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Church of St Mary Redcliffe

A Grade I Listed Building in Bristol, City of Bristol

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Latitude: 51.4483 / 51°26'53"N

Longitude: -2.5895 / 2°35'22"W

OS Eastings: 359129

OS Northings: 172313

OS Grid: ST591723

Mapcode National: GBR C9M.9N

Mapcode Global: VH88N.2VCL

Plus Code: 9C3VCCX6+85

Entry Name: Church of St Mary Redcliffe

Listing Date: 8 January 1959

Grade: I

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1218848

English Heritage Legacy ID: 380316

ID on this website: 101218848

Location: St Mary Redcliffe Church, Box Makers Yard, Bristol, BS1

County: City of Bristol

Electoral Ward/Division: Central

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Bristol

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Bristol

Church of England Parish: St Mary Redcliffe with Temple, Bristol and St John the Baptist, Bedminster

Church of England Diocese: Bristol

Tagged with: Church building English Gothic architecture

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ST5872 REDCLIFFE WAY, Redcliff
901-1/42/1687 (South side)
08/01/59 Church of St Mary Redcliffe


Church. Late C12 inner N porch; c1294 lower part of tower and
W wall; c1325 outer N porch; c1335 S porch, transept and aisle
and upper tower; mid C14 nave, N aisle, transept and chancel;
mid C15 E bay of Lady Chapel and library; spire damaged 1446
and rebuilt 1872; restoration by G Godwin 1846-72; undercroft
by G Oatley 1941. Limestone ashlar and leaded roof.
PLAN: fully aisled cruciform plan with E Lady Chapel, N
library, hexagonal N porch, S porch and W tower. Early English
Gothic inner N porch and lower tower and W end, Decorated
Gothic outer N porch, Perpendicular Gothic the rest.
EXTERIOR: Lady Chapel: shallow gabled E end with a parapet of
half-blind trefoils, containing a 6-light E window with panel
tracery in an almost flat-sided arch, flanked by angle
buttresses, with the triple plinths that run round the whole
building except the W end; the 2-bay N elevation is divided by
an octagonal 3-stage turret with cinquefoil panels and a
crocketed ogee dome with an elaborate finial, has C15 E bay
with a 4-light, 2-centred arched window, above a wide
4-centred arched doorway, and C14 W bay with a 5-light window
in a flat-sided arch, the E light concealed by a projecting
buttress, with pierced quatrefoils in the spandrels above.
Chancel: E gable has a large 7-light window with alternate
tracery, unpanelled above, with buttresses to thin crocketed
pinnacles. Apart from the S transept, all the aisles have
half-blind quatrefoil parapets, divided by deep buttresses
with water tables which rise above the parapets, with richly
crocketed pinnacles, and flying buttresses to the clerestory;
above the clerestory is a parapet of open cusped triangles
with thin crocketed pinnacles over the flying buttresses;
chancel aisles of 4 bays, transept of 2 bays and nave of 3,
each of 4-light windows under flat-sided arches; the aisle
gables have rounded-arched windows with 4 lights; the
clerestory has tall 6-light windows with alternate tracery,
and Perpendicular panelled spandrels to the 5-bay chancel,
3-bay transept and 5-bay nave.
The N end of the transept has a tall, narrow window divided by
Y-tracery and 2 transoms, with reticulated tracery in the arch
head and below the transoms, flanking buttresses and panelling
up to the shallow parapet. Filling 2 chancel bays and 1 bay of
the N transept, the 2-storey library has mullioned windows
with trefoil heads, transomed on the E second-floor, and a
wide chimney breast to the N side.
Crypt has 2-light windows in flat-sided arches that cut the
plinth to both sides of the library and the 3 sides of the N
The much-restored 3-storey c1325 outer N porch is hexagonal in
plan with 5-sided turret buttresses to square pinnacles: the
main doorway has a cinquefoil-arch in a frame of 3 richly
carved reverse-cinquefoil orders, with a restored door with
scrolled strap hinges; smaller but similarly enriched E and W
doorways have crocketed hoods, carved tympana, attached,
diagonally-set steep gable pinnacles with rich finials either
side, and doors with scrolled strap hinges; the buttresses
have niches on plinths with good carved figures, nodding
cusped ogee canopies and crenellated hoods; 4 also to each
face of the ground and first floors, in front of 3-light
first-floor windows with reticulated tracery; second-floor has
2 plain 4-light mullion windows below a parapet of open
quatrefoils; SE octagonal stair turret with niches. Inside,
the 4 sides have arcades of 4 cinquefoil-headed arches and a
frieze of heads and fleurons, below a C20 concrete remodelling
of the second storey; the SW side opens back to a small
chamber; the arch to the inner porch has side ogee niches with
plinths supported by fine human-faced beasts, and has a
2-light plate tracery window above.
