St John's on the Wall

Click to enlarge
Bristol, St John's on the Wall

ST. JOHN'S ON THE WALL (or St. John the Baptist), Nelson Street/ Broad Street. Now redundant, opened by the Churches Conservation Trust.

  • Opening: Tuesday - Friday 11am to 4pm. CryptGlossary Term not normally open.
  • Access: Eight steps up inside south entrance.
  • Map

St. John's sits astride the city wall, its W steepleGlossary Term over the only surviving city gate at the bottom of Broad Street. In the outside N wall of St. John's is St. John's ConduitGlossary Term. The present surround is of 1866, but water has been piped here from a spring on Brandon Hill since 1376. St John's sits over a very good C14 CRYPTGlossary Term with undulating late DecoratedGlossary Term vaults at the E end; not generally open to the public. Interior: a late C14 six-bayGlossary Term naveGlossary Term, aiseless and unclerestoried with tall recessed windows divided by wall shafts; seen in perspective they ripple and dissolve, giving the naveGlossary Term an expansive air. Unusual single-bayGlossary Term clerestory to lightGlossary Term the roodGlossary Term screenGlossary Term. Graceful moulded chancelGlossary Term archGlossary Term and two bayGlossary Term chancelGlossary Term. Exceptionally complete C17 woodwork includes Communion tableGlossary Term (1635) and rails; reading desk c.1630 with arched panels re-used from the cryptGlossary Term screenGlossary Term; pews (c.1621); stone fontGlossary Term on cross plan (1624) with open crownGlossary Term cover in oak; late C17 W galleryGlossary Term containing C18 panels painted with saints. Post-warGlossary Term chancelGlossary Term N window by Bell of Bristol depicting Christ with St. John the Baptist and St. Lawrence. Late C17 brass LECTERN on baluster stem with acanthusGlossary Term decoration; C18 wrought ironGlossary Term SWORD REST; C19 stone pulpitGlossary Term. MONUMENTS: ChancelGlossary Term: tomb chest to the church's patron Walter Frampton d.1388, with very fine effigy flanked by angels, and a dog at his feet; brass to Thomas Rowley and his wife, c.1478; wall monumentGlossary Term to Andrew Innys d.1723, by Michael Rysbrack."



Classical formalized leaf ornament.


Types include: Basket arch or Anse de Panier (French, lit. basket handle): three-centred and depressed, or with a flat centre. Chancel: dividing chancel from nave or crossing in a church. Crossing: spanning piers at a crossing in a church. Depressed or three-centred: with a rounded top, but curving inward more at the sides. Four-centred: with four arcs, the lower two curving inward more than the upper, with a blunt central point; typical of late medieval English architecture. Jack arch: shallow segmental vault springing from beams, used for fireproof floors, bridge decks, etc. Ogee (adjective ogival): a pointed arch with a double reverse curve, especially popular in the 14th century; a nodding ogee curves forward from the wall face at the top. Parabolic: shaped like a chain suspended from two level points, but inverted. Relieving or discharging: incorporated in a wall to relieve superimposed weight. Shouldered: with arcs in each corner and a flat centre or lintel. Skew: spanning responds not diametrically opposed. Stilted: with a vertical section above the impost i.e. the horizontal moulding at the springing. Strainer: inserted in an opening to resist inward pressure. Three-centred: see Depressed, above. Transverse: spanning a main axis (e.g. of a vaulted space). Triumphal arch: influential type of Imperial Roman monument, free-standing, with a square attic or top section and broad sections to either side of the main opening, often with lesser openings or columns. Tudor: with arcs in each corner joining straight lines to the central point. Two-centred: the simplest kind of pointed arch.


Division of an elevation or interior space as defined by regular vertical features such as arches, columns, windows etc.


The eastern part or end of a church, where the altar is placed; usually set apart for the clergy.

Communion table

Table used in Protestant churches for the celebration of Holy Communion.


A water pipe; by extension, a public water-source, often architecturally or decoratively treated.


The upper part of an arch or vault.


Underground or half-underground area, usually below the east end of a church. Ring crypt: corridor crypt surrounding the apse of an early medieval church, often associated with chambers for relics.


A distinctive phase of English Gothic which developed at the end of the 13th century and continued into the later 14th; sometimes abbreviated to Dec. Named from its elaborate window tracery, which abandoned the simple circular forms of Geometric in favour of more varied patterns based on segments of circles. Dec tracery makes much use of ogee or reversed curves, which were combined in the 14th century to produce reticulated and flowing tracery composed of trefoils, quatrefoils and dagger shapes. Similar inventiveness is seen in the patterns produced by the lierne and tierceron vaults of the period, in the three-dimensional handling of wall surfaces broken up by canopy work and sculpture and in imaginative spatial planning making use of diagonal axes.


Vessel in a church or chapel for baptismal water, usually of stone or lead.


A long room or passage; an upper storey above the aisles of a church, looking through arches to the nave; a balcony or mezzanine overlooking the main interior space of a building; or an external walkway.


Compartment of a window defined by the uprights or mullions.


The body of a church west of the crossing or chancel, often flanked by aisles.


Upright support in a structure.


Raised and enclosed platform for the preaching of sermons. Three-decker: with reading desk below and clerk’s desk below that. Two-decker: as above, minus the clerks’ desk.


Crucifix flanked by the Virgin and St John, usually over the entry into the chancel, set on a beam (rood beam) or painted on the wall. The rood screen below often had a walkway along the top, reached by a rood stair in the side wall.


In a medieval church, usually set at the entry to the chancel. A parclose screen separates a chapel from the rest of the church. A rood screen was placed below a representation of the Crucifixion (called a rood).


Tower together with a spire, lantern, or belfry.

Wall monument

A monument attached to the wall and often standing on the floor. Tablets or wall tablets are smaller, with the inscription as the major element.

Wrought iron

Ductile iron that is strong in tension, forged into decorative patterns or forged and rolled into e.g. bars, joists, boiler plates. Compare cast iron.