Park Row, Bristol, BS1 5LJ
1579-80. Wigwam: c.1920.
Unknown/various. Wigwam C.F.W. Dening.
Brandon Hill sandstone, originally rendered and painted red
The Red Lodge and Wigwam is closed from November to Easter. It is open from 10:30am to 4pm on varying days throughout the Spring, Summer and Autumn months. Please see website for further details.
The Red Lodge was built in 1579-80 as a lodge for Sir John Younge’s Great House, which stood on the site of the present Colston Hall. Sir John entertained Elizabeth I lavishly on a visit to the city and she may have come to this lodge. The Park Row entrance looks modest but the exterior (specifically at the rear) would have been a very fashionable Italian Renaissance style for its day – perhaps Bristol’s first.
There have been various changes over the centuries and since 1948 the lodge has been a city council-run museum that tells its story via Elizabethan, Stuart and Georgian rooms. The house’s great treasure is the strikingly oak-panelled ‘Great Oak Room’, which also boasts a beautiful Elizabethan plasterwork ceiling and impressive carved chimneypiece.
Immediately to the south of the house is a lovely recreated Elizabethan knot-garden showcasing plants found in English gardens by 1630. Close by is the ‘wigwam’. This is actually an early 20th-century version of a medieval barn that has long been the meeting place and gallery of the ‘Bristol Savages’ artist group. It contains two fine 17th century fireplaces.
The three-storey lodge has plenty of interesting detail. An elegant Renaissance-style frontage faces the walled knot garden. This features large first-floor windows and an arched loggia (gallery) on the ground floor that was once open and is now filled in. Inside, a lot of remodelling of the 16th century lodge was done around 1704.
The lodge has also had a varied history. It was the private residence of various local merchants and then in 1854 was purchased by the poet Lord Byron’s widow. This was so that a certain Mary Carpenter could run a reform school for girls here (closed 1917). The ‘wigwam’ in the garden is so called because the Bristol Savages artists group, who formed in late Victorian times, has always admired Native American culture.