Bristol City Museum hasn't really got any drop-dead unmissable exhibits, but it's certainly well worth a visit, particularly if you're interested in the history of the city: not only are there old maps showing the development of Bristol from the 12th century onwards but also there are many paintings of local subjects in the collection of paintings and drawings. Which has some very nice works - there's curretly a stunning Howard Hodgekin on display - and the occasional thing of the sort that gives painting a bad name: see photo. Otherwise, there is (inter alia) a small collection of ancient Egyptian artefacts including a very fine late portrait mask and a (barely illuminated) encaustic portrait, some nice china, the mandatory exhibit of dinosaur bones (always a crowd-pleaser) and the replica of a Bristol Boxkite (one of three built for the film 'Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines, and as flyable as something with a maximum speed of 40kt can be.)
The rather fine art-nouveau chandelier is part of the fixtures and fittings.
The cafe does a very good cup of tea and excellent cakes.
Millenium square is a large public space between the warehouses of St Augustine's Reach and the vast post-modernist Lloyds building. Its most prominent feature is the huge mirrored ball containing @Bristol's planetarium, a great challenge for photographers: there's also a most useful electronic fingerpost, which changes direction and has a varying display which tells you how far away some other lump of the universe is. And there are several examples of the Bristol tradition of very dodgy sculptures depicting famous Bristolians, which occupy some of the benches: Archie Leach (aka Cary Grant) and Thomas Chatterton, seated opposite William Tyndale.
I stayed just off King Street, in the Old City, during my visit to Bristol. It's one of the oldest streets in Bristol which was laid out in 1650 for developing the Town's Marsh. The street was named after Charles II and the north part of the street was developed first then the south in 1663. It was nice wandering round on the cobbled streets.
There are some interesting historic Buildings of note:-
Merchant Venturers Almshouses (Image 1)
Society of Merchant Venturers built them in 1696 for convalescent and retired sailors. Nowadays, it's run by Society of Merchant Ventureres Almshouses Charity and provides sheltered housing.
Old Free Library (Image 2)
Built in 1738-40. Likely by James Paty, the Elder, and is now a Chinese restaurant (I understand the restaurant has mixed reputations according to our walking tour guide)
Llandoger Trow (1664)
Which began as a merchants' house but now a historic pub with a restaurant (Please see separate tip)
The Old Duke (1780)
A historic pub (Opposite Llangoder Trow)
King Wiliam Ale House (Image 4)
The building dates back from 1670
St Nicholas' Almshouses (Image 5)
Built in 1652. Now student accommodation
My room looked out to Welsh Back, a cobbled street running alongside the Floating Harbour. The street mainly consist of historic buildings housing restaurants, bars and offices. The Welsh Back was originally served trows with cargoes from Wales's Slate Industry. Slate, stone, timber and coal were imported to the docks.
The 2 hour walking tours operate on Saturdays seasonally (usually from Easter to end of September but best checking). The two hour walking tour takes you through the new harbour, city centre, old town, markets and historic port. You learn about Bristol's history and the city's personalities who have shaped Bristol what it was and is today!
The tour starts at 11.00 am from the Tourist Information Office, E Shed, Harbourside (near the Harbour steps). We began exploring parts of the Harbourside and were told about Bristol's role in the industrial revolution, merchants activity, the Slave Trade (including one of the slave trade masters, Pinney, and owned plantations in West Indies). We were informed about John Cabot and his explorations, which opened the world, in the 15th Century; William Tyndale who translated the bible into English; and the Berkeley Family who were involved at The Hospital of St Mark (now Lord Mayor's Chapel) in caring for the physical and spiritual health of young men.
The tour guide briefed us about Brunel and his Victorian Engineering wonders including the Temple Meads Railway Station, Clifton Suspension Bridge and SS Great Britain. We learnt about about the city's waterways with the links of Rivers Frome and Avon and how the ships were navigated from sea to port.
We were encouraged to ponder about the post industrial Era and how the era lead to intensive regeneration which is shaping modern Bristol today.
I learnt a lot about Bristol and I highly recommend the tour (shame about the poor weather we had but it didn't spoil things). It cost 5.00 gbp per adult (June 2012) and there is no need to book in advance.
The company also does tailor made theme walking tours for groups such as Clifton & The Suspension Bridge, Medieval Bristol and Bristol's Historic Wine Merchants.
The Centre Promenade is a city centre space hub for various things including the city's main bus, taxi, ferry and pedestrian travel hub to access other parts of the city centre and the suburbs. The Promenade is surrounded the Old City, Business Districts, the Floating Harbour and near to the College Green. The area is partially pedestrianised with a paved area near the Floating Harbour. The function has been remodelled a few times during the 20th Century.
Since the officially opening in 1956 The Council House has been Bristol's civic centre and seat of local government and situated on College Green near the Cathedral.
The listed building was designed by Vincent Harris before World War II and built afterwards. It renowned for its architectural features with the ceremonial entrance overlooking the moat and the use of unique building materials such as marble. The Council House is known for its advanced environmental features.
Queen Square is situated in the Old City where people relax and sometimes public events are held. It was once a sought after residential address before the development of Clifton in the 19th Century. Today, most of the buildings are offices. The site was known as the Town Marsh which was built at the end of the 17th Century until the beginning of the 18th Century. Queen Square was named in honour of Queen Anne, the reigning monarch at the time.
Queen Square was famous for the Bristol Riots, in 1831, where substantial damage was done but were rebuilt and restored. Cars used to drive through Queen Square until 2000 where it was restored as open space once again.
