Communities minister visits regenerated Bristol church

On 24 March 2014 Bristol West MP and Minister for Communities and Local Government Stephen Williams joined representation of The Churches Conservation Trust and Circomedia at Bristol’s St Paul’s Church.

During the visit Mr Williams discussed innovation in regeneration and community uses of Bristol’s historic religious buildings with CCT CEO Crispin Truman and Circomedia Executive Direcor Chris Humphrey, met students studying Circomedia’s BTEC programme in Contemporary Circus & Physical Theatre and toured St Paul’s Church, a Grade I listed 18th-century church owned by CCT and operated by Circomedia as an internationally respected centre for circus and the performing arts.

Minister for Communities Stephen Williams said: “St Paul’s church is a gem of 18th century architecture but since its closure in the 1980s it has fallen into disrepair and has risked going from Bristol landmark to eyesore.  I am delighted to come here today and see how with the help and hard work of The Churches Conservation Trust and Circomedia it has been restored and saved, and now provides local people with an exciting and valuable leisure and training facility.”

St Paul’s Church - known as the ‘wedding cake church’ due to its unusual tiered steeple - was built in the 1790s. It closed to the public in 1988 due to a falling congregation and suffered years of decline before being vested in the care of CCT in 2000. 

In 2004 St Paul’s re-opened as a performing arts venue and centre for contemporary circus under a partnership between CCT and Circomedia and following a £2.3million restoration and adaptation project funded by Heritage Lottery Fund. In 2007 the church won the international RICS Award for Community Benefit and in 2012 it was Highly Commended for Commercial Innovation in the Hudson’s Heritage Awards.

Circomedia is one of Europe’s leading centres for contemporary circus and physical theatre. As well as running vocational and degree-level performing arts courses, Cirocomedia also runs a performance programme and daily drop-in classes in circus skills.