St Michael’s Hill, Bristol, BS2 8DT
The church is of Norman origin. The earliest surviving fabric is the tower, which is from the mid-15th century. All except the tower was rebuilt 1775-7.
First known architect is Thomas Paty who rebuilt the body of the church in 1775-7
Pennant stone and Brandon Hill grit with Bath stone dressings
Place of worship
Currently closed to the public. Access to the exterior at all reasonable times to view the building from St. Michael’s Hill.
St Michael on the Mount Without earned its odd name by being located ‘without’ (outside) the city walls. Its earliest remaining part is the tower, which is probably 15th century. At this time the church served a growing suburb of merchants’ houses on St Michael’s Hill and, apart from the tower, consisted of a nave and south aisle. By the 18th century the parish needed a larger church but St Michael’s was recorded as being in poor condition, except for the tower (repaired 1739). The church’s body was therefore destroyed and architect Thomas Paty built a new nave with a crypt beneath and aisles either side (1775–7).
The tower is still the most interesting feature, with a stair turret at one corner topped, Bristol-style, with a spirelet (small spire). In the graveyard lie ‘Marian martyrs’ executed at the top of St Michael’s Hill – persecuted for their faith in Queen Mary’s reign (1553–8). The church was damaged in war-time bombing raids (1940–1) and not fully restored until 1962. Its congregation dwindled and in 1999 the church was declared redundant. The Diocese is actively looking for new users.
The church lies in a curving line of medieval religious buildings located above the River Frome’s north bank. The top of its tower is adorned with oversize gargoyles, and the spirelet with more delicate examples. Features inside include a late Victorian font, a reredos and a pulpit.
The church’s 18th century architect Thomas Paty was a member of an important family of architects and craftsmen who dominated the building of Bristol in the 18th century.