St Thomas

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Bristol, St Thomas

ST THOMAS, St Thomas Street.Now redundant, opened by the Churches Conservation Trust.


  • Opening: Mondays, 11am - 4pm.
  • Access: two steps to forecourt, three steps at entrance. Level access within.
  • Map


A simple late-C18 ClassicalGlossary Term church designed and built 1789-93 by James Allen, a little-known local architect-builder whose potential was clearly unrealised. It replaced a medieval predecessor of which only the C15 three stage tower survives; note the unusual combination of clasping and angle buttresses. 'Bristol' spirelet and three diminutive pinnacles set inside a pierced parapetGlossary Term, all added 1896-7 by William Venn Gough. Handsome E end with a big Venetian motif, otherwise the exterior is unadorned. Inside, a five-bayGlossary Term naveGlossary Term arcadeGlossary Term with tunnel vaultGlossary Term penetrated by clerestory windows. CorniceGlossary Term with repeated cherub heads, very old-fashioned for the 1790s. Interiors somewhat remodelled (1878-80) by Gough, when the naveGlossary Term E bayGlossary Term was incorporated in the chancelGlossary Term with contemporary choirGlossary Term stalls and altar. The WOODWORK is the glory of St. Thomas; fine two-tier Flemish oak reredosGlossary Term (1716) by William Killigrew from the old church, worthy of a Wren church in the City of London; the only survivor (and the best) of eight in Bristol. Text panels relegated to the S aisleGlossary Term for garish paintings by F. von Kamptz, 1907. Dignified RomanGlossary Term DoricGlossary Term W galleryGlossary Term (1728-32) with inlaid clock and excellent starred friezeGlossary Term. Other woodwork includes a plain PULPITGlossary Term (1740); LECTERN converted from a fontGlossary Term; elegant semi-circular mahogany FONTGlossary Term RAILGlossary Term in the S aisleGlossary Term; Royal Arms (1637) with Jacobean strapworkGlossary Term in the frame; and ORGAN case, 1728 by John Harris, with foliage panels and cherub heads. Early C17 SWORD REST; square rod with central cage of four flat scrolls.



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.


Series of arches supported by piers or columns (compare colonnade). Blind arcade or arcading: the same applied to the wall surface. Wall arcade: in medieval churches, a blind arcade forming a dado below windows. Also a covered shopping street.


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.


The part of a cathedral, monastic church or collegiate church where services are sung.


A term used for the architecture of Ancient Greece and Rome, revived at the Renaissance and subsequently imitated around the Western world. It uses a range of conventional forms, the roots of which are the orders, or types of column each with its fixed proportions and ornaments (especially Doric, Ionic and Corinthian). Classical buildings tend also to be symmetrical, both externally and on plan. Classical architecture in England began c. 1530 with applied ornamental motifs, followed within a few decades by fully-fledged new buildings.


Flat-topped ledge with moulded underside, projecting along the top of a building or feature, especially as the highest member of the classical entablature. Also the decorative moulding in the angle between wall and ceiling. An eaves cornice overhangs the edge of a roof.


The simplest and plainest of the three main classical orders, featuring a frieze with triglyphs and metopes. A Roman Doric column has a simple round capital with a narrow neck band and a plain or fluted shaft. A Greek Doric column has a thin spreading convex capital and no base to the column.


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


The middle member of the classical entablature, sometimes ornamented. Pulvinated frieze (lit. cushioned): of bold convex profile. Also a horizontal band of ornament.


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.


The style of early 17th-century England, called after James I (reigned 1603-25), but common into the middle decades. Not always distinguishable from the preceding Elizabethan manner, with which it shares a fondness for densely applied classical ornament and symmetrical gabled façades.


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


Wall for protection at any sudden drop, e.g. on a bridge, or at the wall-head of a castle where it protects the parapet walk or wall-walk. Also used to conceal a roof.


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.


A horizontal member in panelling or in a timber-framed wall. See also edge rail, plate rail (railways).


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


The architecture of the Roman Empire, to which most of Britain belonged from 43 to c. 410 A.D. Our knowledge of Romano-British architecture depends mostly on archaeological reconstructions from foundations and fragments, though some notable fortifications and other military works survive above ground level in recognizable form.


Slender spire on the ridge of a roof. Also called a fleche.


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

Tunnel vault

The simplest kind of vault, in the form of a continuous semicircular or pointed arch; also called a barrel vault.