A History of Arno's Court Park


Ken Taylor

book front cover

Published by Arno's Park Action Group
Publication date July 2007
Booklet 296x210mm
Illustrated (colour and b&w)
20 pages

Illustrated history and prehistory of a public park in Brislington, Bristol, UK

Initially designed to support a six-figure funding bid, this booklet was rewritten for the general public to help raise awareness of the heritage value of Arno's Court Park.

Following an introduction by Becky Thoburn (APAG Chair), the underlying geology of the park is described - it has three distinct Triassic formations, the lowest being Redcliffe Sandstone. The story continues with the earliest inhabitants of the Stone Age whose flint tools have been found nearby. Likewise Bronze and Iron Age occupation in the area is discussed, as is Brislington Villa and the possibility of a lost Roman road in the vicinity.

The name 'Brislington' is Saxon, and the Domesday book offers an insight into life nearly a millennium ago. There are a few scattered references of land ownership in the medieval period and subsequent centuries, but the story really begins with the sale of the land by the Lord of the Brislington Manor to a private family in the 17th century.

The 18th century saw the erection of the elegant building that is now the entrance to Arnos Manor Hotel. Some features of its landscaped estate are still in evidence. Arnos Court, as it was called, ceased to be a private home in the mid 19th century when it became a convent, and later a reformatory school for penitent women. A comparison of maps from 1887 and the present day shows the reader that much of what we see in the park today was already established then. The same point is illustrated by the comparison of a photograph taken 100 years ago with a modern view.

The area was repeatedly bombed in the Second World War, and were it not for this, the convent might still be in place. However, all the residents were evacuated, and the premises sold. Soon afterwards, the buildings were separated from the parkland, which were then opened to the public.

Over the years, a number of grass-roots initiatives to improve the park have contributed to the facilities it offers, and the Arnos Park Action Group, who published this volume, has already enjoyed some notable successes in increasing the range of children's play equipment and enhancing the environment for wildlife. And they have much more in mind...

Text © Ken Taylor 2007-2013

Book illustrations courtesy of Arno's Park Action Group