Kings Weston House celebrates 300 years

16 06 2012

Kings Weston House is celebrating its 300th anniversary this weekend with a free event today to explore its extensive history. The University of Bristol and Kings Weston Action Group are inviting the public to share their memories of the historic house, parkland and the surrounding area.

Considered by many experts to be Bristol’s finest 18th century building, work commenced on the splendid Georgian mansion house on June 17, 1712.

The following is a brief history from researchers at the university:

Kings Weston House, as it stands today, was designed by famous architect Sir John Vanbrugh for Edward ‘Neddy’ Southwell, who inherited the estate from his father Sir Robert Southwell; one-time diplomat, spy and president of the Royal Society. Vanbrugh’s other works included Blenheim Palace and Castle Howard.

The house remained in the Southwell family until it was sold in 1833.

When the new owner Philip John Miles died in 1845, his estate was worth more than a million pounds, making him Bristol’s first recorded millionaire.

The Miles family financed the construction of all three of Brunel’s great steamships (including the ss Great Britain) as well as being responsible for building Avonmouth docks and developing numerous new industries and railway lines within the city during the Victorian era.

During the First World War, the house was converted into a hospital before being sold again in 1937. It later housed military during the Second World War.

Following the war, the house had various educational uses until 1970 when the Bristol Corporation purchased the house for £305,000 to set up a Police Training Centre.

The future of Kings Weston House looked very uncertain when Avon & Somerset Police left for their new premises at Portishead in 1995. It was boarded up to stop vandalism and lay neglected and desolate for five years.

The new millennium brought with it a new lease of life when the house, with the interior of the house restored to its former glory.

In 2001, Kings Weston House was re-opened by the present owner John Hardy, with the ground floor used as a venue for both business and private events, the first and second floors let as serviced offices and a Tea Shop opening in one of the vaulted rooms on the lower ground floor.

For more information on today’s events, visit  www.bristol.ac.uk/news/2012/8564.html.

Photographs courtesy of Kings Weston Action Group: www.flickr.com/photos/kwag.


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