Welcome to KWAG's August 2021 Newsletter. No.94.
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Now holidays are here Kings Weston is quieter once again.

Above: Penpole Lodge and the stone dial form an early 20th Century postcard view.  


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This month:

  • Working Party update - Back to the laurels II  

  • The Domain of Artists

  • Tackling the Tennis Court (again) 

  • Treasure of a Kings Weston Nature 


Working Party Reminder - Planned working party event Saturday August 14th 

Reminder:   August's working party will take place this Saturday 14th. Again this month ANYONE who would like to help out can come along throughout the day and we are no longer restricted to teams of 6.This month we'll continue with cherry laurel clearance that allows us shaded working during the summer months and prevents conflicts with bird nesting season. Work will involve more felling and thinning cherry laurel within parts of Penpole Wood we’ve not dealt with before.  PLEASE NOTE this again this month we meet at the same place on  Penpole Lane, opposite the school, at 10am. 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 though this month it will be principally focused on trimming regrowth, with some felling vegetation. 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 to the laurels II
Below: Native trees reappear on the main drive through Penpole Wood. 
The last couple of working party events have struggled a little because of low numbers. If you, or anyone you know, is interested in helping out with conservation work on the estate please get in touch, or come along to one of our monthly meets and give it a go! Nevertheless July’s volunteers made further inroads into the clearance of the endemic cherry laurel problem. The spot we started in June was tidied up and expanded to carry on westwards through Penpole Wood.
The area now being cleared sits between the main carriage drive to Penpole Point and the Yew Walk cleared a few years ago. This is some of the densest laurel we’ve attended to for a couple of years, with some vast specimens too large for KWAG to manage safely. Fortunately most are within our remit and we built on June’s progress by removing more of the monster shrubs last month.
While one group worked on the leftovers from last month other volunteers weeded out more cherry laurels from the native trees and helped open out the main drive again; here the cherry laurels overhang, and are forever attempting to block passage on this important route. Hopefully August’s Working party will reach a satisfactory endpoint for this work before the next couple of months are taken up by Doors Open day and our annual Big Bulb Plant in October

Above: Looking down on the main carriage ride through Penpole Wood before and after volunteer work to clear cherry laurel.
Below: Sun streams down on the woodland floor after the suffocating dark of the laurel canopy is removed. Native species will soon return to fill the void. 


The Domain of Artists  
A pretty little painting has recently come into our collections. This watercolour view records the prospect looking south from the Kings Weston estate from Shirehampton Park. This is one of the classic views that attracted many an artist to the estate to attempt their own version. It looks up the Avon towards the gorge from the cliff edge above the river and pre-dates the creation of the railway through the area in 1865.
It’s attributed to the artist Copley Fielding (1787-1855) though must be towards the end of the artist’s life as the Clifton pylon of the Suspension Bridge, built by 1843, is visible in the very far distance. At least three steamships in the Avon also suggest a date around the late 1840s or early 1850s.

Engineering works for the railway to Avonmouth cut deep into the side of the cliff, and similar works for the Portway road in 1919 have destroyed the location where this painting was made; however, similar views can still be gained from the public footpath that runs along the southern edge of the modern golf course that occupies Shirehampton Park today. Finds like this continue to build on our understanding of the picturesque values of the parkland as previous generations enjoyed them.   


Above: The Avon from Kings Weston Park, Copley Fielding (1787-1855) (attributed). 

Tackling the Tennis Court (again)  
The former tennis court on Penpole Lane has been gone so long now it’s a distant memory. Way back in 2013 KWAG volunteers dismantled the steel fence around it and removed the undergrowth that had begun to take hold. The Council also began work on re-landscaping and naturalising it into the parkland. However, that work stalled, and the area has been forgotten for some time, allowing brambles and self-seeded trees to assail the naturally important grassland.  
In an unofficial event a couple of volunteers have gone through the area to re-open the important views between the War Memorial and Park Hill, and the wider estate. This is an area where we hope to get the Council to reengage with the project to restore and reseed the area so that it can be more regularly maintained, incorporated within the rest of the summer meadow cut.   

Treasure of a Kings Weston nature 

A recent auction at Bonhams in London unearthed two solid silver plates from a collection in the United States. They have a direct connection with Kings Weston and tell us something of the wealth and taste of the owners of the house in the Victorian era.

During most of the Nineteenth Century Kings Weston was owned by the wealthiest family in Bristol: the Miles dynasty of merchants, bankers, and industrialists. It was bought in 1834 by Philip John Miles as a family home with his second wife, Clarissa Peach. After he died in 1845 Clarissa was well provided for in his will, and she continued to live at Kings Weston as dowager matriarch with several of her eleven grown children, until her own death in 1868.

Above: The two silver plates with wreathed borders incorporating shells. 

It was during this last period of her life, after Philip’s death, that the two silver plates were commissioned. Probably once part of a much larger service these survivors were made by an important London silversmith, William Ker Reid, in 1855. Even at the time they would have been an extremely expensive luxury, testament to the incredible wealth of the family and their desire to express it.
Below: the miles family crest and shells decorate the plates. 
The service was certainly commissioned for the tables of Kings Weston. We know that it was Clarissa who commissioned these plates because of the engraved arms on either side of the rim. On one side is the Miles family crest, an arm holding an anchor representing their maritime interests; opposite it Clarissa had her own family’s arms, that of the Peach family of Tockington, Gloucestershire, depicted. The shells incorporated in the border may also be allusions to the family's connections with the sea. What is perhaps unusual is that Clarissa must have commissioned them herself for the house, rather than her son Philip William Skinner Miles as the heir to the Kings Weston estate; she clearly had a significant inheritance of her own.

Clarissa is a less well-known figure in the history of the estate. We have no image of her, and there are few documented mentions. These plates show she was a powerful woman in her own right and was able to commission high status objects. After she died in 1868 she was buried with her husband at Henbury church. It was here that her family chose to commemorate her life in a stained glass window. Depicted in it are personifications of Faith, Hope, and Charity. It’s probably not a coincidence that an anchor, here symbolising hope, is a prominent motif in the design.    

Below: Stained Glass memorial window to Clarissa Miles (nee Peach) in the south aisle of Henbury church. 


07811 666671
KWAG, c/o 75A Alma Road, Bristol, BS8 2DW
Copyright © 2021 Kings Weston Action Group, All rights reserved.

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