Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Dower House - The yellow house on the hill by the M32

Yesterday I was on my way home and got distracted. So here is something on that big mysterious yellow house on the hill, that you see on your left as you head out of Bristol on the M32. This should be a familiar sight to you guys on the National Express or whatever (assuming you don't drive).

It's called Dower House and was built in 1553 by Sir Richard Berkeley and was previously used as a hospital and mental institution. It has been converted into some flats, which is it's current use. It's been featured on BBC Bristol's alternative landmarks.

Getting to Dower House is fairly straightforward. It's located off Coldharbour Lane, the same road that serves UWE. A little bit further down (in the Frenchay direction) there is an area with new-build houses: the Stoke Park development, and it's amongst these that Dower House is hidden in. Impressively, the square that Dower House sits on is surrounded by new, but old-style (Georgian?) houses, which look rather nice. The clocktower in the foreground bears two plaques - one for Harold Nelson Burden, a priest, and one for Rosa Gladys Burden, his second wife. Together, they gave their estate (what is now the Stoke Park development and Stoke Park itself, I assume) and for his work on mental disorders (is that P.C.? my english isn't the best).

We'll take a walk, having parked Duke in the square. From Jellicoe Way (in the Stoke Park development), there is a path, which eventually takes you down next to the M32 and there are bridges and underpasses to get to the other side. Even further down, is the Pur Down BT Tower, which sits next to Lockleaze and also the Priory Hospital. This path is a rather nice path (although satellite images seems to show that it eventually runs out and turns into a muddy track - I did not walk that far.) and is frequented by walkers, cyclists and dog-walkers.

So I've walked down the path, and I'm now in Stoke Park (technically in Bristol City limits now), a little off the path. Unlike on the M32, you can really appreciate the landscape and the gentle rolling hills that is Stoke Park. With as much time as I'd like, I could appreciate Dower House's position, which feels like it's an impenetrable fortress.

A little bit further down, and I notice a monument on an adjacent hill. This is known as the obelisk in Stoke Park. (I don't know if it has a name) Some people seem to think it's a good idea to ride their motocross (off-road motorbike) around on Stoke Park and to vandalise, litter and start fires here unfortunately. And some people seem to think that vandalising this monument was also a good idea. It's seen better days unfortunately.

The view from the hill that the Obelisk sits on, was amazing, on the other hand!

Anyways, time to head back - one last picture... of it's awesomeness.

Have a good week folks, speak later. =)


mAdi*cakes said...

Wow! This is beautiful! I love the colour! :] Thanks so much for the comment on my blog! I soo appreciate it. I will be following your blog, as I LOVE stuff like this, and have looooonged to be in Europe but only have heard stories from my dad-who preaches there every so often.Very cool blog!! Have agreat Sunday!

Tessa-chan said...

Hi Madi,
Thanks for following =) I'm busy at University but thankfully I still have time to have a poke around especially this month (so more up soon!). Yes yes, you should come visit, Europe is a lovely place, all of it, been to a quite a few other countries here myself and it varies so much across a continent (much like the US too, I imagine!) and the architecture in continental Europe is lovely too. Have a great day! =) Dan.

Anonymous said...

So amazing because I saw this house for the first time last saturday and was trying to find out about it online - to no avail until today I turned the TV on and one of the flat owners was being convicted of grabbing a helicopter and voila! There was the house. From there I could identify it which led me to your informative blog. Such a great house, perfect position for it! Thanks for the info. x

Geoffers said...

Hello.... Some history I have dug up. The Monument I have read was commissioned by Henry Somerset 5th Duke of Beaufort. He owned the land and the house itself. I have also read that the Monument was built in 1762 to commemorate the death of either his Sister or Niece (Not sure which) who died tragically in a horse riding accident or as some suggest she may have been struck by lightening !! The saying goes her ghost has also been seen in the area !! Fascinating stuff and a wonderful area !! Cheers Geoff

Sarah M said...

Thank You for the blog about the mansion. I used to live in Yate and had regularly gone past there on the M32 and always wondered about it. I knew it used to house patients with mental illness. Iv always wondered how to get there, thank you for explaining, that helps me fulfil one of my 'bucket list' items!

Sarah :)

Elizabeth said...

My great grandfather died in or near this wonderful yellow house in the late 1800s. He had the end stages of syphyllis and was confined there until he died-
While visiting Bristol in 2008, I used great grandfather's death certificate and found that amazing building with the place of death listed the certificate. Later, I contacted the person in charge of the Bristol Lunatic Asylum museum (also on or near this site), and he told me that Cornwall used this building during the war. Also, it was used as a hospital during the war- or at least one of the other buildings on the property was.
I would love to know more.

James Ellis said...

Hey there! Was just passing this eerie building on M32 and my search led me here. I do have a bit of info on the Stoke Park obelisk though. It was placed in memory of Elizabeth Somerset, Duchess of Beaufort.

It's engraved with Latin: "Elizabetha Somerset Caroliducis Beaufort Filia Secunda Hic Obiit VII Mai MDCCLX Restitutum Anno MMIV". This translates as "Elizabeth Somerset, second daughter of Charles Duke of Beaufort, died here 7 May 1760. Restored in the year 2004".

What happened to the top of the obelisk I am not sure. Hope this helps!

Anonymous said...

Hi- I worked there from 1977 onwards and worked again after it had closed down. It was very sad to see the busy place that I had known crumbling and semi-derelict. It is however, a really beautiful sight,especially at dawn.

Karen Dunstan said...

Hi, I have just spent the last hour and a half trying to find this building on line! I drove past it on my way home and it caught my eye - it was gorgeous and I just had to find out more about it. I just wanted to say thank you for writing this blog -it's such a beautiful building.

Sarah said...

We drove past this today as we stopped into Bristol for a brief visit. Thank you for all the wonderful information shared and everyone else's comments on the history. We will definitely put it on our list of places to visit!