A garden building with retaining walls, probably built as a bath house, dating from the mid-C18.
MATERIAL: They are constructed in pennant rubble and white rendered brick with copper-slag block dressings.
PLAN: The building has a circular open plan with an underground chamber set into the hillside with a domed roof.
EXTERIOR: The ornamental south façade, facing the terraced garden that stretches out in front of it, has a central lancet doorway, flanked by pilasters rusticated with slag blocks, blind oculi to each side, and lower pilasters to the margins. Above the doorway is a blind oculi set into a square panel and a ramped parapet. There are tall retaining walls to each side.
INTERIOR: Inside, a small porch with niches on either side, leads into the underground octagonal chamber. This has a shallow, circular basin formerly fed by water coming in via a deep niche at its far end. The chamber has a domed roof, with shallow niches in the sides. The chamber is lit by four brick-lined circular openings piercing the ceiling.
SETTING: The building stands at the top far end of Crew's Hole Garden, a formal terraced garden created in the mid-C18 for which it served as a focal point. The garden, now much overgrown, with remnants of paths, offers extensive historic views over the Avon Valley, now mostly obscured. The tall retaining walls attached to the garden building are similar in construction as those situated in the contemporary terraced garden laid out below (not recommended for listing). On the hillside to the north-west of the bath house are the remains of an oval stone-revetted water basin (not recommended for listing) measuring approximately 4 by 3m, possibly the former cistern that fed the basin inside the bathhouse (Bristol and Avon Archaeology, 1990/1), or alternatively, an outdoor plunge pool.
HISTORY: The building was built in the mid- C18 as a bath house or folly for William King, the proprietor of the former adjacent glassworks from 1752 until his death in 1777. His house was attached to the works, and he laid out a terraced garden behind it, on the steep bank of the River Avon. The garden offered extensive views of the Avon Valley, now obscured by trees. The garden building and its history, is very similar to that of the garden and its features at Warmley House (qv), now the Kingswood Heritage Museum in Warmley, Bristol.
After King's death the glassworks became disused and his house and garden were let to a local family. A local writer, Elizabeth Holmes (1804-1843), described the house and the overgrown `hanging gardens' in her collection of essays published in 1830. By 1883 the glassworks had been removed and replaced with the Bristol Fireclay Works which operated until 1912. It appears that the house survived until at least 1902 (see OS map of that date), but it is now no longer there. The Fireclay Works were mostly removed in the C20 though some of its fabric may be incorporated within the current warehouse and factory building standing on its site. In the late C20 the terraced garden was used as allotments. The site is now (2008) in split ownership, with the bath house standing in a separate private garden.
SOURCES: Ordnance Survey Maps of 1888, 1904 and 1918.
Bristol and Avon Archaeology, vol 9 (1990/1), pp 51-53.
Avon Gardens Trust Journal, no 2 (2007), pp 12- 18.
N Pevsner, The Buildings of England: North Somerset and Bristol (1958), p 459.
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: The garden building in Crew's Hole Garden in Bristol merits designation on a national level for the following principal reasons:
* It is an interesting survival of a bath house or folly situated in a contemporary terraced garden created by a wealthy local industrialist adjacent to his own house and factory.
* Its design and architectural detailing are of a good quality and it displays an interesting use of materials.
Listing NGR: ST6250073000