Episode 11 – St Annes Stories

September 2022, 30 mins

In this podcast we explore the stories, memories and myths of St Anne’s – a hidden corner of Bristol with an intriguing history.

You can listen to conversations and contributions from local residents, aged under 10 to over 90, where they speak about the histories of St Anne’s House and the surrounding area. The episode also shares restored archive recordings from Bristol MShed’s industrial and maritime history collection. These original tapes contain interviews with those who worked around Bristol between 86 and 88 as part of the ‘Bristol at Work Project’. 

Transcript: Please see at the end of the page.

Part of Bricks’ Gather St Anne’s Project


  • Rowan Bishop

    Podcast Producer (Freelance)


St Anne’s Stories

Rowan Bishop  0:04  

Hi and welcome to this podcast, which is part of the Bricks Gather St Annes project. Gather St Annes explores the histories of St Annes House and the surrounding area with young people, artists, local residents, tenants and community groups. Histories to myths memories to hopes, the collaboration brings people together and shares local voices in St Annes, Bristol. The following collection of stories is made up of contributions from local residents aged from under 10 to over 90. Most of the material was gathered from public events at St Annes House organised by Bricks towards the end of 2021. But there are also some restored archive recordings helpfully provided by M shed from their industrial and maritime history collection. The original tapes contain interviews with people who worked at various places around Bristol and were recorded between 1986 and 1988 as part of Bristol Industrial Museum’s Bristol at Work project. The segments you’ll hear feature the voices of those who worked in St Anne’s Boardmill which produced cardboard and operated just a stone’s throw from the current St Annes House location. You’ll hear firsthand accounts of working conditions and manufacturing processes in the mill during its operation between 1913 and 1980. 

So Mrs. Knowles, when did you start work?

Mrs. Knowles  1:21  


Speaker 1  1:24  

And where was that?

Mrs. Knowles  1:24  

Where? In St. Annes Boardmill, in the laboratory.

Speaker 1  1:29  

What did that involve?

Making up test sheets from the pulp that came in, testing coal stacks, taking temperatures on coal stacks. Testing the coal for what power is was going to give out.

And that was five days a week was it?

Five days, no, five and a half days and we go in Saturday mornings, 

What hours was that?

Mrs. Knowles  1:59  

Quarter to 9 till quarter to 5. And I think it was 9 until 12 on a Saturday morning. 

Speaker 1  2:07  

What were the holidays? 

Mrs. Knowles  2:08  

I think we started with two weeks holiday. But I think when I started there the men in the mill were only getting one week’s holiday. I believe that’s, I’m right in saying that. 

Speaker 1  2:19  

Was it many men or women doing your sort of job?

In the laboratory? Well, I was told there’s two of us ladies started there when I started and we were the first ladies to go into the laboratory. No other females had been in there before it had always been a male domain. And Dr. Dean was our boss then, lovely man who’d been there all his life. He thought it was you know, a great joke for two young girls to start in the laboratory. 

So when did you leave the first time? 

Mrs. Knowles  2:55  

I started in 45 and I think I stayed there indefinitely. From when I was 16, 11 years 

Speaker 1  3:02  

And you had no choice to leave when you got married?

Mrs. Knowles  3:05  

No no no, I didn’t have to, I only left because I was expecting a family. Yeah, no. I was able to stay on. But at one time. I think they did pass something that girls had to leave when they got married.

Speaker 2  3:22  

Penny [unknown] is my mother in law and she used to live in the house that I live in now. So in Wootton Crescent, she lived there, you lived there with your mum.

Penny  3:32  

I lived there with my mum until I got married. And then my mother lived there obviously on her own till she moved into a home and then my son bought the house and then married Sharon and moved in. I think my mother bought it just after the war. So when did the war end? 1945 and she bought it just before my dad came back from the war. So 44 or something like that? So you can remember what it was like in the house of the 50s. I mean admittedly we had an inside bathroom which apparently is quite rare in the 50s but we did. We had coal fires and a fireplace with a little thing to put your kettle on and that and toast bread, till the chimney caught fire and then we had to have a proper fireplace and we had a gas boiler for the washing, washing clothes with a handle thing, swisher and a mangle. We had chickens in the back garden. And then when I was little we used to come down across the playing field at the back down into the woods to go fishing, gone all day, on our own.

