13 Nov 2020
A quick trip with the aim of finding a better way to Greville Smyth park and a good coffee. Sadly I was stymied yet again with the former—it turns out that you do apparently have to take a strange loop around the houses (or at least around the roads) to get to Greville Smyth any way other than my normal route, unless you're prepared to vault some railings. It may be that the disused steps from where the skater kids hang out to the flyover above might once have led to a shorter route, but it's hard to tell. The geography in the area has always confused me.
This has now become one of my favourite little shortcuts for getting from this side of the road over to Greville Smyth.
In which our intrepid hero levels up.
A long ramble, starting with trying to find the Hot Well of Hotwells and leading up the side of the Avon Gorge to the Downs and then through Clifton for coffee.
03 Dec 2020
I love the isolation of Cliftonwood -- the geography of it, with its solid boundary of Clifton Vale to the west and Jacob's Wells Road to the east mean that you tend not to be in Cliftonwood unless you've got a reason to be there. It's not a cut-through to anywhere, at least not from side-to-side, and you can only really exit to the south on foot.
I sense that I'd be happy living in Cliftonwood -- like my bit of Hotwells, it's a quiet little area with a sort of quirky feel to it. Plus it contributes the colourful houses that are the backdrop of about half of all Bristol postcards ever made :)
I found the "secret" garden especially interesting, just for the fact that it really does feel quite secret, despite the obvious name on the gate. I've lived a half-mile from it for twenty years and I don't think I've ever noticed it before, despite exploring the area a few times.
15 Dec 2020
On the down side, I got to Bedminster and found long enough queues at both Mark's Bread and Hopper Coffee that I gave up on the idea of buying a drink and a pasty (from the former) or a mince pie flapjack (from the latter.) On the up side, I got to take some pictures of Cumberland Basin being drained and sluiced out, part of its regular maintenance cycle.
23 Nov 2020
I've just got to the bit in Fanny Burney's Evelina where our eponymous heroine visit a grand house on Clifton Hill during her stay in Hotwells. It was interesting to wonder if it could be any of the places I passed in my lunchtime jaunt, which took in both Clifton Hill and Lower Clifton Hill.
From Evelina (1778):
"Yes, Ma'am; his Lordship is coming with her. I have had certain information. They are to be at the Honourable Mrs. Beaumont's. She is a relation of my Lord's, and has a very fine house upon Clifton Hill."
You'll have to walk a whole extra thirty feet or so to get to the main entrance to St. John's churchyard. Perhaps this was a handy shortcut from the Bishop's House, though I'm not sure the Bishop of the house had any great connection with the relatively modest church next door.
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...