Church of St John the Baptist, Bristol, Bristol

Address: Broad Street, Bristol, Bristol, BS1 2EZ
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Church opened regularly by volunteer stewards, but please call the Bristol office on 0117 929 1766 before your visit.
Keyholder information, accessibility and facilities

A church rising out of Bristol's North Gate

St John’s is part of the very fabric of Bristol – it was built into the city walls in the 14th-century as a place for travellers to offer prayers before a journey.

In the 12th-century there were five churches built into Bristol’s city walls, acting both as part of the city’s defences, and as places for travellers to offer prayers before a journey. St John’s is the only one that remains. As you walk down the slope of Broad Street, the view of the Gothic city gate with the elegant perpendicular spire of St John’s rising above, is stunning.

The building of St John’s coincided with a period of great prosperity for Bristol. Walter Frampton (died 1388), who was mayor of the city three times, founded the church, and his splendid monument stands in the chancel. His effigy lies on a tombchest decorated with heraldic shields, with a long-tailed dog at his feet.

Other monuments in the chancel, and in the early 14th-century vaulted crypt beneath, testify to the wealth and business activity of the city, in Medieval times and later. See, for example, the alabaster tomb in the crypt of a merchant and his wife, with their ten children represented in panels below.

The interior of the church is impressively tall and graceful, with fine fittings dating mostly from the 17th-century. On the north side of the church, built into the city wall is a fountain, a branch of a conduit installed to bring water to the Carmelite Friary 700 years ago. It is said that at election times in the past it was sometimes made to run with wine.

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How to find us

To locate this church on a map, click on the 'View on map' link that appears below the address information at the top of the page.

Road directions

Tower Lane, bottom of Broad Street at intersection with Nelson Street.

Public transport information

Close to most city centre bus routes. Bus and coach terminus 0.25 mile. Nearest railway station: Bristol Temple Meads (1 mile).

OS Reference No.

ST 587 732

What’s on & news

News

16/07/14 Wendy Leaney impressed the judges with her skillfully sculpted creation made out of homemade lime and elderflower cordial

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Close up of a mosaic at St Peter, Northampton

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News about this church

You can find out more about each of the news items summarised below by clicking on the news title.

Donate by text

Last year, we welcomed over two million visitors to our churches. If each person donated just £2, this would enable us to keep our churches open, safe and watertight for you and future generations to enjoy.

Close up of a mosaic at St Peter, Northampton

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Image gallery

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Images from Flickr

The CCT is grateful to the Flickr group, Friends of the Churches Conservation Trust, for the images shown here. CCT is not responsible for the quality or content of images taken from Flickr.


Donate by text

Last year, we welcomed over two million visitors to our churches. If each person donated just £2, this would enable us to keep our churches open, safe and watertight for you and future generations to enjoy.

Close up of a mosaic at St Peter, Northampton

Text code 'OCCT05' to 70070 to donate now (free from all networks).

Or use the button below to donate online.

Donate online

Useful information

Why not make your visit more enjoyable and informed by finding out more about this church and the CCT before you visit?

You can download a range of publications below including the relevant county guide, and any walk round guides we have for this church.


 

 

 

PDF iconBristol & Gloucestershire County Guide (PDF, 4.6mb)

This free of charge short guide contains details of all the churches CCT cares for in Bristol & Gloucestershire. Printed copies of the county guide are also available at the church.

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Donate by text

Last year, we welcomed over two million visitors to our churches. If each person donated just £2, this would enable us to keep our churches open, safe and watertight for you and future generations to enjoy.

Close up of a mosaic at St Peter, Northampton

Text code 'OCCT05' to 70070 to donate now (free from all networks).

Or use the button below to donate online.

Donate online

Have you visited this church?

Why not share your experience with us?

Comments

  1. Geoff Hall (08 Nov 2012, 11:53)

    Hi,

    I'm hoping to visit St John the Baptist in Bristol sometime soon. I'm a writer currently working on a novel and need a church in Bristol with a crypt!

    I wonder if there are any more detailed, but not extensive, architectural reports on this church, that could help me find the correct location.

    Many thanks,

    Geoff Hall

  2. Peter R (21 Dec 2012, 22:20)

    This church was the home of the bombed out congregation of St Mary le Port until the 1980s. The Bishop closed it down as part of a rationalisation of central Bristol churches, despite the fact that it represented a different tradition to any of the others, being traditional low "1662 prayer book" evangelical and Protestant with a strong Calvinist background previously associated with the Sovereign Grace Union and the Gospel Magazine. Bristol had had a number of Anglican clergy leading in this movement, especially Doudney, Ormiston, and Dodgson Sykes.

  3. John B (25 Jun 2013, 14:05)

    The church crypt was open when I walked past in my lunch hour, it made a pleasant change from the busy street outside.

  4. Tony H (13 Nov 2013, 17:42)

    I was leaning in the tiny low doorway to the crypt today watching the demolition of the large building in Quay Street when I felt a tap on my leg, and to my surprise half a dozen people came out through the door, I had always thought the door was sealed up. There was a notice which I had not seen saying open. So I went in, the guy inside told me a little about the church and crypt, very interesting, if you're lucky enough to find an open day, it's very well worth a look, I've passed the door a thousand times, and never thought I would ever get to go through it.

  5. Libby O (28 Feb 2014, 11:04)

    My daughter and I made a beeline for this church on the 'OpenDoors' day, september 2013. Like others I had passed the water fountain many times, knew something of its history but that was it. The crypt was really fascinating; a treasure trove of monuments, with so many stories that could be told. It is a testament to its early use.
    We were particularly taken by the room (vestry) behind the body of the church, again a treasure trove of artefacts that tell of the story of the church's use.
    It is really good to know that this church is in safe hands for the future.

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Donate by text

Last year, we welcomed over two million visitors to our churches. If each person donated just £2, this would enable us to keep our churches open, safe and watertight for you and future generations to enjoy.

Close up of a mosaic at St Peter, Northampton

Text code 'OCCT05' to 70070 to donate now (free from all networks).

Or use the button below to donate online.

Donate online

Community information for Church of St John the Baptist, Bristol

 

All our Bristol churches are in CCT’s West region.

Useful local links 

Visit Bristol tourism website 

Bristol & Avon Family History Society 

Bristol history 

Bristol County Council History & Heritage 

Bristol is in the Diocese of Bristol 

List of Bristol churches

Donate by text

Last year, we welcomed over two million visitors to our churches. If each person donated just £2, this would enable us to keep our churches open, safe and watertight for you and future generations to enjoy.

Close up of a mosaic at St Peter, Northampton

Text code 'OCCT05' to 70070 to donate now (free from all networks).

Or use the button below to donate online.

Donate online

Church of St John the Baptist, Bristol, Bristol

Keyholder

If the access information for this church is listed as ‘Keyholder nearby’, this means that the key is kept by one of our invaluable volunteer 'keyholders', who usually live just a short walk from the church and can give visitors the key; sometimes this is a nearby hotel, pub, library, art gallery or other venue. You will find instructions explaining how to get the key when you arrive at the church.

Disabled access

There are steep steps into church.

Facilities

Due to the historic nature of our buildings, only a very small number of them have heating or running water meaning that they can be cold, and very rarely have toilet facilities. The lighting is usually operated via a 'push button' timer or a motion sensor. We do apologise for any inconvenience the lack of facilities may cause.