12 Nov 2020
My goal is walk down every public road within a mile of me; sometimes it's not easy to tell what's public. I've passed the turning for Cornwallis Grove a thousand times, but never had a reason to venture down it, and although the street signs at the end seem to be council-deployed and I didn't spot any "private" signs, it's a gated road and definitely feels private.
Gathering all the white middle-class privilege I could muster, I wandered down and was rewarded with the sight of a Victorian pump, a statue of Jesus, and from the end of the road, a view of a private garden that once belonged to a private girls' school.
The Cornwallis House history page says:
In the early 20th century the house, together with Grove House, became a Catholic school, St Joseph’s High School for Girls. The Congregation of La Retraite took over the school in 1924, with the nuns living in Grove House while the schoolrooms were in Cornwallis House. The headmistress was Mother St Paul de la Croix (Sister Paula Yerby). By the 1970s La Retraite High School had around 700 pupils.
It closed in 1982 and the building was bought by Pearce Homes Ltd (now part of Crest Nicholson) who developed it into 21 flats. Grove House next door was bought by the Bristol Cancer Help Centre, and was later converted into flats in 2007.
Cornwallis House's extensive private garden, with the back of York Gardens serried at the top.
06 Dec 2020
I wasn't really feeling it when I set out today, on my first car-assisted wander. By the time I'd parked on Alma Vale Road in Clifton it was just starting to rain and I picked my way about in quite a desultory way. It felt strange, as I was very familiar with the area because I'd walked through it hundreds of times when I worked at the top of Whiteladies Road, and used to walk up the hill from Hotwells and through Clifton to get there, and back again, every day.
Then a complete coincidence seemed to make the change I'd been hoping for. I was standing taking a photo of Christ in the front garden of All Saints church when a couple of people walked out of the front door. I got talking with a lady I took to be part of the ministerial team, who invited me to come in and look around—something I'd always wanted to do on the morning commute. (I think we connected a bit when I recognised the name John Piper, who did the amazing windows—I learned about him while I was at Warwick, through his connections to Coventry Cathedral.
I left with much more of a spring in my step, wandered around the area a bit more, finally working out that the tennis courts I used to pass every morning are those of Clifton Lawn Tennis Club, and finally grabbing an excellent Hungarian sausage hot dog from the Budapest Cafe. I feel a lot better now than I did before I went out.
I went to have a peep at the giant sinkhole that's opened up in Canynge Square—ironically, having recently discovered the gardens were public I'd had the (triangular!) square on my list to re-visit for a few days, but now there's no entrance to the gardens due to the danger. The area was well fenced-off for safety, but I tried to get a couple of photos from behind the barriers.
I also explored the area around Camp Road, an real melange of architectures, one of the most mixed-up areas I've seen in Clifton, in fact, and confirmed my friend Claire's suspicion that an earlier snap of a sign from Manilla Road was in fact for a fire hydrant. Nice.
06 Jan 2021
The International Grotto Directory website says:
Prince’s Lane might have been one of the original ancient tracks from Hotwells to Clifton, in the Avon Gorge. The site later formed part of Rownham Woods which comprised some thirteen acres. By the end of the 18th century and the early 19th century, the Society of Merchant Venturers granted to Samuel Powell a building lease, for The Colonnade (1786), St. Vincent’s Parade (1790), Prince’s Buildings (1796), and Rock House. Rock House is generally considered to be the oldest surviving building associated with the Hotwell (see Chapter 20). John Power conveyed part of the woods to William Watts for the construction of Windsor Terrace (1790-1808).
The above development of the Avon Gorge cleared Rownham Woods, and created a triangle of land on the north side of the gorge, that became enclosed as a result, by Mansion Houses, whose garden walls all entered on to Prince’s Lane. The Lane started at the bottom of the gorge, at the base rock of Windsor Terrace, and came out half way up Sion Hill. It is clearly shown as a public footpath, dotted with trees, in Ashmead’s map of 1828. Some of the gardens were quite steep in parts and therefore, had to be terraced, because of the gradient of the gorge.
I've passed Prince's Lane literally thousands of times in my life, every time I've walked past the Avon Gorge Hotel, which itself started (in 1898) as the Grand Clifton Spa and Hydropathic Institution and pumped water up from the Hot Well for its hydropathic treatments. I've never actually ventured down it until today, or at least nothing like as far down it as I did this afternoon—I may have poked my head around the back of the hotel to see the original pump rooms at some point in the past.
This was a great wander, though it does very much feel like a private road, and frankly I may have been pushing my luck a bit by winding my way between the astoundingly big back gardens of the houses of some presumably very wealthy Cliftonites, but I felt vaguely justified in exploring the history of one of the oldest footpaths in my part of Bristol...
24 Jan 2021
I started this wander with my "support bubble" Sarah and Vik, after Sarah texted me to say "SNOW!" We parted ways on the towpath and I headed up into the bit of Leigh Woods that's not actually the woods—the village-like part in between Leigh Woods and Ashton Court, where I'd noticed on a map a church I'd not seen before. I found St Mary the Virgin and quite a few other things I'd never experienced, despite having walked nearby them many, many times over many years, including a castellated Victorian water tower that's been turned into a house...
With a light dusting
01 Feb 2021
I just wanted to get some exercise, really, so I set out to knock off the lower bit of Jacobs Wells Road that I'd not managed to walk up yet. I set the new signboard that the community association had had erected as my destination, after reading about it on their blog.