Speaker 2  4:46  

I’ve got a daughter as well now so we’ve got the next generation who’s growing up in the same room that Penny was brought up in. 

Penny  4:54  

So her bedroom was my bedroom. 

Speaker 2  4:55  

Yeah, so it’s quite a nice story. I know my daughter likes to I hear about you know, Grandma Penny living there and, and Grandma Nora and the sort of history of the family. So, so yeah, we do sort of like to keep it, you know, obviously we’ve modernised it and everything but it’s nice to feel like there’s that history and, and that my husband used to come as a child there to, you know, play with his grandma. And he’s got those memories as well. So it’s a nice sort of continuation of the family really.

Speaker 8  5:27  

I will never regret going down it. Bloody good job. Good pay. [unintelligible] for the conscientious workers

Speaker 6  5:27  

So the conditions were good?

Speaker 8  5:43  

Well I think so, yeah. 

Speaker 6  5:46  

 So on the whole you enjoyed your days?

Speaker 8  5:48  

Oh yeh, enjoyed every minute of it. And I worked and I worked long hours but didn’t make no difference. The longer you worked the more pay you got. 

Speaker 6  5:56  

Can you tell me something about the work that you did?

Speaker 8  6:00  

Well thats what I said I was the Assistant Baker and like I say it I used to start a seven o’clock in the morning, finished at 6 at night because the job entailed those hours you see. Then every other, every other, every other week, Saturdays and Sundays I used to have to go in at four o’clock in the morning to bake the rolls and the cakes and things like that and then you know carry on with the canteen work, mobile service or food etc, etc. I enjoyed every minute simply because there was such a vast difference between that kind of job and the baking I was in because I was on night-working for 18, no 15 years continually night-working in the baking trade. And that wasn’t work that was slaving [unintelligible] so I enjoyed it, I appreciated it. That’s all I can say about that.

Speaker 7  6:54  

I’ve only been here for a couple of years, but we moved into Nightingale Valley. All the cottages down there used to be sort of railway cottages that serves the railway. We found out that the bottom of our garden was like a pilgrims paths that went all the way up to a famous shrine at the time. We got it because we found a piece of land on there to build a house. But I’m really glad we moved there because it feels like the first place I’ve lived in a long time where I know a lot of people locally and it feels like it’s my own place. 

Speaker 6  7:28  

Can you tell me anything about what it was actually like on the factory floor?

Speaker 8  7:32  

I think that the worst job of all was on the on the machine that we’re producing the the board itself, they say you take for instance when the machines were running alright, so as I say it was quite easy to use them and as I say, you had [unintelligable] nearby, but if they had to break, say if the cardboard broke, see. We’re chasing everyone that we got to get that paper rolling again because of loss of production for how [unintelligible] you see other than that, let’s say they use a tremendous amount of water for cleaning down and the making of the boilers. So I think that machines were the worst off.

Speaker 6  8:16  

What were the conditions like in the factory?

Speaker 8  8:18  

Oh, they weren’t the worst that a lot of other places, do you know what I mean, that’s why a lot [unintelligible] you know, they stuck their jobs, you know, for year after year after year and never say that it was a damn sight better than being ‘on the dole’. And I can say this you take Butler’s for instance, and like I say conditions down there were terrible at one time, see. [unintelligible] alot of Butler’s trying to get into boardmills for that particular reason you know, so like I say that we were thinking that anybody worked for the boardmill had done very well.

