More Vanbrugh please

Following my new obsession with the great Vanbrugh, I went down to Bristol this week to see Kings Weston House. It was a trip first discussed about 2 years ago but pushed down the list by other things.

It is a rather amazing house, rather hemmed in by urban sprawl, but still stately, built for Robert Southwell, a cultivated MP, who later became Lord De Clifford.

A heroic couple, John and Anne Hardy, have the lease on it and run it as a successful wedding venue, and without whom it would have probably been divided into flats (it had been empty for years before they took it on, and had been a police college before that). We have a good tour round and explore the gardens, there are two temples by Vanbrugh, one converted into a residence by the Hardys, then sandwiches in the Kneller Room (Kneller painted Southwell’s wife, nee Lady Elizabeth Cromwell).

Also manage a walk around nearby Blaise Hamlet, Nash’s charming model village of thatched and picturesque cottages, which Country Life must revisit for an article. They are curiously dream-like and silent, but no doubt when they were designed the landowner imagined his tenants sitting quaintly on benches and the like, chatting to passers-by.