Aug 032018

On Saturday (4th August 2018) there was announcement that the Montague Hotel, Kingsdown, is to be offered for sale by public auction. It is a coincidence that this interesting old place is likely to change hands just about the time its 200th anniversary falls due.

During the first quarter of the 18th century Kingsdown was an unspoiled part of Bristol’s original aspect. A down in fact like Purdown, Kingsweston Down, as we, of the older generation, knew these places in the days of our youth. Being so close to the city it was, for our ancestors, as favourite a resort on Sundays and holidays as our Clifton Downs are now, and the view in those far-back days, must have been singularly interesting church steeples and towers on one side and long stretches of fields and orchards on the other.

The transformation of this scene was brought about in exactly the same way that local estates have been developed within the last year or two. Somebody with a bit of capital and an eye to business came along, offered the owners a price for the estate, became possessed of it and then proceeded to develop it. The man of business in this case was one, Giles Greville, an apothecary of means, who purchased the estate, then known as “The Montagues”, from the four daughters of Henry Dighton, whose name is perpetuated in Dighton Street. The land was laid out for building in February, 1737, and commencement was made with a house of refreshment, which was given the name of the Montague Tavern. At various times in its history it has appeared in print as the Duke of Montague and the Montague’s Head.

This name “Montague”, given to a hill and a street when the estate was developed, has for many years intrigued the writer. It had not been met with in any Bristol records, apart from this land and it could not connected up with the great family of that name. There is, however, note in John Evans’s Chronological Outline which gives clue. Under the date 1320 it is stated: “The day before the ides of July was consecrated the Convent of the Brothers Eremites of St. Augustine, within Temple Gate on the north side, founded by Sir Simon and Sir William Montacute.” A note at the foot of the page explains that this convent was situate on the east side of Bull Hill (now Marlborough Hill) and that the estate was named in right or compliment to the brothers Simon and William Montacute or their family. Famous for Turtle Soup go the name Montacute appears to have been changed to Montague. Probably in founding the order of the Eremites of St Augustine’s the two knights, Simon and William, endowed it with the lands which became The Montagues’ Estate. For two hundred years the old hotel has stood I very little changed on the city end of the Down and it has been the scene of many notable gatherings. The estate did not develop rapidly. Indeed, it was not until December 1760 that a correspondent Felix Farley’s Journal’ lamented that ”the public is like to be deprived of one of the pleasantest promenades the neighbourhood.” Kingsdown, a delightful spot, wrote this citizen, “is already begun to be dug up, and to experience the rude deforming labours of the delving masons.”

During a good part of the 19th century the Montague was one of the most popular hotels the city for public dinners. In looking through the old newspapers, the noted and quoted licensee for the hotel during one period was a lady proprietor (or manageress) so popular that no gathering took place without her health being regarded as one of the important toasts: annually, too, local survivors Waterloo met as veterans of the Great War now, until they had all joined the ”Deathless ‘Army.”

A century ago the landlord had a great reputation for providing turtles. These were brought to our port by the West India traders, kept alive for the voyage and in this way the proprietor of the Montague was able to advertise in the London and Bristol newspapers that fresh turtle was dressed by him every day. Not long ago in our 100 years ago paragraph, an item was quoted stating that she Great Duke Wellington had ordered vast in quantity turtle soup from the proprietor of the Montague for his annual Waterloo banquet in London. Few old houses in Bristol would provide more interesting ghosts than the Montague.

From: Madge Dresser

 Posted by at 7:14 am
May 252018

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 Posted by at 7:30 am
Oct 252017

I receive the following via this website:

“Thanks for this lovely website. I am interested in finding out if 57 Kingsdown Parade was lived in by my several greats grandfather, John Brittan, a very special pottery man who was manager of Champions porcelain company. I do know that his grandson Meshak Brittan, lawyer, lived in Somerset Street. Any idea if there is information or documents of interest in this matter?”

kind regards

Penny Atkinson

Alison at No.57 kindly provided the following information:

“I have checked in the book that came with the Channel 4 series about our house – Number 57, the history of a house (Maxwell Hutchinson). This lists the occupants that they were able to trace. It gives John Britton as living here from 1786 to 1791. I will send you a photo of the entry. It doesn’t give any other information specifically about him, just information about general Georgian life at that time.”

Extracts from the book:

It’s great that the website is providing a point of contact for those researching the diverse and interesting past of our area.

 Posted by at 10:14 am
Aug 262017

I received a fascinating email from Tami Thomas in Lima, Ohio USA. The drawing she attached is marked on the back as “Kingsdown 3 Sept. 1829” and the hand written text reads:

“W Reed gave this drawing to his niece and adopted child Elizabeth Reed daughter of Capt. William Reed of Tenby in the Parish of Pembrokeshire. I Brother to [Mr or M] Wm Reed of Kingsdown St. James’ Parish Bristol My Dear and well beloved wife.
William Reed
witness M Morgan”









The the notes in pencil (written in 1922) at the top seem to be where someone else who obtained this drawing had figured out the ages of the two figures in the drawing. It reads as follows:

” yr mo d
1922 2 26
1829 9 3
92 5 23 old Feb 26/22 per Kynaston Reed-Capt Wm Reed’s great grandson”

Tami is researching her genealogy and acquired this drawing along with a great stash of pictures from the Reed and Kynaston families of Bristol. She was researching Kingsdown when I came across our webpage and also states: “It’s a bit of history that might ring a bell with one of your viewers. I’d love to gain more information about the Kingsdown connection.”

