Squeezed on three sides by commercial development, it is difficult to appreciate what is probably one of the most graceful parish church towers in the country. The church was rebuilt in the 1470s, the North Aisle including, a fine tomb, is 14th century. St Stephens was a new parish resulting from the extensive alternations to the river Frome carried out between 1240 and 1247 but it is not clear how long after that date the church was built. It is “the one remaining Bristol church which would seem both externally and within familiar to fifteenth century eyes”1 Approximate mediaeval parish boundary superimposed on 1901 map. (1 “Centuries of Change: Bristol Churches since the Reformation” by Patrick Brown – an essay in Historic Churches & Church Life in Bristol edited by Joseph Bettey. 2000.)
The current building of St Thomas’s church dates from 1793 though parts of it, including the tower, are much older. The 18th century Bristol historian, William Barrett reported that the mediaeval church was second only to St Mary Redcliffe in size and grandeur among the city churches (a statement found repeated in a number of old history books)- he was writing at about the time that the old structure was demolished – apart from the West tower which was retained. Arrowsmiths Dictionary of Bristol (1884) states that several chantries were found in the old church including one for Richard II. Some members of the Canynges family were interred within the earlier building and “the walls are much encrusted with sepulchral memorials, but none of the inscriptions call for particular mention”!
Known as ‘Pip and Jay’ the church dedication is to St Philip and St Jacob (really James, says Arrowsmiths Dictionary of Bristol – 1906). The parish boundary once extended well beyond Bristol as far as the village of Hanham. The gravestones in the churchyard were cleared and some used to form paths. The following article was first published in B&AFHS Journal 133 in September 2008 My Parish – St Philip & Jacob, Bristol. By Andrew Plaster St Philip & Jacob is one of Bristol’s original city parishes. It includes the Old Market area of the city, and had its out-parish beyond the city’s original boundary extending over what are now (and some were) the Bristol suburbs of Baptist Mills, Barton Hill, Lawrence Hill, Newtown, Russell Town, St Jude’s, St Philip’s Marsh, The Dings and western half of Easton. Its boundaries stretched from the Castle Wall in the city on the west to the border with the parish of St George in the east. On the north, it followed the course of the river Frome and the southern boundary being the river Avon. Just outside the city walls stood St Philip & Jacob Church. Part of it, including the lower part of the tower, is Early English in style from around the 13th century, the rest being Perpendicular. The church may once have belonged to a Benedictine priory lying beyond it. This church was actually the parish church of a wide district extending outside the borough and included the rural parish of St. George until 1756, when it became a separate […]
This church is now just a preserved shell due to damage in WW2. It was the ‘mother church’ of Bristol and some of the stonework in the old tower is thought to be of Saxon origin. Arrowsmiths Dictionary of Bristol (1906) reports that the church was repaired in 1749, 1795 and again in 1870 and the only part of the church that remained of the early fabric was the tower. The following memorial inscriptions were noted in Arrowsmiths Dictionary of Bristol (1884): ALDWORTH Family of. A sumptuous tomb with figures of himself and wife, 1634 ESTERFIELD John, twice Mayor and an Alderman. A brass was inserted in the stone, but it has now disappeared. HARRINGTON George, Mayor and Alderman of the City. Died Jan. 2nd 1639 LOUDE Robert. Incised brass, representing a priest in Eucharistic vestments bearing a chalice. Died February 23rd 1461 NEWTON Athalin. A storied monument, having a canopy supported by six fluted pillars, upon the sculptured sarcophagus lies the effigy of a lady, supposed to be the above-named wife of John Newton of the Newtons of Barr’s Court. NORTHALL Henry. Died May 9th 1673 aged 70. NORTHALL J. Son of the above. Died February 20th 1669 Aged 39. NORTON Andrew. Three brasses to his memory and his two wives Elizabeth and Ellen 1527. SAVAGE Richard. Poet who died a debtor in Newgate Bristol1743. An inscription states his grave to be about six feet from the north wall of the church. SMITH Thomas. Died 8th October 1730. STEAR Capt. Richard, aged 23 and his brother Eugene aged 16 […]
St Nicholas church was originally built on the old city wall. There was a gateway which was removed in 1762 and the church was rebuilt. John Whitson (1555 – 1629) was buried in the church and his effigy is in the crypt. He was Bristol’s ‘Dick Whittington’ in that he came to the city as an orphan and stayed to become a wealthy businessman and Mayor, twice. He founded Redmaids School which is the oldest girls school in England. The church was badly damaged during WW2 air-raids but it was re-roofed and for a time it was a museum. It now houses city council offices. You may request admittance to see the memorials – many relate to mariners. Approximate mediaeval parish boundary superimposed on 1901 map.
The full dedication of the church is St Michael the Archangel on the Mount Without. The building still stands at the bottom of St Michael’s Hill but it is not in use. The without bit in the church name refers to the fact that it was outside the old city wall. The original church of the parish of St Michael was founded in 1147. The earliest reference occurs in 1148 when William, Earl of Gloucester, granted to the abbey of Tewkesbury, all the churches which had previously been granted to it by his grandfather, Robert FitzHamon, including St Michaels. Little is known about the early building, the existing tower was not built until 1460. By the 18th century, the number of parishioners had increased including a number of affluent merchants who had moved out of the city to the ribbon development on St Michaels Hill; so between 1775-7 the old church was knocked down and a new one built around the tower. Access to the building is not currently available but it contains many memorial plaques from the 18th and early 19th century including one to Mary STRETTON 1894. Near the Alter is a brass plate commemorating Dr BONYTHON who was one of the founders of the Bristol Royal Infirmary – he was buried in the crypt. At the south part of the east wall in the side chapel, is a mural to Peter DAVIES who, in his will of 1747, left money for ‘a sermon by candlelight to be preached on March 1st. (source: a leaflet about the church […]
Redcliffe was originally a suburb of Bristol outside of the old city boundary and incorporated into Bristol in 1373. There was a church there from the early 12th century but its main structure is ‘decorated’ and ‘perpendicular’ in style built 1320-80. Although it grew to be a very large fine building is was and always has been a parish church. The church has a large yard but in the mid 1800’s compensation was paid when a railway tunnel was built underneath the churchyard. With this money, land was purchased and a new cemetery for parishioners was established by the A4 Bath Road, opposite Arnos Vale Cemetery. There are many tombs and memorials in the church. A brass plate in front of the high altar shows a lawyer and his wife with this inscription: “Here lies the body of that venerable man John Brook, sergeant-at-law of that most illustrious prince of happy memory, Henry VII, and Justice of Assize for the same king in western parts of England, and Chief Steward of the honourable house and monastery of the Blessed Mary of Glastonbury, in the county of Somerset, which John died on 25th day of the month of December, in the year of our Lord 1522. And near him rests Joanna his wife, one of the daughters and heirs of Richard Amerike, on whose souls may God have mercy. Amen” Quoted in St Mary Redcliffe, an Architectural History by Michael Quinton Smith, published by Redcliffe 1995