Speaker 1  8:53  

St Annes house was run as a shelter for the homeless by the charity St. Mungo’s from November 2018 until the COVID 19 pandemic meant that the accommodation was no longer suitable. While open it contained 30 beds for the homeless and provided other services and support for shelter users. Before the shelter opened, there was some opposition to the plan with local residents raising concerns around antisocial behaviour and drug abuse.

Speaker 13  9:16  

My wife and I moved here from France, my wifes French, five years ago and that was just at the time when this centre here was being designated as a refuge for homeless people. And that was our first introduction to St. Annes. We came to the meeting which was absolutely chaotic. It was terrible. I was quite surprised. I was quite shocked. People had a very, very negative attitude to homeless people in their area. They thought they were very dangerous. Their children were in danger and all the rest of it. No matter how much people try to assure them that it was only a temporary thing, it was only during the winter, most of the people were working anyway, and so on and drugs weren’t involved. It didn’t make any difference. It just finished up as a shouting match. But fortunately, it succeeded as a centre. And it continued, and there was never anything said about the place afterwards. The big advantage, the big plus for living round here is that people are very friendly. Bristolians are super friendly. I’m originally from Manchester. So I know what northern community spirit was like, that was a long, long time ago. And coming back to Bristol, I find that it’s very similar, extremely friendly and relaxed. I like it. And it’s multinational, unbelievabley multinational, it has so many languages spoken in the street, and they get on. We don’t see much conflict between different communities. This is a very positive thing. I believe in some schools, they have hundreds of languages spoken. No. I’m happy to be here. Yeah.

Speaker 1  11:21  

Would you say that, that’s true of St Annes as well as Bristol generally?

Speaker 7  11:26  

Yeah, definitely. 

Speaker 1  11:29  

As part of the Gather St Annes project there was an exhibition of photographs at St. Anne’s house taken in the area over the years. The boardmill was heavily featured and one of the photographs donated by local residents showed a little boy standing next to building site machinery during the demolition of the mill buildings in the early 80s.

Speaker 11  11:45  

My name is Rich Clark. And when I was a kid I was interested in anything mechanical, diggers, cranes, all that sort of stuff. And my granddad was a guy called Reg Clark. He would drive me all over Bristol, taking photos of diggers. And in those days, you could just walk into a building site, you could just sit in a digger. There was no security, it was no high vis, people in high vis jackets, it was, you could just walk into a building site, sit in the digger. And at the time, obviously, this would have been the early 80s, St. Anne’s boardmills had not long closed. And this was one of the places that he would take me to, obviously these photos that are part of the exhibition, were obviously taken at the then derelict boardmills. It would have been 1982, 83. That’s sort of time. But yeah, I mean, basically what happened was is I mean, Reg, Reg was a he was a wonderful granddad, to me was a very charming man. He was sort of larger than life character. And as I said, at the time, he would have not long retired. And he basically he said to me, said, you know, we would get in his yellow Ford cordtina, and he would drive me all over all over Bristol. And I just remember the sort of huge red brick buildings and you know, just broken windows. And I mean, where I’m stood on these photos is would be where the, the Avon Valley Business Park is now. But what happened with the photos is that when Reg died, he died in 2006 and then my Nan went into a home not long after, my mum and dad were clearing out his house and they found this box of negatives, so I took them to a place in Baldwin street, Photographique, and I said, you know, can you put them on digitised and put them on a disk for me? And it was wonderful to bring back all these memories, I’d completely sort of forgotten about. But I’ve got two children, two little girls, and my youngest one in particular she’s only, she’s only three she’s nearly four, she seems to have inherited the sort of the bug for diggers. Across the road from our, our house there’s a building site, they’re building new houses and so she seems to be sort of interested in it just like I was so that’s nice anyway. 

Speaker 6  14:06  

Did many women work for the boardmill?

