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Front elevation

Entrance

Stone carving detail

Front arch carving detail

Rear view

Location

College Green, West End, Bristol, BS1 5TB

Dates

Originally built c. 1230. South aisle added late 13th century. Tower completed 1487. Current roof to nave dates to c. 1500. Chancel rebuilt c. 1500. The south aisle chapel is thought to have been built c. 1510 and the Poyntz chapel was created in 1523.

Architect

No architects are known before the 19th century. North transept and part of the west front rebuilt by John Loughborough Pearson in 1889.

Style

Gothic

Listed Status

Grade I

Materials

Stonework to tower in coral pink sandstone and limestone.

Limestone dressings to quoins, openings, parapet and spirelet.

The chancel and south aisle chapel south wall are built of limestone ashlar.

The walling above the nave window is of Pennant sandstone and the walling to the west end of the south chapel is in coral pink sandstone.

Original Function

Place of worship attached to the Hospital of St Mark (Gaunt’s Hospital)

Building type

Religion

Visitor Access

The Lord Mayor’s chapel is normally open to the public Wednesday to Sunday 10am-12noon and 1pm-4pm. Please note that due to illness, the chapel will not always be open at these times. Please call the Lord Mayor’s office on 0117 903 1450 for more information.

Links

Lord Mayor’s Chapel

Lord Mayor of Bristol History

Know Your Place

Key Facts

  • One of the country’s best collections of 16th century Spanish tiles
  • Fascinating history, from hospital to Huguenot refuge
  • Official chapel of the mayors of Bristol
  • The only municipal chapel in England
  • Links with the present-day cathedral opposite

The Lord Mayor’s chapel/St Mark’s Church is the only surviving part of St Mark’s Hospital, founded around 1220 and with its chapel nave completed by about 1230. This was initially run by the Augustinian abbey opposite, where Bristol cathedral now stands. The chapel passed into Bristol Corporation’s hands in 1541 and is still owned by the city council. It was used by Huguenot refugees from France (1687–1722), and then became the official place of worship of the Mayor and Corporation.

 

The nave has a panelled, beamed ceiling with gilded foliage and angels, and 17th and 18th century wall boards display the coats of arms of various mayors and merchants. Behind the altar is an elaborate late Gothic reredos. The Poyntz chapel (1523), named after a prominent local family, has a fan-vaulted ceiling bearing the coats of arms of Henry VIII, Catherine of Aragon and the Poyntz family, plus a floor covered with 16th-century Spanish tiles, probably from Seville. The tower dates from the 1400s. Inside, there are fine monuments, especially from the 18th century, and impressive stained glass (mostly 1800s). It still functions as a church.

St Mark’s Hospital was also known as Gaunt’s Hospital, after its 13th-century co-founder, Maurice de Gaunt (died 1230); the other was Robert de Gourney (d. 1269). The chapel’s many monuments include a dresser tomb with effigies of two knights said to be the co-founders. There are finely decorated tomb chests for important figures such as Bishop Miles Salley and members of the Berkeley family.

 

The tower is an unusual structure in that it can be dated precisely – to 3 November 1487. Its masons scratched a memorial inscription on a slate that was later found at the top of the tower and this is now displayed inside the church. Another feature is found to your left as you enter. This is a blocked doorway and steps that once provided access for monks coming from their dormitories to attend night-time services. Look also for the panelled roof of the south aisle chapel, decorated with Tudor rose and portcullis bosses. There are fine wrought iron gates to the south aisle and an elaborate sword rest by the Lord Mayor’s seat in the nave. Both date to the early 18th century and were rescued from Temple Church (Temple Street) after wartime bombing.

 

Much of the fine stained glass was acquired by the Corporation in the 1820s following the sales of William Beckford’s Fonthill Abbey and another house in Stroud. Originally, it came mainly from abroad, especially from France, Flanders and the Rhineland.

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