Kings Weston House
Kings Weston House ( grid reference ST529771 ) is a historic building in Kings Weston Lane, Kingsweston, Bristol, England. It was built between 1710 and 1725 was designed by Sir John Vanbrugh for Edward Southwell on the site of an earlier Tudor house, and remodelled 1763 by Robert Mylne. A significant architecural feature is the grouping of all the chimneys into a massive arcade. The house passed through several generations of the Southwell family until the estate was sold in 1833 to Mr Philip John Miles for £210,000, and became the family seat until 1935 when, on the death of Philip Napier Miles, it was auctioned and bought by Bristol Municipal Charities and leased to the education authority for use as a school and later to become Bath University School of Architecture. In 1970 Bristol Corporation obtained a 50% grant from the Home Office and purchased the House for £305,000 to set up a Police Training Centre for Avon and Somerset Constabulary and was used as such until 1995. It was then abandoned for five years and since 2000 has been renovated as a Business and Conference Centre. During the World War I and World War II the House was converted into a hospital. It has been designated by English Heritage as a grade I listed building. The grounds include a Loggia, Brewhouse and Echo which are all grade I listed in their own right. The house is surrounded by grassland and an area of woodland bordering the suburbs of Shirehampton and Lawrence Weston. An iron bridge across Kings Weston Lane connects the estate to that of Blaise Castle.

Before Vanburgh
Sir Robert Southwell purchased the Kings Weston estate from Humphrey Hooke, a Bristol merchant, in 1679. In 1712 a birds-eye view of the estate by Johannes Kip was published in Robert Atkyns' The Ancient and Present State of Glocestershire. It showed what appears to be a late Tudor house, with a layout similar to that of the current building, having a three-sided entrance court. Vanbrugh later used part of the old foundations in his rebuilding, as well as retaining some of the old walls and a staircase in one of the turrets that were in the angles of the entrance court, though the staircase was later removed. The park surrounding the house was extensive. An avenue extended to the southwest, and there were formal parterres to the southeast. The Kip illustration also shows a banqueting house, which survived as a ruin until 1966, when it was destroyed by vandals. An architectural drawing dated 1707 describes it as being 'after the Modell of the Duke of Ormonds at Richmond', and it consisted of two floors, the lower one a workspace and the upper serving as the dining area. Because the building was on a steep slope. both floors were accessible from ground level, and the south facade consisted of a single storey. This south facade was constructed of red rubbing bricks laid in Flemish bond with exceptionally fine jointing, consisting of a little less than 1/16 inch of slaked lime putty.

Current buildings
In 1710, or possibly one or two years earlier, work began on a new house by John Vanbrugh. His client, Edward Southwell, was not sufficiently wealthy to afford a house on a monumental scale, and may not have wished for one. The result was one of Vanbrugh's smallest houses, smaller than his own country house in Greenwich. It is also his severest in style, obtaining high architectural drama by the well judged disposition of elements that are few in number, and simple in their nature. The exterior of the house would have been at the point of completion in 1717, the date on the contract for one of the parapet vases. The interior would have been virtually complete by 1719, when the design for inlay on the stair landings was drawn up. Two of the facades have since been remodelled, probably by Robert Milne, who remodelled the interior in the 1760s. The stone, which was quarried on the site, was originally ochre in colour but has weathered to an orange-pink. The arcade formed by linking the chimneys, which rises above the roof, is a notable external feature of the building, reminiscent of the belvederes of Blenheim Palace and producing a 'castle air'. It is square in shape and open on the northeast. The current structure is the result of a rebuilding in 1968, using Bath Stone. The entrance front, on the southwest, has a centre containing six Corinthian pilasters, with those at each side paired to produce three bays, each of which contains a round arched window. The pediment has a central lunette, and each side consists of two bays in which the windows have wide flat surrounds. There are four parapet vases. The steps originally had low flank walls perpendicular to the facade, which were removed in the later remodelling. On the southeast facade, the centre has a Doric temple front with open pediment, which surrounds the doorway. The centre has an attic as its upper storey, topped by a blocking course with scrolled supports at each end. A design with a pediment was prepared for this front, but is thought never to have been built. Though the only decoration is the rustication on the Doric temple's pilasters, a remarkably rich effect is achieved. The northeast and northwest facades of Vanbrugh's original design were entirely undecorated, and a consequent lack of popular appeal may be the reason why they were largely destroyed in later remodelling. Vanbrugh's northwest facade consisted of a single flat surface, in which a Venetian window on each floor filled the central space between two shallow projections. Perhaps to improve the view down to Avonmouth, the centre was remodelled by Mylne with a bay window, at odds with the tautness of Vanbrugh's overall design of the house, in which all planes were parallel or perpendicular to the walls. On the northeast the wall was moved forward during nineteenth-century remodelling, destroying an aesthetically significant alignment between wall projections and the break in the roof arcade, which had been present in Vanbrugh's design. Visitors to the house as it stood after the completion of Vanbrugh's design would have first encountered a huge entrance saloon, two stories high. Beyond this was a stair hall of three storeys in height, with arched openings to the entrance saloon at first-floor height, so that the upper part of the entrance saloon could be seen from within it. These arches were filled in as part of Mylne's remodelling, which though it increased the comfort and charm, reduced the spacial drama. The additional wall space in the entrance saloon was required to hang Southwell's recently acquired collection of ancestral portraits, and the plasterer Thomas Stocking was employed to execute a scheme of plaster framing for these, to Mylne's design. A black and white chequered marble floor and a chimneypiece by John Devall were also added to the entrance saloon in this remodelling.

Brewhouse The Brewhouse, by Vanbrugh, can be dated, on the grounds that it shows no Palladian influence, to 1718 or earlier. Such features as the huge keystone, set above an arched doorway, and the prominently silled lunette window above, are typical of Vanbrugh's style. The machicolated arcade across the moulded parapet of the centre is a feature unique to Vanbrugh at this date, also found at Vanbrugh Castle, and is a precocious example of the Gothic Revival. The Echo The Echo is a loggia at the end of the southeast axis of the building, with a facade of four piers of rusticated stonework, of which alternate courses are projecting and vermiculated, It has large vermiculated keystones at the heads of the three arches. It is attributed to Vanbrugh, its features being almost identical to a Vanbrugh design of 1722 for a single archway. Banqueting loggia Penpole Lodge Stables


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