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Clevedon Pier
Almost twenty members enjoyed a walk along the front
and into some of the lesser-known streets in Clevedon
with local historian Jane Lilly. Our guide explained the
origins of the town and the ownership of the main
buildings, starting with what is now the Salthouse and
moving north to The Beach and ending near the pier.
Clevedon was a farming community with most land
belonging to the Elton family of Clevedon Court and it
grew only slowly until the fashion for sea-bathing started
in the early 1800s. Strips of land were sold for building
and the development along what is now the seafront did not
start until the 1820s. The town grew rapidly in Victorian times and we saw along Copse Road,
parallel to The Beach, the different styles of various builders. We learned the history of the
Marine Lake, features such as the Bandstand and the Drinking Fountain and the precautions
built-in to prevent flooding of sea-front properties.
Our group in Berkeley Square
Society treasurer, Keith Norton, led members on a tour of part of the central area of Bristol, to
discover the history of some of the buildings that we pass so often but rarely notice. Starting
from The Centre, we crossed to Zed Alley and Host Street, past the hidden remains of the
original Bristol Grammar School to Christmas Steps.
At the top of these we saw the Chapel of the Three
Kings of Cologne. One of the windows shows a nativity
scene, which may be the reason the steps are so named.
Next to these are the Foster's Almshouses. We then
made our way to Park Row, by the Red Lodge Museum.
Opposite this is Bristol’s Victorian synagogue, opened
in 1871, and next door the site of Bristol’s Industrial
School for Boys, established by Mary Carpenter in
1859, and the subject of one of the Society’s talks last
In Berkeley Square we saw what remains of a 19th
century replica of the Bristol High Cross, which was moved in 1768 to Stourhead Gardens,
where it remains to-day. We then moved to Brandon Hill Park. The Hill was given to the
council in 1174 by the Earl of Gloucester, and used for grazing until 1625 when it became a
public open space; it has a claim to being the oldest public open space in the country. The Hill
has fine views over the Docks and thousands stood there to watch the launch of the SS Great
Britain in 1843.
Our final stop was outside the Georgian House on Great George Street. This house, built
around 1790 for a wealthy merchant, is now a museum and can be visited during the summer
and at weekends.
Badminton House, north frontage
This was an opportunity to visit one of the great houses
of England that it not normally accessible to the public.
With a most knowledgeable guide, we visited many of
the grand rooms of the house, built in the 17th century
but extended later. It is the home of the Dukes of
Beaufort and contains many fine artworks including
paintings of the house by Canaletto. The first room we
saw was the hall, where the game of badminton was first
devised and played in 1863. The group also saw the
south gardens and a most enjoyable visit was rounded
off with afternoon tea.
Society members visited Mottisfont in Hampshire to
discover a most interesting National Trust property
that started life as a priory and went through several
major re-buildings, so that the only signs of the
original structure are visible in the cellars and a few
cut-outs in more recent walls. The house has belonged
to several families but the final owners, Maud and
Gilbert Russell who arrived in 1934, gave us the
building we have today. They made Mottisfont the
centre of a fashionable artistic and political circle and
under Maud's guidance, rooms were reconfigured and redecorated, creating a neo-classical,
luxurious look with some unique features. As well as the house, the rose gardens were well
worth seeing and a stop at Marlborough for tea on the way back made for an enjoyable day.
Above left - View from the Crane by M-shed, Bristol Docks.
Above right - A demonstration of crane-driving by Alan Salter
Above left - The Pyronaut demonstrates its fire-fighting jets in Cumberland Basin.
Above right - Society members on the Pyronaut at Bristol  Docks
On one of the few hot days of the summer the destination was Bristol docks, where Society member and M-Shed volunteer Alan Salter had arranged a range of experiences for those with a head for heights and liking for boat rides.    The group were lifted to the cab of one of the dockside cranes where Alan demonstrated his crane-driving skills, had a cruise down to the Cumberland Basin on  the old fire-boat Pyronaut, which showed the range of its jets for us and finally were given a fascinating tour of the storage areas of the M-Shed museum. This holds a vast stock of artefacts large and small relating to domestic and industrial life in Bristol over the last 200 years.
Watchet Harbour
A varied day started with a call at Watchet for a coffee and a stroll round the harbour. The
town’s small museum was open and gave those interested a good summary of the history of the
port and the industries that depended on it, although
the working harbour has now been largely replaced by a
marina for pleasure craft.
Our party then travelled the few miles to Cleeve Abbey,
near Washford, where we had a guided tour of the
remains of the Cistercian Abbey.
We then moved on to Dunster, with its distinctive yarn
market, where members visited the Castle or explored
the old streets and interesting buildings such as the
Above Left - Our guide shows the tiled floor of the refectory at Cleeve Abbey.

Above Right - Cleeve Abbey, looking across the cloister to the later refectory building.

Left - The Yarn Market, Dunster