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thumbnail Bristol <br>St Stephen's Church

St Stephen's Church

St Stephen's Avenue

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 Perpendicular citizens’ church of c.1470-80, but of 13th century foundation. The rebuilding was mostly in expensive dressed stone (ashlar), indicating the wealth of merchant John Shipward who paid for it. It has Bristol’s best Perpendicular tower, a majestic four stage ‘Somerset’ type increasing in elaboration towards the showy openwork crown with angled corner panels, similar to Gloucester Cathedral. Fine south porch with deeply moulded arch, two rows of leaf carvings, and fan-vaulted interior.

Inside, a high nave with full length N and S aisles and no structurally separate chancel; a typical Perpendicular plan form. Elegant piers with thin shafts and angel capitals. The tall clerestory is a further indication of wealth. The floors, reredos, pulpit, font and all the window tracery 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 iron 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 aisle CHAPEL OF ST. NICHOLAS AND ST. LEONARD by J. Ralph Edwards, 1958. GLASS: E window by Hardman & Co, 1882; N aisle all by Clayton and Bell (1898). MONUMENTS; S aisle, Sir George Snygge (d.1617) in judge’s robes in a large frame of Corinthian columns and strapwork. In the N aisle, three C14 ogee 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 pulpit, an oval plaque to Martin Pring †1626, with naïve figured surround added 1733.

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