Finally, the image below shows the cover of a tiny booklet.
Book title: A Sermon Preached
Listed inside: William Reed, ESQ member of Diocesan lived on Kingsdown Parade St Kingsdown Bristol

Please either add any comments here or send directly to her at:
Tami Thomas
Lima, Ohio

 Posted by at 11:10 am
Jul 212017
Minutes of a committee meeting of Kingsdown Conservation Group 
held on 10th March 2017 
Members present: Andy King (chair) Helen Phillips, Pauline Allen, Richard Harrad, David Winter, Nick Kidwell, Jeremy Newick (minutes), Joel Baillie-Lane
Also present: Josh Brooman
Apologies: Nigel Tasker [emailed but not received]
The death of Charles Grant on 28th February, a longstanding and greatly valued member of the Group, the committee and the community, was noted, with considerable sorrow and regret.
Lorna and Paul Robinson had decided to stand down from the committee. Members expressed gratitude for and appreciation of their contribution over recent years. Lorna would continue her role as joint membership secretary.
The minutes of the previous meeting were approved.
Matters arising: 
17/00360/F, 6 Kingsdown Parade – JN had lodged a letter of support on behalf of the Group.
Arts and Social Sciences Library, Tyndall Avenue: AK had made initial steps with the aim of persuading the council to add the building to either the register of locally listed buildings or as an Unlisted Building of Merit in the Tyndall’s Park Conservation Area.
The stilt hedge on Montague Green had been cut by council operatives in February.
Agenda items:
Spring Hill: PA had proposed the Group should discuss the possibility of offering £3000 from KCG’s Spring Hill Fund, via Central Clifton and Hotwells Neighbourhood Partnership Environmental Sub-group, to help pay for the postulated replacement of the existing handrail on the steps of Spring Hill, below Dove Street. The steps are currently being repaired. It was possible that Section 106 money (from a nearby development on Dighton Street) may be available, together with additional funds from council allocation.
The virtues of maintaining the existing handrail as it stands were raised. It was felt that a quote of the cost of replacement should be established, before the notion could be discussed further. PA agreed to pursue such a quote.
The imminent closure of The Kingsdown Vaults on Kingsdown Parade: Evidently Cllr Anthony Negus had expressed a commitment to engineer an attempted transformation of the existing pub into a community asset and enterprise. JB-L would pursue Cllr Negus.
The United Bristol Hospital Trust Quarterly Community Meeting should be held shortly. Cllrs Kye Dudd and Paul Smith are reportedly opposed to the demolition of the block of flats on Eugene Street which would be incurred as collateral damage by the building of the proposed multi-storey car park.
NK and JB-L had attended a pre-application presentation of Unite’s scheme to redevelop the land between Lower Maudlin Street, Marlborough Street and Whitson Street. The proposal would most unfortunately demolish Paty’s BRI Old Building and Fripp’s Chapel. JB-L would draft a response.
The University of Bristol’s Consultation on Tyndall Avenue Public Realm: Alastair Gambles, NK, JB-L & JN had attended a meeting on 1st February.
JN had lodged a response on behalf of KCG with the Vice Chancellor, the Bursar and Avril Baker Associates.
UoB’s pre-application to privatise Tyndall Avenue: AK to forward the KCG response to the City Council.
AGM to be held at 7.00 for 7.30-10.00 at the Undercroft of St Matthew’s Church 27th April. Notices and agenda to be posted.
JB-L is to stand down as secretary at the AGM but wishes to remain a committee member.

St Michael’s on the Mount Without: A public meeting is to be held at the Wills Memorial Building at 6.00pm 6th April. All interested parties are welcome to attend. Discussion will include details of the Civic Society’s architectural competition to address the conundrum of the fate of the grade II* listed church, the main body of which was recently gutted by fire.


Next committee meeting: 1st June. Whereabouts to be arranged.

 Posted by at 7:04 pm
Dec 112013

If you missed the recent exhibition of Angus McBean portrait photographs at Royal Fort House you can see them at the Theatre Collection, 21 Park Row, Bristol BS1 5LY until February. The entrance is opposite the Red Lodge, ring the marked bell to be let in. Mon 12-4pm, Tues-Fri 10am-4pm.

Closed for staff Christmas lunch Wed 18 Dec from 12 midday.
Christmas closure Mon 23 Dec, reopening Mon 6 Jan 2014.

Silver Tickets talk

There will also be a chance to see the Angus McBean photographs, and another fascinating exhibition, The Secret Life of Objects, at this EVENING EVENT:

Monday 16 December, University of Bristol Theatre Collection
“Getting in for Free: The Silver Tickets of the Proprietors of the Bristol Theatre, 1766-1925” a talk by Peter Leppard.
Delicious refreshments!
All welcome but RSVP necessary: email or tel 0117 33 15086
Entry is free, but a £5 donation would be appreciated.
Doors open 6.00pm for 6.30pm start. Theatre Collection, public entrance at 21 Park Row.

The Secret Life of Objects

An exhibition exploring some of the hidden histories of the Theatre Collection’s most interesting items.

 Posted by at 10:04 pm