Gloucestershire Places of Worship

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Arley Chapel (now Our Lady of Ostrabrama), Cotham, Bristol
Arley Chapel (now Our Lady of Ostrabrama),
Arley Hill / Cheltenham Road, BS6 5RH,
Cotham, Bristol, Gloucestershire.


We believe the Chapel did NOT have a graveyard.

Note: any church within an urban environment may have had its graveyard closed after the Burial Act of 1853. Any new church built after that is unlikely to have had a graveyard at all.

Church History

This Place of Worship was founded in 1855, but we understand it was closed in 1968.

"Arley Chapel, Stokes-croft-road, is a handsome structure, in the Italian style of architecture, erected in 1855." [Extract from Webster & Co.'s Postal and Commercial Directory of the City of Bristol, and County of Glamorgan, 1865]

It is indeed a "handsome structure", with an intriguing origin - Phil Draper's ChurchCrawler website explains that it was built "by an unknown benefactor who only asked that it be named after a village in Worcestershire". It was designed by Foster and Wood, to a cruciform plan. It has a bold west front, with a semi-circular portico, supported by four Corinthian columns, above which the interior is lit by a circular window with 4 circular lights. Above this is a clock tower topped by a cupola. The interior is described by Non-Conformist Chapels and Meeting Houses, Gloucestershire (1986) as having an unaisled nave with a band of clerestory lights in a timber roof. There are transepts and an apse.

John Latimer, in The Annals of Bristol in the Nineteenth Century (1887), records it as "the last dissenting chapel of any importance erected in the city in the Italian style, the later constructions being of a mediaeval type". He notes that it cost upwards of £4,000 to build, and when it opened in June 1855, the inaugural sermon was preached by the Rev. J. Angell James.

The following notice in The London Gazette of 21st November 1856 (p.3830) recorded its registration for marriages:

NOTICE is hereby given, that a separate building, named Arley Chapel, situated at Cheltenham-road, in the district of the united parishes of Saint James and Saint Paul, in the city and county of Bristol, in the district of Clifton, in the county of Gloucester, being a building certified according to law as a place of religious worship, was, on the seventeenth day of November, 1856, duly registered for solemnizing marriages therein, pursuant to the Act of 6th and 7th Wm. IV., cap. 85. Dated 18th November 1856.

The Chapel was closed in 1968, after which its congregation joined with that of Christ Church, Cotham, which - as it so happens - has also since closed. An appropriate notice of cancellation was published in the Gazette of 30th August 1968 (p.9539).

The building was then sold to a Polish Catholic Congregation, which was itself registered for marriages in September the same year, under the name "POLISH CHURCH OF OUR LADY OF MERCY". It is now better known as "Our Lady of Ostrabrama".

Note: Stokes Croft Road (A38) is the continuation of Cheltenham Road in the City direction. Available parish records cover the period 1856-1967; Old Maps show there was no burial ground.


Now or formerly Congregational.

If more than one congregation has worshipped here, or its congregation has united with others, in most cases this will record its original dedication.


This Chapel was located at OS grid reference ST5903974292. You can see this on various mapping systems. Note all links open in a new window:


I have found many websites of use whilst compiling the information for this database. Here are some which deserve mention as being of special interest for Cotham, Bristol, and perhaps to Local History and Places of Worship as a whole.

The above links were selected and reviewed at the time I prepared the information, but please be aware their content may vary, or disappear entirely. These factors are outside my control.

Information last updated on 16 Jun 2013 at 07:16.

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This Report was created 29 Nov 2023 - 02:17:19 GMT from information held in the Gloucestershire section of the Places of Worship Database. This was last updated on 13 Oct 2021 at 14:13.

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