Bristol and Avon Archaeological Society

BAAS Bulletin No. 87 Autumn 2020

In this Issue:

News from the Society…. 1

New Displays at M Shed…. 2

A history of the Orthodox Church of the Nativity of the Mother God… 4

Obituaries …. 6

An uncertain future for planning and archaeology?…. 10

News from the Society

 We’re still here!

Through a combination of ‘Zoom’ video meetings and email, the society has been beavering away on various projects to celebrate and promote Bristol and Avon’s archaeology. This includes a possible series of archaeology walks in the local area, an additional more frequent newsletter, and the digitisation of historic issues of the BAA journal for all to read online!

Physical events are still postponed and will probably only resume when the current Covid 19 crisis abates. This includes the planning of a ‘James and Mike Day’ of special lectures and a walk. However, events continue in the virtual world and some online resources and talks have been outlined below.

Jack Fuller (BAA Bulletin Editor)


Upcoming events and talks of interest

Whilst we eagerly await to our return to lectures and walks, a fab set of resources are still available for all of us to use and explore from the comforts of our own home, especially now with the evenings drawing in.

Archaeology online are offering a series of monthly online talks brought to you by Bristol Museums, Bristol and Avon Archaeological Society, Bath and Counties Archaeological Society, and the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society. The next is on the 9th of December and is on William Butler and the Coal-Tar Distillery at Crew’s Hole, for booking see:

On the 17th of December, a late lunch talk brought to you by Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery on the excavation archives of the Kings Weston Roman Villa is available for booking online. There is also a late lunch talk on the Victorian archaeologist Amelia Edwards on the 3rd of December and four regular Monday evening study sessions on The Valley of the Kings, led by Professor Aidan Dodson, beginning on the 16th of November. For further information and booking on these events and more, visit:

The South West Heritage Trust is also providing online resources through their ‘Heritage Online’ webpage: This includes links to some of their digital exhibitions and online collections. A recent video about the Royal Ordnance Factory at Bridgwater (ROF 37) is particularly interesting:, and other video topics include a tutorial on how to study aerial photography for archaeology: The newly publicly accessible Bath and North East Somerset Historic Environment Record is also now available to browse online at:

Unfortunately, with the latest news of the new National Lock Down, institutions and attractions like the Bristol Museums, local libraries, and record offices, will likely be closed to the public until December at the earliest.

New Displays at M Shed

Kate Iles (Curator at Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery and BAAS Project Officer)

Four stone figures from two of Bristol’s medieval gates are now on display at M Shed.

Two of the statues were originally part of Lawford’s Gate, situated at the eastern end of Old Market Street from at least the late 1100s or early 1200s. The other two are from Newgate, built sometime before 1313 as part of the outer town wall and later incorporated into Newgate Gaol.

The two figures from Newgate were once thought to represent Geoffrey, Bishop of Coutances and Robert, Earl of Gloucester who were both associated with Bristol Castle. They are now believed to represent two of the Three Wise Men and probably came from a group broken up when Parliament ordered the destruction of idolatrous images in 1643. Their identities as significant figures in Bristol’s history may have been adopted at this time.

The two statues from Lawford’s Gate are similar to figures on the west front of Wells Cathedral. They have been referred to as effigies of Edward I and Edward III since the late 1800s, though this is unlikely to be their original identity.

All four figures were removed in the 1760s when the gates were demolished and reused on a triumphal arch built for wealthy brass founder William Reeve as a gateway to Arno’s Castle, Brislington. The statues remained there until 1898 when they were moved again due to their deteriorating condition.

The figures were given to Bristol Museum in 1907 and became part of the Architecture Room in the basement of Bristol Art Gallery (now Bristol Museum & Art Gallery). In the 1970s they moved to St Nicholas Church Museum where they were on display until the museum shut in 1991. The statues remained at St Nicholas until 2017, when the church was handed back to the diocese. They were then sent for specialist conservation and can now be found in the ground floor Place Gallery in M Shed.


A History of the Orthodox Church of the Nativity of the Mother of God, and its Architect

Robert C. Beavis (Archaeologist) and Archimandrite Kyril Jenner (Church of the Nativity of the Mother God)

Described unfairly in the revised Bristol edition of Pevsner’s Architectural Guide as “barn-like,” the Orthodox Church of the Nativity of the Mother of God, University Road, Bristol, is a place of unexpected tranquillity in a busy part of the city. Although basilican in style, its low side aisles and high nave give it the light, airy feeling of a hall church. Part 1 of this short article summarises the development of the church building and site, while Part 2 provides a short biography of the architect.

