Parish Boundary Markers Bristol

I love obscure bits of history, and parish boundary markers are great because you really have to poke around with your eyes open to spot them. They were used to mark the parish boundaries of mediaeval cities, to establish who had to pay church rates, who attended churches, and as legal documents in property sales.

Parishes walked the boundaries each year to confirm the makers were still visible, so masons were paid in advance to restore/repair them as well as the walk ways and bridges were in repair. Some buildings later extended over the boundaries, so the procession with gents in their fine gowns might have to walk through houses, bedrooms and even toilets. There is even a parish in Bristol – St Stevens – which extended into the middle of the Old Cut so they had to get into a boat to complete the circuit. I love them because they can be on or in buildings or underfoot, so encourage you to be vigilant when wandering the streets.

Sadly not many of these survive, but here are the ones I could find. This is in Quay Street near St John’s church whose archway used to lead to the crowded quays

quay st

This is the best preserved, in Tower Lane so must have been restored when the modern buildings went up a few decades ago

tower lane markers

These are in the Exchange, built in the 1740s to replace a crowded mouldering old quarter. There are several parish boundaries here but I don’t think the markers are accurately placed. Still, they’re here.

multiple mirror mkt

st nich mkt

Just outside the market in Exchange Alley is this one. Should be twinned with another.

st nich exch alley

This is very faint as it has been trampled and is often under gravel. Another from St Nicholas

qu sq st nich marker

Am happy to learn of any I’ve missed. Also if anyone has pics from elsewhere. I know Norwich has some, I think Gloucester too.


One thought on “Parish Boundary Markers Bristol

  1. Have to admit I have never noticed those anywhere 🙂 I am more familiar with the idea of beating the bounds in rural parishes where the procession had to turn left at the rowan tree by the stream etc., but presumably in the faster-changing urban setting a different way had to be found?


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