Speaker 8  12:37  

Oh, yeah. They’re, not so much after the war because like I say the women gladly stayed out. But we had a lot of women in the packing room. It was mostly the women doing the packing see, [unintelligible] the boys you know, and things like that too. But outside of that bar the office and the counters, very few women working as labour and what they could’nt do it you see. They may have done it during the war years because there were’nt none during the war years. Like I say that women done alot of jobs in the war to you I suppose they may have had some in the mill, I dont know. But gradually like I say, they were afraid of or if they did well, it was only the women in the patent room like a trade, accounting. So an office girl, you know

Speaker 6  14:50  

So the actual production in the boardmills, was hard work?

Speaker 8  14:57  

Oh yes it was hard work. Oh yeah, but [unintelligable] because it was’nt the worst, it was’nt the worst than a lot of other firms. And gosh, I can say, over the years as you see the unions crept in and improved the lot of the working man, you see, because like I say I’m 77. Going back to my prior days when I can see some of the sights and all of Bristol. You take the tannery, that used to be down in Red Cross Street there, that I don’t know whether it’ still there, haven’t been down town for years. I see yourself with a chap come from the town away in [unintelligable] you know, to the street, you know, and that was the type of work in those days, you know, that gradually it improved and like I say, you know, when they started when Headley started up as the boardmills as such, yes, he was taken over by the [unintelligable] gradually things began to get better and better and boardmills went out of existence, like I say, [unintelligible] that we want to you see, but it’s not you see, I’ve got my own opinion about that, why boardmills went out of existence. It was in the interest of the government to keep the board trade going. They could have, they could have subsidised the boardmills I think you see, but I don’t know why they allowed them to, to go out, you know.

Unknown Speaker  16:36  

I’ve moved here to St. Anne’s 29 years ago. So when I was offered a council house there, the housing officer took me inside and it was a complete mess. I knew it was a real complete mess. He was embarrassed and kept apologising, saying that they should have sorted it out. And you know, but I looked out the back garden and saw Troopers Hill, and that just swung it and I just said I’ll take it. Thank you. As we moved in, and the garden hadn’t been cultivated for 25 years. And it took two council trucks to take the mattresses, the bikes, the safe, and the other things we found in the back garden. And all a great crowd of neighbours came out when we were moving in. We just didn’t understand why they were watching us in the street, and it because we were the first black family on the road. And at that time, I had three children. Nobody else was like us there. So what am I seeing the changes? Lots of diversity. Really nice to see that. Lots of new families moving in, changing things up. And I think St. Anne’s house is the epitome of that. Because this would not have happened 10 years ago, it wouldn’t have happened. So you’re very welcome. I hope you stay.

Speaker 1  18:03  

In addition to finding the archive recordings of boardmill workers, we were lucky enough to meet a former mill employee in person at St. Anne’s house. Morris was at first reluctant to be recorded but thanks to the encouragement of his neighbours, he agreed to talk on microphone and gave us some great insights about working at the mill through the war years until the mills closure in 1980.

Speaker 12  18:22  

My name is Morris Francis. I worked at St Anne’s boardmills for near enough 40 years until it closed down. I worked in a boardmill coaching department went shore in the war. It was at the time that they bombed bath. They dropped two bombs into the coaching department, where they exploded and caused quite a lot of damage. The other one, even though it comes through a concrete roof, jammed into some machinery and didn’t explode. The Army bomb disposal people came and took it away. Because of the shortage of pulping materials. The boardmill organised a wastepaper collection and provided hessian sacks for this paper to be collected in from houses and businesses. Later in the war again because of the shortage of pulp, they started using straw but a straw had to be sort of cooked to make it suitable material for pulping and it used to be kept in a field along the river and they used to keep security on it twenty-four hours a day so nobody set fire to it. Talking about setting fire, they had their own fire brigade at St Anne’s boardmills. After the war finished there was a big oil fire at Avonmouth. And even though St Anne’s fire brigade was privately owned, that took part in trying to quench the flames down there. They had a land fire brigade engine. And they also had a fire boat. 

Speaker 1  20:40  

What’s your name? 

Frieda  20:42  


speaker 1  20:43  

Do you live around here? 

