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The Bristol Chronicles 55BC - 1698 | by brizzle born and bred
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The Bristol Chronicles 55BC - 1698

55BC - The Romans invade Britain.The Dobunni tribe who live in the Bristol area defend themselves at Blaise, Leigh Woods and Clifton Down.There is no Roman Bristol. though there is a fort and port at Sea Mills.


c. 950 - Bristol grows into a busy market town.


978 - Two silver coins minted in Bristol at the beginning of the reign of Ethelred II (978-1016) are the first evidence of Saxon Bristol as a centre of commerce and proof that it has its own mint. They carry the stamp of the coin maker Aelfward on Bric.


1066 - Population of Bristol thought to be between 4.000-5.000.


1067 - Bristol surrenders to William the Conqueror without a fight. Then King Harold’s sons launch an unsuccessful attack on the town from Ireland in an attempt to unseat the Normans. They are beaten back from the city gates and pillage Somerset instead.


1086 - The Domesday Book records that Bristol is part of the Manor of Barton.The name Barton survives in the Barton Hill (pronounced ‘Bart Nil’) area of Bristol. By now Bristol is an established port trading with Dublin There is some evidence of a white slave trade between Bristol and Ireland.


1088 - First record of the original Bristol Castle near Bristol Bridge.


1115 - First church built on the present site of St Mary Redcliffe.


1120 - Robert, Earl of Gloucester. begins strengthening Bristol Castle.The castle is built of Caen stone and has a large dungeon. The foundation walls of the keep are reputed to have been 25 foot thick.


1129 - The Priory of St James is built.


1140 - Robert Fitzhardinge. Bristol’s richest citizen, begins work on St Augustlne’s Abbey. later to become Bristol Cathedral.


1155 - Bristol is granted its first Royal Charter confirming certain rights of the townspeople. No record of this charter survives.


1171 - After the English conquer Ireland, Henry II gives Dublin to the people of Bristol as a colony. Many Bristolians settle there.


1188 - Date of the earliest surviving Royal Charter. King John’s Charter reveals that Bristol is by now a thriving merchant town with a penchant for protectionism — a tradition carried on to this day by the Society of Merchant Venturers. According to the Royal Charter, non-Bristolians could not buy leather, corn or wool from ‘foreigners’, but only from Bristol merchants.


1203 - 41 - Princess Eleanor of Brittany is imprisoned in Bristol Castle all of her life in order to prevent her producing an heir to the throne to rival the Plantageneta: King John and his son Henry Ill.


1216 - The first Mayor of Bristol is appointed. 1220 - Foundation of Gaunt’s Hospital. later to become the Lord Mayor’s Chapel.


1239 - 47 - River Frome is diverted, using just spades and wheelbarrows, to provide more quays to cater for the increase in trade at the port.The work costs £5,000 and the river now provides a soft muddy bottom for boats to rest on when the tide is out.The diverted Frome is 2,400 foot long, 18 foot deep and 120 foot wide. It is one of the most remarkable feats of civic engineering of its time. So remarkable that future town planners concrete over it.image above: The Church has stood here since 1230 AD and it is all that remains of the Hospital of Gaunt, which was founded in 1220 to feed the poor and care for the sick. Since the 1540s it has been owned by Bristol City Council, the only municipal chapel in England. It remains as a place of Worship; a symbol of man's love for God.


1247 - First record of a High Cross at the lunction of High Street and Corn Street.


1312 - The Bristol Tax Riots: the earliest recorded riots in Bristol and the beginning of a tradition of civil disobedience that saw its most recent expression in St Paul’s in 1980. Bristolians rise up in anger when Edward II introduces another tax on shipping.


The Mayor, William Randolph. takes over control of collecting the taxes and the ship money from Bristol. Rioting starts soon after; Edward II appoints the Constable of the Castle with powers to overrule the corporation. Thomas de Berkeley is appointed to stop the riots.Twenty men are killed and the King’s officers are driven into the castle by the rioters. They remain under siege until the barons call in the army.After four days the city surrenders. Edward II pardons the rioters but fines them.


1327 - Edward II is imprisoned at Bristol Castle. He is then moved to Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire where he is murdered by having a red-hot poker shoved up his ass.


1371 - Bristol linen merchant Edward Blanket. the inventor of the blanket, dies. His tomb is in St Stephen’s Church. just off the Centre. Blanket lived in Tucker Street and was MP for Bristol in 1362.


1373 - Edward Ill grants Bristol a charter on April 8 making the city the first provincial borough to be a county in its own right Bristol pays 600 marks for the charter. Edward needs the money to fund the war against France.The first Sheriff of Bristol is appointed; a new High Cross is erected at the junction of Broad Street, Wine Street, Corn Street and High Street to commemorate the event.


1390 - Work begins on Temple Church, Bristol’s equivalent to the Leaning Tower of Pisa.Work on the church stops when the tower begins to lean and starts again in 1460.


The sloping is partially corrected thanks to some heavy stone laying. But by the time it is hit in the Blitz, it has been tilting again for some years.


1446 - With rebuilding work almost complete at St Mary Redcliffe church the roof is struck by lightning during a violent electric storm and destroyed.The repair work is funded by merchant William Canynges who was Mayor of Bristol five times and the city’s Member of Parliament twice.


