Kington House 1950

Thornbury, England

Brief Description

Kington House is a garden on a 17th century site with elaborate topiary in yew, English and European box.

History

The original part of Kington House dates from 1665.

Detailed Description

The property has walled gardens. The front garden lawn is raised to the height of the front garden wall. There are seven topiarised yews at the front of the house depicting a bridal party. At the rear of the house is a topiarised yew depicting a Celtic cross.

There used to be a mulberry tree in the front garden. Now there is a weeping ash which was probably a 19th century planting. There is a stone drinking trough for animals and steddle stones, probably both dating from the late 17th century. The front garden is a surprisingly elaborately planted formal garden for a modest small country house.

In the rear garden there are further steddle stones, a stone-roofed rustic dove-cote and the base of a mid-17th century cider press. There are some outbuildings which are used for keeping guinea fowl, silkie silver bantams and peacock. The garden walls have finials.

The gardens of Kington House are exceptionally well-maintained. The owners have conscientiously preserved and conserved the original planting and garden design. Their grandchildren continue the tradition of keeping the narrative topiary work in trim. The mantilla of the bridal guest and the head of the bride have, however, been lopped as they shaded the house too much. The topiary work had been taller than the house itself. The rural character of the rear garden has been retained.

Features
  • Topiary
  • Description: There is an outstanding example of topiary work portraying the narrative story of a bridal party. This is in yew and two species of box (European box as well as the rarer species of native box).One topiarised yew depicts a kneeling bride with a long trailing bridal dress. There is a small arched hollow nook below the bride containing a stone seat. This was the original entrance way into the garden, and there are also signs of old gateway pillars. Another yew depicts the groom. The bridesmaid carries a muff. One of the guests used to wear a mantilla with laced veil. A coach and driver is also represented in yew and box topiary. The yew and box used in the topiary is 17th century planting. However, they were probably not topiarised until the 19th century. It is probable that the bridal party theme was chosen for a wedding within the Thurston family. There are records of elaborate weddings with deeds relating to dowries and wedding settlements of land and monetary sums.
  • House (featured building)
  • Description: The original part of Kington House dates back to 1665.
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  • Planter
  • Description: There is a dated 17th century base of a cider press, now used for growing plants. There is another complete cider press at the nearby St. Arylds House. This was a fertile area for apple growing in orchards and a large quantity of cider was produced by the 17th century yeoman farmers.
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  • Dovecote
  • Description: There is a rustic, simplistic stone-roofed dovecote built onto the garden wall. It appears to be an historic feature, but apparently has been built quite recently. If this is the case it has been designed on traditional rustic lines.
  • Finial
  • Description: There are several stone finials which probably date from the 17th century. Some of the finials which are sea-worn and rounded are reputed to have been found in the River Severn.
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  • Garden Ornament
  • Description: There are steddle stones dating to the late 17th century. These would previously have been used for drying grain upon but are now garden ornaments.
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History

Detailed History

The Staley family have lived in Kington Road and nearby vicinity for many generations. The original part of Kington House dates back to 1665. In the 17th century part of the house is a fireplace with this date upon it and the initials of a previous occupier, Daniel Thurston. The fireplace has a bread oven and a spit powered by a ‘dog running in a wooden wheel' principle. The beams in the house are made from the old timbers of ships from the River Severn.

Other members of the Staley family live in the early Victorian addition to Kington House, and further members of the family live nearby in Kington Road.

A Reverend William Brant was residing at Kington House in 1830. Since the 17th century the house has mainly been occupied by the Thurston family, country yeomen producing ciders and cheeses. In 1738, John Thurston was reeve of the manor of Thornbury. The Thurstons were actively engaged in local matters for many years. Ursula Thurston was responsible for making sure that the family records of their history were made accessible to the public.

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