Unknown c19th landscape artist busted by c21st Matt Prosser

So here’s a thing. Matt Prosser saw the picture below and went to repeat the same view with a contempory photograph. But guess what: there is no vantage point that offers that view. Matt writes:

Your last blog of the early 19th Century view of Bath and the Clump got me thinking so I went along to Prior Park with my son to see if we could find the vantage point.

I’m pretty convinced that the unknown painter set his easel in the grounds of Prior Park, which was laid out in the mid 18th Century.

However, it would appear that he used some artistic license to ‘squeeze’ the clump into his view of Bath as my ‘photographic evidence’ shows.

The perspective of the Abbey, the position of Pultney Bridge and the heights of Lansdown in my photo all correspond well with the painting but the Clump is way off to the left.

I surmise that the clump was too good a feature to leave out of the painting so suitable adjustments were made

And here’s his evidence. Thanks Matt!

20150821-IMG_9283-Pano-1Prior Park Viewpoint (small)

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View of Bath (artist unknown, c 1820) from Jane Austen exhibition

IMG_20150816_150550(rather poor photo by me, with permission. Where’s Matt Prosser when you need him??)

This view of Bath skyline form the south west shows the clump was already prominent in 1820. The print appears in the current Jane Austen exhibition at Victoria Art Gallery. The text the curators chose to acccompany it it from Northanger Abbey:

‘”For six weeks I allow Bath is pleasant enough, but beyond that it is the most tiresome place in the world.”

You would be told so by people of all descriptions, who come regularly every winter, lengthen their six weeks into ten or twelve, and go away at last because they can afford to stay no longer.’

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Picnic and ceilidh at the old barn

20150801-IMG_8322-1 Kelston Picnic


Photo: Matt Prosser

We’ve been working on the old barn for a year to make it secure, give it a floor, loos showers and a food prep space. The idea is you can open up the space for workshop, bunkhouse type use, then close it up again and it’s a shuttered rural barn. We’d like to see it used for schools, NGOs, appropriate small businesses, family and friends.

Today we had a picnic and barn dance in the refurbished space, then watched the sun go down with friends from Bath, Germany and Australia.  We had new ideas for what needs doing and what to use it for; if you’ve got more ideas or needs get in touch.

Next steps: returning to rural feeling after the disruption of the works; sorting out energy so it works off grid with little or no use of the diesel generator.


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Moonrise over Kelston timelapse

Matt Prosser did this fab moonrise timelapse: lovely set to music.


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Plantlife spotter’s sheets for summer

July_spotters_sheet_2015These are handy, from Plantlife. That said, there’s a great deal more than this going on in the Roundhill field.




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Moonshot – it’s another cracker from Matt

20150702-IMG_4496-1 Kelston MoonshotMatt seems not entirely happy with this. He writes:

I had another go at getting a full moon behind the clump yesterday but it turned out to be a bit of deja-vue. My calculations were once again off the mark and I ended up with a near replica of last year’s photo. I will investigate my margins of error and hopefully get it right next time.

Looks brilliant to me. Matt is going pro btw – check out his photography web site.

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There’s gold in that there hill….

Today sees ecstatic news by a smalltime prospector about a supposedly “strategic” amount of oil under Gatwick. So what’s the score in Kelston? Thanks to the UK Infrastructure Act (2015), there’s a legal duty to maximise the economic recovery of UK petroleum. That definition of petroleum extends coal-based methane (CBM).

Nearby Chew Valley has a pretty well-organised anti-fracking group Frack Free Chew Valley, with advice and resources and a process for declaring your land “frack free”.

The group has obtained the 2000 petroleum exploration and development licence relinquishment report of GeoMet, a USian CBM extractor which seems to have asset-stripped itelf in 2014. It cheerfully suggests the potential for 300 CBM extraction wells in Somerset including six in the parish of Kelston.

The licence is now held by gas merchants UK Methane. They applied in 2012 for an exploratory well licence in Keynsham but the plans were put on hold in 2013 after 600 people objected.

Don Foster MP had spoken of a fracking exemption for Bath with its world heritage status and hot springs. And there’s a higher level of protection for designated AONBs.

Let us state clearly we have a problem with CBM under Keslton Roundhill. There’s the NIMBY issue that more roads, trucks, extraction mines, gas pipelines and pollution are entirely at odds with the spirit and purpose of this exceptional location. And there’s the big evolutionary or existential issue: if we dig out and burn all our fossil fuels, suggests Prof Michael Greenstone in the New York Times, the world will get over 16 degrees warmer.

That surely means mass species extinctions, including you and us, compliant politicians and all the directors and shareholders of these benighted and misguided energy companies.

Not cool; not cool at all. Leave it in the ground. Continue reading

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