When we began working on the long-abandoned Roman Catholic Cathedral in Bristol’s Clifton, three decades had passed since its replacement had been consecrated nearby. Several previous proposals had come and gone seeking to demolish various parts of the complex of the Cathedral, ruined Bishops Palace, Priest House, and Nunnery. We could see an ingenious scheme of residential conversion could perhaps maximise the prospects of viable retention. But the scheme had to create sufficient revenues first to stabilise the cliff face below using rock anchoring.
This had been the reason its construction had been abandoned in the late 1830’s and only resumed 30 years later, to make it usable in a much-diminished form was short of the church ambitions for it. To make the case, we needed to fully understand the stages of the original construction involving architects HE Goodridge and Charles Hansom. Viability studies demonstrated that the gains this scheme would bring in the certain preservation of original fabric well outweighed our proposed demolition of the already much-ruined Bishops Palace. With the benefit of planning permission and listed building consent, now the most visible parts of the cathedral’s complex remain prominent in Clifton and the future secured.