Sweet History landmark (photo)

Merchant Venturers’ Almshouse

Address: King Street, BS1

Date: Stuart period (1603-1714)

In 1696 the Bristol Society of Merchant Venturers built this almshouse for sick and old sailors. Sailors sailing on the slave ships to West Africa often went blind or fell ill from fever, and some of them may have come to live in this almshouse. The almshouse carries the Merchant Venturers’ coat of arms and part of it was damaged by bombing in WW2.

There is a plaque on the wall which has this poem on it:

“Freed from all storms the tempest and the rage
Of billows, here we spend our age.
Our weather beaten vessels here repair
And from the Merchants’ kind and generous care
Find harbour here; no more we put to sea
Until we launch into Eternity.
And lest our Widows whom we leave behind
Should want relief, they too a shelter find.
Thus all our anxious cares and sorrows cease
Whilst our kind Guardians turn our toils to ease.
May they be with an endless Sabbath blest
Who have afforded unto us this rest.”

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