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Kings Weston House, Bristol

Posted on 06 Apr, 2023

Kings Weston House, Bristol

Once a Tudor mansion owned by Queen Elizabeth’s Vice Admiral, Kings Weston was bought in 1679 by the Southwell family. Sir Robert Southwell was a royal envoy in Europe, President of the Royal Society and Secretary of State for Ireland. Sir Robert entertained King William III here in 1689 but it was his son Edward who rebuilt the house as we see it today.

In 1712 Sir John Vanbrugh, the most important architect of his day, was employed to design the house and, afterwards, many of the garden buildings. Most of these still stand.

In the 18th century, Kings Weston was famous across Europe and was mentioned in Jane Austen’s novels 'Emma' and 'Northanger Abbey' (as was the City of Bath in 'Northanger Abbey', and again in 'Persuasion')

An inn was built on the side of Kings Weston Hill so visitors could ride out from Bristol and Bath and enjoy the landscaped grounds and admire the famous panoramic views. A Regency iron bridge now connects the former inn and Kings Weston Hill with the rest of the park.

The last remaining members of the Southwell family died in 1834 and Kings Weston was purchased by Bristol’s first recorded millionaire, Philip Miles. The Miles family were Victorian industrialists and philanthropists. In 1877 they opened a large new dock where the Kings Weston estate met the banks of the River Severn and began developing Avonmouth around it. Both the dock and Avonmouth have grown considerably since then!

The last of the Miles family, Philip Napier Miles, was a composer. It was at Kings Weston that his good friend Ralph Vaughan Williams completed work on his most famous piece of music, The Lark Ascending, before it premiered nearby in Shirehampton Public Hall.

Leather Chairs of Bath have been involved in the restoration and reupholstery of some of the sgnificant pieces of furniture now being reintroduced to Kings Weston House.

 

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