St John the Evangelist,

Whiteladies Road

CLIFTON

Bristol

(1841 - c1984)

On the corner of Apsley Road and Whiteladies Road, stands the distinctive church of St John the Evangelist. The church is cruciform and orientated in reality north to south. The following assumes a ritualistic orientation with the altar at the east end. It was designed by S.J.Hicks and built in 1841. It was enlarged by S.B.Gabriel in 1864 when the chancel was added. By 1984 it had closed and was used for a while by a local theatre group. The interior was subdivided in 1990 to create the Bristol Auction Rooms on the ground floor and a media production company in the upper part.

The exterior is entirely embattled, even rising up the gables of the transepts. The original parts are in a sort of Tudor Perpendicular style with transomed side windows. The west front is flanked by two very low square towers carrying a plain parapet and eight pinnacles each. recessed behind the parapet are two tall two-open-staged octagonal turrets with small battlements too. They housed the stairs to the west gallery. The later parts have more correct Perpendicular windows.

The interior was one large open rectangular space with an amazingly complicated attractive tie-beam roof. The chancel had a small north chapel and a depressed chancel arch. I have an older picture than this too of the interior which shows a complete stencilling scheme on the walls, obviously later painted out.

The interior is cruelly divided. Downstairs in the auction centre few features survive and a number of damaging concrete beams support the upper floor. Here there are a number of surviving features, including the stained glass in the transepts and (hidden) east window. An upper tier of rooms has been created in the roof space by suspending a floor from the tie-beams (which are reinforced in several places by metallwork) cleverly done but feeling a little less safe. Painted corbels of foliage also survive and two nice large rooms have been created in the transepts.

(I was kindly shown around the media company's space just before Christmas, and I hope to return to take some pictures in the upper parts of the church on a later date.)

Page created 27th January 2001

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