Bristol’s Architecture – The Byzantine Era
June 28, 2023

Birth of the Bristol Byzantine Era.

From 1850 to 1880 Bristol’s architecture had its own style known as Bristol byzantine. This was influenced by both the Byzantine and Moorish Architecture and was a variety of Byzantine Revival Architecture. Unfortunately, in modern times most of these so styled buildings have been demolished or destroyed but a few still live on today and include notable structures such as The Granary on Welsh Back, the Carriage Works on Stokes Croft as well as numerous warehouses dotted around Bristol Harbour.

Still Standing Today.

Some of the buildings have been repurposed and one such example is the Arnolfini home to an art gallery. The style is a simple outline with a robust quality using character materials and coloured polychrome brickwork, which is predominantly red, yellow, black, and white. Many of the buildings included archways as well as the upper floors unified by grouped windows either in horizontal or vertical layout.

As mentioned above, The Arnolfini was one of the first buildings to emphasise the Bristol Byzantine style and when first build was known as Bush House. Originally a tea warehouse and located in the heart of Bristol city centre by the floating harbour. Its architect, Richard Shackleton Pope who first built the southside of the building in 1831 and then extended it on the northside in 1835. The architecture consisted of a rock-faced plinth, tall round arches with three storeys of recessed windows within and finished with a shallow attic.

The History Behind Bristol’s Architecture.

This unique hybrid style can be found throughout Bristol in the remaining buildings and many of them being listed buildings protecting this sturdy and stunning architectural achievements of the past. It is thought that the birth of the Bristol Byzantine era was a result of a collaboration of architects William Venn Gough and Archibald Ponton who designed The Granary and John Addington Symonds, a local historian of the Italian Renaissance. Where the term ‘Bristol Byzantine’ was coined by Sir John Summerson one of the leading British architectural historians of the 20th century.

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