The doorway from the inner porch to the church has a cusped
cinquefoil arch with hollow moulding with square flowers and a
crocketed ogee hood, and canopied niches on angel corbels to
the sides and above; arcades of 5 deeply-moulded lancets on
Purbeck marble shafts and stiff leaf capitals to the sides,
and semicircular quadripartite vault; the arch to the outer
porch is of 5 orders with Purbeck marble shafts and stiff leaf
capitals. To the N extends the 1941 undercroft with a central
flight of steps up, sides with 3 plinth mouldings and triple
stepped lancet windows to the E and W.
The 3-stage tower has angle buttresses and an octagonal spire:
3-light N and 4-light W windows have Geometrical intersecting
tracery to the C13 bottom stage, below an arcade of
trefoil-headed niches with stiff-leaf capitals and gable hoods
containing C19 statues of the Apostles; the wide buttresses
have bowtell mouldings to the corners and 2 niches one above
the other with crocketed hoods to the centres of projecting
trefoil heads; a band of quatrefoil panels runs round the
tower below the elaborate C14 upper stages, 3 arches with
Y-tracery in gable hoods, the middle one to the N glazed above
a clock; similar arches to the buttresses, with good animal
and human hood stops.
The belfry has 3 tall louvred cinquefoil-headed lights
separated by narrow blind arches, all with crocketed ogee
hoods and ball flowers; cinquefoil-headed panels to the tops
of the buttresses, which end in crocketed pyramids in front of
a parapet of open triangles with gargoyles, and tall octagonal
panelled pinnacles inside the parapet; 3-stage spire with
flowered ribs divided by bands of traceried panels, with
cross-window lucarnes with ogee heads to the principal faces
at the base and middle, and a foliated capstone.
The S elevation differs from the N in the Chancel aisle
doorway beneath the transom in the bay second from the E,
which has 3 gable hoods, taller in the middle, with blind
tracery and crocketed pinnacles, above a depressed-ogee
doorway, and in the mid C14 S transept: this has gableted
buttresses and unsupported flying buttresses with crockets,
and is unpanelled above the clerestory windows, which have a
central arch of 3 lights surrounded by a band of glazed
2-storey S porch c1335 has a shallow gable and angle
buttresses with richly crocketed tops and pinnacles, a
2-centred arch with open cusping, 2 orders with small foliate
capitals and an ogee hood, flanked by niches with openwork
cusped heads and hoods and crocketed pinnacles; above is a
central statue niche with narrow windows either side with
steep, gabled heads on shoulders, crocketed gable hoods, and
outer gable hood panels, separated by attached pinnacles; SE
octagonal stair turret.
W elevation is 2 bays of cinquefoil-headed cross windows blind
below the transom; inside, the church entrance is the same as
that of the porch, the sides have important early 4-centred
arches with mullions to the arch and a central canopied niche,
unrelated to the windows outside, and a lierne vaulted roof as
the Lady Chapel E bay. Early C13 W nave gable has a weathered
plinth, a renewed early C14 deeply splayed doorway with a
cusped arch and a 2-leaf ridged door, and either side, slender
attached pinnacles linked to larger attached diagonal
buttresss by flying buttresses in relief; W window has 5
lights with ogee heads, bowtell mouldings with small capitals
between the lights, and a traceried transom; the top of the
gable is Perpendicular, panelled with a large octagonal
pinnacle to the S stair turret; S aisle has a restored 4-light
window with intersecting tracery.
INTERIOR: C14 lierne vaults of varied designs with over 1100
fine bosses. The 2 bays of the Lady Chapel are divided by a
narrow arch with trefoil-headed panels, and the doorways to
the turrets have crocketed ogee hoods. The 5-bay Chancel vault
has 2 parallel ribs to the ridge rib, carried on continuous
mouldings to the ground, and the arcade and transverse aisle
arches have small foliate capitals; the mullions of the
clerestory windows are carried down to the arcade to form
cinquefoil-headed panels, there are deep trefoils above the
Lady Chapel arch, and the aisle window mullions are carried
down to side benches; the doorway to the Library has an ogee
head with Tudor flowers, flanking pinnacles and 2 canopied
statue niches above with C19 statues; in the S aisle the
external doorway is mirrored on the inside.
The 3-bay transepts are divided by transverse arches and have
trefoils to the arcade spandrels; the lierne vault in the N
transept is copied from the S porch; S transept has
ogee-headed panelling below the clerestory. 7-bay nave has
cusped lozenges along the ridge; the arcade does not extend
into the 2 W bays below the tower, in which the line of the
C13 vault can be seen, and the nave vault is carried on a good
Early English corbel with 3 shafts on an octagonal pedestal.
The early C14 N entrance has a square doorway flanked by pairs
