Friends Burial Ground Redcliffe

In the early 1660 the Friends, or Quakers as they are more commonly known, were a very persecuted sect in Bristol and throughout the country. Their meetings were broken up, members were jailed and flogged and they were not allowed to bury their dead in the Anglican consecrated graveyards. The Quakers purchased this area as a burial ground in 1665.

It was used as a burial ground until 1923 and there were some 150 graves containing 188 bodies. In the early 1950's the Quakers offered the graveyard to Bristol Council to use as a park for the people of Bristol. The Council accepted and the Quakers made only one stipulation - look after our gravestones. Before the park was constructed the human remains were exhumed and re-interred in Avon View Cemetery on 14th September 1956 in grave numbers 1357-8 and 1449-50. The Council created a park for the blind with scented plants of various textures. Unfortunately the Quaker's wishes were not met and after construction of the park the gravestone were piled up behind the green door at the far end of the park. There were letters of protest, from the Quakers in the local press but to no avail still the gravestones remain behind the green door. The original graveyard has been foreshortened by the 1968 road widening.

I have obtained, from Bristol Records office, a listing of who was buried where in the graveyard. One point to note is that the majority lived to a very good age most adults reaching their 70’s some their 80’s the oldest being 99 which is a magnificent age to reach in 1873. I wonder if this was due to two reasons : the Quakers were teetotalers and also since they were a persecuted sect they would look after each other.

Photograph : Alan Gray

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