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The Church Building

church_oldRedland Chapel was built by John and Martha Cossins as a private chapel-of-ease within the parish of Westbury-on-Trym and opened in 1743. John Cossins was a London grocer who retired to Bristol in 1732 and purchased and rebuilt Redland Court (now Redland High School). Martha Cossins was born in Bristol and her brothers John and William Innys lived at Redland Court as well.

It was originally intended to obtain a private Act of Parliament to consecrate the chapel but this was not done until 1790, after John, Martha and her two brothers had died. Because of an ecclesiastical dispute no services were held from 1781 to 1790 and its resolution meant that the church was not dedicated to a patron saint. Eventually a Redland parish was formed in 1942 and the chapel became the parish church.

The Graveyard

angelThe legal status of the Chapel from its opening in October 1743 until its consecration in 1790 is not clear. Any burials appear to be confined to the Cossins family and were interred in the family vault under the Communion Table. However both baptisms and marriages were performed.

The wall around the Churchyard was not constructed until 1755. After consecration in 1790 burials took place, however the first proper Register was not begun until 1813. This Register covering 1813-1893 and the subsequent Registers are lodged in the Bristol Record Office. The Graveyard was legally closed in 1979.

Among the papers relating to Redland Chapel deposited in the Bristol Record Office are lists of pre-1813 burials and a manuscript list of burials from 1813 to 1968, possibly the Parish Clerks’ list.

It would appear that many burials after 1855 are of persons not resident within Redland as most other churches in the area had closed their graveyards or had never had a graveyard (St Matthews, Kingsdown, St Saviours, Chandos Road, etc). The surrounding area was built upon from 1875 with the breaking up of the Redland Court estate and the northern spread of suburbia.

Historic Redland – Essays by Gerry Nichols

These essays were written for the Redland Digest which used to be circulated to every house in the Parish. The articles are all short (generally restricted to 250 words). If you would like more information on a subject covered, please do contact the author: Gerry Nichols, 166 Redland Road Redland, Bristol BS6 6YG, email:

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