  1. The History of the Building

Tyndall’s Park, long since vanished and remembered primarily in a nearby road name, extended as far as what is now the Clifton Triangle. The site of the current church is shown as grassland on a map of the late 18th century. By 1828, Berkeley Square and much of Clifton had been built, and the modern road layout of the Triangle follows more or less that of the early 19th century; the Triangle itself, however, was a nursery or market garden. Northeast of the Triangle, the parkland of Tyndall’s Park covered what is now the Wills Memorial Building and Bristol Museum.

The house next to the church, 1 Elmdale Road, appears on the 1844-1888 Ordnance Survey 1st edition, with nursery gardens extending along Elmdale Road. University Road, then called Museum Road, had been laid out by that time, but the house is not on Ashmead’s map of 1855. It is not until the Ashmead map of 1874 that the house is shown, with adjoining land described as a nursery. Stylistically, it is late Neoclassical, and is probably not much later than 1850. The 1879-88 town plans show the house and again a set of gardens marked “nursery.” The 1894 OS map shows that Elmdale Road has been developed fully by that time and the remnant of Tyndall’s Park is no more. The church is also shown for the first time on this map. There is little change recorded in the area until 1946, when aerial photography shows that a building on the corner of University Road and Queens Road, a plot now occupied by NatWest, has been destroyed. The 1947 Ordnance Survey map shows this location as a ruin, the result of war damage.

The building is known from records to have been completed in 1888, designed by the architect Henry Rising, for Bristol’s Catholic Apostolic community, who also purchased 1, Elmdale Road. According to plans held in the Bristol Archive, the porch and a back room were altered in 1908, giving the building the ground plan it retains to the present day.

Original surviving features include the Gothic Revival reredos which has survived unchanged since at least the early 20th century, the High Altar in marble with its floor of Minton tiles in mediaeval designs, and a variety of painted glass windows. A painted glass window dated 1884 and with a narrow surround of plain glass seems to imply that the windows were intended for a different building. Behind the High Altar is a large window showing the Ascension. Others show the four Evangelists, while the 1884 window again shows the Ascension. The windows are by Cox, Buckley & Co., a small London firm specialising in stained and painted glass windows, and other ecclesiastical art. The company was founded in 1881, when Michael Buckley, an Irish artist, became a partner in Cox & Co. of London. Their largest commissions were probably the windows in the Irish cathedrals of St Cloyne, Cobh, and St Macartan, Monaghan, both in the 1890s. Shortly before Buckley’s death in 1905, the firm was bought out by one James Watson, another Irish artist.

The church building passed into the hands of the Eastern Orthodox Community of the Nativity of the Mother of God in 1968. At this time, the iconostasis was built by the priest, Fr Nicholas Behr, who also worked as a carpenter. The organ was given to a chapel in Wales, and the original pulpit and some other decorative stonework were removed to adapt the building for Orthodox worship during the 1970s. At present, the building retains some of its Irvingite interior, with some of the pews and candlestands, three reading desks and other furnishings still in use. A small box containing incense is claimed – perhaps apocryphally – to have been intended by the Catholic Apostolics for use during the Second Coming.

2.  The Architect

Henry Whiteman Rising was born in Worcestershire in 1857, the fourth of six children. His mother, Mary, and father, Henry, were both from Norfolk. By 1871, the family had moved back to Norfolk, where Henry the elder had a farm of 384 acres. The young Henry trained initially in Lowestoft, where he learnt the practical skills of carpentry, bricklaying and drainage. He spent two years in Nottingham with a firm specialising in larger buildings, such as hospitals and asylums, and spent a year in London before moving to Bristol to work for an architect based in Berkeley Square for a year. He then returned to London for a year, working for the same firm as before. He was made an Associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1886, starting a partnership with S P Rees, and became a Fellow of RIBA in 1903.

The church on University Road, for which building commenced in 1888, would seem to be his first major contract. He may have been given the contract through connections via a previous employer, who was Treasurer of the China Inland Mission. One source describes him as an architect who specialised in inns and churches, but no record of any other complete church by Rising has been found online; his only other church work of which we know is a small alteration to a Victorian church in the Diocese of Southwark, carried out in 1923.

