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Bristol Castle


Visited January 2010

Location Central Bristol
Entrance Fee No
Railway Station Temple Meads, approx 1/2 mile
Parking Yes (fee)
Facilities Toilets, Shops nearby, Cafes nearby, Play park





I should mention at this point that in all honesty that there is no longer a castle at this site anymore, what survives today are  small fragments of stone walls and a few arrow-slit windows. Also surviving is the sally port, but this has limited public access. It may be disappointing to today’s visitor, but there is no denying that in its heyday Bristol Castle was a magnificent building, with a long and sometimes bloody history. It was started in about 1088, originally a wooden motte & bailey, expanded and rebuilt in  stone under Robert of Gloucester. Henry III later added the Great Hall, the vaulted porch of which is still in existence today (although only visible through windows, the building itself is currently used as a store room and is locked)





During the civil war it was first under the command of the Parliamentary side, then the Royalists. After the war Oliver Cromwell ordered its destruction, the city authorities were in fact pleased as it had for many years prior to the war been a hideout for robbers and outlaws. Up until the 1930’s there were still parts of the castle in tact, part of a curtain wall & tower could be found incorporated into a building in Castle Street, but this was demolished in the 1930’s for road widening (I am shaking my head in disbelief at this terrible act of destruction) and whatever else was left was destroyed by the wartime bombing of central Bristol. Curiously the moat is still in existence, but is covered over by culverts, it is said to be navigable but not open to the public.


Today the few remains of the castle, which had once covered a site of 11 acres, is called Castle Park, it is near the two central shopping areas of Broadmead and Cabot Circus. There is a castle-themed play area in Castle Park, which is handy for the little ones to let off steam, they also feel they have seen something else  ‘castley’ as there is not much for them to see otherwise. There is also the site of St Peter’s Church which was bombed during the war and remains empty and roofless as a memorial to the bombing victims. This is an interesting place to sit and eat a picnic, and perhaps explain to the children the significance of the building. There are toilets in the park (the toilet block has been built to resemble a castle, the children initially thought it was Bristol castle!!) and the nearby shopping areas provide numerous different eateries. If you find yourself in the centre of Bristol for any reason it is worthwhile taking an hour or so to look round the site, but I would not make a special journey for the ruins.


The builder of this castle, Robert of Gloucester, has a tomb in nearby St James Priory, which can be visited. It is still a functioning church and was beautifully refurbished several years ago. There is a very nice café there too!






Additional pictures from 2018 revisit- please note the play area in Castle Park has now been removed.






More info:  Bristol Past

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