Sweet History landmark (photo)

St Mary Redcliffe Church

Address: 10 Redcliffe Parade West, BS1 6SP

Date: Medieval period (1216-1485)

There is a local story that that slaves were kept in the caves below the church before they were sold, but there isn’t any written evidence to say this is true. In 1771 when William Wilberforce’s bill to ban the trade of slaves wasn’t agreed in Parliament, the bells of St Mary Redcliffe Church were said to ring out as part of celebrations all over the City of Bristol.

St Mary Redcliffe is a large and decorative Church and a good example of how a church building can grow and be made grander when it is supported by a very wealthy congregation. Some members of the Society of Merchant Venturers gave money to this church. The Merchant Venturers were a group of rich Bristol merchants who owned and invested in businesses, including slave voyages and other activities related to the slave trade. Many of the Merchant Venturers were baptised, confirmed, married and buried in the church or in the nearby Bristol Cathedral.

Inside this church and the cathedral, there are several monuments that remember wealthy members of the slave-ship and plantation-owning families.

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