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Guide to Bristol Holy Trinity, Gloucestershire ancestry, family history, and genealogy: parish registers, transcripts, census records, birth records, marriage records, and death records.

Bristol Holy Trinity, Gloucestershire
Holy Trinity Lawrence Hill Bristol contributor William Avery.jpg
Holy Trinity Lawrence Hill Bristol contributor William Avery
Type Ecclesiastical Parish
Civil Jurisdictions
Hundred Barton Regis; Bristol City
County Gloucestershire
Poor Law Union Bristol Incorporation
Registration District Bristol; Clifton
Records begin
Parish registers: 1831
Bishop's Transcripts: 1834
Ecclesiastical Jurisdictions
Rural Deanery Bristol
Diocese Gloucester and Bristol
Province Canterbury
Legal Jurisdictions
Probate Court Court of the Bishop of Bristol (Episcopal Consistory)
Location of Archive
Gloucestershire Record Office


Parish History

The Trinity Centre, formerly the Holy Trinity Church, in Lawrence Hill, Bristol is designated by English Heritage as a grade II* listed building.[1] The building is protected by a covenant, which states that it is to only be used for community, arts, youth and education services. This covenant has influenced much of the building's recent use as an arts and community venue.

Holy Trinity Church The church was built between 1829 and 1832 by Thomas Rickman and Henry Hutchinson,[1] two architects from Birmingham, who also designed the piers, perimeter walls and railings which are also listed.[2]

The church is built using Bath stone in a Perpendicular style, a style of English Gothic architecture characterised by its strong emphasis on the vertical elements and its linear design [3].

It has two octagonal bell towers with open turrets on the west face of the building.[4] The towers sit on either side of the main entrance and the west window. During a period when the building sat empty, the bells were taken and either sold for scrap or to another church. The towers now sit empty and are occupied only by bats and pigeons.

The original bells and fittings were replaced with new ones in April 1927. The work was carried out by local firm Llewellins & James Ltd of Castle Green. It cost £47 10s for bells and labour although an additional £3 10s was incurred when the workmen realised that they had to remove the floor of the towers in order to get the new bells in.

The Holy Trinity Church had 2,200 seats with 1,500 of these being free.[4] The free seating had the word ‘free’ printed on the side and would have been located towards the rear of the church and up in the galleries. Free seating was for the population who could not afford to pay the ‘rent’ for a seat near the front. The closer you sat to the altar the holier you were deemed to be[citation needed] – therefore the richer you were the holier you were. The underside of the original galleries can still be seen today over the bar area.

[edit] Spoils of WarThe Napoleonic War against France, which had raged for 12 years ended in 1815, with the defeat of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte at the Battle of Waterloo. With victory came money for Britain and her allies.

In 1818, £1,000,000 was given by Parliament to build new churches across the country. In 1824, a further £500,000 was given to continue with the mass build. The acts became known as the 'Million' and 'Half Million' Acts. Churches built as a result of these acts became known as 'Million', 'Half Million', or Waterloo churches.

[edit] Design and build£6,000 was given to the out parish of St Philip’s with a further £2,200 raised by the laymen. This and other sources brought the total cost of the build to £9,020 19s. 4d [4].

The church took 26 months of hard work to build. The foundation stone was laid on 22 September 1829, by the Lord Mayor John Cave. The consecration of the completed church took place by the Bishop of Bristol on 17 February 1832.[5]

Later work was carried out on the building circa 1882 by John Bevan and in 1905 by William Venn Gough.[1]

[edit] GraveyardDue to the relatively small size of Trinity’s graveyard, when graves were dug, they were dug deep and coffins were stacked on top of each other to maximise the use of space.[6]

When the church was deconsecrated the coffins were exhumed and moved to other graveyards such as Arnos Vale Cemetery.

[edit] CrimeIn the 19th Century there was no provision for street lighting or for constables to patrol after dark. Hand-in-hand with this went crime. Attempts to curb crime by making the death penalty a mandatory sentence for even the smallest capital felony had little perceived impact. Local authorities felt the way to address the problem was to engage the spiralling population in Christian worship, and the Holy Trinity Church was built.[7]

On 24 April 1869, policeman PC Richard Hill 273 was stabbed to death by 19 year old local labourer William Pullin.[8]

Thousands of people turned up to his funeral at Trinity, lining the streets all the way from the church to the burial at Arnos Vale. Pullin would have hanged had it not been for the intervention of more than 7,000 individuals petitioning for mercy on his behalf, on the grounds that he was a young man of good nature who had come to this terrible act due to circumstance.[9]

A marble memorial tablet that once resided in the Holy Trinity Church can now be found in the foyer of Old Market's Trinity Road police station, which reads: In memory of Richard Hill, police constable of this city, who was murdered whilst in the execution of his duty in Gloucester Lane, 24 April 1869, aged 31 years, and was interred in Arnos Vale Cemetery. This tablet was erected as a mark of esteem by his brother officers and inhabitants of the city. A brave man: PC Richard Hill was not forgotten.