Frieda  20:45  


Speaker 1  20:45  

Excellent. And do you like it around here? 

Frieda  20:48  


Speaker 1  20:49  

It’s nice, isn’t it? What’s your favourite thing about here?

Frieda  20:51  

The park

Speaker 1  20:52  

Yeah, the park, is it St Anne’s park?

Frieda  20:55  


Speaker 1  20:55  

Is there swings in the park?

Frieda  20:58  


Speaker 1  20:58  

 Of course, the best isn’t it?

Frieda  21:00  


Speaker 14  21:03  

We moved down in 79 came, from London and moved into Trelawney Park. And then it was a completely different area to what it is now. But the shops as well, Sandy Park was an amazing shopping centre, because there was just almost everything you could wish for. There was this toy shop, Owen Williams, which was a kind of posh hardware shop. I mean, it’s sold sort of screws in plastic bags. And the other side of the road there was a [multi?] shop called, I think it was called something ridiculous, like Bailey’s Dailies or something I can’t remember but something like that. And there was a Hi Fi shop, which was good because on the other side of the road, I think it was called Tudor records. And there was a record shop. On the left hand side there was a haberdashery drapery store with, with wooden fronted little drawers that you could pull out. It was a bit like Grace Brothers, you know, are you being served. And it was really, really nice. You could get things like wool and vests, children’s stuff. It was really nice to go in there and you were stepping into the 1940s really. And then there was the health food shop and that was just health food shop like you still get you know, and it had that same smell that health food shops still have I have no idea what that is. But…

Speaker 1  22:44  

When did you notice it start to change?

Speaker 14  22:47  

Sainsbury’s, I can’t remember what year it was, but when Sainsbury’s came, then the fruit and veg shops closed, the fish shop. And it was just, it was a disaster for the area. But I’m really pleased that at the moment it seems to be fighting back. 

Speaker 1  23:10  

Right, Mr. Nichols, first of all, can I ask you where you worked?

Speaker 15  23:13  

Yep. St Anne’s boardmill.

Speaker 1  23:15  

And what year was that you started? 

Speaker 15  23:17  


Speaker 1  23:18  

And when did you finish?

Speaker 15  23:20  


Speaker 1  23:21  

Right. Can I ask you what the conditions were like in those days?

Speaker 15  23:25  

Well yes, I had got a few thoughts together. When I started in 1932. The, I started there as a counter boy. And we used to start working those days at half past seven in the morning, and then go to breakfast at half past eight, until nine 

Speaker 1  23:50  

That was a full breakfast?

Speaker 15  23:51  

Yes, if you wanted, well you had to pay of course. And I think egg and bacon in those days was about tuppence hapenny, old money. 

Speaker 1  23:57  

So it’s pretty cheap?

Speaker 15  23:59  

Oh, yeah. Well, not really, because wages at that time was about two pounds per week. So in comparison, but even so that was half past eight till nine and then we worked until one, one till two for lunch and from then on until half past five at night, that was the normal working day. 

Speaker 1  24:19  

Those Saturdays? 

Speaker 15  24:20  

And Saturday would be from half past seven till one. And oftentimes conditions were such there were no unions in those days and conditions were such that it would be nothing to come along at just before one o’clock, as you’re perhaps on the clock waiting to clock out and say oh work till four today. And you had to do it. There was no question of no, I won’t – you had to.

Speaker 1  24:47  

What was the relationship like between the workers and the management?

Speaker 15  24:51  

There was one particular manager there who was (my term) a devil and he would… He would do things which the manager these days wouldn’t dare do. Dictatorial methods you wouldn’t dare do because of unions today, but there wasn’t at that time, but…

Speaker 1  25:10  

Can you explain some of the things he might have done?

Speaker 15  25:12  

Yes, you weren’t allowed to speak, to have conversation without – he was on you, and things of this sort. You went in fear of this man. But this was the general attitude with management of those days, and they were dictatorial. There was always a queue of people outside the door waiting for the job. So that, you know, if you if you went out, someone else would be in – boot – and that was the fear. 

