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Bristol | Place Names | Legends, Pre-history and the Romans | Birth of the City | 1100 Onwards | Voyages | 1450 Onwards | 1650 Onwards | 1700 Onwards | Riots | The Blitz (Page 1), (Page 2) | The Castle (Page 1), (Page 2), (Page 3), (Page 4), (Page 5), (Page 6) | Blaise Castle (Page 1), (Page 2) | Castle Green (Page 1), (Page 2) | Union Street | Broadmead | The Old City (Page 1), (Page 2), (Page 3), (Page 4) | Christmas Steps (Page 1), (Page 2) | St. Mary Redcliffe (Page 1), (Page 2), (Page 3) | College Green (Page 1), (Page 2) | King Street (Page 1), (Page 2) | Clifton (Page 1), (Page 2) | Avon Gorge (Page 1), (Page 2), (Page 3) | Hotwells (Page 1), (Page 2) | City Docks (Page 1), (Page 2), (Page 3) | Bedminster (Page 1), (Page 2), (Page 3), (Page 4), (Page 5), (Page 6), (Page 7) | Old Market (Page 1), (Page 2) | St. George (Page 1), (Page 2) | Temple (Page 1), (Page 2), (Page 3) | Arno's Vale Cemetery (Page 1), (Page 2) | Brislington | @ Bristol | Oldest House | I. K. Brunel (Page 1), (Page 2) | Ma Pugsley | Yeamans | Boundaries (Page 1), (Page 2) | Photography | Exhibition (Page 1), (Page 2) | Lead Working | Historical Perspective | Virtute et Industrial | Other Sites | Bibliography (Page 1), (Page 2) | Help Wanted (Page 1), (Page 2), (Page 3)

Bristol - A Walk around Castle Green.

This is a guided tour around one of Bristol's oldest sites. We are going to start in Victoria Street, a main road that approaches Castle Green, the site of Bristol Castle, from the South.

Castle Green area

From Victoria Street to Christmas Steps.

Victoria Street runs from Temple Way, near Temple Meads railway station to Bristol Bridge, and it is here that we start this tour.

After the horrible concrete buildings that the city planners approved in the 1960's, the new buildings at the start of Victoria Street are far nicer.

1. Passing these on our right we can see the leaning tower of Temple Church. Just before we get there, however we pass the pub 'Ye Shakespeare'. This building was erected in 1636. Incidentally, it serves a very nice pint.

Buildings from 1660

Ye Shakespeare ~ 1636 and other buildings from 1660.

Next to the Shakespeare is a row of houses, these were built a little later, in 1660. Behind these buildings are Temple Church. The effect is spoilt a little by the modern street furniture but these are far less noticeable in real life than in these photographs.

Behind these buildings are Temple Church. The history of this building is given in The Knights Templar , but to recap briefly. After the Knights Templar were disbanded (1312), the Knights of St. John demolished the original Temple and built a better one. The entire area at the time was marshland and during building work the tower started to lean as it sank. The foundations of the church were strengthened and the remainder of the tower was built more upright. It was finally finished in 1460. Nearly 500 years later, in 1940, the church was bombed and all that remains is the tower and the gutted remains of the main church. After the bombing raids buildings that were still standingbut unsafe were pulled down. The army engineers were about to pull down this tower until they were stopped on the grounds that it wasn't bomb damage but that the tower had always been like this. There are stories of when this church was in use that boys would place stones and nuts between the tower and the church, when the bells were rung the tower would move and they would be split.

The leaning tower of Temple Church

The leaning tower of Temple Church ~ 1460

Temple Church window

Temple Church window
This is all that now remains of what was obviously once a very ornate window

I'm pleased to say that the council have now tidied up the park next to the church and it is now a pleasant, peaceful oasis in a very busy part of the city.

2. Several of the sources I have consulted mention the fact that somewhere along Victoria Street is the site of a plague pit (where the bodies of victims of the plague were disposed of). Unfortunately I cannot determine the exact location of this site. Continuing along Victoria Street, if we look to our left, nestled between much newer ones, we now pass an even older rank of buildings.

A row of buildings dating from 1456.

Passing more modern buildings on our left and a pretty office block on our right we come across Bristol Bridge, this crosses the River Avon. The old bridge is long gone and this one isn't very interesting, which is a great pity. The reason being that this is the site of the original Bristol Bridge that gave Bristol it's name, Old English 'Brycgstow' meaning Bridge and meeting place, also the place of the bridge. It is probably the single most important reason that the city was sited here at all.

The view from the bridge however, is grand. To the left and right the Avon stretches away through the city. To the front of us lie Bristol's oldest streets. Although there are some modern buildings here the street layout is the same as it was over 1,000 years ago, also nestled out of the way are some of our most historic buildings. To the left is St. Nicholas church. To our right we can look straight out across Castle Green and the remains of St. Peter's church. Behind these lies our main city shopping area, Broadmead.

St Nicholas' Church

St. Nicholas Church

3. Crossing the bridge if we look towards Castle Green the ruins of St. Peter's are very prominent. This was built in 1106 but badly damaged by bombs on Sunday, 24th November 1940. It has been kept as a memorial as it was during this air raid that the centre of Bristol was flattened. After the war, Broadmead was rebuilt but thankfully the eyesore they built was demolished and the Galleries shopping centre was built.

St. Peters Church

The remains of St Peters church.

Turning right on the far side of Bristol Bridge we turn onto Castle Green. St. Peter's is worthy of closer attention as the council have turned the old churchyard into a place of tranquil beauty - it would be even better though if they cleaned out the water feature every now and then. This is one of my pet hates about the city, we've some really nice fountains and water features, except that they nearly always turned off and / or full of rubbish.

Bristol | Place Names | Legends, Pre-history and the Romans | Birth of the City | 1100 Onwards | Voyages | 1450 Onwards | 1650 Onwards | 1700 Onwards | Riots | The Blitz (Page 1), (Page 2) | The Castle (Page 1), (Page 2), (Page 3), (Page 4), (Page 5), (Page 6) | Blaise Castle (Page 1), (Page 2) | Castle Green (Page 1), (Page 2) | Union Street | Broadmead | The Old City (Page 1), (Page 2), (Page 3), (Page 4) | Christmas Steps (Page 1), (Page 2) | St. Mary Redcliffe (Page 1), (Page 2), (Page 3) | College Green (Page 1), (Page 2) | King Street (Page 1), (Page 2) | Clifton (Page 1), (Page 2) | Avon Gorge (Page 1), (Page 2), (Page 3) | Hotwells (Page 1), (Page 2) | City Docks (Page 1), (Page 2), (Page 3) | Bedminster (Page 1), (Page 2), (Page 3), (Page 4), (Page 5), (Page 6), (Page 7) | Old Market (Page 1), (Page 2) | St. George (Page 1), (Page 2) | Temple (Page 1), (Page 2), (Page 3) | Arno's Vale Cemetery (Page 1), (Page 2) | Brislington | @ Bristol | Oldest House | I. K. Brunel (Page 1), (Page 2) | Ma Pugsley | Yeamans | Boundaries (Page 1), (Page 2) | Photography | Exhibition (Page 1), (Page 2) | Lead Working | Historical Perspective | Virtute et Industrial | Other Sites | Bibliography (Page 1), (Page 2) | Help Wanted (Page 1), (Page 2), (Page 3)

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This page created 15th March 2000, last modified 5th May 2005