Bristol - Parish Boundaries (2)

Bristol: A history and Guide

Bristol - Parish Boundaries (2)

St Peter's marker

St Peter's marker
Set into the wall of Riverside Walk (formerly Bridge Street)
This is the only known surviving marker for the parish of St Peter

St Werburgh's 6 marker

St Werburgh's 6 marker
13 Small Street

Unknown marker

Unknown marker
Corn Street
I can't find a reference to this marker, SL79 ?

Because of the importance of these boundaries there was an annual peramulation around them. Young boys were thrashed on the markers and girls bounced on them to try and make them remember them.

In Bedminster, on 26th July 1832 a poster was put up, it read :-

Notice is hereby given,
that the Churchwarden and Overseers of the Parish of Bedminster intend
The Boundary intersecting the
Parish of Bedminster
Prescribed by an Act of Parliament,
made and passed in the Third Year of
the Reign of King William IV, which
subdivides the EASTERN DIVISION
of the COUNTY of SOMERSET from
the City & County of the City of Bristol.
The Division in Reference to the Parish of Bedminster
is as follows :-
"Along the Boundary of the Parish of St. Philip and
Jacob to that point thereof which is nearest to the point at
which the Wells Road leaves the Bath Road; thence in a
straight line to the said point at which the Wells Road
leaves the Bath Road; thence along the Wells Road to the
Knowle Turnpike Gate to Bedminster Church, to
the point at which the same is crossed by Bedminster Brook;
thence along Bedminster Brook to the point at which the
same crosses the Road from Lock's Mill to Bedminster;
thence along the last-mentioned Road, passing to the Southern
extremity of the Village of Bedminster, the the point at
which the same meets the Brook at Marsh Pit; thence
along the last-mentioned Brook to the point at which the
same meets the Boundary of the Parish of Clifton."

The part of "point at which the Wells Road leaves the Bath Road" is mentioned twice in the original poster. "The Third Year of the Reign of King William IV" would be in 1830.

With time the parish boundaries would change. St Mary Redcliffe and St Thomas's, for example, were originally daughter parishes of St John's, Bedminster. They finally became detached and managed their own affairs in 1852.

As well as the parish, the city boundaries were also perambulated. The last time this was done was in 1900. Here's a description of it :-

"The peramulation of the City boundaries, considered to be essential . . . was commenced on September 10th when about one hundred gentlemen, members and officers of the Corporation met near the bottom of St. Vincent's Rocks, where three hundred policemen with trumpeters and banner bearers already assembled . . . On reaching Purdown after a five mile march, they halted for luncheon. The day's peramulation finished at the Frenchay road where tea was provided . . . The proceedings resumed on the 12th . . . and a halt was called at Magpie Bottom. On the 13th the peramulation was resumed at the same spot, much of the day's journey being over somewhat difficult country, interspaced with water-cress beds, marshes, orchards and gardens. The Avon was reached near Conham, whence two steam vessels conveyed the visitors to Hanham Weir, the eastern extremity of the river jurisdiction. Luncheon was provided at Hanham Court, and after a brief rest the company returned to Conham by water, climbed the steep bank on the Somerset shore and made for St. Anne's Park and Brislington."

Bumping the Bounds - 1900

Bumping the Bounds ~ 1900

The 1900 perambulation lasted a fortnight and was aimed to convince people in the newly absorbed communities that they were now part of Bristol. Starting at St. Vincent Rock, Clifton they walked to the Downs, along Parry's Lane to Westbury and on to Horfield. Moving on to Purdown they called on the Dowager Duchess of Beaufort at Dower House where the Lord High Steward and the Lord Mayor were "bumped". After this little ceremony they moved to Frenchay, along the Frome to Downend, then Staple Hill and Kingswood.

From Kingswood they walked through the marshy Magpie Bottom then onto Conham where they caught a steamer to Hanham Weir. From then it was back to feet to get to Brislington, St. Anne's, Bedminster, Bedminster Down, Bishopsworth and Rownham. On the 15th day, 250 people got on the steamer Britannia to survey the water boundaries. Starting at Rownham they landed at Shirehampton, then on to Steep Holm and Flat Holm. At both islands iron stakes were hammered into the ground to confirm Bristol's claim to them.

On the way these people didn't let any obstacles stand in their way. Houses lying on the boundary were climbed over using ladders, or people just walked through them. Some of the perambulators became rowdy with a crowd of young women acting as the bumpers who "dealt vigorously" with many of the walkers, including women and children.

I've produced a Google map showing the parish boundary markers that can still be found - Parish Boundaries of Bristol. The map was prepared using information from several sources, especially The Temple Local History Group's "A Survey of Parish Boundary Markers and Stones" published in 1994. The converter by Movable Type Scripts was used to convert British National Grid coordinates to WGS84 coordinates which is used by Google maps. Some of the images used on the map have been stolen from other websites as I haven't got my own photographs of them.


An Eye For Detail - Parish Boundary Markers from the great About Bristol site
Flickr has a whole group dedicated to Parish Boundary Markers, most are about London but there are several about Bristol.
St. Matthew's have done a great job of showing their parish boundaries in Kingsdown and Redland

Parish Boundaries - Page 1

This page created 23rd June 2001, last modified 12th September 2009

GoStats stats counter