Bristol Visual and Environmental Group

Dorothy Brown MBE died suddenly on Tuesday 8 October 2013 in Bristol aged 86. She was a long term campaigner for old buildings in Bristol finding new uses for empty or derelict buildings.

Dorothy Brown established the "Bristol Visual and Environmental Group" in 1971, primarily to stop the demolition, by Bristol City Council, of hundreds of Historic Buildings in the Central areas of Bristol, which was approved in the 1966 Development Plan - mostly to accommodate Urban Throughways and Comprehensive Re-development, then all the rage.

When Dorothy Brown of the Bristol Visual and Environmental Group's Buildings Preservation Trust first found Acton Court, it was in such bad condition that parts of it were held up with scaffolding poles. Dorothy’s involvement very possibly saved the house from demolition and was instrumental to its scheduling and recognition as one of the most important Tudor buildings in the country. The house belonged to the Poyntz Family who built a large addition to the house to provide accommodation for Henry VIII when he visited the family in the 16th Century. It is largely this addition which is the sole remains of the house. Contained within it is an important frieze by Holbein.

Dorothy, on behalf of her Bristol Visual and Environmental Group's Buildings Preservation Trust bought the house at auction in 1984 and immediately set about urgently needed repairs to prevent the building deteriorating any further. Later she managed to persuade English Heritage to become interested in and recognise the importance of the building.

Acton Court is now in the care of the Rosehill Trust. It provides for the house to be open to the public for a period during the summer months each year. Further information from here

After securing the future of Acton Court Dorothy turned her interest to Frome in Somerset where she came to the rescue of an important 15th - 17thC woollen merchant's house together with a 17th C storehouse in the garden with the support of Frome Historic Buildings Trust.

In her book on Acton Court she says "… I'd like to emphasise that there are still amazing old buildings and gardens waiting to be discovered by those who value such things and that local history is emerging all the time to the delight of the large number of people who enjoy history and archaeology".

Those who met and knew Dorothy will treasure their memories of her. Her unstinting campaigning and enthusiastic interest in caring for our history while at the same time finding sensitive care for and new uses for old buildings is an inspiration.

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