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Bristol Cathedral

Bristol Cathedral, near College Green, is on a site that has probably had a church on it for over a thousand years. It is the Cathedral Church of the Diocese of Bristol.

Around 1140 the Abbey of St Augustine was founded by Robert Fitzhardinge. He was Provost (Governor) of Bristol and ancestor to the Earls of Berkeley, the descendants of whom still live at Berkeley Castle, North of Bristol.

He also built the vaulted Chapter House, considered to be one of the finest in England. The building developed over the centuries in a variety of styles.

In 1220 the Elder Lady Chapel was added by Abbot David and used for quiet services and also for the Blessed Sacrament. In 1298 the Abbey was rebuilt and the Choir and beautiful Eastern Lady Chapel were completed two years later, the Centre Tower and Transepts added in 1460-80. In 1539 the Abbey was closed and the Nave demolished.

Work began on Edmund Streetís medieval design in 1868 and the Cathedral is now much the same as it would have been when it was still the Abbey Church. It is the major example of a 'Hall Church' (where all the roof is the same height) in Great Britain and one of the finest anywhere in the world.

The Arches of the Choir are over 50 feet high, the tallest in England, and the Choir Stalls were donated by Abbot Elyot around 1520. The Misericords, used as supports by the Monks during long services, are underneath the seats.

The original Organ was built in 1685 and the case and pipes incorporated into todayís organ built in 1907 and then restored 1989. The two West towers were completed in 1888. Parts of the old Choir Screen were used for the surround of the High Altar completed in 1905 and the North Nave Windows in 1951. The South Choir Aisle Window was installed in 1962.

The Chapter House is one of the finest examples of Norman Rooms in the world and is much the same as when it was completed in 1165. There are 40 recesses around the room designed for the monks to sit in. Monks used the Night Stairs to come down from the Dormitory for their daily services. The Newton Chapel contains three tombs of the Newton Family and an unusual table tomb. The Berkeley Chapel was originally for prayers for the Berkeley family and has the remains of a bread oven for communion bread.



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