CityofBristolBRISTOLStPhilipStJacob(williamaveryCC-BY-SA3.0)1 WilliamAvery

St Philip & St Jacob

A small Benedictine priory stood here in the year 900 AD and the chancel area of the present church is thought to be the site of its chapel.

Tower Hill, City of Bristol

Opening times

The church office is generally open from Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm and we welcome visitors at these times. Thursday is our main open day and is advertised widely.


Tower Hill
City of Bristol

St Philip & St Jacob Church is considered to be the oldest centre of Christian worship in the Bristol area, and was built outside the original city walls just beyond the castle. A small Benedictine priory stood here in the year 900 AD, and the chancel area of the present church is thought to be the site of its chapel.

It was most likely built by Robert Earl of Gloucester who also built the Priory Church of St James and in 1126 rebuilt Bristol Castle. The first official mention of the church is in 1174 when it is described as one of the 'fees' (fiefs) of William Earl of Gloucester. Of that early church, only the font remains. The church we see today is a 13th century structure with alterations made nearly every century after that. It exhibits many features that the Victorians added or changed including the large bathstone clad columns, which replaced the early English arcade style, that support the roof structure, and tombstones set in the walls.

During this period the churchyard had become full and in 1867 plans were made to neatly level it and form pleasant gardens. This was carried out some 13 years later after detailed records were made showing the exact position of the graves and vaults. A book was also compiled where all legible inscriptions on tombstones (and partly legible) were recorded. However, over 100 stones were totally illegible. A few were placed on walls inside the church and act as a memorial today. Many of the rest were used as paving slabs in the churchyard and have worn badly over the last 100 years.

Kemy's Aisle on the north east end of the building was once used as a side chapel however due to growing demand for children's work, in the 1970s partitions were installed to make separate spaces which could be used for Sunday Club. Demand for spaces to use for groups not just on Sunday grew and in the 1980s the extension to the south side was constructed which housed contemporary toilet and kitchen facilities, as well as meeting rooms and offices.

  • Spectacular stained glass

  • Magnificent memorials

  • Glorious furnishings

  • Wifi

  • Space to secure your bike

  • On street parking at church

  • Level access to the main areas

  • Bus stop within 100m

  • Accessible toilets in church

  • Sunday morning 10.30am celebration with Sunday clubs and refreshments.

  • Tuesday Talks for those working in the city centre; an opportunity to explore life's tough questions from 1.15pm.

  • 1st and 3rd Thursdays of the month, Encounter Night from 7.30pm, extended contemporary worship.

  • Church of England

  • Repair Grant, £20,000, 2017

  • Our Repair Grants funded urgent repair work to help keep churches open.

Contact information

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