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St Augustine the Less

City, Bristol

The church of St Augustine-the-Less was first mentioned in 1240 and was built for the parishioners living around St Augustine's Abbey ("the Great"). The abbey church became the cathedral of the new diocese of Bristol in 1542. The church was described in 1480 as being "so decayed as to require to be rebuilt". This new church had a west tower, five-bayed nave and aisles, and chancel with two-bayed side chapels or aisles. The chancel was further lengthened in 1708 and the church was heavily restored in 1840 when galleries in the aisles were removed. The north porch seemed to be "entirely rebuilt" in this or later Victorian alterations. The church was damaged by air-raids in the second world war but not beyond the point of repair. It was closed, never to reopen, and the church was shamefully demolished in 1962. The parish was united to St George, Brandon Hill, its own daughter church. The site remained vacant for over 23 years before a large extension to the neighbouring Royal Hotel was built out over the site and churchyard of "The Less".

It occupied a prominent site overlooking the Tramway's Centre and harbour at the entrance to College Green.

The interior from photographs seemed spacious and of a style similar to other local churches - e,g, Brislington. The design was not constrained like others in the medieval centre by narrow streets and alleys. There were the usual collection of wall memorials in the aisles but the most precious embellishment was the C17 plasterwork ceiling of the chancel which had four large figures of the Apostles surrounded by wreaths.
These two pictures show the interior in 1954. There are obxiously holes in the roof and the nave had been cleared of pews. It also suggests that the aisle and its chapel had been used for services, still with pews and other furnishings.

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page created 30th October 2005