A church has stood on the present site since Norman times, this probably being the third, but in 1786 the medieval building, which had a history of instability, was judged beyond repair and pulled down.
St John's is part of the very fabric of Bristol, it was built into the city walls in the 14th century as a place for travellers to offer prayers before a journey.
In the 12th century there were five churches built into Bristol's city walls, acting both as part of the city's defences, and as places for travellers to offer prayers before a journey. St John's is the only one that remains. As you walk down the slope of Broad Street, the view of the Gothic city gate with the elegant perpendicular spire of St John's rising above, is stunning.
The building of St John's coincided with a period of great prosperity for Bristol. Walter Frampton (died 1388), who was mayor of the city three times, founded the church, and his splendid monument stands in the chancel. His effigy lies on a tombchest decorated with heraldic shields, with a long tailed dog at his feet.
Other monuments in the chancel, and in the early 14th century vaulted crypt beneath, testify to the wealth and business activity of the city, in Medieval times and later.
See, for example, the alabaster tomb in the crypt of a merchant and his wife, with their ten children represented in panels below.
The interior of the church is impressively tall and graceful, with fine fittings dating mostly from the 17th century. On the north side of the church, built into the city wall is a fountain, a branch of a conduit installed to bring water to the Carmelite Friary 700 years ago. It is said that at election times in the past it was sometimes made to run with wine.