The peaceful Ashton Court Estate lies just across the River Avon from Bristol. In
1545 a
 ristol merchant named John Smyth bought Sir Thomas Arundell's estate at Long
Ashton and in the following year he purchased more land in the parish formerly owned by
Bath Abbey. John had made his money from exporting cloth, leather, lead and wheat to Spain
and France and importing oil, dyestuffs, wine, iron, fish and salt. John's descendants rebuilt
and enlarged the house, creating the mansion that can be seen today. His grandson Hugh was
knighted in 1603 and his great-great-grandson, also called Hugh, was created a baronet at the
restoration of King Charles II. The Smyths, who also owned coal mines in Bedminster, lived
on the estate for four hundred years. When the Hon. Esme Smyth died in 1946 the house
fell into disrepair. However in 1959 the estate was purchased by Bristol City Council which
began a process of restoration that continues to this day. The park is now open to the public
and covers 850 acres of woods and grassland, including two 18-hole pitch and putt courses.