Gloucestershire Places of Worship

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St Mary Redcliffe Church, Bristol
St Mary Redcliffe Church,
Redcliffe Way / Redcliffe Hill,
Bristol, Gloucestershire.


This Church has (or 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 in 1293, and we understand it is still open.

"The church of St Mary Redcliffe is a magnificent cruciform structure in the Gothic style of architecture, and is considered the finest parish church in England. It was designated by Chatterton 'Ye pryde of Bristowe and ye western londe'. It is supposed to have been founded by Simon de Burton in 1293; others assert William Canynges (bailiff of Bristol in the year 1369) to be the founder, and that it was afterwards finished by his grandson, assisted by the corporation, in the reign of Henry VI. It contains two monuments to the memory of its noble benefactor: by one he is represented in the habit of chief magistrate, having served the office of mayor of the city, and on the other he appears in ecclesiastical robes, as having entered into holy-orders in the latter part of his life. Here is also a monument erected to Sir William Penn, knight, vice-admiral of England and father of William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, who was a native of Bristol. It also contains several magnificent stained-glass windows, one of which has recently been erected as a memorial to Handel, the great composer and musician. The window, which is by Clayton and Bell, is placed in the east end of the north aisle, and contains three lights, the subjects chosen being from the Musianic [sic] prophecies of Isaiah. The funds to defray the cost were obtained by subscription. The interior of the building is very beautiful; the roof is elaborately groined and finished with surpassing elegance. This noble building has been some years under restoration, but it will be many more before it is completed. The tower, which rises at the west end, is lofty and of fine proportions. In the year 1445, the spire was thrown down by lightning. In the tower the early ambition of Chatterton gave way to literary forgery. In 1840 a monument was erected to his memory in the north-east part of the churchyard. He was born in 1752 and died in 1770. The living is a vicarage, in the patronage of the Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol; the annual value is about £230." [Extract from Webster & Co.'s Postal and Commercial Directory of the City of Bristol, and County of Glamorgan, 1865]

The Bristol Town Plan of 1884 shows there was a large graveyard, mainly on the south side, by then of course disused, having been closed to burials by 1854 by the directive of Lord Palmerston's Burial Act of the previous year. The overall plot was then very much as it stands today, though it appears to have lost a small area on the north east corner, where "Chatterton's Monument" was situated. This was a memorial to Thomas Chatterton, "literary genius", who was born in the parish in 1752, and died in 1770 of arsenic poisoning, aged just 17. Apparently the monument was removed, during a period of renovation, and never replaced as it was considered inappropriate for a monument to someone who had committed suicide to stand on a consecrated site.


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 is located at OS grid reference ST5912872313. You can see this on various mapping systems. Note all links open in a new window:

Information last updated on 1 Nov 2018 at 12:41.

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This Report was created 24 May 2022 - 16:27:42 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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