This 900-year-old religious monument is revered for its exquisite vaulted ceilings, stained-glass windows and Romanesque-style Chapter House.
Visit Bristol Cathedral to appreciate a true architectural masterpiece. Marvel at its varied design styles and browse memorials to abbots, barons, bishops and noblemen. Get the lowdown on the history of Bristol Cathedral on a guided tour, attend a Mass service and enjoy live music performances.
Established as an Augustine abbey by an affluent landowner in 1140, improvements and enlargements were made to the cathedral up until the 20th century. The building showcases a fusion of Romanesque, Norman, Gothic and Gothic Revival styles. An arched entrance framed by twin towers, rose windows and figurines set in niches are notable features of the exterior. The respected architecture historian Sir Nikolaus Pevsner once described the cathedral as being “superior to anything else built in England, and indeed Europe, at the same time.”
Go inside and walk to the building’s eastern end to see a prime example of a hall church. Here the aisles, choir and nave are all the same height, which is unusual for a British cathedral. Look up to appreciate the intricate detail of the vaulted ceilings. The Abbey Gatehouse and Chapter House are home to intact remains of the original 12th-century abbey.
Multiple stained-glass windows allow natural light to illuminate the interior. The windows depict a range of themes, such as portrayals of Bristol’s involvement in World War II and an abstract image of the Holy Spirit. Look for the Harrowing of Hell, a stone panel considered to be among only a few surviving Anglo-Saxon sculptures. Commemorative plaques, effigies and tombs remember important figures in Bristolian history, including the writer Richard Hakluyt.
Join a guided tour to hear fascinating anecdotes about the building and its role in city life. Tours take place every Saturday and are free, although donations are welcome. Morning prayers and evensong are held daily, with additional services on Sunday. Regular choir and organ concerts give you the chance to experience the church’s superb acoustics.
Bristol Cathedral is open daily and admission is free. Located in Bristol Harbourside, the cathedral is just a 20-minute walk from Bristol Temple Meads railway station. Metered parking is possible at nearby Millennium Square.