Happy New Year from KWAG!
Above: The house and stables from Kingsweston Hill, Samuel Jackson, circa 1800
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- Working Party update - Above the quarry garden II
- Guided tours announced
- Updates in brief
- Fall and rise of Kings Weston stables
Working Party Reminder - Saturday 12th January - more laurel clearance
Reminder: November working party will take place this Saturday 12th.Following a few months of alternative work we will be returning to the main task of tackling invasive cherry laurel close to the main path through the woods, and above the former Quarry Garden. PLEASE NOTE this Month we meet again at SHIREHAMPTON ROAD CAR PARK at 10am. We will be working here: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1VkCHs0l2fMQptasM1Vb1gWTXB5xS4OOa&usp=sharing
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 focussed on felling vegitation. 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 - above the Quarry Garden II
The weather was again against us and our working party efforts just before Christmas. Another wet morning's work still saw some satisfactory progress in removing the invasive cherry laurel for the area between the main path through the woods and the top of the Georgian quarry garden. A massive thank you goes out to everyone who turned up this month in the face of the predicted bad weather; Almost a dozen volunteers held out until lunchtime carving their way through the undergrowth.
Below: the view west along the top edge of the former Quarry Garden in Penpole Wood
As with other areas where we've removed cherry laurel there were few native species beneath the choking canopy of these invasive invaders. Our intention is to remedy that with the next round of sapling planting in the coming months.
You'll have to forgive us for only a couple of the usual before and after photos this month as things were too wet to effectively take photos ahead of the party and these 'before' views are reused from November. They at least show the dual progress of two months working party efforts and we'll make sure that we get better views of the forthcoming event.
If you have any projects anywhere around the 300 acre landscape please let us know and we will look into programming it in for this year's volunteer events.
Above: the view northwards towards the top edge of the Quarry Garden with the line of lime trees on its opposite side beyond.
Guided tours announced
After a hiatus of a couple of years we're back running guided tours of the historic estate. Three dates have been announced for this Spring when we plan to run one of our popular walks around the historic parkland. These walks give an insight into the history of the house and gardens, uncover some of its lost past and hidden landmarks scattered throughout the landscape. The walks pass through the main areas of the estate, from the formal avenues to the woodland, and describe what appears to be a wilderness today, as the designed landscape gardens of their Georgian heyday.
These tours will help raise funds for future KWAG work in the park and we hope that the £5 charge won't prove unreasonable. All tours will begin at Shirehampton Road car park at 10:30 on Saturdays on the following dates: 2nd March, 6th April & 25th May. Space will be limited, so if you would like to attend please email us at email@example.com, or telephone 07811666671 and let us know your details, and which date you would like to join us.
Further details are given on the attached poster which will be appearing around the estate soon. or download a PDF poster here
Updates in brief
Concerns over metal detecting
We've had a lot of reports of metal detectors in the park, an activity that is prohibited by Bristol City Council's parks bylaws. There have been dozens of instances where detectorists have been working illegally, digging, and abandoning the holes left open. This has been happening throughout the park, but is particularly noticeable where holes are being left in the meadow turf. Not only does this leave trip hazards the perpetrators are leaving scrap metal where they find it, and are robbing the site of any historic archaeological finds. If you see anyone operating a metal detector in the parkland they do not have permission to do this and you should report this to the bristol parks team via the parks area supervisor on these numbers: 01179736210 office, 07557202844 mobile.
Where now with Karakal?
Most of you will know the good news from before Christmas, that the Fairways site that's been causing so much trouble on Penpole Lane for a number of years has been purchased by the Karakal company that own the industrial unit at its centre. Karakal have previously stated they have no plans for any expansion and have been greatly relieved to at last be in control of their own access and parking. Both park users and Karakal have watched in frustration as works to the site have been undertaken over the last twelve months that's seen it stripped of vegetation, prison-mesh fences erected, and the historic ha-ha! along the edge of Penpole Wood infilled. We're keen to look at ways we can work collaboratively with Karakal to make the best of the current situation, and look at how planting or other restorative measures, can be effected to improve the setting around the warehouse for everyone's benefit. With the constant threat of development now lifted we hope that KWAG's focus in 2019 can be to positive, constructive project work in the park.
Keeping on top of the copses
Since the start of the New Year KWAG volunteers have been gradually moving through the copses above Shirehampton Road and below the Georgian viewing terrace making sure that the undergrowth is kept down in preparation for this Spring. this work has been to remove brambles and self-seeded sappings that have grown up over the last couple of years, since we last passed through this area, and have threatened to obscure the annual explosion of daffodils. We hope to extend this work along the base of the viewing terrace as soon as possible, and ensure that bramble encroachment is again kept at bay.
Fall and rise of the King Weston stables
Last month we brought you some First World War images from the archives of Avon and Somerset Constabulary, but there are many other interesting finds in their collection. This month we reveal some alarming images of the Georgian stables on Napier Miles Road. The stables were built in the late 1760s by the architect Robert Mylne shortly after his return from study in Rome. It was perhaps here that he had come into contact with the young Edward Southwell III of Kings Weston who would give him this prize commission before allowing him free-reign in remodelling the interiors of the house itself.
The stables and carriage houses continued to perform their original function until 1935 when the last private owner of the house, Philip Napier Miles died. His widow retained the walled gardens, where she built a new house for herself, and the stables, but the latter structures fared badly during the Second World War when they were used as billets for British soldiers employed in the house.
By 1952 the building was ruinous, its roofs collapsing, and under threat of demolition. It was only through the efforts of local conservationists and the strong advocacy of Lord Methuen that the City Council conceded to keep the building and rebuild it as a new police station to serve the fast-growing Lawrence Weston estate below. What has not been clear until now was the extremes that the 'restoration' had gone to in rebuilding the structure for this new use.
These photos show how much of structure was dismantled before being put back together. Remarkably only the central arch and the end facades of the two wings to the road appear to be the only elements that survived unscathed. The whole of the rest of the building has been taken down and, presumably, the most important masonry carefully numbered for later restoration.
The building was formerly opened as a police station in May 1962 by the Lord Mayor, local MPs and numerous local dignitaries. Lord Methuen also attended and expressed his complements to the City Corporation on the vision and foresight they had shown in putting the buildings to their new use. He said" I remember when nothing seemed to move anyone to preserve the place and that is why I am so pleased to be present among those who saw the possibilities of not only retaining the buildings, but putting them to such a practical use" . He continued that in most places these days there was a curious view that one should regard historic places on the basis of whether or not they could bring an income, but here was a refreshing change. He hoped Bristol would now consider preserving some more of her architectural heritage for posterity.