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Entrance and tower

Tower with clock detail

Window detail

Stained glass window

Stone carving detail

Location

Portland Square, Bristol, BS2 8SJ

Dates

1789-94

Architect

Daniel Hague Bevan in 1890s (chancel). Philip Hughes Assoc. carried out restoration work.

Style

Gothick, a blend of Classical and Gothic

Listed Status

Grade I

Materials

Bath stone

Original Function

Church

Building type

Arts/Religion

Visitor Access

Owned by the Churches Conservation Trust, St. Paul’s Church is open to the public periodically for events, please the see Circomedia website for more details.

Links

Visit Churches

Circomedia

Know Your Place

Key Facts

  • Distinctive tiered ‘wedding cake’ tower
  • Current home of world-renowned circus school, Circomedia
  • Ingenious blend of old and new

Local architect Daniel Hague designed St Paul’s Church as part of a development of Portland Square and the surrounding streets. He was the architect for the whole scheme, which was devised by the vestry of St James’s parish (which owned the land) as a new fashionable suburban extension. It blends the Classical and Gothic styles used by many other Georgian churches.

 

Its steeple was inspired by the old Royal Exchange in London (c. 1670), while the stacked tower design gave St Paul’s its ‘wedding cake’ nickname. Inside, stone columns, decorative stained glass (added late 1800s; Georgian churches had plain glass) and a plaster ceiling make Hague’s design grand and beautiful.

 

In 1988 St Paul’s was left derelict until 2001 when the Churches Conservation Trust took control and began extensive conservation and repair work. Since 2004 the restored church has been home to the circus school Circomedia, plus community activities. Gothic-Georgian architecture combined with modern equipment makes this a brilliant setting for varied events and performances.

The sense of space and light associated with church buildings is a memorable feature of St Paul’s church, and is maximized by Circomedia’s aerial and trapeze equipment, which draws attention to many details above eye level. The building has an international reputation, for both conservation of the building and adaptation to its new use. It won the European Nostra Laureate award in 2006 and the Community Benefit category of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) national awards in 2007.

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