Christmas steps is a curious and attractive little street in Bristol, leading up from near the harbour to where wealthy merchants had their houses, on high land which would have given them splendid views of the city. Originally the River Frome, much of which is culverted and underground, came very near to the bottom of the steps, so goods could be unloaded from the ships, and barrels could be rolled down to be loaded.
No-one quite knows where the name comes from as it was originally Queene Street, and then Knyfesmith Street. A the top there is a chapel dedicated to the Three Kings of Cologne, founded in 1490, with a beautiful stained glass window. Maybe the three kings were the Magi, the wise men, and there actually is a shrine to the three kings in Cologne Cathedral. Maybe this connection with the Christmas story resulted in the steps leading to the chapel being given its name… but who knows?!
The buildings at the bottom which are in my featured pic, are extremely old, going back to the thirteenth century. The steps over the centuries they have been there must have seen some extraordinary events; perhaps one of the most dramatic was when Colonel Henry Lunsford was shot through the heart whilst leading the royalists attack on Bristol in 1643 during the Civil War.
These days, they are just a fascinating little alley to explore, taking you from the bustle of the lower level and traffic rushing by, to the elegant old merchant’s houses up at the top. Well worth a visit!
I wrote about what can be found at the top of the steps here:
… and if you want to know more about Christmas Steps and download a ‘curiosity walk’, then look here: