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Ordnance survey map of CHURCH OF ST MARY REDCLIFFE
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Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

City of Bristol (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
ST 59128 72313



ST5872 REDCLIFFE WAY, Redcliff 901-1/42/1687 (South side) 08/01/59 Church of St Mary Redcliffe


Church. Late C12 inner N porch; c1294 lower part of tower and W wall; c1325 outer N porch; c1335 S porch, transept and aisle and upper tower; mid C14 nave, N aisle, transept and chancel; mid C15 E bay of Lady Chapel and library; spire damaged 1446 and rebuilt 1872; restoration by G Godwin 1846-72; undercroft by G Oatley 1941. Limestone ashlar and leaded roof. PLAN: fully aisled cruciform plan with E Lady Chapel, N library, hexagonal N porch, S porch and W tower. Early English Gothic inner N porch and lower tower and W end, Decorated Gothic outer N porch, Perpendicular Gothic the rest. EXTERIOR: Lady Chapel: shallow gabled E end with a parapet of half-blind trefoils, containing a 6-light E window with panel tracery in an almost flat-sided arch, flanked by angle buttresses, with the triple plinths that run round the whole building except the W end; the 2-bay N elevation is divided by an octagonal 3-stage turret with cinquefoil panels and a crocketed ogee dome with an elaborate finial, has C15 E bay with a 4-light, 2-centred arched window, above a wide 4-centred arched doorway, and C14 W bay with a 5-light window in a flat-sided arch, the E light concealed by a projecting buttress, with pierced quatrefoils in the spandrels above. Chancel: E gable has a large 7-light window with alternate tracery, unpanelled above, with buttresses to thin crocketed pinnacles. Apart from the S transept, all the aisles have half-blind quatrefoil parapets, divided by deep buttresses with water tables which rise above the parapets, with richly crocketed pinnacles, and flying buttresses to the clerestory; above the clerestory is a parapet of open cusped triangles with thin crocketed pinnacles over the flying buttresses; chancel aisles of 4 bays, transept of 2 bays and nave of 3, each of 4-light windows under flat-sided arches; the aisle gables have rounded-arched windows with 4 lights; the clerestory has tall 6-light windows with alternate tracery, and Perpendicular panelled spandrels to the 5-bay chancel, 3-bay transept and 5-bay nave. The N end of the transept has a tall, narrow window divided by Y-tracery and 2 transoms, with reticulated tracery in the arch head and below the transoms, flanking buttresses and panelling up to the shallow parapet. Filling 2 chancel bays and 1 bay of the N transept, the 2-storey library has mullioned windows with trefoil heads, transomed on the E second-floor, and a wide chimney breast to the N side. Crypt has 2-light windows in flat-sided arches that cut the plinth to both sides of the library and the 3 sides of the N transept. The much-restored 3-storey c1325 outer N porch is hexagonal in plan with 5-sided turret buttresses to square pinnacles: the main doorway has a cinquefoil-arch in a frame of 3 richly carved reverse-cinquefoil orders, with a restored door with scrolled strap hinges; smaller but similarly enriched E and W doorways have crocketed hoods, carved tympana, attached, diagonally-set steep gable pinnacles with rich finials either side, and doors with scrolled strap hinges; the buttresses have niches on plinths with good carved figures, nodding cusped ogee canopies and crenellated hoods; 4 also to each face of the ground and first floors, in front of 3-light first-floor windows with reticulated tracery; second-floor has 2 plain 4-light mullion windows below a parapet of open quatrefoils; SE octagonal stair turret with niches. Inside, the 4 sides have arcades of 4 cinquefoil-headed arches and a frieze of heads and fleurons, below a C20 concrete remodelling of the second storey; the SW side opens back to a small chamber; the arch to the inner porch has side ogee niches with plinths supported by fine human-faced beasts, and has a 2-light plate tracery window above. The doorway from the inner porch to the church has a cusped cinquefoil arch with hollow moulding with square flowers and a crocketed ogee hood, and canopied niches on angel corbels to the sides and above; arcades of 5 deeply-moulded lancets on Purbeck marble shafts and stiff leaf capitals to the sides, and semicircular quadripartite vault; the arch to the outer porch is of 5 orders with Purbeck marble shafts and stiff leaf capitals. To the N extends the 1941 undercroft with a central flight of steps up, sides with 3 plinth mouldings and triple stepped lancet windows to the E and W. The 3-stage tower has angle buttresses and an octagonal spire: 3-light N and 4-light W windows have Geometrical intersecting tracery to the C13 bottom stage, below