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The Echo, Approximately 300 Metres South East of Kings Weston House

A Grade I Listed Building in Bristol, Bristol

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Latitude: 51.4925 / 51°29'33"N

Longitude: -2.6578 / 2°39'28"W

OS Eastings: 354429

OS Northings: 177269

OS Grid: ST544772

Mapcode National: GBR JN.K64F

Mapcode Global: VH88D.WR96

Plus Code: 9C3VF8VR+2V

Entry Name: The Echo, Approximately 300 Metres South East of Kings Weston House

Listing Date: 8 January 1959

Last Amended: 26 January 2016

Grade: I

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1202339

English Heritage Legacy ID: 379897

Location: Avonmouth and Lawrence Weston, Bristol, BS11

County: Bristol

Electoral Ward/Division: Avonmouth and Lawrence Weston

Built-Up Area: Bristol

Traditional County: Gloucestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Bristol

Church of England Parish: Lawrence Weston St Peter

Church of England Diocese: Bristol

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An early C18 garden structure by Sir John Vanbrugh.


A garden summerhouse or loggia of c 1722 by Sir John Vanbrugh for Edward Southwell.

MATERIALS: ashlar and rubble limestone, quarried locally in Penpole Woods. The mid-C18 plinth is of Portland stone.

DESCRIPTION: rectangular on plan with three steps which lead through three raised semi-circular ashlar arches with heavy banded rustication, and vermiculated alternate courses. Tall vermiculated keystones rise up to the cornice. There is a parapet with three blind balustrades above, separated by dies with vermiculated panels, and six urns (late C20 copies) with twisted finials on bases with moulded faces. The flank and rear walls are rubble stone, of pale grey colour below arch height and of a pink hue above.

Internally, a central stone plinth is decorated with a chain of foliate swags in the style of a Roman altar. In the rear wall are three evenly-spaced niches that line up with the three arches at the front. On the interior of the façade above the arcade piers, and at the corresponding points on the rear wall, are putlog holes for former roof beams. The two flanking walls were partly reconstructed in the late C20.


The Southwell family purchased the Kings Weston Estate in 1679 and Edward Southwell (1671-1730), Queen Anne’s Secretary of State for Ireland, commissioned Sir John Vanbrugh (1664-1726) to design Kings Weston House (listed Grade I) for him in c 1712. The house was completed in about 1719, and the redesign of the parkland followed. Vanbrugh designed a number of the garden structures in the grounds including The Echo (listed Grade I), an ornamental summerhouse or loggia that terminates the garden’s south-east axis.

An estate survey carried out by W Halett in 1720 shows no indication of The Echo structure, but it was probably built shortly afterwards. The Kings Weston Book of Drawings held in Bristol Record Office includes a proposal dated 1722 by Vanbrugh for a gateway at Kings Weston House to have been sited near the Loggia (Grade I) that is stylistically similar to The Echo, indicating that the structure is Vanbrugh’s work of this approximate date.

The name "Echo" derives from a recorded natural acoustic feature at this location. The garden structure may well have been an attempt to enhance a naturally occurring echo, a subject of interest to Southwell’s father Sir Robert and his friend the diarist and plantsman John Evelyn. The latter recommended the inclusion of such echoes as garden features in his unpublished Elysium Britannicum.

The Echo is shown on an estate plan of 1772 by Isaac Taylor, and by this time its central statue plinth was in place. A statue of "Small Herculaneum Woman" once stood on the plinth, but was damaged during the Second World War when the estate was in use as an army camp. The statue was removed in the 1960s and The Echo lost its roof, sections of side walls and ornamental urns during this period. In the 1990s the walls were repaired and the facade was restored to its original appearance, although the replacement urns were rotated 45 degrees from their original orientation. In recent years stone steps and slabs have been damaged and coping stones in the alcoves removed.

Reasons for Listing

The Echo, Kings Weston Estate, Bristol, which dates from c 1722, by Sir John Vanbrugh, is listed at Grade I for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural Interest: an assured Classical design by the pre-eminent English architect of the early C18;
* Historic Association: as part of the seat of the Southwell family, who played important roles in the political and diplomatic life of this country in the C17 and C18;
* Group Value: as part of the Kings Weston Estate on the outskirts of Bristol, a park and garden of national significance that includes a number of Grade I listed buildings in an important historic group.

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