Bristol

Stories of historic Bristol clergymen told in new book

An area prepared for Holy Communion in a Church of England church
Image caption Maurice Fells found a number of influential clergymen in Bristol's archives

The stories of a number of historic Bristol clergymen have been collated in a book by a local author.

Maurice Fells has been scouring church records for people who "made their mark" on the city through the ages.

He features almost 200 people in his new book, Bristol Lives, a number of whom held a place in the church.

Artists, musicians and explorers - including explorer John Cabot and engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel - also feature in the works.

"I've always been fascinated about Bristol's wonderful, colourful history," he said.

"We all know the stories about people like Cabot, Brunel - the famous ones - but I'd come across lots of people who were not so well known.

"They had just as interesting histories and backgrounds and they made their mark on Bristol.

"There were so many who never blew their own trumpet and I suppose on their behalf I've done it for them."

'Ahead of his time'

And for Maurice, one particular priest really made a mark.

"One very interesting story comes from Redcliffe, during the 1960s, and a chap called Cannon Richard Cartwright," he said.

"When his church needed restoration, he got permission from his church council to take three months off from his church duties to tour America.

"He went on a lecture tour of America, telling them about this wonderful church and if they didn't help to save it it would crumble.

"He was ahead of his time for doing that. We would do that sort of thing now [but] at that time, churches raised money by jumble sales and book fairs.

"The Americans gave generously and the church was restored. There is a chapel inside the church known as the American Chapel which marks their generosity.

"When the church was completed, he arranged a special service - which Princess Margaret attended - and the builders carved a head of Richard Cartwright and you will find it on the wall of the church tower.

"That is a story about this particular person that has never been told."

Maurice now hopes to write another book featuring more "untold stories" from across the city and is welcoming any suggestions from the public.

"I'm sure there are people out there who I haven't heard of and I'd be delighted to hear of them," he added.

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