Home Attractions St Mark's Church

St Mark's Church

St Mark's is now known as the Lord Mayor's Chapel. Originally it was the chapel of the Hospital of the Gaunts. Tradition has it that, because it was endowed by the Berkeley family, it was built looking not east, but north-east, facing the Berkeley lands.

Maurice de Gaunt founded the Hospital as an almonry for the Abbey of St Augustine and his nephew Robert de Gourney made it a religious community independent of the Abbey after Maurice's death.

Inside is a tomb with effigies of two Crusaders, said to be those of the founders.

St Mark's was endowed to the bon-hommes, who occupied ground from College Green to Pipe Lane. They gave daily help to 100 poor people. Nearby Orchard Street was named for their orchard.

Many people made gifts towards the upkeep of the Hospital, including Jordan of Berkeley who gave houses and a garden opposite St Augustine the Less. Roger de Turba gave the friars the right to dig on his moor at Tickenham and mow hay and gather rushes and reeds there.

The church is partly 13th century, but the east end was reconstructed around 1520. The tower dates from 1487. Grotesque carvings decorate the exterior of the tower and nave.

The friars were turned out when the monasteries were dissolved and the Corporation bought the land and buildings.

In 1646 it was described as 'the Gaunts church, scituat on St Augustine's greene' in a deposition that a certain marriage had taken place there.

In the late 17th century the Huguenots, who came to Bristol to avoid persecution, were given the use of the chapel as a place of worship.

By the 1720's only the chapel remained of the hospital buildings, and even that was in poor repair. Around this time the Mayor fell out with the Cathedral authorities and decided to repair St Mark's and use it as a civic chapel. It then became known as the Mayor's Chapel, to be changed to the Lord Mayor's Chapel after Queen Victoria bestowed the title on Sir Herbert Ashman.
In 1824 the adjoining house, occupied by Mr Franklyn, a perfumer, was being redecorated. The men employed to do whitewashing started scraping off the old plaster in the dressing room and in an old stone closet which abutted the north wall of the chapel they came across an ancient painting on stone. It consisted of two sections, that on the east side being of the Nativity of Christ, showing the stable of Bethlehem with Joseph and Mary while the one on the other side depicted Christ near Bethany with the sisters of Lazarus. The trowels of the workmen caused a bit of damage before it was realised what they were uncovering but some of the figures were stated to be 'in tolerable preservation'. The closet was considered to be a private confessional and on taking down an old coat of arms two sights from closet to altar could then be seen.

In 1888-1890 the chapel was renovated once more, the architect being J L Pearson. He designed the new north cloister and transept which were added.

One of the amendments of the previous century, a porch across the street frontage, was removed, replaced by a moulded entrance arch with oak doors whilst windows were unblocked and altered and new stained glass added.

At the same time 15th century carvings in the chancel, which had been thickly coated with paint over the years, were cleaned and plaster removed, revealing mediaeval features.
Bristol Hotels, Hotels in Bristol, Places to stay when travelling Bristol, Hotel Bristol United Kingdom, Bristol Accommodation, Accommodation for Visitors in Bristol