Temple Church, Bristol

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Coordinates: 51°27′07″N 2°35′13″W / 51.452°N 2.587°W / 51.452; -2.587

Temple Church
Temple Church Bristol Jan10.jpg
Temple Church, Bristol
Temple Church, Bristol is located in Bristol
Temple Church, Bristol
Location within Bristol
General information
Town or city Bristol
Country England
Coordinates 51°27′07″N 2°35′13″W / 51.452°N 2.587°W / 51.452; -2.587
Construction started 12th century
Client Robert of Gloucester

Temple Church (grid reference ST5972) is a ruined church in Redcliffe, Bristol, England, that was founded in the mid-12th century by Robert of Gloucester and the Knights Templar.

Temple Church was the scene of the exorcism of George Lukins conducted by Methodist and Anglican clergy.[1] The church was bombed and largely destroyed in the Bristol Blitz. It is a listed building now owned by English Heritage.

Early history[edit]

Black and white photograph of Temple Church, Bristol, UK, taken before World War II. The view is from the south of the church showing the lean of the medieval tower. The church was bombed heavily destroying the stores of records kept in the cellars and leaving only the leaning tower and external walls standing.

It is called Temple church because it was built on the site of the oval church of the Knights Templar, suppressed in 1312. Either just before or just after this suppression the church was rebuilt on a rectangular plan and served as a parish church. The site has been excavated and the oval outline of the former Templars' church is laid out in the turf.

It was also called Holy Cross Church, and included the Guild Chapel of the Bristol Weavers. Cloth weaving was the staple industry of Bristol in the late Middle Ages, and its centre was in Temple parish.

The tower is 114 feet (35 m) high and was built in two phases. The lower stages were built in 1390 but work was stopped when the tower started to lean to the west. By 1460 the city was satisfied that the tower was stable, and the upper stages including a belfry, were added. The lean is popularly attributed to the foundations of the tower being built on top of wool-sacks but is most likely due to the soft alluvial clay underneath being compressed.[2]

World War II bombing[edit]

It was bombed on 24/25 November 1940 in the Bristol Blitz, leaving it an empty shell. The damage was severe and although the arcades still stood they were very unsafe and have since been removed. The wrought-iron parclose screens to the side chapels did survive and are today in the Lord Mayor's Chapel. The sword rest by W. Edney is now preserved but broken up into sections and re-erected in other churches.[3] The 15th century candelabrum, with its central statue of the Virgin Mary also survived, albeit a little dented, and now hangs in the Berkeley Chapel of Bristol Cathedral.[2]

Listed status[edit]


It was the first English parish church to be taken into ownership by the then Ministry of Works, and is today in the care of English Heritage. It is a Grade II* listed building.[4] The archway and gates, which date from the mid 19th century and made from Portland stone and wrought iron in a Gothic Revival style, are themselves Grade II listed.[5]

The church is a scheduled monument.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hannah More: the first Victorian. E. and H. Hosford, Printers. Retrieved 31 December 2007. Mrs. Easterbrook was probably the recently widowed mother of the Revd Joseph Easterbrook, vicar of the Temple church in Bristol and on of the most prominent clergymen in the city. In June 1788 he had been controversially involved in an incident which a tailor named George Lukins, from the Mendip village of Yatton, had claimed to be possessed by demons. He and six 'Wesleyan' ministers performed an exorcism in front of a great crowd in the Temple church, after which Lukins was described as calm, happy, and thankful for his deliverance. 
  2. ^ a b "Holy Cross (Temple Church)". Church Crawler. Archived from the original on 17 May 2005. Retrieved 28 July 2006. 
  3. ^ Burrough, THB (1970). Bristol. London: Studio Vista. ISBN 0-289-79804-3. 
  4. ^ "Temple Church". Images of England. English Heritage. Retrieved 28 July 2006. 
  5. ^ "Archway and gates to Temple Church". Images of England. English Heritage. Retrieved 28 July 2006. 
  6. ^ "Scheduled Ancient Monuments in Bristol" (PDF). Bristol City Council. Retrieved 7 May 2007. 

Further reading[edit]

  • The cathedral church of Bristol, Henri Jean Louis; Joseph Massé

External links[edit]