Church of St John the Baptist, Bristol

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Coordinates: 51°27′21″N 2°35′43″W / 51.45583°N 2.59528°W / 51.45583; -2.59528

Church of St John the Baptist
St John the Baptist Bristol NW side.jpg
St John's church showing the gateway over the city wall
Church of St John the Baptist, Bristol is located in Bristol
Church of St John the Baptist, Bristol
Location within Bristol
General information
Town or city Bristol
Country England
Coordinates 51°27′23″N 2°35′48″W / 51.456313°N 2.596605°W / 51.456313; -2.596605

The Church of St John the Baptist, Bristol is a redundant Church of England parish church at the lower end of Broad Street Bristol, England.

Design and construction[edit]

The church was built in the 14th century (and heavily modified in the 19th century) with the tower and steeple over St John's Gate, the last remaining city gateway. The church is very narrow as it is built into and alongside the city walls. Consequently it is also known as St John's on the Wall.[1] The rood stair entrance high up on the wall shows where the earlier great rood screen would have stood. Similar rood stair entrances can be seen at St Peters, St Philip and Jacob, St Stephen's and Temple.[2] Beneath the church is a vaulted crypt, which was dedicated to the Holy Cross.[3] A conduit has supplied water from Brandon Hill since 1374, and the course of the pipe is marked in places by small plaques set into the pavements.[4]

Monuments and artwork[edit]

Among the monuments in the church are those of Walter Frampton (died 1357), thrice Mayor of Bristol and a great benefactor of the church, and a brass commemorating Thomas Rowley (died c. 1478), whose name was used by the 18th century poet Thomas Chatterton as a pseudonym under which to write his forgeries of medieval poetry.

On the south side of the gate, there are statues of the legendary founders of Bristol, Brennus and Belinus, facing up Broad Street; it is possible that they are actually older than the fabric of the gate.

The interiors of the two arches either side of the main gateway are now covered in commissioned graffiti murals.

The burial ground of St John's survives; it is visible from John Street and the entrance gate is in Tailors Court which is accessed from Broad Street. The burial ground is closed to the public.

Current usage[edit]

Main door into the church, alongside the city wall gate

St. John's on the Wall is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade I listed building.[5] It is a redundant church in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust.[6] The church was declared redundant on 1 April 1984, and was vested in the Trust on 25 June 1985.[7]

The Churches Conservation Trust are promoting 'The Crypt' as an atmospheric art space for use as a live music venue and art gallery. It has also been used as a filming location[8]


After the bombing of St Mary le Port Church in 1940 the congregation of this historically evangelical, Protestant and Calvinist church, and their rector, William Dodgson-Sykes, moved to St John on the Wall Church, where the congregation remained, in gradually declining numbers, until the building was closed for worship by the Church Commissioners in 1984 (after a protracted struggle by the congregation). The remaining congregation then moved to the Chapel of Foster's Almshouses, and joined the Church of England (Continuing) in 1995.[9] The C of E (Continuing) no longer lists a congregation in Bristol - some of the congregation joined with the new Free Presbyterian Church (Ulster) congregation in Horfield, Bristol.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "St John's on the Wall". Looking at Buildings. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-05-17. 
  2. ^ M Q Smith, The Medieval Churches of Bristol, The University of Bristol (Bristol Branch of the Historical Association), 1970.
  3. ^ Norman, Michael (2002). St John the Baptist's Church Bristol. Churches Conservation Trust. 
  4. ^ Burrough, THB (1970). Bristol. London: Studio Vista. ISBN 0289798043. 
  5. ^ Historic England, "Church of St John the Baptist and St John's Gate, Bristol (1202022)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 9 July 2013 
  6. ^ Church of St John the Baptist, Bristol, Bristol, Churches Conservation Trust, retrieved 1 April 2011 
  7. ^ Diocese of Bristol: All Schemes (PDF), Church Commissioners/Statistics, Church of England, 2011, p. 2, retrieved 1 April 2011 
  8. ^ 'Maiden' by Heg & the Wolf Chorus, published 26 March 2014
  9. ^ "Obituary of Harold George Harris" (PDF). The Journal of The Church of England Continuing, Issue No. 5, February 1997. 1997. p. 10. Retrieved 19 December 2010.