Bristol church announces celebrations to mark anniversary


The Clifton-based church is introducing a year long programme to celebrate the 150th anniversary of its construction

The Bristol church once dubbed ‘the Anglo-Catholic cathedral of the South West’ – and had its own choir school for more than 90 years – has announced plans to celebrate next year’s 150th anniversary of its consecration on June 8, 1868.

In an echo of the consecration of the Pembroke Road church of All Saints in the Clifton area of the city, performed by the then Bishop of Gloucester, Dr Charles Ellicott, the current Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt Rev Rachel Treweek, will preach at a special dedication festival service on June 17 next year.

Currently a church team is putting the finishing touches to a year-long programme of events to mark the anniversary.

From January to December a wide variety of musical events, lectures and exhibitions will take place. For many of them admission will be free; others will be by ticket to cover the costs. There will also be opportunities to donate to the local charity Off The Record which offers a range of services to young people to improve and support their emotional and mental health and wellbeing.

Among highlights on the events programme will be the world premiere of a musical work, River of the Water of Life, written by local poet and dramatist Juliet Nicholson and set to music by John Marsh, organist at Bristol’s Lord Mayor’s Chapel. 

It will be performed on March 8 by choirs and musicians from All Saints Church,  Clifton College, Clifton High School and St John’s Primary School.  

The lecture series will include one entitled John Piper’s Stained Glass by the art historian and former Burlington Magazine editor Frances Spalding. She is the author of a book about the English painter, printmaker and designer of stained-glass windows, as well as opera and theatre sets.

Piper designed the windows in the rebuilt All Saints Clifton, the only church in which all the windows are his creative products. They include the full-height River of Life and Tree of Life either side of the font.                                                                                                                                

In the spring, A Palaeontologist’s View of the Future will be the subject of a lecture by Bristol University’s Professor Mike Benton, known by some as ‘the person who put feathers on dinosaurs and identified the colour.’

Autumn lectures will include Catholic Renewal: an historical perspective by Oxford University’s Professor of History of Modern Theology, Mark Chapman.

Bucking the national trend, All Saints today is attracting growing numbers of worshippers, notably young families and students. Its vicar Fr Charles Sutton hopes that the events planned for 2018 will help to encourage more people to attend on a regular basis.

Since he was appointed vicar two years ago, Fr Charles has introduced a number of new initiatives to expand his church’s role in the local community. Notable is a therapeutic Dementia Café in the church atrium as well as special services for those who have the condition.

Says Fr Charles: ‘While some local people with dementia may be confused by life today, their long-term memory might mean that their recollections of All Saints Clifton in its heyday are quite clear.’

For more information about plans for All Saints Clifton’s year of celebrations call the Parish Office on 0117 9741335 or email 


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