Bristol Cathedral

Bristol Cathedral, Bristol, England. The Abbey of Saint Augustine was the first building on the site, begun in 1140. In 1542 the abbey was declared a cathedral by Henry VIII
Parts of Bristol Cathedral date back to the 12th and 13th centuries, but it was not completed until the building of these West Front towers in 1888
Parts of Bristol Cathedral date back to the 12th and 13th centuries, but it was not completed until the building of these West Front towers in 1888
Between 1539 and 1867 Bristol Cathedral had no nave, the original having been demolished at the Dissolution of the Monasteries to provide stone for other buildings. The nave seen here was built between 1867 and 1888.
Between 1539 and 1867 Bristol Cathedral had no nave, the original having been demolished at the Dissolution of the Monasteries to provide stone for other buildings. The nave seen here was built between 1867 and 1888.

The Cathedral Church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity is the Anglican cathedral in the English city of Bristol and is commonly known as Bristol Cathedral.

Bristol Cathedral was founded as St Augustine's Abbey in 1140 by Robert Fitzharding, a wealthy local landowner and royal official. As the name suggests, it was intended to house Augustinian canons. Stone buildings were gradually erected over the rest of the century. Two fine examples of this Norman phase survive: the chapterhouse and the abbey gatehouse, together with a second Romanesque gateway, which originally led into the abbot's quarters.[1]

Under Abbot David (1216-1234) there was a new phase of building, notably the construction of the Elder Lady Chapel in around 1220. The eastern part of the abbey church was rebuilt in the English Decorated style between 1298 and 1332 under Abbot Edward Knowle. Abbot John Newland (1481-1515) began the rebuilding of the nave, but it was still incomplete at the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539 and the partly-built nave was demolished. In 1542 the church was made the cathedral of a new Diocese of Bristol and was dedicated to the Holy and Undivided Trinity.[2]

A new nave was added during the 19th century, designed by George Edmund Street to blend in style with the medieval east end. The opening ceremony was on 23 October 1877. However the west front with its twin towers was only completed in 1888.[3] It is a "hall church" with nave, aisles and choir all at the same height, and the most significant example of a hall church in Britain. It is a grade I listed building.

The Norman abbey gatehouse is now the diocesan office.

The dimensions of Bristol Cathedral:
Total length, external 300 ft 91.4 m
Total Length, internal 284 ft 87 m
Length of nave 125 ft 38 m
Width, including aisles 69 ft 21 m
Length of transept 115 ft 35 m
Width of transept 29 ft 9 m
Height to vault in nave 52 ft 16 m
Height to vault in choir 50 ft 15 m
Area 22,556 ft² 2096 m²

Bristol is also home to a Roman Catholic cathedral, Clifton Cathedral. The Anglican parish church of St. Mary Redcliffe is so grand as to be occasionally mistaken for a cathedral by visitors.

Trivia

  • Bristol Cathedral was used as a location in the 1978 film The Medusa Touch, under the guise of a fictional London place of worship called Minster Cathedral.

Notes

  1. ^ Joseph Bettey, St Augustine's Abbey, Bristol (Bristol Branch of the Historical Association 1996), pp.1, 5, 7.
  2. ^ Joseph Bettey, St Augustine's Abbey, Bristol (Bristol Branch of the Historical Association 1996), pp.7, 11-15, 21, 24-5.
  3. ^ Joseph Bettey, Bristol Cathedral: The rebuilding of the nave (Bristol Branch of the Historical Association 1993).

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