To Dorothy

"In remembrance of some happy hours spent in walking the hills and dells and country lanes"

My dear,

you will remember the August Bank Holiday of 1936 when I took you with your Dad and Ma and others across Purdown to Stoke Park. There you saw a large lake known as Duchess Pond and the men fishing and the swans. Across the pond on your left you saw the obelisk on the hillside, it was erected to the memory of the second daughter of Charles Duke of Beaufort who was killed on the spot when returning from hunting in 1760. The mansion on the hillock in the distance was for many years the home of the Beaufort family and the present duke's grandfather died there. It is said there are as many windows in the mansion as there are days in the year. From this nice place, we went on until we came to the old village of Frenchay where we all sat down for tea.

After tea, we still walked on until we came to that beautiful walk called Stapleton Glen, yet we still wandered on following the river Frome until we came to Wickham Bridge. Close by is the Glen with the big rock known as black rocks. The legend of how this name originated being as follows:-

  • In the days of old there lived at Wickham Court a beautiful maiden who was betrothed to a knight of a wild and roving disposition. In search of adventures, he travelled far and wide. Being so long absent on one occasion that grave doubt of his fidelity arose in the mind of his lady-love who contracted the habit of walking in her sleep. The objective of these midnight rambles always being a spot just beyond the rocks where she had first plighted her troth to her adventurous admirer. Meantime, the latter, still faithful and having gained distinction abroad was hastening on his way home intending to give his sweetheart a pleasant surprise. It was past midnight when he arrived within sight of Wickham Court and resenting the idea of disturbing its inmates, he decided to rest in the Glen until morning when suddenly there appeared on the rocks a figure in white which he took for a phantom but with a hardihood none too common in that superstitious age he determined to put the matter to the test of touch. His grasp however awoke the fair somnambulist with such a start that she fell headlong from the rock before her lover could realize the situation. The knight who never got over his loss turned hermit and dwelt in a cave in St Vincent's Rocks.
  • That is the story as I have read it.

    Now we come to another Bank Holiday, this time in 1937 and your Dad with Ma felt they would like for me to take you all for another country ramble. As you remember, this walk was much different, instead of downs and fields it was through country lanes.

    No doubt you will remember this walk as it was somewhat different to where you had been before. It was a lovely sunny day and the sight you got of the surrounding green fields and country as you were passing through the little village of Brentry and Henbury on your way to Blaise Castle Woods. We went through the church yard of old Henbury church before entering this beautiful estate which is given to us people of Bristol for ever. There we were able to rest and look around and see the wonderful view had from Blaise Castle House, the home of the Harford family.

    After spending a pleasant hour chatting and resting we continue our walk across the well kept lawn. The flower beds and a pond surrounded by rock plants. To see this alone is well worth a visit, then we enter a part of the woods for a walk through the glade and on our way we passed the small lake where the swans have their home. Here they can nestle in the thickness of the forest. This walk was very nice under the trees in the cool of the afternoon. After a half hour walk along this secluded way with its rippling stream we reached the beautiful Coombe Dingle with its running stream known as the river Trym and well kept gardens. Here we all sat to a nice tea under the nut trees.

    The evening was now coming on so after tea we made our way and it was not long before we reached the glorious Downs which are about 300 feet above the level of the City of Bristol. By strolling along the famous Clifton Promenade between lofty elm and lime trees you come to the ornamental fountain that commemorates the transfer of these Downs to the City in 1861, Clifton Down being 230 acres, Durdham Down 440 acres. These Downs are two miles in extent from corner to corner. On these Downs we sat and rested having come to the end of our lovely walk. Wile resting you my dear asked me to tell the story of Cooks Folly which is near the Sea Walls. Here you have a magnificent panorama with the Bristol Channel nearby the ivy clad tower now incorporated in castellated mansion Cooks Folly as the tower is called is the subject of an oft repeated legend which told briefly is that a gipsy told Cook that his only son would die from an attack of a secret foe before reaching his maturity and that he so allowed this to play on his mind that he built this tower and placed his son in it. And that god punished this unnatural proceeding of excessive care by causing a viper to spring out of a bundle of faggots and sting the youth who died the day previous to his twenty first birthday. That is the story as I have read it. To finish up your day outing we all got in a bus and rode home.

    We went for another pretty walk while we were on our holiday; we started from Eastville and went through what was once a nice field and gardens, now given over to the builders. Across the river on our right is Eastville Park, the most picturesque in Bristol, it is 70 acres in extent. At the top is a bowling green and tennis court also an open air swimming bath. Occupying a secluded position is a large artificial lake which offers good boating.

    We were soon passing the old swimming baths that were once used by the boys of the famous Colston School close by. Passing this place across the river on our right we saw the Black Rocks and the waterfall down below. After crossing Wickham Bridge we followed the path by the winding Frome until we reached Frome Bridge and it's waterfall. This little place is really a Hamlet called Broomhill. Going along the river side place and past a stone quarry we enter the beautiful glen of Stapleton. Here is a large house with gardens where tea's are provided for visitors and the ruins of the old flour mill with its old rusty wheel going round. Near is a large waterfall and a nesting place for the swans. You see a pole sticking up with a Bell on the top and a rope hanging down. The park rangers have trained the swans to pull this rope when it is feeding time. Along this lovely walk are plenty of seats where you can rest and watch the boys catching tiddler and the men fishing. At the end of the walk is another old ruin known as the Old Snuff Mill. Here a narrow bridge crosses the river with the waterfall almost underneath. We rest here and watch the flowing water bubbling over the stones on the river bed. We turned to our left and continue our walk up a shady incline until we come to a lane which led us to the Frenchay road; this we crossed and went up a steep road called stoke lane. At the top is an old stone arch, we passed underneath this and soon the back of Duchess's House, the residence of the late Dowager Duchess of Beaufort - this mansion has been converted into an industrial home for feeble minded girls. We walked along this country bye-road surrounded by fields and farms until we reached Filton Railway Station, here we turned into an avenue which is supposed to be one of the longest in England. This is quite a new neighbourhood with hundreds of newly built houses and with the end of our walk in sight, we were soon sitting down to a tea which was wanted after our long and lovely walk.

    I have now finished my letter story and I hope it will give you a little pleasure while thinking of the happy hours spent in the company of Grand Pap.


    Dorothy was the only daughter of Harry's, second son Arthur.  He married Ellen Spiller in 1917 and Dorothy, their only child, was born in 1920 so she would have been about 16 when she went on these walks with Dad, Ma and Grand Pap.

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