Our Journal has covered the history of BAFHS parishes, find dozens of articles below.

Each article is taken from our Journal.

Volunteer members of the society wrote these articles and we are most grateful to them for making their local knowledge and interests available. We have notes on changes to diocese records and coverage of medieval parishes. Bristol Archives holds Baptism, Marriage and Death records for the Bristol Diocese.

A note on records of the Bristol Diocese

Before 1541, Bristol was in the diocese of Worcester, passing to the diocese of Gloucester when founded. However, in 1542 the Abbey church of St Augustine became the Cathedral Church of the city and county of Bristol. The new diocese consisted of the parishes in the city, a few parishes from Gloucestershire, the parish of Abbots Leigh in Somerset (because the manor was the country residence of the Abbot) and the county of Dorset was transferred from Sarum.

In 1731, a fire destroyed almost the whole town of Blandford and the diocesan files kept there. In 1831, most of the documents in Bristol Cathedral Library were lost in the riots when the mob broke into the Chapter house and made a bonfire of everything they could lay their hands on.

In 1837, Bristol was united with Gloucester to form one diocese. The county of Dorset was handed back to Salisbury ('Sarum') and in return, part of the archdeaconry of Wiltshire was incorporated.

In 1897, the diocese of Bristol was separated from Gloucester, retaining the Wiltshire parishes and also a small number of parishes in South Gloucestershire.

As a result of these changes, ecclesiastical records relating to the diocese of Bristol may be found in Gloucester and Salisbury as well as in the Bristol Records Office.

Medieval Parishes

There were 19 parish churches in medieval Bristol, including St James. By the year 2000 only 13 remained in situ. The fate of the other six was as follows:

  • St Augustine-the-less was damaged in WW2 air raids. The ruins were demolished in the late 1960’s and the land was used for an extension to the adjoining hotel.
  • St Ewens stood below the corner of Broad Street and Corn Street. It was consolidated with Christ Church in 1788 and demolished in 1820 to make way for the Council House.
  • St Giles stood at the bottom of Small street and was closed as early as 1319.
  • St Lawrence stood on the west side of St John’s and shared the present church tower. It closed in 1580.
  • St Leonard like St John’s was built with its steeple above one of the old town gates but its was demolished in 1786 and its parish merged with St Nicholas.
  • St Werburgh was dismantled in 1876 and moved to the Baptist Mills area creating the present St Werburgh’s parish.

Many Bristol churches were damaged by WW2 air raids but only St Augustine disappeared completely. St Nicholas, by Bristol Bridge, was restored and for a time was a museum. It is currently used as council office space. Only the tower of St Mary-le-Port still stands, surrounded by post war construction. St Peter remains as a stabilised shell, retained as a memorial to local citizens who died in the Blitz. It is well presented as a ruin on the edge of Castle Green with terraces, a little herb garden and a water feature placed to the east. Similarly, Temple Church has been stabilised and its graveyard is now a fairly quiet garden. Parish boundary data taken from a survey published by the Temple Local History Group. Baptism, Marriage, and Death records for these churches and others, are held in the Bristol Records Office.

Bristol's Medieval Parishes