England travel guide




Bristol Travel Guide

The Bristol Cathedral

The Bristol Cathedral was founded in 1140 by Robert FitzHarding, a wealthy merchant, Provost of Bristol and Lord of Berkeley. FitzHarding brought Augustinian monks, known as Black Canons, to serve God and the community at this spot across the river from the enclosed city.

The Chapter House is Norman with fine arcading and dog-tooth mouldings, typical of the period. The Choir is mediaeval and features many interesting carvings on the wooden misericords, including the Romance of Reynard Fox.

In 1220 the Elder Lady Chapel was added by Abbot David and used for quiet services and also for the Blessed Sacrament. In 1298 the Abbey was rebuilt and the Choir and beautiful Eastern Lady Chapel were completed two years later, the Centre Tower and Transepts added in 1460-80. In 1539 the Abbey was closed and the Nave demolished.

In 1540, at the time of the Reformation, the Abbot was forced to surrender the abbey to the King. Bristol had been part of the diocese of Worcester up until this time, but two years later was made a city. So the abbey church became the Cathedral of the new see of Bristol, with the dedication changed to The Holy and Undivided Trinity.

The Chapter House is one of the finest examples of Norman Rooms in the world and is much the same as when it was completed in 1165. There are 40 recesses around the room designed for the monks to sit in. The Newton Chapel contains three tombs of the Newton Family and an unusual table tomb. The Berkeley Chapel was originally for prayers for the Berkeley family and has the remains of a bread oven for communion bread.

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