A History of Long Ashton & Leigh Woods

The village developed in Saxon times. The Domesday Book records it as Estune (the place by the ash tree). It was called Ashton up to the mid 19th century. The present parish church of All Saints dates from about 1380 and the arms of its founder (Thomas de Lyons) are on the outside of the tower. There is evidence but no remains of an earlier church.

The Angel Inn, near the church, is the oldest pub in the village, dating from 1495 and originally was the church house. There are two other historic pubs in the area which are very popular with visitors from Bristol. There are three conservation areas and more than 80 listed buildings in the village.

The National Fruit and Cider Institute opened at Fenswood on the edge of the village in 1903. It became the University of Bristol Agricultural and Horticultural Research Station in 1912 and was known as Long Ashton Research Station until it closed in 2003. During the second world war it developed rose hip syrup and Ribena.

Ashton Court is a large estate between the villages of Long Ashton and Leigh Woods. It was originally owned by the Smyth family but, on the death of Esme, death duties led to the disposal of the estate. Bristol Corporation acquired the mansion and surrounding parkland in 1959.

About Leigh Woods
Leigh Woods, originally part of the Smyth family estate, has long been regarded as a special place for enjoying the beauty of the natural landscape. The two iron-age forts, Stokeleigh Camp and Burwalls Camp with Nightingale Valley in between, giving outstanding views of the river and the city.

The opening of the Clifton Suspension Bridge in 1864 presented the landowner, Sir Greville Smyth, with a development opportunity. The Leigh Woods Land Company was formed to allow some controlled building and to preserve the views of the woods from Clifton and their use for recreation. The triangle of land bordered by the Avon Gorge, the woods and Ashton Court Estate was developed over about 40 years as a residential suburb, with large houses in a variety of architectural styles in substantial grounds with mature trees and hedges. 20th century developments have, on the whole, been successfully absorbed into what was created as a Victoria suburban idea. The ancient woodland beside North Road was given to the National Trust by George Wills in 1909 to protect it from development and the Trust bought Burwalls Wood in 1949.

Most of Leigh Woods was designated as a conservation area in 1977. Apart from Burwalls, where Bristol University runs a residential centre for continuing education, the Church of St Mary the Virgin is the only non-residential building in Leigh Woods. There are no shops, pubs, schools, surgeries or other usual amenities of village life in Leigh Woods, the suspension bridge providing a lifeline to the amenities of Clifton.

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2 Comments to “A History of Long Ashton & Leigh Woods”

  1. Daniel Bright says:

    As we know it as the boys home in fenswood road, could you get back to me as when it was built, as it is a concern of someone I know. Thank you. Hope to here from you soon.
    Daniel Bright

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