Magnificent architecture surrounds a leafy square that is the location for an annual comedy festival, among other cultural events.
Join the city workers that seek refuge from their daily grind amid the peaceful confines of Bristol’s Queen Square. Sit on a bench and watch the world go by, lie back on the grass lawns on a warm summer’s day and admire elegant Georgian buildings. Be part of events, such as comedy shows, concerts and theater at Queen Square.
The square has developed from an area of marshland in the early 17th century to one of the city’s favorite green spaces. In 1622 it was used as a lawn for playing crown green bowls. The first houses were erected in 1699 and it took on its present layout the following year. Arson attacks during the 1831 Bristol Riots, which resulted in approximately 90 imprisonments, destroyed some 100 buildings in the square’s vicinity.
Wide pathways cross the square and intersect at a central plaza dominated by John Michael Rysbrack’s equestrian sculpture of King William III of England. It portrays the king dressed in Roman robes.
The lawns are ideal for children to play games, to set up a picnic and take a nap. Look up at the 150-year-old trees and spot birdlife, including gulls, pigeons and wagtails.
Grand Georgian mansions frame the square on all sides. Once private residences, today most are office buildings. Sailors Refuge, on the south side, dates back to 1709 and is one of the oldest-surviving structures. It’s notable for its Georgian-Palladian design and a façade decorated with elements of the classic order.
In June the Bristol Comedy Garden takes over the square with a weekend of stand-up performances. This ticketed event welcomes well-known comedians, such as Alan Davies, in addition to emerging local acts. An open-air food and drink market accompanies the festival. Markets, music and dance shows also take place here during July’s Bristol Harbour Festival.
Queen Square is easy to reach via public buses and passenger ferries. Metered parking is available a short walk to the south. The square is part of the City Centre Nature Trail, an area inhabited by varied birdlife and colorful plants.