Speaker 1  25:44  

And what about the holidays, how long were the holidays?

Speaker 15  25:45  

Holidays was just one week.

Speaker 1  25:48  

Just one week? The entire year?

Speaker 15  25:48  

Just one week, yep – one week a year, and I do recall on one occasion, after I had moved from the packing department to, to the manufacturing set up, we would, I was on a late night shift on Friday night when we had a very, very bad run, and there was an awful lot of waste to be cleared. And to all three of us had arranged to go away for a week holiday. And we had to catch the coach from Prince Street at nine o’clock in the morning. And remember, we were still working until six. And we left the job, I think, perhaps half past seven or something, just in time to rush home and get to the transportation. And when we returned the following week, we were almost sacked because we had done that. Just one weeks holiday.

Speaker 2  26:41  

I’ve been living in St. Annes since 2002. I fell in love with this place. And my husband, he’s a fisherman. So he loves fishing and is a member of the fishing committee. So they’re responsible for the walk down by the river, keeping that area nice and tidy. And I travelled down from the court heading down to where I live, which stand at the bottom and see all the houses. It always makes me smile always makes me feel like I’m home. I’ve lived in quite a lot of different places lived in France, on and off in Jamaica, and London. But every single place has got its own unique feel. But, St Anne’s – it’s got really, it’s got a home feel to it. And it’s very safe.

Speaker 14  27:37  

What do you think gives it that feeling of homeliness?

Speaker 2  27:41  

The houses: I suppose they look like doll houses, I always think. And there’s lots of dog walkers. I think people who walk their dogs are always friendly and there’s quite a few fishermen. So my husband could literally walk out the door down to the river, so he’s happy. And it’s just beautiful! But Fung Shui wise to live by water is really good, gives you lots of freshness and energy and, and the people that live obviously are drawn to that sort of place so they bring an energy to it and during the lockdown when we were clapping. And that’s like first time we were seeing people again, and you could hear the sound coming up over the hill and down into the valley like a wave, with all this appreciation it was just such a lovely feeling. That was really a very welcome part of being in our community.

Speaker 1  28:45  

Thanks for listening. If you’d like to get in touch or learn more about Bricks public art producing or any of the other works we do, please do visit or follow us for updates on all the usual social channels. To be the first to hear when we release new podcast episodes, be sure to subscribe on our feed. And if you enjoyed this episode, feel free to leave us a review. This episode was produced by Rowan Bishop, and thanks to Lee at M Shed for providing the archive material and to all the local residents who contributed their stories.

Transcribed by


Rowan  0:02  

Cool, so we’re on solid red, er and we’re recording, cool. Alright.

Janice  0:11  

St Anne’s Well: This holy well was associated with the chapel of St. Anne, which stood about 300 yards to the northwest throughout the Middle Ages. Pilgrimages were made here, and especially by the sailors of Bristol.

Rowan  0:26  

This podcast was produced as part of the Bricks young creatives master classes, a series of workshops run by practising artists to teach young people practical creative skills, and was made possible by The National Lottery Heritage Fund. In the podcasting workshop, we explored the local area around St Anne’s House, including St. Anne’s Well and the historical house behind the Langton pub, which dates back to the 1600s. Our guides for the day were Janice who’s part of the Brislington Historical Society, and Claire who’s lived at the old Langton Court House for many years.

Janice  0:58  

Henry the seventh visited in this spot in 1485, and Heather, his queen came in 1502. The chapel, dating from about 1392 was destroyed with Keynsham Abbey, to where it belonged in 1539.

Rowan  1:15  

So today, we’re going to be going for a walk around St Anne’s, and finding out about local history and getting some facts and feelings.

Group Member  1:26  

We began our walk by entering St Anne’s woods, by the St. Anne’s road roundabout entrance.

