This is KWAG's 80th regular newsletter!
Above: The wildflower meadow below the house, planted in 2019 is beginning to mature.
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- The parkland in the pandemic
- Future Parks Feedback needed
- Planning a return for Working Parties
- Cafe news
- Family connections with the Kings Weston history
- Working Party Reminder - We are looking at ways we can restart working party events in a safe manner. See below for details.
The parkland in the pandemic
You may have noticed last mouth we took a short break and there was no July newsletter. Belatedly, and rather surprisingly, this is now our 80th newsletter! During lockdown things have been very different for everyone and the park and house have been under new pressures. With restrictions on travel and few other distractions the estate has been incredibly busy, acting as a boon to thousands of local residents for exercise, fresh air, and a welcome break in scenery. The estate has attracted fresh interest as the restrictions have eased, with new visitors discovering the parkland from across the city; since we’ve been refilling the leaflet dispenser there’s been a marked increase in map guides being taken and most will be to new visitors.
Below: the haul of litter collected by Anita Molnar during a single visit.
At the same time the increased popularity during the good weather has brought greater challenges. There has been a huge increase in litter across the estate, and damage being caused by thoughtless barbecue use burning grass and memorial benches. We are hugely grateful to a number of locals who’ve been picking up litter, especially to Anita Molnar, who got in touch to describe how she collected a huge amount, 96 drinks cans, 101 fizzy drinks bottles, and over 200 items of other waste including wipes, crisp packets, rubber gloves, masks, dog poo in bags and other non-recyclable waste. Thank you to Anita for having taken everything home and recycling the majority of it. Anita has also offered to help by taking responsibility for the rubbish issue, and we’d like to help her start some regular litter collections. We are yet to work out dates and regularity, but if you want to help out this is a great way to help out with a socially distanced event. These are likely to start in August. More news on this soon!
We also have to thank everyone who sent KWAG donations during the lockdown and expressed their gratitude to our volunteers for their work on the estate. The importance of parks and greenspaces has come into close focus during the epidemic, and, at such a difficult time for many people, it was very thoughtful to have made generous gestures to KWAG’s work; we’re humbled. If you too would like to help us you can click the link near the top of the page to donate via Paypal. Thank you.
Above: Damage to a memorial bench by BBQs, since repaired thanks to the team at Kings Weston house.
Future Parks Feedback needed.
The Future Parks Programme is surveying Bristol and B&NES residents about how they use and experience their parks and green spaces, and how this might have changed in light of Covid-19. Data is being gathered by The Natural History Consortium, and anonymous survey results will be shared with Future Parks partners, Bristol City Council, Bath and North East Somerset Council, and Bristol and Bath Parks Foundation. The Kingsweston Estate is identified amongst the majority of the regions other parks. We would urge that any users of Kings Weston, or any other local park, fill in this questionnaire to help identify issues, priorities, and help influence their direction in the future.
The Questionaire is here
More information on the Future Parks Programme here
Planning a return for Working Parties
Without our regular monthly working parties KWAG’s rhythm has been somewhat interrupted. Now with lockdown measures being eased we are looking at ways that we can safely restart events in August following Government guidance. We will be asking for volunteers to get in touch with us in advance of the published Saturday dates to let us know if they are intending to come along and ensure numbers can be accommodated.
Below: The Circle has been neatened-up following the daffodil's departure
Working parties will be operated in groups of no more than six, including one health and safety trained volunteer who will lead activities; in this way we can manage an overall event for 12 volunteers doing similar activities, but in adjacent areas of the estate. Volunteers will be encouraged to bring their own tools, but if they can’t we will ensure there are adequate wipes to allow use of KWAG tools, but no sharing between volunteers will be allowed. The now long-practiced social distancing measures will need to be observed and face masks encouraged where practical. We will have to be very strict over these restrictions, particularly social distancing within groups. We hope volunteers will understand and help us get back to work in this limited fashion.
We will be trialling the new arrangements on August 15th subject to evolving guidance.
Some of the KWAG team have been undertaking occasional individual work on the estate to keep on top of problem areas around the Circle, the picnic benches, and encroachment along the ancient Avenue. These areas have suffered particularly from litter being thrown into the undergrowth and the work should keep the estate’s public face neat, safe, and accessible.
Below: Work along the ancient lime avenue should prevent further encroachment over the main path
Kings Weston’s Morgan’s Café has changed its hours since it reopened following the lifting of restrictions. Paige is now opening four days a week for take-out food and snacks. There are none of the usual meals, but pies, pasties, and bacon and sausage sandwiches are on offer along with the usual array of home-baked cakes and pastries. WCs remain out of use for the moment. Outdoor benches and tables remain available. New times are:
Thursday -Saturday 9:30am-3pm
For any further detail get in touch with Paige at Morgan’s Coffee shop
t. 07954 324043
KWAG have also dropped off a selection of framed historic pictures of Kings Weston at the café. We hope that Paige can make use of them in the refurbished café area and where we will eventually label them with dates and information.
Family connections with the Kings Weston history
We were contacted recently by David Pickering who has a family connecting to Kings Weston and still lives nearby. He’s kindly send us some historic images to publish in our newsletter and we’re grateful to him for adding to our understanding of the estate’s history.
One of the photos is of his uncle Fred Whapshare posed, probably in the 1920s, in front of the stone gate-piers at the back of the house, one of which still stands. Mr Pickering writes that his uncle “ worked on the estate most of his life, as a gardener ,being born in about 1893. His wife worked as a housemaid there, and they were left in charge as custodians when the house was closed up before the old lady (Sybil, Philip Napier Miles’ wife) moved to the House in the Garden. They eventually bought the attached-row of Hawksmoor cottages in the lane, before one day selling up and building the bungalow ‘Wingrove’ in some of their garden.”
Above: Fred Whapshare, head gardener at Kings Weston, probably in the late 1920s.
(courtesy of David Pickering)
He continues “My uncle carried on as gardener when Mrs Miles moved to the House in the Garden, and I have fond memories of being taken round the place as a child, being given my first-ever peach from a hot-house wall. Really I have always felt that the estate was part of my own background. My Aunt and Uncle were devoted to the place, and worked there most of their lives. Some entertaining stories of staff parties, with exuberant footmen!”
When, in 1937, the contents of the house were auctioned, after the death of Philp Napier Miles, Mrs Whapshare bought a few keepsakes. These included some paintings and etchings of Italy done by the Miles’s brother in law, the artist Robert Goff. Goff regularly joined the Miles’s at their villa on the Italian coast and they shared a love of the country. Also amongst Goff’s works Mrs Whapshare bought was this painting of Kings Weston, dated 5th September 1911, and looking across Shirehampton Park. The haystacks in the middle distance are at the bottom of Longcombe, now on the golf course, and the present location of a utilitarian steel shed, but the focus of the painting appears to be the twisted red pine tree, a feature that appears in many of Goff’s other works.
Below: A view by Robert Goff, dated 5th September 1911, and showing the view into Longcombe in Shirehampton Park. (courtesy of David Pickering)