Rising seems to have had a desire to design a major building and make his name, but never succeeded. He submitted unsuccessful designs for the new Municipal Buildings in Bury in 1891 and Oxford in 1892, losing out on both occasions to H T Hare. Subsequently, he worked in the partnership of Shoebridge and Rising, which had an arrangement with the Cannon brewery. Together, they built or altered around 250 public houses in London as the city expanded. These seem to be in either Renaissance Revival styles, like the Red Lion in Whitehall of 1890 or in a simplified Arts and Crafts vein, like the Kings Head, Enfield, of 1899. His residential and commercial designs include 148-150 Shaftesbury Avenue.

In 1910, Rising moved to Reading in partnership with F W Albury and E P Morgan. Albury had a record of designing civic buildings and published a detailed study of Reading Abbey. It is possible that Rising hoped to get some more prominent work via this partnership. Unfortunately, Albury died in 1912. Rising died at his home in Berkshire in 1936.

Unfortunately, the work of Henry Rising, has yet to be situated in its late-19th and early-20th century context. Several of his London public houses are listed buildings, making consideration of the historical and architectural significance of the church of the Nativity of the Mother of God a pressing issue.

*Editor’s note: the authors of this paper have also written extensively about the communities who have worshipped and used the church. Those who wish to learn more are encouraged to contact the editor’s email found at the back of the bulletin.



 James Russell        A very personal reminiscence        Gundula Dorey (Hon. Secretary)

I first met James in 1998 in the crypt of St Matthew’s Church in Cotham which was the meeting place for BAAS winter talks, held every two weeks. James had long been Treasurer, but at the time he was also acting as Membership Secretary for Jenny Pennington who had just stood down. Such were his powers of persuasion (ably abetted by Bob Williams) that by the end of the evening I had promised to do membership –and so our long association began.

I was invited to his home to collect the membership files. It gradually emerged how exceptional this invitation was – only after he became seriously ill many years later and more dependent on the help and personal contact he had so shunned before did he again let me – or anyone – into the house. He had always lived there, an only child, losing  his father in the 1970s and his mother in 1993 when he inherited the house but only camped in it, living on sandwiches, amongst increasing piles of books – his range of interests takes your breath away – and research notes. His all too familiar trousers were eventually ‘lost’ by Southmead hospital (along with the key to St Matthews). If domestic appliances broke down he left them broken – they were not important.

Nor was his salary. It was his mother who had suggested that he work in the Inland Revenue when he was floundering after obtaining his degree in Archaeology and Art. He stayed in HMRC for 40 years – he was proud of his long service medal – but never advanced beyond the lowest level of income and responsibility – his energies from the beginning were reserved for his archaeological interests.

He met Leslie Grinsell, always his hero, through his studies in the 70s, and joined his newly formed Bristol and Avon Archaeological Group (later Society), invited to become its treasurer in 1979 and retiring from that only 2 years ago – almost 40 years again. His accounting was meticulous – a lost couple of pence would be an endless source of worry until found – and he kept an iron grip on expenditure. In addition, he got the Bulletin together, laboriously written out on his word processor, corrected by hand if necessary, on individual copies and mailed by him in ridiculously small envelopes – it saved money. He never had a computer at home – he spent too much time on them at work – but in recent years came to rely on his ipad for the information and programmes (his television had gone long before) from which he wrote his Bulletin articles. Until he became ill, he never missed a committee meeting. He was the mainstay of BAAS and its anchor. He put everything into it – it was his family.

His knowledge of local archaeology and history was second to none and he knew everyone in the local archaeological community – few however would know that he never took to the stone era of prehistory (the Romans got short shrift too) and his preferred period was post medieval (with an especial interest in Georgian garden furniture) – because he knew so much about everything. He could be totally relied on to give a considered and impressive answer to any question, which was invaluable in answering queries from the general public – he shunned contact but was always ready to write. Not for nothing was he affectionately known as ‘Mr BAAS’.

He published extensively on ‘his’ subjects: Bradley Stoke, Stoke Park, the parish of Clifton and much more – often in the journal of BAAS and with his own excellent drawings and maps. He gave talks to BAAS and other societies, beautifully researched and delivered with the driest of humour. A speciality was the Civil War. He introduced all the winter meetings of BAAS – every time. He gave us a new quiz at the Christmas party each year prepared from his own photographs – no-one ever figured out all the answers. He led us on a thoroughly prepared summer urban walk annually – he said he had 6 walks which he regularly recycled, but there were certainly more than that, and not just the history and architecture of central Bristol either – the Kingsdown one included turtles and gallows, and the Stoke Leigh camp walk included a ruined medieval chapel.