Janice  1:33  

There are a few ruins towards it but you don’t know where that’s from. Because after the chapel was knocked down, with Henry the Eighth and dissolution of the monasteries, etc. I don’t know when exactly but it became Brislington pottery. And the pottery some of the pottery is now in Bristol Museum. Because after that there was St. Anne’s forum. So it has you know, the land has been used for a few years.

Group Member  2:05  

Was there a farm?

Janice  2:05  

Yeah, St Anne’s Farm, Brislington Brook actually comes it starts at Stockwood and comes all the way through, which is all the strings here and then goes into, I believe it to be river Frome. And the Frome goes into the Avon eventually. Yeah. We are just walking from, like we said, the where we think the chapel was built and how, because it was very big. And this obviously is now, I think, well, I don’t know what actually was in here. I mean, you know, I don’t know factories. I don’t know. But this is where a couple of the ruins you see a few ruins. But you can’t go in because of all the fences.

Oh, it’s really beautiful.

Clair  2:56  

So nice, isn’t it?

Unknown Speaker  2:58  

It’s actually under the jurisdiction of Bristol City Council now. 

Group Member  3:04  

Did it ever used to be? 

Janice  3:05  

Well, no, it used to belong to a landowner called James Synnott. And he lived up on I believe, Broomhill Road. No – not Broomhill – Eastwood. And there was a big court case. And yes, all this land then became Bristol City Council, which is lovely.

Group Member  3:28  

But when he owned it – could people walk here still?

Janice  3:32  

Well, I don’t know. He was also to do with the ferry as well. You know, that’s when, it was him who took the ferry away, for a while. It’s recorded that one man – he had to go across over to Hanham to work and he had to walk an extra three miles a day because he couldn’t get on the ferry. And that went on for a few years so… Well, what you can see (Well) [laughs] is well all the ribbons obviously are for prayers what people have done. I don’t know when the last person done it or anything but it looks a little bit faded now. There’s a picture of the Well as you know, all built up. It was also – during The Second World War it was tested for water for peat, you know residents and everything in case anything should happen that they haven’t got water, and it was found to be absolutely perfect. Not that long ago I would say 90s, 80s/90s It got rebuilt by a group called The Source and they were doing all to do with the streams etc. But within four months, vandals had brought it all down again. So it was a case of, it was so sad really. So, up behind there is all St. Anne’s estate, Litchfield Road, etc. So, you know, they come down, we used to go on a train and come all the way into town so. Each new vicar that has come to St. Anne’s and all that most of them have tried to, you know, bring the pilgrimage back bit by bit, and we’ve got photos of that different, you know, coming down from the church with the candles, etc.

Unknown Speaker  5:36  

So it’s quite unassuming, isn’t it?

Janice  5:39  

It is at the moment, it doesn’t look like anything, does it? 

Group Member  5:43  


It’s just like a round like brick circle, basically – a raised brick circle, and it’s quite muddy as well, all around it.

Janice  5:52  

Well, when you think it was here, when the chapel was here, going back 400 – 500 years. Whether it actually belonged to the chapel is under question. But yeah, it’s certainly been here for a fair old time. There’s a book by R.C Skyring Walters contains two photographs, of St Anne’s Well: one overlooks the valley from the Western ridge, and shows the metal railings installed by Bristol Corporation in 1928. These not only surrounded the Well, but they still do at the time of writing in 2013, but also extend Southwards right up to the stone bridge, which also appears in the photograph. I just know that Henry the seventh came down with the his wife, like I said, because it also contests so so like the fertility of it. Which is why they came. 

Group Member  5:52  

Oh, what does that mean? Like they’re wanting to have a baby?

