Temple Church

Temple Church

Design West are leading a co-design project to reimagine a new future for this important site.


Uncovering stories of the past

Steeped in history, Bristol’s Temple Church has played a significant role in the story of the city, its fortunes waxing and waning over the centuries.  

Originally the site of a 12th Century circular Temple built by the legendary Knights Templar and extended by the influential Company of Weavers, the site lends its name to much of Bristol. The church visible today with its distinctive leaning tower was built in the 15th Century making it the second largest in the city but was bombed in the Second World War during the Bristol Blitz of 1940 and remains a living memorial. Although closed, the site came alive briefly for the Sanctum with the artist Theaster Gates for Bristol Green Capital in 2015, offering a glimmer of possibility for the future.  

Currently closed to the public due to safety concerns, Temple Church is in the top 20 worst condition buildings belonging to English Heritage

Shaping places of the future

Design West has partnered with English Heritage & Bristol City Council to lead a world-class team of architects, designers & conservationists to imagine a new future for Temple Church & Gardens, designed to return it to centre stage in the city.

Joining the visioning process, is award-winning architect Steve Tompkins MBE of Haworth Tompkins, winner of ‘AJ100 Practice of the Year 2020’ whose work includes the radical reinvention of the Bristol Old Vic. Alongside, pioneering international landscape architects Grant Associates, known for the phenomenal ‘Gardens by the Bay’ in Singapore, are looking at the gardens, with the vision to create inspirational green spaces that promote well being.

Currently in the engagement phase, consultations have taken place featuring a series of co-design workshops with the local BID (business improvement district), residents, businesses & community stakeholders. The result is a vision beginning to form for Temple Church and Gardens that could transform it into both an inspirational destination & a thriving space for the communities who work & live nearby.

Young voices have been captured through Design West’s Shape My City programme, where 15 to 18-year-olds learnt about the site with English Heritage’s Shout Out Loud programme & shared their designs. Local people have also taken part in live broadcasts from the site & digital events inviting users and neighbours to give their views as plans have progressed.

As conservation work begins in the summer of 2021, beginning the first phase of the transformation, Design West is working to take the input from the community & local businesses to develop exciting events and plans while designing the future of the building & gardens for all to enjoy.

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Co-design is a powerful force for change. We are excited to work with English Heritage and the city to unlock this rich site, & its stories; returning it to centre stage once again.

Dr Anna Rutherford, Director, Design West