He had no car and was dependent on lifts for BAAS’s more distant summer trips – often with Jenny Pennington who had known his mother and was one of the few people he felt comfortable with. It took a long time to get to know James and often the best way was to ask him something practical – he was a walking encyclopedia on local public transport.

He broke his neck in 1998, slipping on a rotted stair carpet at home, and from that stemmed many of his subsequent medical problems, including kidney failure resulting in dialysis 3 days a week and a fall in 2015 which injured his back and led on to the infection which took his life in March this year. He was only 66.

He could be shockingly insular but even in the darkest of times could escape into his favourite archaeological and historical subjects – discussing them brought him alive. We can’t begin to think what he did for BAAS or where BAAS would have been without him. We owe him so much. And recently he mellowed and was just beginning to appreciate that having friends in his life was fun. It makes it all the more difficult to accept that we can no longer share it with him.


Mike J Baker        Ian Beckey

It is with great sadness that we must note the passing of longstanding BAAS Life member Mike Baker on 12 March 2020 at the age of 58.

Mike will be remembered as cutting a somewhat Bohemian figure with his long black hair, beard and scarf within the heritage and artistic communities he associated with. Mike joined BAAS in 1978 and was also involved with the Society for Clay Pipe Research, Living Easton Heritage and Environmental Group, Barton Hill History Group, Bristol Radical History Group, various artists groups and the Long John Silver Trust among others.

Mike worked on various excavations around Bristol from the late 1970s onwards including Broad Quay with Les Good, Redcliffe Street and Bristol Bridge with Bruce Williams as well as many rescue sites (see below). Additionally, he worked on the ‘rotunda’ excavations at Stoke Park under the able directorship of James Russell in 1988.

Later on, Mike trained as a stonemason at Weymouth College and in 1992 he gained a degree in Heritage and Conservation Management at Bournemouth University.

His contribution to local archaeology should not be  underestimated due to the finds he made including brass waste from Harford’s Brass Mill, Baptist Mills (found at Conduit Place, St Paul’s) and an almost complete clay tobacco pipe kiln tipping muffle from Temple Way (described by Dr Allan Peacey – Clay Pipe Kiln Archaeologist as “the best preserved example in the whole of the United Kingdom.”)

My first real abiding memory of Mike was of his time as a member of the Whitefield Comprehensive School Model Railway Club in 1974 and 1975 run at that time under the very capable leadership of the school chemistry teacher Mr. David Wheatley. I particularly remember him bringing a Triang-Hornby 00 scale model Class B12 4-6-0 steam locomotive to the club which he had painted in a bright copper green colour. These were obviously early portents of what would become lifelong interests in both railways and art.

Mike’s interest in railways manifested itself in a large collection of photographs taken on trips around the UK rail network including trips to the Crewe and Eastleigh works rail open days and further afield to Ghent in Belgium.

It was in 1981 on Bruce William’s Bristol Bridge excavations that I worked with Mike on site where his mattocking, shovelling and trowelling skills were put to good use and this was followed by Bob Jones’ Portwall Lane site in 1982. This included a short secondment digging out the Portwall ditch under the supervision of John Bryant.

Aside from his work with the Bristol City Museum archaeology units, Mike also became involved with their ‘Green Card’ volunteer watching brief project making observations on building sites which they didn’t have the resources to watch themselves, in the days before PPG 16 planning guidance was introduced.

Mike’s individual observations led to the discovery of some major archaeological sites around Bristol including clay tobacco pipe kiln waste at Pennywell Road, Great Ann Street, Conduit Place and Felix Road (Easton Colliery). He was also involved with other important rescue operations at Temple Way and Temple Back helping to recover dumps of tin-glazed earthenware (Bristol Delft). Most recently, in early October 2019, Mike observed a scatter of clay pipe stems in a contractors spoil heap near 199 Newfoundland Road. Following these initial observations, it was decided to mount a small rescue excavation in the contractors’ trench which had been dug alongside the pavement on their site. During the excavations, carried out by BAAS member Ian Beckey, a quantity of clay tobacco pipe kiln waste was recovered at the base of the trench. The material consisted of clay tobacco pipe bowls, stems, fragments of pipe clay sheets and clinker together with fragments of pottery.

