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St James Priory

Whitson Street, Bristol, BS1 3NZ

Tel: +44 (0)117 929 9100

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St James Priory


St James Priory is the oldest church in Bristol that’s still in daily use. It dates from the 12th Century.

It is open from Monday – Friday from 10am – 5pm. Now a Roman Catholic Church, Holy Mass is celebrated at 8am on Sundays and at 1.05 pm from Tuesday to Saturday. All are welcome.

St James is Grade 1 listed, as a building of outstanding architectural and historic interest. Between 2009 and 2011 a huge £3 million HLF grant, and matched funding of £1 million by our Charity, financed a repair, conservation and renovation project that has restored the building to its current grandeur.

St James Priory was founded between 1124 and 1137 by Robert, first Earl of Gloucester, who owned the castle at Bristol. To start with, there were 11 or 12 monks and a Prior, who lived under the rule of the Benedictine Abbey of Tewkesbury. Robert died of fever in 1147 in Bristol and was initially buried in St James Priory.

As well as a spiritual role as a Benedictine Priory, St James played a significant part in the social and economic history of Bristol. In addition to providing support for the poor its activities include being a key player in the urban development of Bristol, the landlord of the Whitson Fair (a major medieval South West trading fair) and offering an important place of burial.

St James Priory continues today to offer a haven of serenity and peace in the heart of the city for all visitors and travellers. There is a wide range of historical displays and information available. Tours of the Church can be arranged by appointment.

The St James Priory Project Charity also provides charitable support for vulnerable people in recovery from drugs and alcohol dependency and those with mental health problems.

There is a café (Café Refectoire) attached to the church, which provides a welcome for passers-by and those visiting this historic site. It also provides an access to the Priory Church and a revenue to support our charitable work,

Opening Times

Open (1 Jan 2020 - 31 Dec 2020)

* St James Priory is open from Monday to Saturday between 9am and 5pm, with Mass starting at 8am on Sundays.

The above times should be used as an indicator during the recovery phase from the global pandemic.

Please double-check details by visiting the website via the link above before you visit

Further Information

Key Features

  • In town/city centre
  • Of historic, literary or architectural interest



TripAdvisor Traveller Rating:

5 of 5 stars
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    Recent Reviews:

    • Richard A
      Bristol, United Kingdom
      Lunch with a prayer
      5 of 5 stars
      Tuesday, 15th October 2019
      Situated next to Bristol bus and coach station and Bristol hospitals. A lovely wholesome cafe for either coffee of lunch. Situated next to the priory church. I lovely church to sit quietly away from... Read full review
    • Caroline S
      Cheltenham, United Kingdom
      Great Place to Fill your Flask
      5 of 5 stars
      Tuesday, 25th February 2020
      This was a real find. Arrived at Bristol Bus Station, after a few days in Glastonbury with half an hour between bus and onward coach, and set off to find a café which would fill my flask. The first... Read full review
    • Maggie G
      Kokkola, Finland
      Calm and tranquility in the midst of hectic life ...
      5 of 5 stars
      Saturday, 7th March 2020
      St James Priory, the oldest surviving building in Bristol (1129) is situated on a very busy road-roundabout network and is an oasis of peace and tranquility. It is a stunningly beautiful Norman... Read full review

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    St James Priory Cafe ExteriorCafe Refectoire at St James Priory, Bristol Shopping Quarter