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Viewing Terrace at Kings Weston Estate

A Grade II Listed Building in Bristol, City of Bristol

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Latitude: 51.4921 / 51°29'31"N

Longitude: -2.6582 / 2°39'29"W

OS Eastings: 354398

OS Northings: 177224

OS Grid: ST543772

Mapcode National: GBR JN.K618

Mapcode Global: VH88D.WR2J

Entry Name: Viewing Terrace at Kings Weston Estate

Listing Date: 18 December 2015

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1429115

Location: Bristol, BS11

County: City of Bristol

Electoral Ward/Division: Avonmouth and Lawrence Weston

Parish: Non Civil Parish

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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A viewing terrace of c.1732, part of King Weston Estate, overlooking Shirehampton Park, the Avon Gorge and surrounding countryside. Its wall was raised in the later C18.


A walled garden terrace and promenade of c.1732, with parapet wall of late-C18 date, and some later repairs.

MATERIALS: an earthen terrace laid on bedrock with a local rubble stone retaining wall and parapet wall with some red brick repair and a few remaining was black cast slag blocks as coping.

DESCRIPTION: the viewing terrace and wall stretches circa 120m on an east-west axis, with the line of the former top of the retaining wall visible along its length, below the random rubble late-C18 parapet wall. The height of the retaining wall drops from east to west and the western end was formerly ramped down. At the east end the parapet wall adjoins the wall of a late C19 footbridge (listed Grade II), and there is a section of collapsed/ removed wall either side of stone steps leading up into the Kings Weston Estate. Towards the central section are large sections of wall that have been repaired in red brick and further west some of the black slag coping stones remain in situ. The west end of the wall has partially collapsed and is truncated and partly rebuilt to form a jamb incorporating a slag block. The promenade on the north side of the wall is covered in undergrowth with an earthen footpath to its north.


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. Vanbrugh designed a number of the garden structures in the grounds including The Echo (listed Grade I), a roofless summerhouse that terminates the garden’s south-east axis. A number of viewing terraces and mounds were established to enjoy the views north across the River Severn to Wales and south across the River Avon gorge and to Bristol. Among these, to the south of The Echo, a terrace was created in c.1732 although it was probably first planned in 1720 and designs are included in the Kings Weston Book of Drawings held in Bristol Record office. The works to remove a large section of the top of the hill appear to have been in underway in 1732 when they were reported in the Caledonian Mercury.

The terrace is first shown on an estate plan of 1772 by Isaac Taylor where a "Terras" is marked with a promenade and foot paths connecting with the rest of the gardens. The parapet wall was probably constructed around this time, and helped form the division between the private estate and the newly created, public parkland to the south. On a visit in 1785 the statesman Malsherebes described his walk through the gardens and the view from the terrace.

The stone steps towards the east end, leading to a path to The Echo, are of uncertain date. Later works to the estate have left this terrace as the last viewing feature to survive in close to its original form and function. The terrace and wall have been neglected through the C20 and some sections of the wall have collapsed and the west end has been truncated. In the C21 efforts continue to restore the structure.

Reasons for Listing

The viewing terrace and wall at Kings Weston, Bristol, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Design interest: as an early example of the large-scale reconfiguration of a natural hilltop to provide desired views as part of a wider designed landscape (registered at Grade II);
* Historical interest: as part of the Kings Weston Estate, the C17 to C19 seat of the prominent Southwell family, centred on Kings Weston House (Grade I) rebuilt by Sir John Vanbrugh c.1715;
* Intactness: the early-C18 viewing terrace and retaining wall are intact. The later C18, heightened section of wall has piecemeal repairs and some parts have collapsed. Some of the slag block coping stones, once commonly used in the Bristol area as building materials, are still in place;
* Group value: as part of an important group of historic buildings at Kings Weston, located next to The Echo (Grade I) a garden summerhouse by Vanbrugh. The viewing terrace also retains its extensive views across the Avon Gorge and surrounding countryside.

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