St John's Gate Broad Street

A Memory of Bristol

St John's Gate in Broad Street in Bristol is the only surviving medieval city gateway, at one one time there were seven gates into the old city. Fortified gateways pierced the town wall at intervals. St John's Gateway, originally one of these, is the only Bristol one to survive. Portcullis channels are still visible within the arch. Queen Elizabeth I rode through here on entering the city in 1574.

St John's Church was built on the wall at this gateway at the end of the 14th century, when a new outer wall was constructed. Originally a single gateway, the side passages were pushed through in 1820. During the Middle Ages, this site provided water for the parishioners (it was the overflow, from a conduit bringing water from Brandon Hill for the Carmelite monks. Later, the conduit provided a necessary water supply, for Bristolians during the blitz of the Second World War, as the city centre's plumbing had been destroyed during bombings.

The niches containing the statues of Brennus and Belinus are of the same period as the church. The arms of Charles II, the City, and the Society of Merchant Venturers date from the 17th century. Like most old towns, Bristol was surrounded by a defensive wall. In the case of Bristol, it encompassed a relatively small area, already bounded by the two rivers. The area within the walls was originally laid out on four main streets - High Street, Corn Steet, Broad Street and Wine Street. A series of lanes followed the inner line of the wall, inter-connecting the outer ends of the main streets. Tower Lane, shown here, runs from St John's Gateway to Pithay.

Lawford's Gate was the main gate from Bristol Castle leading onto Old Market. These gates were part of the old city walls. A large section of the medieval town wall was demolished in the 1950s to make way for the large Co-operative building Fairfax House. Recently, Fairfax House has in turn been replaced by The Galleries complex.

St John's Gate, is the only surviving medieval gateway into Bristol out of the four city gates. St John's church was built on the wall at this gateway at the end of the 14th century, when a new outer wall was constructed. Originally a single gateway, the side passages were pushed through in 1820. Other city gates in later years were Temple, Lawfords, Marshgate, Pithay, Newgate.

A memory shared by Paul Townsend , on Dec 5th, 2009.

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