an arcade of trefoil-headed niches with stiff-leaf capitals and gable hoods containing C19 statues of the Apostles; the wide buttresses have bowtell mouldings to the corners and 2 niches one above the other with crocketed hoods to the centres of projecting trefoil heads; a band of quatrefoil panels runs round the tower below the elaborate C14 upper stages, 3 arches with Y-tracery in gable hoods, the middle one to the N glazed above a clock; similar arches to the buttresses, with good animal and human hood stops. The belfry has 3 tall louvred cinquefoil-headed lights separated by narrow blind arches, all with crocketed ogee hoods and ball flowers; cinquefoil-headed panels to the tops of the buttresses, which end in crocketed pyramids in front of a parapet of open triangles with gargoyles, and tall octagonal panelled pinnacles inside the parapet; 3-stage spire with flowered ribs divided by bands of traceried panels, with cross-window lucarnes with ogee heads to the principal faces at the base and middle, and a foliated capstone. The S elevation differs from the N in the Chancel aisle doorway beneath the transom in the bay second from the E, which has 3 gable hoods, taller in the middle, with blind tracery and crocketed pinnacles, above a depressed-ogee doorway, and in the mid C14 S transept: this has gableted buttresses and unsupported flying buttresses with crockets, and is unpanelled above the clerestory windows, which have a central arch of 3 lights surrounded by a band of glazed quatrefoils. 2-storey S porch c1335 has a shallow gable and angle buttresses with richly crocketed tops and pinnacles, a 2-centred arch with open cusping, 2 orders with small foliate capitals and an ogee hood, flanked by niches with openwork cusped heads and hoods and crocketed pinnacles; above is a central statue niche with narrow windows either side with steep, gabled heads on shoulders, crocketed gable hoods, and outer gable hood panels, separated by attached pinnacles; SE octagonal stair turret. W elevation is 2 bays of cinquefoil-headed cross windows blind below the transom; inside, the church entrance is the same as that of the porch, the sides have important early 4-centred arches with mullions to the arch and a central canopied niche, unrelated to the windows outside, and a lierne vaulted roof as the Lady Chapel E bay. Early C13 W nave gable has a weathered plinth, a renewed early C14 deeply splayed doorway with a cusped arch and a 2-leaf ridged door, and either side, slender attached pinnacles linked to larger attached diagonal buttresss by flying buttresses in relief; W window has 5 lights with ogee heads, bowtell mouldings with small capitals between the lights, and a traceried transom; the top of the gable is Perpendicular, panelled with a large octagonal pinnacle to the S stair turret; S aisle has a restored 4-light window with intersecting tracery. INTERIOR: C14 lierne vaults of varied designs with over 1100 fine bosses. The 2 bays of the Lady Chapel are divided by a narrow arch with trefoil-headed panels, and the doorways to the turrets have crocketed ogee hoods. The 5-bay Chancel vault has 2 parallel ribs to the ridge rib, carried on continuous mouldings to the ground, and the arcade and transverse aisle arches have small foliate capitals; the mullions of the clerestory windows are carried down to the arcade to form cinquefoil-headed panels, there are deep trefoils above the Lady Chapel arch, and the aisle window mullions are carried down to side benches; the doorway to the Library has an ogee head with Tudor flowers, flanking pinnacles and 2 canopied statue niches above with C19 statues; in the S aisle the external doorway is mirrored on the inside. The 3-bay transepts are divided by transverse arches and have trefoils to the arcade spandrels; the lierne vault in the N transept is copied from the S porch; S transept has ogee-headed panelling below the clerestory. 7-bay nave has cusped lozenges along the ridge; the arcade does not extend into the 2 W bays below the tower, in which the line of the C13 vault can be seen, and the nave vault is carried on a good Early English corbel with 3 shafts on an octagonal pedestal. The early C14 N entrance has a square doorway flanked by pairs of ogee panels with crockets and pinnacles below a frieze with fleurons, and 4 cinquefoil panels set back to the window behind with a similar frieze; the S aisle vault has a hexagonal central cell with concave ribs, and 3 fine stellate memorial niches, concave crocketed hoodmoulds with large finials to a 4-sided niche with pierced cusping. The base of the tower has a narrow arch to the E and a net vault. The late C13 W window is set back from the W wall, with a parapeted passage at the bottom, and cusped ogee-arched panels from the passage doorways upwards to the soffit; the archivolt has nodding, cusped ogee arched panels as on the