of ogee panels with crockets and pinnacles below a frieze with
fleurons, and 4 cinquefoil panels set back to the window
behind with a similar frieze; the S aisle vault has a
hexagonal central cell with concave ribs, and 3 fine stellate
memorial niches, concave crocketed hoodmoulds with large
finials to a 4-sided niche with pierced cusping.
The base of the tower has a narrow arch to the E and a net
vault. The late C13 W window is set back from the W wall, with
a parapeted passage at the bottom, and cusped ogee-arched
panels from the passage doorways upwards to the soffit; the
archivolt has nodding, cusped ogee arched panels as on the
Outer N Porch.
Beneath the Library is a 2-bay crypt with chamfered ribs and
foliate bosses, and a 3-bay crypt under the N transept without
FITTINGS: an oak chest inscribed ST MARY REDCLIFFE 1593 with
caryatids; a fine C18 brass candelabrum; three C17 chairs with
ram's head arm rests and leather backs; C19 open traceried
screen with a 4-centred arch to the Lady Chapel and round the
choir; C18 gilded wrought-iron gates to the choir and to the
aisles; C15 choir stalls with poppy heads and Perpendicular
bench ends; a brass eagle lectern by James Wathe, 1638; a C19
oak pulpit by William Bennett, a shafted base with ogee niches
and figures of the Apostles; C19 pews with gates; Stuart Royal
Coat of Arms in an aedicule with caryatids over the S door;
C18 wrought-iron gilded gates and screens with leaves and urn
finials to the W end of the S aisle; gates to the base of the
tower topped by a heraldic cartouche and an arm holding scales
and a snake, originally for the Chancel, by William Edney
1710; a C13 stone font with trefoil panels and a padlock clasp
built into the S aisle W pier, with above it a gilded dove
from the C18 three-decker pulpit; and a 1755 octagonal marble
font by William Paty.
MEMORIALS: an effigy of John Lavyngton died c1411 in one of
the stellate niches; a wall tablet to Sarah Harris d.1675, a
brass plate set in a painted aedicule with a ramped broken
pediment and an apron with swag; a wall tablet to Sarah Harris
d.1674, brass plaque set in a painted aedicule with a broken
pediment and figures leaning on skulls, with a winged
hourglass below; effigy of William Canynges, d.14? as a
civilian with a dog; dresser tomb to William Canynges the
Younger made c1460-65, a panelled base, octagonal shafts to
the sides with a crested top and cusped 4-centred arch with
fleuron frieze, containing effigies of a man and wife;
alabaster effigy of William Canynges d.1479 as a priest with a
bearded man at his feet; black marble tablet to Bridget
Ambrose d.1734; a tall wall memorial to Harriet Wild d.1830, a
marble tablet in an ogee arch with cusping, crockets, finials
and buttress pinnacles; a wall memorial to Nathaniel Bridges
d.1834, 3 ogee niches with crockets, cusping, finials and
buttress pinnacles; chest tomb to Robert de Berkeley, C13, has
effigy in Crusader's mail; brass to Sir John Inyn d.1439,
inscribed with a figure; double dresser tomb to Phillip Mede
d.1475 and family, a base of narrow trefoiled panels, diagonal
piers to a brattished frieze, with a screen below of angels
between crocketed finial tops to ogee arches to a fully
panelled recess containing an effigy of Mede and his wife to
the W and a brass to the E to Richard Mede depicting a
kneeling man and 2 wives; brass to John Jay d.1480 with wife,
figures with canopy over and kneeling children below; brass to
John Brooke d.1512 and wife; wall memorial to Richard Sandford
d.1721, by Ian Paty, a marble aedicule with Corinthian columns
on brackets and a skull apron, below an urn and cartouche;
wall memorial to Matthew Morgan d.1726, a large cartouche on a
slate background; wall memorial to Giles Bachelor d.1683, a
cartouche with a winged skull, cherubs and a shield; wall
memorial to John Tilley d.1658, an aedicule with panelled
pilasters and a ramped top to a shield and urn; painted wooden
statue of Queen Elizabeth, C16, purported to be ship's
figurehead; whale bone brought back by John Cabot in 1497, on
a corbel with the head of a green man; wall memorial to
William Penn, d.1670, a bowed aedicule with an apron of clouds
and a cartouche above, his armour and flags.
Stained glass: C19 and C20, eight large C15 figures in tower W
window, and figures by Ninian Comper, 1914, to S window of S
The important N porch with its unusual hexagonal plan and rich
ornamentation, the net vault, and the stellate niches in the
nave, are by the same workshop as contemporary work at St
Augustine's Priory (qv); one of the finest medieval parish
churches in England, and of a remarkably unified design.
(Gomme A, Jenner M and Little B: Bristol, An Architectural
History: Bristol: 1979-: 19; The Buildings of England: Pevsner
N: North Somerset and Bristol: London: 1958-: 395; Harvey J:
The Perpendicular Style: London: 1978-).

Listing NGR: ST5912972316

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