Abbots Leigh, Ham Green, Pill and Easton-in-Gordano Neighbourhood Plan consultation on submitted Neighbourhood Plan

Abbots Leigh, Ham Green, Pill and Easton-in-Gordano Neighbourhood Plan

8 Heritage

Primary Objective
Respect, preserve and protect the history and heritage of the built environment.

8.1 History
The Area has a known Paleolithic pre-history and Roman and Anglo-Saxon roots, with a mention of Portberie (Portbury) and Lega (Leigh) in the Domesday Book. Through the Middle Ages much of the area passed in turn from the Crown through a succession of religious and secular baronial and manorial ownerships (Fitzharding, Berkeley, Norton, Trenchard, Miles) until the diverse pattern of current land and property ownership was established in the early twentieth century.

In terms of economic activity, the River Avon has been a focal point dating from the export of the renowned Ham Green pottery of the 12th century (hence Crockerne Pill). From the sixteenth century Pill has been a bustling community harbour, and latterly marina, providing a host of waterborne work associated with the development of maritime Bristol. This included boat building and repair, a busy quay, hobblers and pilots (as well as pirates). Much of this activity was generated by the loading and discharging functions of shipping held at the ‘Hung Road’. Further upstream, the dock at Paradise Bottom supported the transport of celestine mined on the Leigh Court Estate. Today the Royal Portbury Dock provides the setting for a modernised maritime function on the Avon/Severn estuaries.

Away from the river, the land has historically been woodland together with agricultural crop or pasture land. Abbots Leigh was once devoted to the production of supplies for St Augustine’s Abbey in Bristol, and across the area (outside Pill) there remain a few longstanding farms.

The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries saw the building of larger houses – for example the Manor House, Leigh Lodge, Abbots Leigh House and The Chantry in Abbots Leigh and Ham Green House in Ham Green. The construction of the Portishead Railway and the Clifton Suspension Bridge in the1860s opened up the area to the wealth and ambitions of Bristol professionals. Further growth occurred across the area in the first half of the twentieth century but National Trust and Forestry Commission land ownership in Leigh Woods constrained the spread of Bristol, and extensive suburban development has largely been held in check since the 1950s by the designation of the Green Belt.

A considerable legacy remains from this heritage. The Neighbourhood Plan Area contains twenty-eight Listed Buildings, one registered historic park/garden, seven unregistered historic gardens and three SSSIs (Sites of Special Scientific Interest).(35) There are other unlisted historic areas (e.g. Church Road in Abbots Leigh and the old harbour area in Pill) which need protection from inappropriate development. The significance of these historic buildings, monuments and gardens is often unknown or misunderstood, both locally and by visitors. Each of the four settlements of the Neighbourhood Area – Abbots Leigh, Ham Green, Pill & Easton-in-Gordano – contributes to a shared community heritage which it is important to retain, but each settlement has its own particular history.

It is important to remember, however, that much of this heritage stems from the wealth created by historic landowners – amongst them Henry Bright of Ham Green and Philip John Miles of Leigh Court. Much of their wealth was built on the slave trade. The buildings they left can be appreciated for their architectural merit but how their wealth was created cannot be ignored or forgotten.

(35) A full list of historic/listed buildings is given in Background Paper 4 which also contains an Initial historical Heritage Statement

8.2 There is a long history to Abbots Leigh – Following the abolition of the monasteries Sir George Norton took possession of the Manor of Abbots Leigh and in 1580 built a new mansion. The Norton family and later the Trenchards held the property until 1811 when the estate was sold to Philip John Miles who built Leigh Court. The Miles family were forced to sell the Estate in 1915 and it was then broken up into separate holdings. From The George Inn along Church Road to Holy Trinity Church lie a succession of historic buildings, several listed.

8.3 Ham Green lies between Abbots Leigh and Pill. It has a long history dating from the Saxon period. For almost two hundred years from 1100 Ham Green pottery was produced and widely exported across England and Europe. The two decades 1710-1730, however, saw construction of the Queen Anne wing of Ham Green House, the gardens of Ham Green House and the Gazebo and Watergate (now all listed). The ‘pleasure gardens’ of the nineteenth century Ham Green Estate constructed by Henry Bright remain formally an unregistered park/garden. Much of the land, including Ham Green Lake, the field within which the Chapel Pill lane development is proposed and parts of Eden Business Park, was sold off in 1961 by the National Health Service. Orchard View is not part of the unregistered park/garden but does lie within the wider setting of the former Ham Green House.

