For quite some time I have been mulling over a return trip to Bristol, I wanted to go already in 2017 but the weather was just not amiable to a day trip so I kept on putting it off. However, by the time I was planning Liverpool I was already looking at Bristol once again. In 2015 I had been fortunate enough to be there for the Heritage Festival, so ideally I wanted to do the same once again. The closest window being the weekend of 21 and 22 of July 2018. And, just for once I was not going via Arnos Vale Cemetery but was going to strike out North West to find the Cenotaph. I had never really ventured into Bristol so had no real idea of what was out there, but it is an old city so you can bet there were some wonderful old buildings to see.
I arrived at Bristol Temple Meads station bright and early. It had been touch and go though because the weather forecast had been for clouds and possible rain and I was not feeling very energetic when I woke up at some ungodly hour to get to Ashchurch for Tewkesbury Station. I will skip all that malarky and continue from where I am in Bristol.
There is one of those horrible traffic circles that I needed to navigate across, hoping to find the one branch that is Victoria Street. Unfortunately they were building a road in the middle of the street which threw my navigation off. A similar thing had happened to me when I visited Birmingham in 2015 and I suspect they are still digging and excavating there.
The correct road selected and I was off… and then had to stop and go have a look at a church. Now I am a sucker for churches and old buildings, and I do love a good set of ruins. This one fitted all the criteria in one space. The space is called Temple Church and Gardens, and the church is really just a shell, and like the church I saw in Liverpool it too was damaged by bombing during the Second World War. After the war they excavated the shell of the building and discovered that the church was originally round. The round church was originally called Holy Cross and it was part of a monastery built here in the 1100’s by the Order of the Knights Templar. Their church was designed to look like the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. It was enlarged between 1300 and 1450 and lost its original round shape, and became the church that is there today, or should I say the ruins of the church?
The other peculiarity about the building is that the tower leans by roughly 1,6 metres from the vertical, and the top was built so as to correct the lean, but it ended up looking somewhat odd as the lean increased. Unfortunately I never knew about this and the image I took of the tower does show the lean, but it is somewhat corrected by the camera lens.
The church and a large portion of medieval Bristol was destroyed by a raid that occurred on 24 September 1940. This area was known as “Temple” and in the medieval period it was where cloth workers lived and worked. The Guild of Weavers even had their own chapel at the church.
The churchyard around the church still has graves in it, although their legibility is very poor. The area is now a well placed leisure space and I doubt whether anybody really knows that they may be strolling through a former churchyard. Following this discovery it was time to continue on my way, still in Victoria Street and heading towards The Bristol Bridge across the Avon.
There was another ruined church on the east side of the bridge but I decided to give it a miss on this occasion. If I stopped and detoured all the time I would never get to where I was going. The green area just after the bridge is called Castle Park, and the next landmark is… a giant pineapple?
Actually the tower sticking out behind the building is the remains of St Mary-le-Port Church which was also destroyed during the bombing of 24 November 1940. The buildings around it were built for Norwich Union (facing the camera) and the Bank of England. Both buildings are apparently empty and have been the subject of a number of contested plans for redevelopment. I cannot however comment on the pineapple, but it appears to be the work of Duncan McKellar.
On the left side of the street is St Nicholas Church, and I had to get the shot very quickly because a large mobile crane was coming down the road and it was guaranteed to ruin any further images of the church. Maybe it was going to collect the pineapple?
I was now in High Street heading into Broad Street, and there were a number of places that caught my eye.
Broad Street was surprisingly narrow, and the Grand Hotel was really too big to even get a halfway decent pic of.
As I descended further I felt almost hemmed in but at the end of the street was an archway that seemingly marked the end of this area. Actually, looking at it from Google Earth (centred around 51.454577°, -2.594112°) there is a lot to see, and I suspect this is quite an old area too. Definitely worth a return trip one of these days.
Exiting out of the gate I had to turn left into Nelson Street and after a short walk could see the Cenotaph in the distance. This area had an incomplete feel about it and from what I gather had been redone not too long ago. The Cenotaph may be found at 51.454987°, -2.596391°.
Sadly mankind has not learnt how to live in peace. I have covered the Cenotaph in more detail on allatsea.
I was now moving South West through this paved area, it was very pretty but the fountains were not working which made it look bad. Even Neptune was looking kind of parched. The day had turned out nice and sunny and it got hotter all the time.
I was now heading South towards a junction on the A38 which was more or less where I needed to be to find my next destination. In the middle of this junction stood the Marriott Hotel, and it was quite an impressive building.
The building on the left was really part of the harbour structure. I could have entered the harbour at that point but my destination was really to the right of the Marriott, so I turned to starboard.
Queen Victoria was not amused because I needed to go to the right of her into Park Street. Behind her was the triangular shaped “College Green”, with Bristol Cathedral on the left and the City Hall to the right. I covered the Cathedral in a different post, but will mention that it was almost impossible to get the whole building in a pic because of the trees and length of the building and the sun position. The City Hall is quite an impressive structure though and it reminded me of the Royal Crescent in Bath. It too was way too big to get into a single image.
I had to pass to the right of the building into Park Street and when I emerged I almost died when I saw what a steep hill I was facing. What is it about Bristol and all these hills anyway?
The tower in the distance is the University of Bristol Wills Memorial Building and construction was started on it in 1915 and it was completed in 1925. The tower is 65,5 metres high, and it is a really beautiful structure and is the 3rd tallest building in Bristol. Next to the building is the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery.
Having arrived at this point I started to look around in dismay, my memorial was nowhere in sight! I consulted my main map and found that I had made a mistake on the small map I was using, and my memorial was still 3 blocks away!
And there he is…
|“In Memory of the Officers, Non Commissioned Officers
and Men of the Gloucestershire Regiment,
Who gave their lives for their Sovereign,
and Country in the South African War
Behind the memorial was another ornate building with a statue of King Edward VII and it was known as “CHOMBEC”, or, Centre for the History of Music in Britain, the Empire and the Commonwealth.
While the building below is the Royal West of England Academy of Art
It was time to turn around and head back down the hill to the Cathedral which was the next stop on my journey. I had achieved all my goals so far with a few bonus discoveries along the way. It was fortunately downhill from here…
I made one detour on my way down, and that was to a building I had seen on the way up. I could not investigate it too closely but it is St George’s Bristol, it was once a church but is now a concert hall.
Had I continued with the road I was on I would have come to the park on Brandon Hill where the Cabot Tower is.
I will add that to my bucket list for a return trip as there is one more Anglo Boer War Memorial I need to research. I photographed the tower at a distance in 2014, although I cannot work out where I took the photograph from. With my luck the tower would be closed on the day I visit.
I was once again at the College Green and the Cathedral was my next stop.
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