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Heritage at Risk: St Michael on the Mount, Bristol

Find out what’s happening eight months after a major fire at St Michael on the Mount, Bristol

The 2016 fire

On 16 October 2016, a fire broke out at the closed Grade II* listed church of St Michael on the Mount in Bristol. Thankfully there was no injury or loss of life and much of the church’s fine interiors escaped severe damage. Half the roof was destroyed and only the swift actions of Avon Fire and Rescue prevented damage to the late medieval tower and many of the church’s treasures such as the 20th century war memorial windows.

St Michael’s is a prominent feature in Bristol’s cityscape, but it has been empty since 1999. Sadly, empty buildings are more vulnerable to damage. For this reason, the church is on the Heritage at Risk Register and a high priority for Historic England.

St Michael on the Mount, Bristol, following a fire in October 2016
St Michael on the Mount, Bristol, following a fire in October 2016 © Avon Fire & Rescue Service

What's been happening since the fire?

Since the fire, a team of conservation architects and engineers has been appointed by the Diocese of Bristol. Our historic buildings advisers have been working alongside them to give specialist advice on the recovery and repair of the building and will remain closely involved as work proceeds at St Michael’s.

Over the winter, the Diocese of Bristol secured the site and carried out initial rapid surveys to plan what to do next. A two-stage approach was agreed and in February 2017 work began on clearing debris and securing vulnerable stonework. This work  was completed ahead of schedule, allowing better access to the building to carry out further surveys to inform repair proposals.

The next phase, due to get under way soon, will see the installation of a temporary roof structure, incorporating as much of the original fabric as possible. The damaged stonework in the crypt and tower will also be repaired.

What next?

As the repairs reach completion in late 2017, the Diocese of Bristol will invite proposals for appropriate alternative uses for St Michael on the Mount. We will continue to work with the Diocese, the Church Commissioners and interested groups to plan a sustainable and secure future for this remarkable building.

You can keep up to date on the Diocese of Bristol website.

The 1951 window of St George and St Michael, a 1914-18 war memorial of the Sixth Battalion of the Gloucestershire Regiment in St Michael on the Mount Bristol
The 1914-18 war memorial window depicting St George and St Michael, St Michael on the Mount, Bristol © Diocese of Bristol (Janey Hiller)

Remarkable survivals

Due to the swift actions of Avon Fire and Rescue, the 1951 window of St George and St Michael, a 1914-18 war memorial of the Sixth Battalion of the Gloucestershire Regiment (above), and the 1954 David and Jonathan window, a 1939-1945 War Memorial (below), survived the fire.

The 1954 David and Jonathan window, a 1939-1945 War Memorial. St Michael on the Mount, Bristol.
The 1954 David and Jonathan window, a 1939-1945 War Memorial at St Michael on the Mount, Bristol. © Diocese of Bristol (Janey Hiller)
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