Gloucestershire Places of Worship

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Cumberland Road ("New") Gaol (Demolished), Bristol
Cumberland Road ("New") Gaol (Demolished),
Cumberland Road,
Bristol, Gloucestershire.


We don't know whether this Church had 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 before 1831, but we understand it was closed in 1883.

The state of Bristol's gaol, in Newgate, had, according to John Latimer, in The Annals of Bristol in the Nineteenth Century (1887), been a cause for concern for many years, before at last, in 1816, royal consent was given to the building of what appears to have been known for its lifetime as the "New" Gaol. Several sites had been considered previously, but the site eventually chosen was in Bedminster parish, between the "New Cut", and the floating harbour. The area was called "Wapping" on Rocque's Map of Bristol of 1750 The cost of building was estimated at £60,000, raised by a rate on the ancient city. It was completed in August, 1820, and prisoners in Newgate "were removed in a wagon to their new quarters". The site of the old gaol was afterwards re-purchased by the Corporation for £682, and the materials were sold for £500.

A curious dispute arose during its construction with Customs Officials. A Customs Officer seized some of the building stone, brought from Blackrock quarry, on the Avon, claiming it was liable to a duty of 20%. Customs also claimed that stone brought from Hanham and Bath was liable to the same duty. "The claim, however, was soon afterwards abandoned".

The Gaol features again in the Annals in 1831, at the time of the Bristol Riots, when a mob stormed the gaol, and after breaching its defences, "liberated the prisoners, about 170 in number, several of whom stripped themselves of their gaol dress, and ran off to their former haunts in a state of nudity"... After the prisoners had been set free, the governor's house was sacked, a large portion of the contents, including the prison records, being thrown into the Avon amidst the cheers of thousands of the labouring class who lined the river banks. The devastation was completed by setting fire to the buildings - every part that would burn, including the governor's dwelling, the chapel, and the treadmill being speedily destroyed".

The outcome was that many of the rioters were arrested, together with about 40 of the criminals who had been liberated "and in a few days the gaol, having undergone hasty repair, contained nearly 240 inmates compromised in the tumults".

The Gaol is shown on Ashmead's Maps of Bristol of 1855 with four cell blocks arranged in a radial manner in a semi-circle around a central building. At the time of publication of Webster & Co.'s Postal and Commercial Directory of the City of Bristol, and County of Glamorgan (1865), the Governor was Mr. J.A. Gardner, the Chaplain was Rev. Charles Brittan, M.A., and the Surgeon was Alfred Bleeck Esq.

The fate of the gaol was however sealed soon after. In the early 1870s the Corporation began receiving letters from the Home Office, stating that the condition of the Gaol and of the House of Correction (Bridewell) was not in accordance with the requirements of the Prisons Act, and in September 1873, "a more peremptory missive was received from the Home Office, declaring that the buildings in question were unfit for their purposes, and that immediate steps must be taken to comply with the law". But "it transpired that the Ministry of Mr. Disraeli contemplated legislation for transferring the gaols of the kingdom from the local authorities to the Government; and the Corporation prudently kept the question in suspense until 1877". Bridewell was closed in the following May; and a new prison erected at Horfield which was "sufficiently completed, in April 1883, to receive the prisoners detained in the old gaol, which was thenceforth deserted".


Now or formerly Prison Chapel.

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 Church was located at OS grid reference ST5853672146. You can see this on various mapping systems. Note all links open in a new window:

Information last updated on 4 Jul 2014 at 08:44.

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This Report was created 18 May 2022 - 21:44:40 BST 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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