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St Thomas's Church

The present church was completed in 1793. However, the original chapel to Bedminster Church on this site, dedicated to Thomas the Martyr, was descibed as being a large and elegant building as early as 1200.

This was a parish full of rich clothiers - an important market was started at the time of Queen Elizabeth - and much money was given to it.

Before the completion of St Mary Redcliffe, members of the influential Canyngyes family had been buried in St Thomas, and Sir William Penn, father of the founder of Pennsylvania, was baptised there.

In 1818 the historian Dr John Evans wrote, 'The architecture of the present church contains little that will offend a correct taste, though it combines nothing to excite admiration ... a specimen of what has been denominated the modern style of ecclesiastical architecture.'

The interior of the church is Georgian. Prior to a restoration carried out in 1879 it had old high pews, a font of mahogany and much black varnish, making for a rather gloomy interior.

With those removed the combination of high barrel vault ceiling and clerestory windows with painted plastered walls contribute to the spaciousness and light of the interior, leading the eye to the richness of the reredos at the altar.

At the end of the 13th century Simon de Burton established an almshouse in nearby Long Row. Rebuilt at various times, it was destroyed during the Second World War, but a couple of small statues from the building are displayed in the church. The one shown is of St Thomas himself.

St Thomas itself survived the bombs but the area around changed out of recognition. Most of the surrounding streets no longer held houses and land was being covered by office blocks. Although there was still a large and faithful congregation, when the Rev Marwood Paterson retired in the late 1940s, no new vicar was appointed. It struggled on under various 'experimental' systems for several years, but in the 1970s it was decided that there was 'no viable future for St Thomas as a church'. The last service was held there at Christmas 1982. The church is now administered by the Redundant Churches Fund.
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