A lot of the buildings are listed including Sydney Smike's Custom House, on the north side, which was built in 1835-37. There is an Equestrian Statue of William III in the centre of square which was erected in 1733 to mark the city's loyalty to the King. It was designed by John Michael Rysbrack.
Bristol Packet Boat Trips offer a variety of cruises and boats are available for hire. I participated in the City Docks Tour which is approximately 1.5 hours around the Floating Harbour. Tickets and Boats are available either Bristol Packet Pontoon Watershed or Wapping Wharf.
The tour was interesting and informative and I learnt a lot about life around the harbour past and present. I highly recommend to go on this or an equivalent one by another company. It was a pity the rained caved in and had to seek shelter under the covered canvas on the boat. Still it was an enjoyable experience.
Please check out the website for further information.
The Cathedral was founded as the Abbey of St Augustine in the 12th Century by Robert Fitzhardinge. It is understood though that an example of a 'Hall Church' (where the Nave, Choir and Aisles are the same size size and thus making it a large hall) and also considered one of the country's finest.
I didn't look inside because of the lack of time but hope to next time. Please check out the
website for further information including services.
The Bristol Hippodrome is celebrating its 100th year in 2012 it is still the place in the South West that gets the majority of the large London shows as it's far enough away with access to large enough audience numbers.
I've seen Hairspray, Monty Python's Holy Grail, Dara O'Brian, Phantom of the Opera and am looking forwards to seeing the Lion King soon. I've always sat in the high up 'nose bleeder' seats which whilst steep, cramped and not that comfy still offer good views (even with the chandalear in Phantom) and are much cheaper than down below. The Lion King we'll be in the stalls as we got a deal through work with these tickets.
The interior is as you'd expect; gold and red velvet with a beautiful central dome, which does occasionally open up to the sky, there are numerous bars (I like the Holy Ale served during the Monthy Python tour), not too many toilets but if you pick your moment you can get in quickly. I almost passed out during Phantom, it was hot and humid but I did have a cold I went out where there was a waiting area, a fan and an open window so they must reaslise it gets hot up there. The stewards were most kind, offering me water and any help if I needed it.
Being right in what is called 'The Centre' of Bristol it is a local landmark and meeting place where most of the bus service passing by and taxi queues too. Whenever I've been we've gone for food or a drink in one of the many near-by bars.
If you like the bracing air, brown water, engineering, a nice cafe break and views across to then this is the place to go, well one of them at least.
Starting in Severn Beach, parking on Beach Road near the disused playpark (some interesting rusting children's rides here if you're into photographing interesting things) there's a public WC nearby too and a landscaped public garden. Walk to the ridge and you're on a path that goes along the shoreline, the Severn Way Path which is the longest riverside footpath in the UK at 225 miles. The path starts (or ends) at Severn Beach where it turns into the River Avon Trail right into the centre of Bristol.
You'll pass fishermen and dog walkers mostly rather than day trippers but I enjoy it. You'll first pass under the M4 bridge and a cafe which used to be the Severn Bridges Visitor Centre. It looked like a lovely Georgian building with garden and outbuildings in need of repair.
The path takes a slight detour following a stream at New Passage Road but goes under the 2nd Severn Bridge which is where we turned around.
The Hatchet Inn is one of if not The Oldest Pub in Bristol. It has a great history and this old Tudor timbered house has probably the finest facade in Bristol although the interior has been ripped out and nothing much of note remains.
The Inn dates from 1606 and the building probably earlier than that but it has undergone some significant alteration (It is a grade II Listed Building) It has a fantastic 300 year old door that is said to contain layers human skin under it's tar coating.
The main part of the building was originally a small farm house in Frog Lane which was once the main route to the then remote village of Clifton and the pubs name is thought to originate from the axes (hatchets) that local woodsmen used in Clifton Woods.
Until the end of the nineteenth century it had large gardens with a cockpit for betting on the Cock fights that were popular at the time, In 1775 Samuel Maddock owned the Inn and it was known as No. 25 Frog Lane and buildings on each side of the Inn were hoses which turned into shops but these were demolished and the space left used to provide extensions to the Inn.
Castle Park is the largest green space in the city centre, it is a popular spot for picnics during the summer when we actually get some sun there was none when we visited just drizzle so we had a quick look around. Within the park are the remains of Bristol Castle which was built by the Normans and demolished on the orders of Oliver Cromwell in 1650, there are also the remains of St Peters Church which was destroyed by bombing during World War II. next to the Church is a lovely herb garden and seven silver birch trees which were planted to commemorate the seven beaches of the D Day Landings.
I had two reasons for wanting to visit Bristol; the first was The Hatchet Inn and the second The Temple Church.
In 1145 The Knight Templar were given land in the east of Redcliffe (where Bristol Temple Meads Station is up to the floating harbor near to Castle Park) and on the spot where the church is now they built a oval shaped Temple Church.
In 1312 The King of France jealous of the wealth of the Templers brought about their downfall and they were disbanded and most burnt at the stake after being tortured.
The land and buildings were given to The Knights of St John who demolished the Templers Church and built their own. Whilst being constructed the soft ground gave and the Church tower developed quite a lean, an upper storey was added at the opposite angle to counteract it and it now appears crooked.
Incendiary bombing in 1942 during World War II left the church in ruins and engineers (as the story goes) were about to demolish it's tower thinking it unsafe but it was saved by the protests of local people.
There is also another story that during the 19th century a boy used the swaying of the tower during bell ringing to crack nuts in the cornerstones at the ground.
Christ Church on Broad St has a great clock, it's 18th century quarterjacks that the famous Poet (in poetry circles) Robert Southey (12 August 1774 – 21 March 1843) who was baptised in the church used to stop and watch when he was a boy.
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