Monuments in St Stephen's Parish Church, Bristol

The tower of St Stephen's Parish Church, 15th Century.

St Stephen’s Parish Church is on Clare Street, just off Broad Quay, and its tall tower is viewable from there between two buildings. This tower is the glory of the church, Perpendicular Gothic of 1470 or thereabouts, four stages reaching to a superior height of 140 ft, with large pinnacles at the top, each itself splitting into smaller crocketed pinnacles, and one of which bears a weathervane with a summit cockerel. Inside, a big, bright interior, and the viewer is struck by the high ceiling to the nave, of dark wood panelled and with bosses. There are two aisles, rather lower, of unequal length, and separated from the nave by clustered pillars. The Church had a makeover in the late 19th Century, with some rebuilding and particularly apparent in some of the more solid furnishings.

Interior view of St Stephen's Church, aisle and monuments.

From the point of view of these pages, it is the monuments we have come to see, and the collection is rich - see picture above. We have around three dozen of them, including two dating from the very earliest days of the current church building in the 14th Century, and three more from the late 16th/early 17th Centuries, about 10 from the 18th Century, and the balance from the early 19th Century. While the more sculptural monuments tend to be the earlier ones, the more modest later ones show a good variety of types of wall plaque of the period, including work by important local stonemasons and sculptors – the Tyley family, H. Wood and Pugh, so exemplifying the local style.

Earlier monuments:

Effigies of the Edmund Blanket Memorial, and one of the small figures.

18th Century Monuments:

18th Century cartouches: Frere and Holyday memorials.

Other interest in the Church

Also in the church we may note:
  • The Eagle lectern is obvious from first glance as being of some greater antiquity than the 19th Century norm, and apparently is as early as the 15th Century, its origin being St Nicholas, bombed in WWII.
  • An ornate wrought iron screen, with complex leaf designs and little pots at the top – according to information in the church, this dates from the early 18th Century and was also taken from St Nicholas.
  • The Royal arms of Charles II (thus mid-17th Century), above the southern entrance.
  • At the top of the clustered pillars dividing the nave from the aisles are half angels holding scrolls, gilt and red, surprisingly effective in giving an air of preciousness.

    Several features deriving from the late 19th Century restorations, including:

    Mermaid and Faun from the Martin Pringe Monument.

    The pictures of the monuments inside the church are included here with kind permission of the church authorities; the website of St Stephen's Parish Church is at http://www.saint-stephens.com/, and they note that they have friendly vegetarian café open 10-3.30 daily, weekly lunchtime concerts, a meditation group and regular exhibitions.

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    Christ Church with St Ewen // Ruins of St Peter's Church, Castle Park // Ruins of Temple Church, off Victoria Street

    Statues along Broad Quay, Bristol // Sculpture in Corn Street, Bristol

    Sculpture in England // Sculpture pages // Introduction to church monuments

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