Clifton Cathedral

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Clifton Cathedral
The Cathedral Church of SS. Peter and Paul
Clifton Cathedral from north (600px).jpg
Clifton Cathedral, opened in 1973
Clifton Cathedral is located in Bristol
Clifton Cathedral
Clifton Cathedral
Shown within Bristol
Coordinates: 51°27′35″N 2°36′59″W / 51.4597°N 2.6163°W / 51.4597; -2.6163
Location Bristol, Bristol
Country England
Denomination Roman Catholic
Consecrated 1973
Architect(s) R. Weeks, F.S. Jennett and A. Poremba of Percy Thomas Partnership
Years built 1970-1973
Capacity 1000
Diocese Clifton (since 1973)
Province Birmingham
Bishop(s) Declan Ronan Lang
Dean Bosco MacDonald
Director of music Richard Jeffrey-Gray
Organist(s) Stephen Bryant

The Cathedral Church of SS. Peter and Paul is the Roman Catholic cathedral in the English city of Bristol. Located in the Clifton area of the city, it is the seat of the Diocese of Clifton and is known as Clifton Cathedral. It has been a Grade II* Listed Building since 2000.[1]


Pro-Cathedral of the Holy Apostles[edit]

Clifton cathedral was built to replace the previous diocesan seat of Pro-Cathedral of the Holy Apostles in Bristol (1850-1973). The pro-cathedral had a history of problematic construction work. It was built as a church on a challenging hillside site, making work there difficult. Building started in 1834, stopped a year later, started again in 1843, stopped shortly after and the building lay abandoned until 1848 when a roof was placed on the half-completed building so that it could be used as a church.[2]

Two years later, in 1850, Clifton was made an episcopal see and the church became the Pro-Cathedral, intended to act in this capacity until a more fitting cathedral church could be constructed.[2]

Move to Clifton[edit]

In 1965, architects were commissioned to undertake the design of a new cathedral on a different site in Clifton. The design was primarily by R.J. Weeks,[3] working with F.S. Jennett and A. Poremba of the Percy Thomas Partnership.[4]

Construction began in March 1970 and completed in May 1973 by John Laing & Son Ltd,[5] also the main contractor at Coventry Cathedral. That same year, on 29 June, the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, the new cathedral was consecrated and opened and the pro-Cathedral was closed.

In 2011, it hosted the filming of 'Dechrau Canu Dechrau Canmol' an S4C television programme, that translates as 'Start Singing Start Praising'. The Cathedral hosted musicians, singers, cameramen and crew filming for the faith and music programme.[6]


The interior design has been seen as unusual. The sanctuary is hexagonal to allow the 1,000 capacity congregation a close and clear view of the altar, and there are no windows within the congregation's line of sight of the altar. Daytime lighting is provided by natural roof lights, so that the light from outside comes from the ring beam walls. This ensures that the sanctuary area remains the focus of the cathedral.[7] The baptistery is situated close to the entrance, whilst the seating is around the lectern and altar space, reflecting a person's sacramental journey within the Catholic Church.[7]

The mathematical form of a triangle [8] is important in the design of the building. The architect used this to determine the spacings of the furnishings within the cathedral. The votive candelabrum hanging in the Lady Chapel was designed by the architect and is constructed of twenty such triangles and was made by Brother Patrick of Prinknash Abbey.[7]


The interior of Clifton Cathedral. The walls are made from reinforced white concrete
Stained Glass by Henry Haig
  • A copper tube containing plans of the cathedral and other items was buried under the foundation stone.
  • The cathedral is constructed from reinforced concrete clad with panels of Aberdeen granite.
  • The narthex contains two stained glass windows constructed from over 8,000 pieces of glass collected from England, France and Germany.
  • On 14 July 2016. the cathedral was featured in a BBC Two documentary in the UK, "The Hairy Builder", presented by Dave Myers.[9]


The archives of Clifton Cathedral, Bristol are held at Bristol Archives (Ref. 38031) (online catalogue), including registers of baptisms, marriages, confirmations, burials and members. The archive also includes notices of banns and minutes of the deanery.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1271209)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 28 September 2015. 
  2. ^ a b General History, Clifton Cathedral site
  3. ^ S.M. Weeks, family archives
  4. ^ Burrough, THB (1970). Bristol. London: Studio Vista. ISBN 0-289-79804-3. 
  5. ^ August 28, 2016 (2016-08-28). "Clifton Cathedral Guide". Retrieved 2017-09-07. 
  6. ^ Top Historical TV Show Filmed in Clifton Cathedral, Clifton Diocese Archived 15 February 2013 at
  7. ^ a b c History Tour, Clifton Cathedral site
  8. ^ August 30, 2016 (2016-08-30). "Religion Experience At The Clifton Cathedral in Bristol - Cathedrals". Retrieved 2017-09-07. 
  9. ^ "Clifton Diocese webpage 'The Hairy Builder'". Retrieved 19 July 2016. 

External links[edit]