Gloucestershire Places of Worship

Default Image We do not have an Image of this Place of Worship as it has been Demolished Place of Worship has been

Image by courtesy of
St John the Baptist's Church (Demolished), Bedminster, Bristol
St John the Baptist's Church (Demolished),
St John's Street / Church Road,
Bedminster, Bristol, Gloucestershire.


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 about 1003, but we understand it was closed in 1965.

The parish of Bedminster is traditionally associated with the county of Somerset, but ecclesiastically, the prebendary of "Bedminster and Redclyffe" belonged to the diocese of Salisbury until 1542, when it became part of the newly created see of Bristol. The Bristol diocese was united with that of Gloucester from 1836-1897, after which Bedminster parish was abolished, to be absorbed within the City of Bristol. In many ways, however, its history predates that of Bristol, and its origins may even be Roman. After the Norman Conquest, it became one of the Royal Manors, until c.1088, when it was granted by William Rufus to Robert Fitzhammon, for his loyal support during the Monmouth Rebellion. On Robert's death in 1107, it was inherited by his eldest daughter, who married Robert Fitzroy, an illegitimate son of Henry I, later created 1st Earl of Gloucester. In about 1130, it was purchased by Robert Fitzharding, Earl of Berkeley. Robert (c.1095-1170) was the son of the King's Reeve (Governor) in Bristol, and a wealthy merchant in his own right. His purchase included other lands south of the river - Redcliffe, Leigh, Portbury - and Billeswick, where he founded the Augustinian Abbey which was to become Bristol Cathedral. Thus Bedminster became the mother parish of St Mary Redcliffe, and Abbots Leigh, and of the chapels of ease at Bishopsworth and Knowle.

There is more information on Robert Fitzharding on Wikipedia, and elsewhere online, and a feature on Bedminster on the Bristol & Avon Family History Society website, which incidentally has a footnote to the effect that "Family historians should note, in censuses the parish boundary between Bedminster and Redcliffe can be complicated"!

The Church of St John (St John the Baptist) has had a chequered history. An early building, reputedly dating from 1003, was burnt down in September 1645 during the Civil War, by the order of Prince Rupert. It was rebuilt in 1663, but this building in turn was demolished during the 19th century, and rebuilt, on the same site to a design by John Norton.

The 17th century building is described in Matthew's Directory of 1793/4, as having the appearance of great antiquity. On the north-west abutment of the tower is a stone with a date 1003 upon it... it stands in a very pleasant and rural Church-yard. On Easter and Whitmondays, vast numbers of young people flock from Bristol to a sort of revel held there on those days.

Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of England (1831) records that a spire on the tower was thrown down in 1563, but makes no mention of the destruction during the Civil War.

The final indignity was the destruction of Norton's Victorian Church during WWII bombing. It was never restored. However, we can still see its outline from above, using Google's Satellite View. This can be explained thanks to Phil Draper's account, on his ChurchCrawler website. He reports that when the church was demolished in 1967, the remains were buried in the churchyard.

What a sad end to a structure which had endured so much.

The Bristol Record Office hold records of baptisms for the period 1643-1965; of marriages 1654-1965; and burials 1656-1965. Intriguingly, these records span a period for when there was, apparently, no church, both during the Civil War period, and after 1940! The building was not, however scheduled for demolition until 21st September 1965, as recorded in the Church Commissioners Report on Pastoral and Closed Churches, on the Church of England website, and the site itself was not disposed of until December 1973.

Today, the area is a welcome oasis of green, in this increasingly urban suburb, as the graveyard has been cleared, and the whole is now a small public park, with pathways and seating areas, so perhaps once more "a very pleasant and rural church-yard".


Now or formerly Church of England.

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 ST5849371385. 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 Bedminster, 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 3 Dec 2018 at 15:14.

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This Report was created 22 May 2022 - 17:54:27 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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