08 Aug 2021
This was a wide-ranging wander. I started off crossing the river to Bedminster, to walk a single little cul-de-sac, Hardy Avenue, that I'd managed to miss on at least one previous walk. Then, pausing only to explore a few back alleyways, I headed for a few destinations related mostly by the Hughes family, who I've been researching a little as part of background for a possible novel, as several of them were involved in the Stella Matutina.
However, mostly it's the artistic side of the family I wanted to explore today, as that's where most of their public history lies (as you might expect, there's often not much in the public record about the workings of an occult organisation.) First I visited College Green, where the façade of the Catch 22 Fish & Chip shop still bears the work of Catherine Edith Hughes. Then I wandered up to the top of Park Street to pop into the Clifton Arts Club's annual exhibition, as Catherine, her half-brother Donald, his wife Hope and at least two other Hugheses were members. Donald was chairman for 40 solid years; Hope was Secretary for eight, and Ellard and Margaret Hughes, two more Hughes siblings, were members along with Catherine.
Finally I walked home with a small diversion to Berkeley Square, to confirm the location of Donald Hughes's house by checking for a particular plaque by the front door.
I must admit I'm not entirely sure where all this research is really leading me, but I'm finding it quite interesting to bump across the faint lines of history that link the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, founded in 1888, to modern, quotidian Bristol.
I got interested in Bristol's medieval water supplies after poking around near Jacobs Wells Road and Brandon Hill. It was during that research I found out about a pipe that's still there today, and, as far as I know, still actually functioning, that was originally commissioned by Carmelite monks in the 13th century. They wanted a supply of spring water from Brandon Hill to their priory on the site of what's now the Bristol Beacon—Colston Hall, as-was. It was created around 1267, and later, in 1376, extended generously with an extra "feather" pipe to St John's On The Wall, giving the pipework its modern name of "St John's Conduit".
St John's on the Wall is still there, guarding the remaining city gate at the end of Broad Street, and the outlet tap area was recently refurbished. It doesn't run continuously now, like it did when I first moved to Bristol and worked at the end of Broad Street, in the Everard Building, but I believe the pipe still functions. One day I'd like to see that tap running...
There are a few links on the web about the pipe, but by far the best thing to do is to watch this short and fascinating 1970s TV documentary called The Hidden Source, which has some footage of the actual pipe and also lots of fantastic general footage of Bristol in the seventies.
On my walk today I was actually just going to the building society in town, but I decided to trace some of the route of the Carmelite pipe, including visiting streets it runs under, like Park Street, Christmas Street, and, of course, Pipe Lane. I also went a bit out of my way to check out St James' Priory, the oldest building in Bristol, seeing as it was just around the corner from the building society.
There are far too many pictures from this walk, and my feet are now quite sore, because it was a long one. But I enjoyed it.
11 Apr 2021
My friend Lisa joined me again, this time for a long wander through "Bemmie". In fact, I tweeted recently using "Bedmo" as my abbreviation for Bedminster, and apparently there's something of a culture war going on. From what I can glean, the longer-term residents call it "Bemmie" and consider "Bedmo" a name made up by hipster gentrifiers.
I had no idea, but then I didn't grow up around here, and I don't live in Bedminster, and I'm not a hipster. I'm not sure I've ever gentrified anywhere, either; Hotwells was already quite gentrified by the time I arrived. I probably just lowered the tone a bit.
Anyway. Lisa and I entered Bemmie by the traditional toll gate (though actually you'd only have paid if you were coming from the Long Ashton direction, not merely nipping across from Hotwells) and then almost literally combed the streets to knock several new roads off my list of targets. Along the way we saw lots of street art, as you'd expect, and admired the area's panoply of gorgeous knockers.
I wonder if the owners might find a stonemason to change it to Beacon House.
17 Nov 2020
A fruitless wander, as Spoke and Stringer (who I thought might do a decent flat white) were closed, and the only other harbourside inlet offering were a bit too busy to wait at, especially as I'd spent some time wandering some of the convolutions of Rownham Mead. This last congeries of dull alleyways and brown-painted garages was at least somewhere I've never been before, in parts.
An alternative spelling of Harriet? Not sure.