Brislington House, Bristol

Posted on April 1st, 2009 by Jonathan Lovie

Brislington House, on the outskirts of Bristol, is a fascinating Grade II* landscape associated with a pioneering private lunatic asylum established by Dr Fox in 1804–06. This landscape sought to mirror the familiar pattern of the country house estate, with pleasure grounds and parkland surrounding the asylum, and offering plenty of opportunities for therapeutic activities. Today the site is in divided ownership, with the asylum building converted to apartments, a school standing in the southern area of the park, and other areas in the ownership of some of the surviving cottages that were built by Fox to accommodate his most prestigious (and wealthy) patients.

The northern area of the park has survived essentially intact, but it was here that we were consulted on proposals for a regional training and education centre for construction skills, complete with a practice digging area, hard standing for construction equipment, secure storage and two portakabins, all enclosed by 3m high security fencing. Not surprisingly, John Clark concluded, when responding for the Society, that the proposed development would do considerable harm to one of the few remaining areas of parkland in the historic designed landscape.

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