1497 - John Cabot sets sail from Bristol in the Matthew and discovers North America. Giovanni Caboto was born in Genoa around 1451 and is thought to have arrived in Bristol in about 1480 with an ambition to look for Brasil. an island somewhere in the Atlantic.


According to Celtic legend. Cabot leaves Bristol on May 20. 1497 on board the Matthew with a crew of 18. He lands on the East Coast of America on June 24, 1497. On his return to Bristol, Cabot is rewarded for his discovery with a pension of £20 a year. In 1498. he sets off for America again, this time with five ships, and is never heard of again. Cabot’s new-found land is named America after the Bristol merchant Richard Amerike who put-up most of the money for Cabot discovery.


Cabot leaves Bristol on May 20. 1497 on board the Matthew with a crew of 18. He lands on the East Coast of America on June 24, 1497.


1532 - Foundation of Bristol Grammar School by Robert and Nicholas Thorne.


1542 - Diocese of Bristol created by Henry VIII.


1552 - Society of Merchant Venturers formed.


1555 - 57- Several martyrs are burned at the stake on St Michael’s Hill during the reign of Bloody Queen Mary.The prisoners were led to their deaths from the gaol up the muddy hill that is now Christmas Steps.


1574 - Queen Elizabeth visits Bristol and describes St Mary Redcliffe Church as ‘The goodliest, fairest and most famous parish church in England’.


1586 - Foundation of Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital School by John Carr.You may see QEH borders around Bristol, they wear traditional Bluecoat uniforms: dark cloaks with white neckbands, knee-length breeches and yellow stockings.


1610 - Bristol merchant John Guy becomes the first governor of Newfoundland.


1634 - Foundation of Red Maids’ School. John Whitson, merchant, Mayor and Member of Parliament for Bristol. dies in 1629, bequeathing monies for a hospital for ‘forty poor women children’ to be ‘apparelled in Red Cloth’.The Red Maids School is originally in Denmark Street next to the present-day Hippodrome, but moves to Westbury-on-Trym in 1930. Girls from the school still celebrate Founder’s Day.


1946 Red Maids School in Denmark Street - later demolished and the school relocated to a new site in Bristol. - For some years there had been a desire to move the Red Maids School out from their old and unsuitable site at Denmark Street, and in September 1833 the Corporation sold 1 acre and 22 perches (part of Kings Orchard) to the school trustees for the sum of £1,270


1636 - Slave trader Edward Colston is born in Bristol. Colston funds the development of much of modern Bristol with money from the slave trade and bequeaths a fortune to the city.


1642 - Outbreak of the Civil War. Bristol joins the Parliament side.


1643 - Bristol is captured by Royalist forces.


1645 - Bristol surrenders to Cromwell’s Parliament forces.


1654 - The destruction of Bristol Castle by Oliver Cromwell.


1655 - First Quaker meeting is held in Bristol at a private house in Frenchay.


1660 - Bristol apprentices revolt, demanding a free Parliament and the restoration of the Monarchy. On March 5, 1660, the bellman of Bristol makes the usual Puritan proclamation banning cock-throwing and dog-tossing.


The rowdy apprentices attack him and the next day, (Shrove Tuesday), squail a goose and toss cats and dogs into the air outside the Mayor’s Mansion House.To squail a goose is to throw sticks, weighted with lead at one end, at it.


The object is to maim the bird without killing it.- The authorities are able to quickly bring the apprentices under control and halt all tossing and squailing.


1674 - Ralph Ollive becomes mayor of Bristol on an anti-Quaker ticket Major persecution of the Society of Friends continues.


1680 - Edward Thatch or Teach ( Blackbeard the Pirate) is born in Bristol. Blackbeard is believed to be the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Long John Silver in Treasure Island.


Captain Charles Johnson tells us that Edward (Blackbeard) was born in Bristol. Probably the son of a sailor who had sailed out of Jamaica for several years and had returned to Bristol in about 1680 where his son was born.


Young Edward Thatch or Teach grew up in the streets around the river docks and the sea was in his blood. He probably lived in the congested Redcliffe area just a few yards from the working waterfront. The Thatch family was not poor; Edward received some education and he was later able to read and write.


1681 - William Penn of Bristol establishes a Quaker community in Pennsylvania.


1694 - Society of Merchant Venturers organises protests against the Royal African Company’s London monopoly of the slave trade.


1695 - William Bonny sets up Bristol’s first printing press.


1698 - The slave trade begins in Bristol when the London monopoly of the Royal African Company is broken.


Bristol Chronicles 55BC - 1698


Bristol Chronicles 1700 - 1800


Bristol Chronicles 1860 - 1889


Bristol Chronicles 1900 - 1904


Bristol Chronicles 1905


Bristol Chronicles 1906


Bristol Chronicles 1907


Bristol Chronicles 1908


Bristol Chronicles 1909


Bristol Chronicles 1910


Bristol Chronicles 1911 - 1912


Bristol Chronicles 1913


Bristol Chronicles 1914-18


Bristol Chronicles 1920s


Bristol Chronicles 1930 - 1933


Bristol Chronicles 1930s


Bristol Chronicles 1939-45


Bristol Chronicles 1946 - 1959


Bristol Chronicles 1960 - 1965


Bristol Chronicles 1966 - 1969


Bristol Chronicles 1970s


Bristol Chronicles 1980s


Bristol Chronicles 1990 - 2008

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Taken on October 17, 2009