Bristolians were traditionally very proud of their many parish churches and spent a lot of money decorating them. Each steeple or tower was different, so was easily recognisable from a distance. But about half the population were non Anglicans, with strong presence of Quakers and Baptist from early times and John Wesley’s New Room is one of the finest Georgian buildings there. But the eminent divine William Holland was not impressed when he visited St Paul’s church in 1811:
“It is a handsome church, new but not handsomely filled, which shocked me. No town abounds in more sects of religion than this, they keep unto themselves teachers of every denomination but whether there is more real Religion and Goodness among them is a doubt to me. I fancy their religion consists more of cavils, quibbles and Enthusiasm than Practice. The common people are more taken with enthusiasms of every kind than solid Reason and fair argument.