent visitors to both Kings Weston, and Napier Miles's villa at Alassio in Italy. On his death in 1922 Clarissa came to live permanently with her sister and brother-in-law at Kings Weston, and presumably brought the artist's portfolio of work with her.

Sadly for Sybil, both her husband and sister died in 1935 within weeks of each other, leaving her with a huge estate and the contents of the house to manage alone. Evidently she sought to ensure that Goff's artworks were kept together as a single archive and, in memory of her sister, donated then to Bristol Museum and Art Gallery the following year. In this way the provenance of the works can be directly connected back to the artist’s ownership.

Amongst Goff's works in Bristol museum are two etchings of Kings Weston. One, of 1907 we have discovered before and our Tree Trail guide sports a low resolution version of it, and the other completely new to us. This second view is taken from the Shirehampton Park side of the estate, where the parkland drops steeply down to Horseshoe Bend of the River Avon. It is a particularly pleasing composition with the once-famous pine trees framing glimpsed views back upstream to the Avon Gorge. This scene has sadly succumbed to the ravages of time and the Portway Road now passes through this very area.  

In due course copies of all the artworks recorded will be uploaded to KWAG's website to accompany the galleries of historic views

Below: The Avon below Kings Weston, Robert Goff, drypoint etching. (BMAG 

Copyright © 2016 Kings Weston Action Group, All rights reserved.

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