Away from archaeology Mike had a keen interest in sculpting, in particular his designs for elaborate wall plaques for the Living Easton Time Signs Trail including one for W.G Grace on Stapleton Road, and other commissions including ones for the Fishponds workhouse at 100 Fishponds Road, Bob Hope (on the gates of St George’s Park), Thomas Clarkson (on the wall of the Seven Stars PH in Thomas Street), and one for the ‘Bristol Boys’ bare knuckle boxers at the Hatchet PH in Frogmore Street. The plaque commemorating the 1963 Bristol Bus Boycott in Bristol Bus Station is another legacy of his versatile skills.

His interest in art extended into producing a large number of observational sketches of people he saw on his travels at rail and bus stations or at the seaside among others. However, the sketches he drew at Charlotte Keel Health Centre and the Bristol Royal Infirmary are particularly poignant as by this stage Mike was already struggling with ill health.

All those who knew Mike will miss his cheerful disposition together with his passion and enthusiasm for heritage and archaeology.

A note on the sad passing of Bob Williams         Gundula Dorey (Hon. Secretary)

It is with sadness that we recently received news that Bob Williams has died, aged 87. He slipped out of life quietly in his sleep but sadly had been lost to dementia in recent years.

Bob Williams joined BAAS in 1979 – very early days – and along with his wife, Barbara (they had a joint membership) was for decades one of its most dedicated and active enthusiasts. He was tall, genial, and welcoming, a former Chief Detective Inspector who threw himself into learning about local archaeology and history and was a mine of information about Mendip and everything that went on there – caves included. None of us who went on his summer walks in that area will ever forget them; the variety, the careful preparation, his pleasure at showing us places and things we never suspected. He published locally, including in the BAAS journal. He was also a regular committee member, Secretary for a long time, always ready to help out when asked, a friend to everyone. He was such a lovely man.  We’ll say more in the next Bulletin.


An uncertain future for planning and archaeology?

Jack Fuller (BAA Bulletin Editor)

 With the new label of ‘Newt Counters’, some archaeologists have been disappointed by the latest proposed government changes to the planning system. The new proposed planning reform legislation ‘Planning for the Future’ (see: was published in August as a White Paper and the consultation period has since come to a close.

Archaeology in a development context is currently covered, protected, and mitigated through the ‘National Planning Policy Framework’, or NPPF for short.  However, whilst the new white paper does seek to ‘cherish’ the past and to revise the NPPF, it does not mention archaeology once, and instead mentions only ‘heritage’ and ‘historic buildings and places’.

Generally, the proposal lacks detail on how planning reform will ensure that the nation’s historic environment is managed, which is problematic as over 95% of archaeological remains are undesignated heritage assets, whose conservation and recording is managed through the current planning process. The terminology is also problematic as many new discoveries and perhaps some of the most exciting, are made by commercial companies undertaking works prior to developments.

By the time the newsletter is circulated consultations will have been closed (23:45 on 29 October 2020), although many organisations representing heritage and archaeology have responded.  However, if you feel strongly about these changes, it is not too late to write to your respective MP about this proposed law and stay ahead on the developments of this legislation.



CHAIRMAN: Mike Gwyther

SECRETARY: Gundula Dorey

MEMBERSHIP: Julie Bassett

TREASURER: Steve Hastings


EDITOR (BAA):  Bruce Williams


COMMITTEE MEMBER: James Lyttleton, Kate Churchill, Bev Knott, Bob Jones
CO-OPTED: Peter Insole

Do keep an eye on the website and social media for Event Reviews and updates, especially during the current pandemic.  If you have forgotten the Members’ password please contact Julie Bassett at [email protected]. If you are not receiving email communications, but would like to, could you also contact Julie Bassett and give her your email address.

Bulletin 88 is scheduled for Winter 2020. If you would like to write anything for it or wish to highlight a subject you think should be in there please contact Jack Fuller on [email protected]. Last submissions will be Sunday 6th of December 2020.


BAAS Website:



If you have any queries about BAAS events or activities please contact the following:

Keith Stenner (Hon. Programme Secretary)  01275 541512  [email protected]

Gundula Dorey (Hon. Secretary)  0117 9276812  [email protected]

Paula Gardiner (Website Co-ordinator) 0117 9213608  [email protected]

If you wish to receive a copy of the full bulletin with images, you are encouraged to contact Jack Fuller on [email protected].