I might not be religious, but there’s nothing quite like visiting a cathedral. The architecture, the history, the atmosphere, there’s just something about it. So, on a recent trip, I made sure to visit one of England’s great medieval churches, Bristol Cathedral.
Stood next to College Green in the centre of Bristol, the cathedral is an imposing and magnificent building. It is free to enter, but donations are encouraged for the upkeep of the cathedral.
This has been a place of worship since the twelfth century. It was originally an Augustine Abbey, founded c. 1140. Much of it has been rebuilt or added onto since, but the transepts, Chapter House and Abbey Gatehouse remain from the twelfth century. The Elder Lady Chapel was added c. 1220 and the Eastern Lady Chapel c. 1298.
Bristol was lucky when it came to Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries during the 16th century. Henry VIII dissolved the abbey is 1539, but the buildings in Bristol were saved when he created a series of “New Foundation” Cathedrals. Many other places such as Buildwas Abbey, Wenlock Priory and Haughmond Abbey in Shropshire weren’t so lucky.
Today we can still see the cathedral in all its glory and it is in use on a daily basis. There is plenty to see here, especially if you look up above and down at your feet as well as at your surroundings.
I would recommend a visit to the cathedral cafe, at the end of the Cloisters. Even as we approached we could smell the homemade soup being made in the kitchen. As it wasn’t quite lunch time, we sat with a drink and rested our feet. A gentleman came and had a chat with the cafe staff, obviously a regular customer. Then he sat down at a table with his coffee and made sure to greet anyone coming into or leaving the cafe (don’t you just love people watching?).
If visiting the cathedral, I would recommend visiting in the morning as it started to get busy after 11am while we were there.
The cathedral also has its own shop, should you wish to take home a souvenir of your visit.
There is plenty to see and do in this area of Bristol, with Bristol Aquarium, the Waterfront, The Georgian House Museum, Cabot Tower, Bristol Hippodrome and the shops are all a short walk away. We walked past Bristol City Hall (situated opposite the cathedral) and discovered an Etsy craft fair being held inside, so it’s worth keeping your eyes peeled.