Janice  6:08  

They were hoping to have. Yeah, hoping to. I think so. Yes. Drinking the water. It sad that it’s Henry the seventh that came here, and yet it’s Henry the eighth, his son who smashed up the monastery. Yeah. Yeah. It’s one of the three most famous ones actually in England. There’s one in Walsingham. I’m not sure when the other one is now. Once something’s been here, all your life you just accept it. The Holy Well is generally known as St Anne’s Well. People have venerated it as a sacred place and regarded its waters as having healing powers since the 1880s, and possibly much earlier. Its origins are a mystery. Its waters are surrounded by a circular masonry wall, and at its base is a spring of fresh water. And before this book was published, you could have asked almost anyone locally who knows the Well and they would have confirmed: Yes, it is St Anne’s Well, and yes, centuries ago, pilgrims flocked to visit it along with the ancient Chapel. In any case, the Holy Well was definitely connected with Saint Anne. And there is only one Saint Anne for a Catholic and the Christian Saint Anne named as the mother of the Virgin Mary, and therefore the grandmother of Jesus Christ. It is she who commemorated in name of the whole neighbourhood of St. Anne’s.

Group Member  8:31  

We left St Anne’s wood by the New Bridge Road gate, walk past the Langton pub and around to the entrance of the old Langton Court House on Highworth Road.

Janice  8:38  

That is the Langton Court and obviously, people that own that originally was the Langtons. They met married someone called Gore so it became Gore-Langton and it was the house – proper landowners house. This pub was actually built in 1905 and yes, they’ve recently (during the pandemic) re-decorated it made it look really lovely. And the food in there apparently is very nice. Old Langton Court this is it.

Rowan  8:52  

So just up the road like… this is quite – I don’t know – if you just saw that you wouldn’t even think much of it!

Janice  9:36  


Group Member  9:36  


Unknown Speaker  9:40  

Hello! Can we come in?

Unknown Speaker  9:56  

You may come in!

Unknown Speaker  9:57  

Thank you. Yeah… we’ve had a bit of a walk.

Unknown Speaker  10:01  

Bit hot and…

Janice  10:02  


Unknown Speaker  10:05  

Come in!

Unknown Speaker  10:05  

Oh, this is so nice! [indecipherable]

Clair  10:15  

This was a farmhouse. There were a series of old buildings. So six I think altogether, and this is the only one that’s, that’s left. And it’s been used for different things over the years. At one time, it was – there was an entrance behind that bush and – it was kind of two cottages. But it used to join the manor house at the back where the pub is – well, not exactly where the pub is – because the Manor House was joined onto the back of this. But anyway – come, come inside. We had to dig these these flagstones were covered over with cement or something like that. So they don’t look very in very good shape. But we wanted to – just saying that – this might have been the kitchen to possibly the manor house, because it’s got this sudden great fireplace. And then if I open this, [pans clattering] it’s probably a bit small to put your head in. 

Group Member  11:22  

Is it a bread oven?

Clair  11:23  

Yeah, but this has just been propped up [indecipherable] loads of bugs in there. And then this is the best bit, in here. 

Group Member  11:39  


Clair  11:45  

Smoking chamber where meat would have been hung up and smoked. 

Group Member  11:50  


Clair  11:51  

It’s mostly wood-lice there now.

Unknown Speaker  11:55  

So it’s kind of like it looks like a really wide chimney that goes up and then, obviously that goes out to the outside.

Clair  12:01  

There’s another chimney I mean, another fireplace behind this dresser in the kitchen. This document is the City Council condemning this building in 1939. And because it was ridden with damp, and hygienic and everything else, so there was an order to destroy it. It’s quite interesting that they wanted to knock the whole thing down, because they considered it to be unsafe.

Unknown Speaker  12:36  

And was it saved by the previous owner before… 

Clair  12:38  

It was saved by The War basically I think, you know, they had other things to do. So they didn’t get around to pulling it down. Which is great for us!

Unknown Speaker  12:54  

This podcast was brought to you by Bricks. Bricks brings together the people of Bristol through collaborative art projects, public-run producing, community led co-design and securing the spaces our communities need to thrive. As a new, independent charity, we rely on the support of people like you so that we can support our communities. If you can, please consider supporting our work through donating the price of a sandwich, buying a tote bag or purchasing an artwork from our online shop.