What with it being Independence Day and all, we’re in the mood for a bit of America/Bristol trivia. Following on from our 13 Things you didn’t know about Bristol and the USA blog, we’ve got some places of interest for the Tudor history lovers out there…

Queen Elizabeth I came to Bristol in 1574, an event not often thought about here, but celebrated in style in the Wisconsin city of Kenosha every summer since the late 1980s.

2017 marks the 30th anniversary of Bristol Renaissance Faire, which runs on Saturdays, Sundays and Labor Day from 8 July to 4 September and promises to deliver a rollicking romp through Elizabethan England. Visitors can expect 16th century games, rides, arts, crafts, food, music, and pub crawls, plus one-of-a-kind encounters with a spectacular cast of characters. And let’s not forget RenQuest, an ever-evolving, live action fantasy-play game, and Kids’ Quest, in which the Faire’s younger patrons help Pinocchio become a real boy and fix mistakes in other fairy tale stories.

Bristol Renaissance Faire

Image - Bristol Renaissance Faire, credit Natasha J photography

To be honest, it all sounds like a lot of fun, but perhaps not strictly authentic. The Queen’s visit to Bristol did include a lengthy and extremely expensive mock battle between War and Peace but it was largely less theatrical than Kenosha’s version, an opportunity for the city to show its gratitude to the Queen for her role in renewing trade links between England and Spain.

The United States of America may have declared independence from Great Britain, but links between the two countries remain strong with travel between the two getting ever easier. If the residents of Kenosha wish to visit “real” Bristol they just need to make their way to Chicago (about 50km away) where from this month they can hop on a WOW Airline flight from O’Hare to Bristol (via Reykjavik ) from £209.99 each way.

In our Bristol, you can still visit somewhere that Elizabeth I is known to have frequented - St Mary Redcliffe Church, which she described as “the fairest, goodliest and most famous parish church in England” and where a statue of her stands to this day.

Queen Elizabeth

Image - Queen Elizabeth, St Mary Redcliffe, credit Vivienne Kennedy

The church has strong connections to America. When John Cabot set sail from Bristol on The Matthew in 1497, it was the Sheriff of Bristol, Richard Amerike, whose daughter Johanna Brooke is buried in St Mary Redcliffe, who had the task of raising funds for the voyage and who possibly gave his name to the newly discovered continent. 500 years later, in 1997, prayers were said in the church for The Matthew II before it set off to recreate Cabot’s voyage. A scale model of the ship can be seen above the north door.

St Mary Redcliffe

Image - stained glass at St Mary Redcliffe depicting Cabot's voyage to North America, credit Vivienne Kennedy

Also on display is a suit of armour belonging to Admiral Sir William Penn, who is buried in the church. As an officer in Charles II’s Navy, he fought in the Dutch Wars and was Governor of Jamaica. When he died, the King still owed him money. To repay the debt, Charles II gave Penn’s son lands in America, naming them Pennsylvania.

Queen Elizabeth I also went to Berkeley Castle (two years before she came to Bristol actually) where she upset Lord Berkeley by killing 27 of his prize deer! Her visit will be recreated at the castle on 27 and 28 August with living history displays, archery, musket and crossbow shooting.

Queen Elizabeth

Image - Queen Elizabeth at Berkeley Castle, credit Berkeley Castle

Another must-visit location for Tudor buffs is Red Lodge. Three rooms, including the Great Oak Room, are among the oldest in Bristol, featuring a grand Elizabethan four-poster bed, wood panelling, and sturdy oak furniture. There’s also a Knot Garden, which inspired the design of some of the ceilings.

Red Lodge bed

Image - Elizabethan four-poster bed at Red Lodge

At the end of your visit to Bristol leave on a train and you’ll see how the Elizabethan age inspired one of the city’s great Victorians. When designing Temple Meads Railway Station, Isambard Kingdom Brunel was influenced by the design of Hampton Court Palace, built by Elizabeth’s father Henry VIII (she was responsible for its eastern kitchen, now the public tea room). The station’s chimneys are an almost direct copy of those found on the palace.

Temple Meads

Image - Bristol Temple Meads train station, credit Adrian Warr


St Mary Redcliffe Church
St Mary Redcliffe Church, Bristol

One of the most beautiful churches in all England and one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in the country

The Matthew
Historic Ship
The Matthew Bristol

Based in Bristol’s floating harbour for much of the year, the Matthew is popular for harbour tours as well as longer sailing trips.

Berkeley Castle
Aerial shot of Berkeley Castle Bristol

Berkeley Castle is a beautiful and historic Castle, begun in 1117 and still remains the home of the Berkeley family. It is a great day-out for all the family, hosting special events on bank holidays and during school holidays

The Red Lodge Museum
Historic House/Palace
The Red Lodge Museum interior

A historic Elizabethan house, with a stunning walled garden and many original or otherwise completely restored features.

Bristol Temple Meads Railway Station
Bristol Temple Meads Railway Station

Temple Meads Railway Station is the main railway station for Bristol with connections all through the UK, south through Taunton and Exeter, west into Wales, east to Bath and London Paddington and north through Birmingham to Scotland.