St Stephen's

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Bristol, St Stephen's Church

ST. STEPHEN'S, St Stephen's Avenue

  • Opening: weekdays 10am - 4pm, and Sunday services.
  • Access: three very shallow steps down at the porch.
  • Map

A fine late PerpendicularGlossary Term citizens' church of c.1470-80, but of 13th century foundation. The rebuilding was mostly in expensive dressed stone (ashlarGlossary Term), indicating the wealth of merchant John Shipward who paid for it. It has Bristol's best PerpendicularGlossary Term tower, a majestic four stage 'Somerset' type increasing in elaboration towards the showy openwork crownGlossary Term with angled corner panels, similar to Gloucester Cathedral. Fine south porch with deeply moulded archGlossary Term, two rows of leaf carvings, and fan-vaulted interior. Inside, a high naveGlossary Term with full length N and S aisles and no structurally separate chancelGlossary Term; a typical PerpendicularGlossary Term plan form. Elegant piers with thin shafts and angel capitals. The tall clerestory is a further indication of wealth. The floors, reredosGlossary Term, pulpitGlossary Term, fontGlossary Term and all the window traceryGlossary Term and glazing except the W window date from the large-scale restoration of 1875-98. Of the furnishings, the highlights are a C15 brass eagle lectern from the blitzed St. Nicholas church, and the magnificent wrought ironGlossary Term SWORD REST and GATES with gilded monograms, by William Edney, c.1710 from the same church. The gates now form the entrance to the N aisleGlossary Term CHAPEL OF ST. NICHOLAS AND ST. LEONARD by J. Ralph Edwards, 1958. GLASS: E window by Hardman & Co, 1882; N aisleGlossary Term all by Clayton and Bell (1898). MONUMENTS; S aisleGlossary Term, Sir George Snygge (d.1617) in judge's robes in a large frame of CorinthianGlossary Term columns and strapworkGlossary Term. In the N aisleGlossary Term, three C14 ogeeGlossary Term tomb recesses. Two with effigies from elsewhere. At the W is thought to be Edmund Blanket †1371 on a panelled chest. Then Sir Walter Tyddesley †1385. N of the pulpitGlossary Term, an oval plaque to Martin Pring †1626, with naïve figured surround added 1733.



Subsidiary space alongside the body of a building, separated from it by columns, piers or posts. Also (especially Scots) projecting wing of a church, often for special use, e.g. by a guild or by a landed family whose burial place it may contain.


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.


Masonry of large blocks wrought to even faces and square edges. Broached ashlar (Scots): scored with parallel lines made by a narrow-pointed chisel (broach). Droved ashlar (Scots): similar but with lines made by a broad chisel.


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


The most slender and ornate of the three main classical orders. It has a basket-shaped capital ornamented with acanthus foliage.


The upper part of an arch or vault.


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


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


A double curve, bending first one way and then the other. An ogee or ogival arch, especially popular in the 14th century, is pointed at the top. A nodding ogee curves forward from the wall face at the top.


English version of late Gothic, developed from the 1320s, which continued into the early 16th century; sometimes abbreviated to Perp. Characterised by large windows with a grid pattern of mullions and transoms, with the mullions continuing to the head to the arch, which is often of flattened or four-centred form. This motif of panel tracery is used also for wall decoration, and on the fan vaults that were used for the most prestigious buildings.


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.


Painted and/or sculpted screen behind and above an altar.


Late 16th and early 17th-century decoration, like interlaced leather straps.


Openwork pattern of masonry or timber in an opening, especially the upper part of an opening; most common in Gothic architecture. Blind tracery is applied to a solid wall. Plate tracery, the earliest form, introduced c. 1200, has shapes cut through solid masonry. Bar tracery, introduced c. 1250, has patterns are formed by intersecting moulded ribwork continuing upwards from the mullions. Bar tracery types include: curvilinear tracery, with uninterrupted flowing curves, typical of the 14th century (also called flowing tracery); geometrical tracery, typical of c.1250-c.1310, which uses simple forms, especially circles, chiefly foiled; intersecting tracery, used c. 1300, formed by interlocking mullions each branching out in two curved bars of the same radius but different centres; loop tracery (Scots), used c. 1500-45, with large uncusped loop-like forms; panel tracery, with even upright divisions made by a horizontal transom or transoms; reticulated tracery, early 14th century, with net-like patterns of ogee- (double-curved) ended lozenges; Y-tracery, used c. 1300, which branches into a Y-shape.

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.