[edit] 1960sThe Holy Trinity Church of St Philip & St Jacob finally closed due to dwindling congregations and lack of money. The building sat empty for a decade, spiralling ever further into disrepair, due to vandalism and looting.[10]

[edit] 1970sDiscontent amongst black and minority ethnic young people escalated due to unemployment and increasing clashes with the police.[11] Local leaders looking to ease tensions agreed for Trinity to be deconsecrated and given to the public, for use as a community centre, with a focus on activities for young people.[11]

The building was transferred to the African-Caribbean Community Association (also known as the Bristol Caribbean Community Enterprise Group) with a 50 year lease, under the management of Mr Roy de Freitas. The group carried out extensive repairs and alternations to the building, including the installation of a second floor. On 1 July 1978, the same day as St Paul’s Festival, now called Carnival, Trinity Community Centre was opened to the public.[12]

[edit] 1980sThe Trinity Centre's early years as a community centre and music venue were set against a backdrop of rising local tensions, culminating in the St. Pauls riot.

During the early part of this decade, the centre provided a much needed outlet for local youth culture, hosting nights of dub and reggae from the likes of Jah Shaka and Quaker City, and playing host to some of the biggest domestic and international music stars of the time, notably from the punk and new wave genres, such as U2[13], Crass, The Cramps, Echo and the Bunnymen, Joy Division and New Order alongside local favourites such as The Stingrays and Disorder.

As a music venue, Trinity was a melting pot for the different styles popular at the time, from reggae through ska to punk. From this came a post-punk scene which blended many of these influences. Trinity saw regular performances from local acts such as Mark Stewart and The Pop Group, who through their collaborations with artists and producers from the reggae scene, as well as artists such as On-U Sound System and Gary Clail laid the foundations for the later Trip Hop genre, and the Bristol Sound.

In 1984 the African-Caribbean Community Association went into insolvency due to financial mismanagement, with large bank and Inland Revenue debts. Allegations were rife Mr de Freitas had embezzled funds and fled to Jamaica, though it eventually transpired that he was in fact living with his sister in Clevedon, having sold his own house to invest in a cafe for the centre, which he had hoped would help to pay off Trinity's debts.[14]

The 50 year lease that had been granted to the community was prematurely terminated and by default the building was transferred to the local authority.

[edit] 1990sAfter a spell of sitting empty, Bristol City Council put the building out to tender and it was taken on by the New Trinity Community Association in 1991. The new tenants and a dedicated team of volunteers began an extensive round of development and renovations, which included the installation of the sprung wooden floor downstairs, and new railings.[2]

The Centre reopened in 1992, and under this new management Trinity again gained international fame as an important landmark in the globally exported Bristol Sound, prominent during this era, playing host to local acts such as Roni Size, Smith & Mighty and Portishead.

As well as the successful music nights there were also daytime community activities. From bingo madness to a boxing club the two levels provided a much needed space for everyone to use.

Shifting funds away from community centres towards Millennium Projects coupled with a series of financial problems, echoing those which led to the demise of the previous group, Trinity was forced to close once again in 2000.

[edit] TodayIn 2001, Trinity Community Arts formed to reopen the Trinity Centre. Funding was received through the Bristol Objective 2 Action Plan - a strategic development fund across the City, designed to address social, economic and environmental decline and disadvantage - to improve access within the building and make it fit for use by the community. Since reopening in 2004, it has become a prominent arts venue within Bristol.

The Centre is continuing in its tradition as a Bristol music venue, as well as providing recording and broadcast studios, and training around media arts and technology, run almost entirely upon Free software.[1]


Civil Registration

Birth, marriages and deaths were kept by the government, from July 1837 to the present day. The civil registration article tells more about these records. There are several Internet sites with name lists or indexes. A popular site is FreeBMD.

Church records

BIVRI = British Isles Vital Records Index (Ancestry) - (£)[2]
BOYD = Boyd's Marriage Index (findmypast) (£)[3]


Indexes Images Indexes Images Indexes Images
BIVRI 1828-1909 1835-1906
BOYD 1835-1859

To find the names of the neighbouring parishes, use England Jurisdictions 1851. In this site, search for the name of the parish, click on the location "pin", click Options and click List contiguous parishes.

Non Conformist Churches

Census records

Census records from 1841 to 1911 are available online. For access, see England Census Records and Indexes Online. Census records from 1841 to 1891 are also available on film through a Family History Center or at the Family History Library. The first film number is 288782.

Probate records

Records of wills, administrations, inventories, indexes, etc. were filed by the court with jurisdiction over this parish. Go to Gloucestershire Probate Records to find the name of the court having primary jurisdiction. Scroll down in the article to the section Court Jurisdictions by Parish.

Maps and Gazetteers

Maps are a visual look at the locations in England. Gazetteers contain brief summaries about a place.



  2. 'Vital Records Index - British Isles - Collection List,' British Isles Vital Records Index, 2nd ed., hosted at Genoot, accessed 1 December 2012.
  3. 'Boyd's Marriage Index - Parish details by county,', accessed 1 December 2012.


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  • This page was last modified on 7 June 2015, at 01:25.
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