After the storms…


Surveying the outlook south and west (photo: Ziggy Heath)

After the gales and rainwater flooding down the tracks earlier this week the outlook is sunny for the weekend. The barn didn’t flood; the new ditch passed its first test. Just as well, as there’s a private event celebrating birthdays, hockey champions, first seasons of drama and of Kelston Records, and dancing in defiance of sinister politics, the onset of winter and the fact Bath is jam packed with the Christmas market.

  • If you want to arrange a catered event in the Old Barn contact Michael at Wild Fork West who’ll give excellent all-round event service. It’s also possible to rent the barn direct form us (but we’re not event organisers and can’t for example guarantee to be available on the day).
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Discovering Kelston Roundhill, described in the 1950s



Here’s the 1954 book Come out with me, Lewis Wilshire’s 1954 attempt to get townies out into the countryside. Clive Pratt wrote about this below; here’s pp3–31 with the reference he asked about:


It’s a delightful description of walking up the Roundhill. He appreciates the view, and writes about wildflowers that I’m not certain we see today.

The one bit we take issue with is where he says “it was here on Kelston Round-hill that Sir John Harington built a castle” etc. The castle (or rather, manor-house) was at the foot of the Roundhill, in the village of Kelston where you can still see its outline today.

Anyway thanks Clive for the enquiry and for sending in the scans.

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Dreamy supermoon over Kelston Roundhill – Nov 2016


Photo by Matt Prosser 

Matt writes

Knowing that tonight’s supermoon would be a no show I went out yesterday and caught a glimpse of it. Once again I miscalculated my position but the effect is rather nice nonetheless.


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Bathscape and other UK landscapes in line for new HLF award

News today from the Heritage Lottery Foundation:

Text – The landscapes bordering four of the UK’s biggest cities will be repaired, protected and opened up to people living in urban areas. People living in Sheffield, Glasgow, London and Bath will have the opportunity to reconnect with the nature and cultural heritage of the often-neglected surrounding countryside thanks to a £25million funding package. A further eight areas to receive funding include some of the most remote places in the UK, including Snowdonia and the North York Moors National Parks / ends

This is promising news. The cash is a fantastic reward for the hard work put into this project by B&NES’ its partners. They’ve worked together as a “Bathscape” team led by Sarah Jackson.

It’s pleasing the HLF has picked the Bath landscape to illustrate its story (though odd to see Bath listed as one of the UK’s “largest cities”. Perhaps they meant Bristol) . And it’s nice to see Kelston Roundhill clear in the background of the photo.

The announcement does beg questions. Some people are dubious about the ethics of the Lottery – calling it a “tax on stupidity” – can ask whether good things can come from such money. Multi-disciplinary partnerships are often hard. There are clear risks of municipalistion when bureaucratic institutions fund projects in “unspoilt” rural landscapes. Remote places are sought after because they are just that. Bringing in vast numbers of urban dwellers to enjoy the remoteness defeats the point.

But the Bathscape team is broadly constituted, capable, well-advised and seems alert to these and other risks.

It’s a two-stage funding process, with a scoping study first before the main bulk of resources are released. We really look forward to seeing how the project evolves, and we’re standing by to chip in ideas.

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Did “Jacques” Harington build a castle on the hill?

This is a bit of a mystery. Clive writes:
I am reading a book written by Lewis Wilshire he writes about his walks in the countryside around Bath and Bristol, and he includes Kelston Round Hill. He states in the book as follows…It was here, on Kelston Round Hill that Sir John Harington built a castle, it was completed in 1591 in time for him to entertain the queen, on her royal tour of the west country. [the Queen being his godmother Elizabeth 1st]
I have tried to find out more about this castle as he speaks as if it was actually on the clump, so I am hoping your records will enlighten me.
I live at Hill Head near Portsmouth now but for 18yrs of my life i lived in a bungalow at the top of Saltford hill, with a wonderful view of Kelston and the clump.
From time to time my friends and i would run from our homes up to the hill and back so it holds a lot of memories for me.
Now i am trying to piece together its history.
Hope you can give me a little more info
“Jacques”, the inventor of the flushing toilet, built a castle on the Clump? And Queen Elizabeth I stayed up there?? Is it possible??? Thanks Clive!
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You walked the hill. You tasted the view. Now you can buy the music

Lots going on at Kelston Records…


Park Farm use the slogan “Taste the view” to promote their award-winning cheese. Now you can listen to it too: download the live album from Google, Amazon or Apple iTunes.

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Inward green (for Ivor Gurney)

by Jon Hamp

That copse I know from the ridge to the north
A last late Cotswold fold
That gentle valley,
The laughing stream,
That fence of twisted gold.

Still, I know a landscape torn apart
Strewn with blood and hurt.
I know a thousand words
For pain
Yet dirt is always dirt.

The bees may hum,
The  berries ripe,
All worldly grief at stay.
But wire sharp in sinew taut
from Somme to Cotswold way.

There’s background on the Cotswold poet and composer Ivor Gurney here. For a samples of his music see eg A Gloucestershire Rhapsody, Severn Meadows and more. Much of his work remains unrecorded.

Meanwhile Kelston Records‘ first CD, Thee Cane Whale live at the Old Barn, launches 3 Oct 2016 at the Green Note club in Camden, includes two tracks inspired by Ivor Gurney. It also features Jon Hamp’s first Kelston trilogy.

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