Clifton cathedral was built to replace the previous diocesan seat of Pro-Cathedral of the Holy Apostles in Bristol (1850-1973). The pro-cathedral had a history of problematic construction work. It was built as a church on a challenging hillside site, making work there difficult. Building started in 1834, stopped a year later, started again in 1843, stopped shortly after and the building lay abandoned until 1848 when a roof was placed on the half-completed building so that it could be used as a church.
In August 1965 the architects Percy Thomas Partnership were commissioned to undertake the design and construction of a new Cathedral, on a new site in Clifton.
They immediately set up a dialogue with the church and its advisors to formulate a design brief. The Second Council of the Vatican was meeting in Rome, Italy, discussing the renewal of the Church in its relationship to the world, and the Council's decree on liturgical worship helped to focus attention at Clifton on the role of the people, with the bishop and their priests in the celebration of the Eucharist.
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