The Bishop's Palace

Residents of Redland Court Road may well recognise the stone wall featured in the foreground of the photograph as that surrounding Alderman's Park on Redland Green. It is the last remains of the ‘Palace’ built for the Bishop of Bristol in 1898 on land given by Greville Edwards. Greville Edwards had sold Redland Court in 1884 and moved to Butcombe Court, Somerset a year after marrying Florence Cave, daughter of a prominent Bristol banker. Evidently he had retained ownership of some land in the Redland area because he also gave the land on the corner of Kersteman and Salisbury Roads on which St Katherine’s Church was built.

The original Bishop’s Palace was behind the Cathedral and the present Cathedral School buildings and stretched out into the Canon’s Marsh as far as the railway buildings, transformed today into the new Exploratory. The building was gutted in the 1831 Bristol Riots and some ruins remained until the 1960s when a new School Hall was built on the site. The Bishopric of Bristol was amalgamated with Gloucester from 1836 to 1898. Stapleton House (which is now Colston’s School) was used by the Bishop of Gloucester from 1840 to 1856 but was sold by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to help pay for a new Palace at Gloucester at a loss of over £12,000 at 1850’s prices.

When the Bishopric of Bristol was refounded in 1894, a house in Berkeley Square was donated for use as a residence. In the words of Latimer, the new Bishop “intimated his desire that a properly constructed house should be built in the suburbs”. The architect of the new Palace at Redland Green was W.D.Carol and the cost was £13,000 (multiply by at least 100 to get today’s prices!). Its demise came in an Air Raid on 2 December 1940 when over 22,000 incendiary bombs were dropped. The Palace caught fire and a local resident has recalled how a human chain was formed to remove as many of the oil paintings as possible and the fire raged behind the beautiful stained glass windows of the house in contract with the surrounding total darkness.

The site remained as ruins much used as a play area by local children until the St John Reade Hostel for the then Redland Training College and Bristol Poytechnic was built in 1968. The hostel was demolished to make way for Alderman's Park, constructed in 2007.