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Community and school involved in a historic restoration project

Ashton Park School in Bristol is unique in having a 200 year old Gatehouse on its grounds. The Gatehouse was built by Henry Wood in 1805 to act as a grand entrance to Ashton Court Mansion. It became part of Ashton Park School in the 1950s. Over the years it fell into a serious state of disrepair, but now, with thanks to a Heritage Lottery Grant, and the kind support of several charities and organisations, it has been renovated to a very high standard. Wednesday 18 January saw the grand re-opening which was attended by a large number of people, including pupils at Ashton Park and Joy Merchant, a local resident, who lived in the Gatehouse many years ago!

During the renovation of the Gatehouse, numerous volunteers, local schools and organisations worked with the school to research, discover and develop the means to bring the building back to life. Pupils at Ashton Park school helped to print a ‘red book’ packed with illustrations and information about the grounds and gardens of Ashton Court, bringing to life the history of the building. Local primary school pupils held a tea party and interviewed older people with memories of the area, including former teachers of the school, many of which are now on display in the Gatehouse. Volunteers have created an embroidery of the Gatehouse and the local area and Year 10 pupils at the school developed a ‘roaming drama’ re-creating scenes from the building’s history. As well as many other activities, this has done an amazing job of researching the building’s history, raising its profile, and offering many learning opportunities to both local school pupils and volunteers from the surrounding community, something we’ll build on now the building is open.

The Gatehouse will be open to the public every Monday lunchtime, as well as on certain Saturdays throughout the year. You can view their website here for more details. In addition to being open to the public, they will be working closely with local schools to offer a wide range of learning opportunities. The Gatehouse will also be working with organisations in the local community to make links between the schools and local history groups, arts groups and others.

If you would like more information on the Gatehouse and its restoration project, please contact them on the following: 0117 3772773 or info@ashtongatehouse.org

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