St John on the Wall, Bristol
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A church rising from Bristol's medieval walls
St John's is part of the very fabric of Bristol - it was built into the city walls in the fourteenth century as a place for travellers to offer prayers before a journey. In the twelfth 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 fourteenth 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 seventeenth 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.
01 April 2019 - 20 May 2019
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A handsome fourteenth-century tower
Church is situated on the junction of Broad Street and Quay Street. Entrance to upper church is on the Broad Street side and entrance to crypt on Quay Street/Nelson Street via a small door. Metered car parking on Broad Street and multiple city centre car parks nearby. Due to the churches location it can not remain unlocked outside of volunteer opening times.
The Grand Hotel is located nearby and the Guildhall is the closest landmark.
Steps to the church are worn and steep. The crypt entrance is narrower and lower than a modern door.
Disabled access information
There are three and a bit steps down into the crypt totaling approximately 610mm in height. There is no handrail.
Facilities & Hire
There is no heating, running water or toilet facilities. The lighting is operated manually.
Tower Lane, bottom of Broad Street at intersection with Nelson Street. Cloest landmark is the Guildhall.
Close to most city centre bus routes. Bus and coach terminus 0.25 mile.
Nearest railway station: Bristol Temple Meads (1 mile).
History & Further Information
Why not make your visit more enjoyable and informed by finding out more about this church before you visit?
Sacred & Spiritual Bristol
Bristol can be proud not only of its rich history and seafaring links, but also of its profusion of churches and places to worship. Any visit to Bristol should at least include a glimpse inside some of these remarkable locations that have helped to make Bristol a place of significant religious importance.
Old City Heritage Trail
A circular walk around the Old City of Bristol
You can download a range of publications below including the relevant county guide, and any walk round guides we have for this church.Bristol & Gloucestershire County Guide
This free of charge short guide contains details of all the churches we care for in Cornwall, Devon & Dorset. Printed copies of the county guide are also available at the church.
Become a Medieval Crypt keeper at St John on the Wall
Do you love spending time in historic buildings?
The Visitor Welcome Day Leader will run the welcome team at 14th-century St John-in-the-Wall
All our Bristol churches are in our West region.
Useful local links
- Visit Bristol tourism website
- /Bristol & Avon Family History Society
- Bristol County Council History & Heritage
- Diocese of Bristol
- List of Bristol churches
TGIF promotion rules
Please, note: CCT employees may not participate. Only one prize per winner. Winner must be able to pick up prize at our church, St John on the Wall or St Thomas (both in Bristol centre) and must agree to have his/ her photo posted on social media. Winner will be contacted privately via Instagram.