A full planning application for the Chapel Pill Lane development will provide a Heritage Statement setting out the history of the former Bright Estate at Ham Green House (now Penny Brohn) and its heritage significance. An Annex to background paper 4 provides an initial history/heritage statement.

8.4 Pill The original name Crockerne Pill means literally ‘pottery wharf’ and arose from the industrial-scale pottery nearby (see above). Little of the port settlement remains (although the stretch of land at the Avon is known as Waterloo Wharf). There are only two listed buildings in Pill.

8.5 Easton-in-Gordano There are a number of listed buildings in the immediate area and a group of roads in Easton-in-Gordano – Rectory Road, Priory Road, Old Priory Road, together with a cluster of listed buildings – seem to echo a settlement associated with the historic St George’s Church. These buildings echo the historic connection between Easton-in-Gordano and Portbury Priory and probably lay on the route from Portbury to the Pill ferry.

8.6 In addition to listed buildings and gardens there are some special areas which need safeguarding against inappropriate development. Church Road in Abbots Leigh has some listed buildings but also a number of historic cottages dating from the 1830s. The older parts of Pill on and above Victoria Park and the Creek, do not have any formal listed status other than Mulberry House and the Watchhouse. Nevertheless, interesting older buildings remain as does much of the traditional layout of the harbour area. The lanes that drop down - Back Lane, Port View, Friendly Row, Star Lane – bring a reminder of the era of a busy and prosperous village of the nineteenth century. There are farms (e.g. Happerton Farm) where the traditional main farmhouse remains even if there have been conversions of outbuildings and barns.

In addition to listed buildings there are three Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) at the Avon Gorge, at Ham Green and along the banks of the River Avon and the Severn Estuary. It is important, also to recognize the contribution of streetscapes. Streets have character and qualities whether listed or not – Edwardian or 20th century housing make their contribution.

Local recognition of the importance of heritage lies with the Crockerne Pill & District History Society and the Abbots Leigh Heritage Group both recording much local material. The importance of history and heritage is fully recognised (36) and, whilst there have been modifications and extensions to many grade II listed buildings in the area, there has also been strong commitment to protection with the majority of listed buildings well shielded from negative change. The Neighbourhood Plan restates this commitment and the new developments proposed in the Plan (see Chapter 5) do not negatively affect the setting of any listed buildings. Proposals for a Conservation Area in Abbots Leigh are to be examined.

(36) National Planning Policy Framework (pp 26-14). North Somerset Core Strategy (CS5). Development Management Policy (DM 4)

Improvement Area 3  Abbots Leigh Heritage
There are several listed buildings on Church Road and Manor Road (Leigh Lodge, Abbots Leigh House, the George Inn, the Priory) as well as unregistered gardens (The Glebe, Campfield, the Manor House). The Village Hall and nearby cottages are also of heritage importance, whilst all along Church Road to the Church are a succession of important buildings. This heritage is increasingly threatened – parking, congestion, delivery lorries - and there are safety issues on crossing the busy A369 road which is overloaded and narrow at this point.

The Parish Council is examining the possibility of a Conservation Area in order to protect this heritage, an initiative distinct from, but closely related to, suggestions for traffic management and parking improvements. Such a Conservation Area would certainly include the cluster of buildings around the junction of the A369, Manor Road and Church Road (i.e. the George Inn, Leigh Lodge and the cottages nearby in Church Road and Abbots Leigh Road) but might run to the Church and beyond (see Map 10).

Map 10 Abbots Leigh Heritage Area (Manor Road and Church Road)

Abbots Leigh map

Planning Policies

Existing NSC Core Strategies and Development Management Policies address Landscape and the Historic Environment (CS 5), Listed Buildings (DM 4), Non-designated Heritage (DM 7) and Nature Conservation (DM 8).

Her 1
The design of new development and/or extension of existing development should be undertaken in sympathy with the distinctiveness and setting of the historic environment.

Her 2
The desirability and feasibility of a Conservation Area in Abbots Leigh should be fully examined.