St James' Priory

Bristol, United Kingdom

St James' Priory


The Priory Church of St James, Bristol (grid reference ST588734), is a Grade I listed building in Horsefair, Whitson Street.

It was founded in 1129 as a Benedictine priory by Robert, Earl of Gloucester, the illegitimate son of Henry I. The early nave from 1129 survived the Dissolution of the Monasteries because an agreement in 1374 between the Abbot of Tewkesbury and the parishioners stated that the nave would become the parishioners responsibility, and the tower was added around 1374. On 9 January 1540 the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII meant that St James Priory was surrendered to the crown. The priory buildings were demolished, keeping only the nave of the church. In 1543 the land and the right to hold a fair were sold to a London merchant-tailor. In 1604 there was concern that the national attraction of St James' Fair would increase the spread of the plague, so a royal proclamation was issued prohibiting Londoners from attending. The south aisle was widened and rebuilt in 1698. The porch dates from the late 18th century, and the north aisle was rebuilt in 1864.

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