Outer N Porch. Beneath the Library is a 2-bay crypt with chamfered ribs and foliate bosses, and a 3-bay crypt under the N transept without bosses. FITTINGS: an oak chest inscribed ST MARY REDCLIFFE 1593 with caryatids; a fine C18 brass candelabrum; three C17 chairs with ram's head arm rests and leather backs; C19 open traceried screen with a 4-centred arch to the Lady Chapel and round the choir; C18 gilded wrought-iron gates to the choir and to the aisles; C15 choir stalls with poppy heads and Perpendicular bench ends; a brass eagle lectern by James Wathe, 1638; a C19 oak pulpit by William Bennett, a shafted base with ogee niches and figures of the Apostles; C19 pews with gates; Stuart Royal Coat of Arms in an aedicule with caryatids over the S door; C18 wrought-iron gilded gates and screens with leaves and urn finials to the W end of the S aisle; gates to the base of the tower topped by a heraldic cartouche and an arm holding scales and a snake, originally for the Chancel, by William Edney 1710; a C13 stone font with trefoil panels and a padlock clasp built into the S aisle W pier, with above it a gilded dove from the C18 three-decker pulpit; and a 1755 octagonal marble font by William Paty. MEMORIALS: an effigy of John Lavyngton died c1411 in one of the stellate niches; a wall tablet to Sarah Harris d.1675, a brass plate set in a painted aedicule with a ramped broken pediment and an apron with swag; a wall tablet to Sarah Harris d.1674, brass plaque set in a painted aedicule with a broken pediment and figures leaning on skulls, with a winged hourglass below; effigy of William Canynges, d.14? as a civilian with a dog; dresser tomb to William Canynges the Younger made c1460-65, a panelled base, octagonal shafts to the sides with a crested top and cusped 4-centred arch with fleuron frieze, containing effigies of a man and wife; alabaster effigy of William Canynges d.1479 as a priest with a bearded man at his feet; black marble tablet to Bridget Ambrose d.1734; a tall wall memorial to Harriet Wild d.1830, a marble tablet in an ogee arch with cusping, crockets, finials and buttress pinnacles; a wall memorial to Nathaniel Bridges d.1834, 3 ogee niches with crockets, cusping, finials and buttress pinnacles; chest tomb to Robert de Berkeley, C13, has effigy in Crusader's mail; brass to Sir John Inyn d.1439, inscribed with a figure; double dresser tomb to Phillip Mede d.1475 and family, a base of narrow trefoiled panels, diagonal piers to a brattished frieze, with a screen below of angels between crocketed finial tops to ogee arches to a fully panelled recess containing an effigy of Mede and his wife to the W and a brass to the E to Richard Mede depicting a kneeling man and 2 wives; brass to John Jay d.1480 with wife, figures with canopy over and kneeling children below; brass to John Brooke d.1512 and wife; wall memorial to Richard Sandford d.1721, by Ian Paty, a marble aedicule with Corinthian columns on brackets and a skull apron, below an urn and cartouche; wall memorial to Matthew Morgan d.1726, a large cartouche on a slate background; wall memorial to Giles Bachelor d.1683, a cartouche with a winged skull, cherubs and a shield; wall memorial to John Tilley d.1658, an aedicule with panelled pilasters and a ramped top to a shield and urn; painted wooden statue of Queen Elizabeth, C16, purported to be ship's figurehead; whale bone brought back by John Cabot in 1497, on a corbel with the head of a green man; wall memorial to William Penn, d.1670, a bowed aedicule with an apron of clouds and a cartouche above, his armour and flags. Stained glass: C19 and C20, eight large C15 figures in tower W window, and figures by Ninian Comper, 1914, to S window of S transept. The important N porch with its unusual hexagonal plan and rich ornamentation, the net vault, and the stellate niches in the nave, are by the same workshop as contemporary work at St Augustine's Priory (qv); one of the finest medieval parish churches in England, and of a remarkably unified design. (Gomme A, Jenner M and Little B: Bristol, An Architectural History: Bristol: 1979-: 19; The Buildings of England: Pevsner N: North Somerset and Bristol: London: 1958-: 395; Harvey J: The Perpendicular Style: London: 1978-).

Listing NGR: ST5912972316


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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Books and journals
Gomme, A H, Jenner, M, Little, B D G, Bristol, An Architectural History, (1979), 19
Harvey, J, The Perpendicular Style, (1978)
Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: North Somerset and Bristol, (1958), 395


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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Date: 20 Mar 2005
Reference: IOE01/12871/16
Rights: Copyright IoE Ms Ruth Povey. Source Historic England Archive
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