St John on the Wall, Bristol

Broad Street, Bristol BS1 2EZ
How to find us | Access information
Opening times:
Opened daily by volunteers, usually between 11am and 2pm. Call the Bristol office 0117 929 1766 in advance to ensure that the church will be open for your visit.
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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.