As it turned out, I couldn't even read it, as the building that houses the actual Jacob's Well had water flooding out onto the pavement. I wonder if it was actual Jacob's Well water? Have the soles of my walking shoes been mystically blessed now?
You can't see much of the flood in the photos I snapped, but I did shoot a little video, too. Ed on Twitter said:
I spoke to the seller at the time with a view to buying it - I mentioned an old friend who grew up nearby remembers it flooding regularly. He swore blind my friend was wrong.
06 Feb 2021
A lovely walk in the early spring sunshine with my friend Lisa. We headed directly for Jacobs Wells Road, to start off around the scene of one of our earlier walks, but this time took in Jacobs Wells from QEH upward, stopping to snap some photos of a Bear With Me, some interesting areas between Park Street and Brandon Hill including a peculiarly quiet enclave with a ruined old build I'd never found before, then crossed the Centre to grab take-away pies from Pieminister (I had the Heidi Pie) and head back to my place down the harbourside.
Since setting up a search for Hotwells on eBay I've mostly managed to restrain myself from buying much (or in one case, was outbid, luckily for my finances.) However, I couldn't resist a 1902 flyer for a singalong at the Terrett Memorial Hall, which would have stood five minutes' walk from my flat, overlooking Howard's Lock.
I've found out a fair bit about this non-denominational seaman's mission, including tracking down both a Loxton drawing and an aerial photo of it. The main thing that's eluded me, ironically enough, is finding out who Terrett was, so as a Memorial Hall it didn't do a very good job 😀.
EDIT: Ah! Did a little more digging and found that the Bristol Archives has a Bristol Dock Company document on file called "William Terrett, Esq.; corresp. etc. re proposed erection of a Mission Hall at Cumberland Basin, 1892", so that might be worth a look once the Archives are properly open again. Given that:
Sarah Terrett died suddenly on 25 November 1889, aged 53, after speaking at a meeting of the White Ribbon Army, the temperance organization she had founded in 1878. Following her death many people sent letters of sympathy to her bereaved husband, William. One of these, from the Rev. W. F. James, a minister of the Bible Christians, makes for especially interesting reading. The Bible Christian denomination, to which Sarah and William belonged, was one of the smaller Methodist connexions, and had its heartland in rural Devon, the area where she had grown up. James recalled the hospitality he enjoyed when visiting the Terretts’ home, Church House, in Bedminster, south Bristol...
...I wonder if William Terrett built the hall in memory of his late wife. They were clearly just the kind of temperance movement people who would've founded a seaman's mission to get people together to have a nice non-alcoholic singsong rather than a night out on the tiles.
Anyway. This walk to grab a coffee from Hopper Coffee in Greville Smyth Park was mostly an excuse to post the leaflet, a few other things I found related to it, and some pictures of how the site looks now. I would suggest that the present day is not an improvement.
I find the adverts fascinating. My first optician in Bristol was Dunscombe's on St Augustine's Parade, so they were there a long time. They've closed now (or at least moved) but were still there as recently as 2008, I think. Interesting to see gas lighting systems being advertised, too!
I got interested in Bristol's medieval water supplies after poking around near Jacobs Wells Road and Brandon Hill. It was during that research I found out about a pipe that's still there today, and, as far as I know, still actually functioning, that was originally commissioned by Carmelite monks in the 13th century. They wanted a supply of spring water from Brandon Hill to their priory on the site of what's now the Bristol Beacon—Colston Hall, as-was. It was created around 1267, and later, in 1376, extended generously with an extra "feather" pipe to St John's On The Wall, giving the pipework its modern name of "St John's Conduit".
St John's on the Wall is still there, guarding the remaining city gate at the end of Broad Street, and the outlet tap area was recently refurbished. It doesn't run continuously now, like it did when I first moved to Bristol and worked at the end of Broad Street, in the Everard Building, but I believe the pipe still functions. One day I'd like to see that tap running...
There are a few links on the web about the pipe, but by far the best thing to do is to watch this short and fascinating 1970s TV documentary called The Hidden Source, which has some footage of the actual pipe and also lots of fantastic general footage of Bristol in the seventies.
On my walk today I was actually just going to the building society in town, but I decided to trace some of the route of the Carmelite pipe, including visiting streets it runs under, like Park Street, Christmas Street, and, of course, Pipe Lane. I also went a bit out of my way to check out St James' Priory, the oldest building in Bristol, seeing as it was just around the corner from the building society.
There are far too many pictures from this walk, and my feet are now quite sore, because it was a long one. But I enjoyed it.
01 Apr 2021
Another workday, another quick coffee excursion. This time I decided to swing past Sydney Row on the way back from the marina car park where Imagine That have their horsebox. I didn't know until recently that the terrace was built for workers at the adjacent dockyard.
I've also gradually come to the conclusion that I don't really think very two-dimensionally when it comes to finding my way around or associating one place with another. I only realised in the last few days that the odd industrial building that takes up the other half of Syndey Row, the one that's always covered with graffiti, is the back of the dockyard works. In my defence, as it's tucked away in a corner of the little industrial estate that I've never ventured into (I rarely find I have a need for the products of safety valve manufacturers), I don't think I've ever seen the front of the building...
I rather like this spikly mouse.