In Bristol, we’re blessed with a glut of green spaces – but did you know we also have some beautiful cemeteries? As with everything in this vibrant city, we’ve also thought of some inventive ways to use our common spaces – interactive gothic plays in a cemetery anyone?
Whether it’s medieval crypts or Victorian gardens, there are plenty of spots for those looking for a peaceful stroll or somewhere to sit and reflect. Here are our favourites.
Birdcage Walk and St Andrews Churchyard, Clifton Village
Birdcage Walk is such an iconic Clifton spot that it’s even the title of a much-loved book by Helen Dunmore.
This paved pathway cuts through St Andrews’ churchyard on the fringes of Clifton Village. Lined by lime trees with branches trained overhead to create a shady canopy over the path, it’s stunning in any weather.
The church itself was a prominent feature of the landscape for over 800 years before being destroyed during the Bristol Blitz. The site of the church remains as an open-lawned area, with the base of the walls still visible, and an inscribed stone plaque commemorating its fate.
It’s a gorgeous spot for a peaceful picnic or sitting with a book on a sunny afternoon.
Arnos Vale, Brislington
This 45 acre Victorian garden cemetery dates back to 1839 and is a must-see for those interested in heritage cemeteries. Inspired by cemeteries across Europe, this cemetery was designed to be visually attractive in the style of a walled Greek Necropolis.
With neo-classical mortuary chapels and gate lodges set in a beautiful garden of trees and plants, it’s a wonderful place to spend an afternoon. It’s also host to a whole range of eclectic events from operatic concerts to film festivals.
With heritage trails, tours and a series of workshops, it’s a family friendly venue – and it’s also available for a wedding with a difference.
Greenbank Cemetery, Easton
Another large Victorian garden cemetery, Greenbank Cemetery was the first large cemetery after Arnos Cemetery to be set up in Bristol in 1871.
Dating back to 1871, it’s a fascinating cemetery with long paths fringed by intricate headstones. Elevated above the road and topped with a vast array of angels, columns and headstones, the memorials to long-dead families are as impressive and dominating today as they were after their erection over a century ago. Many are in remarkably good condition, with fresh flowers and care taken over their upkeep.
There are also two ornate mortuary chapels in the heart of the cemetery as well as a war graves memorial. However, the main draw to Greenbank is the sense of tranquillity. It’s a quiet place for reflection with some lovely open spaces and tree-lined pathways – perfect for an afternoon stroll.
St John on the Wall, City Centre
St John's Chapel was built into the city walls in the fourteenth century and is a real treat of a visit. Its churchyard is a little more unassuming and something of a hidden gem in the medieval Old City. It’s believed to date back to 1409 but was closed by 1884. It’s a small grassy space with a handful of ancient tombs, including a small covered building which was believed to have been built for nightwatchmen to keep an eye out for grave robbers! Work is still being carried out to make it fully accessible to the public. For more information, there’s an article in local paper Bristol247: https://www.bristol247.com/news-and-features/news/historic-graveyard-opened-public-first-time-decades/
Bristol Cathedral, City Centre
The cemetery at Bristol Cathedral is another gem. Tucked away behind the impressive Cathedral, this little cemetery has the largest number of Bishops buried per square mile than anywhere else in the city. It’s beautifully maintained and a serene haven right in the heart of the city. There’s also a lovely little café for those wanting to stay a little longer.
Looking for a Bristol hotel with character?
All of our hotels are housed in Georgian buildings and are crammed full of personality. Whether you're looking for Bristol's best value bed and breakfast or an indulgent upmakret stay, we've got something for every taste and budget. (Plus, our Rodney Hotel is a stone's throw from the first cemetery on this list....)