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Bristol Cathedral – should you visit with kids?

This weekend, Grandma (ie my Mum) has been visiting. Both of us attend church regularly and Mum wanted to go to evensong at Bristol Cathedral. I walked with her to keep her company, and we decided to go in and take a look around. As we approached via the beautiful College Green, I started to worry…although Tibbs was sleeping, was a Cathedral a place to take a baby sightseeing?

I realise how daft this sounds. Children are welcomed and treasured by all religions and places of worship. But does a babbling baby spoil the ambience for other visitors? One of the first votive candle altars was to Peace. No such thing with a crotchety child.

I find that churches are some of the most calming, awe inspiring buildings we have in England, and we’re very lucky in Bristol with the Cathedral, St Mary Redcliffe, and many others. There’s so much for a child to look at and experience from a sensory perspective, which is why I think they are so great for small babies.

Intricate stained glass, 100s of years old
Intricate stained glass, 100s of years old

I’m yet to be convinced that taking a gregarious toddler on a busy day would be awesome though.

Beautiful colours on the embroidered altar kneelers and cathedral floor
Beautiful colours on the embroidered altar kneelers and cathedral floor

From a personal perspective, I found there to be a lot of inspiration regarding motherhood in the Cathedral, from beautiful mother and child sculpture and children’s artwork, to sombre family memorials.

Simple but love-filled family group
Simple but love-filled family group

Parts of the Cathedral are from the 12th century. I found that incredible. Perched above the floating harbour, imagine the sights it has seen and the folk who have been in!

Babies would enjoy the dancing sunlight on the stone sculptures
Babies would enjoy the dancing sunlight on the stone sculptures

Tibbs was eventually woken from her nap by the organist practicing for evensong. I wouldn’t be being true to my 1970s sense of humour if I didn’t make a joke about the size of his organ. It. Was. Whopping. It made the building vibrate when it hit the low pipes.

Religious boom box
Religious boom box

Cafe 1542 wasn’t open when we visited, but I think it’d be a peaceful and welcoming place to stop for a cuppa and a baby feed.

It’s certainly not the first place most Bristolians would think of to take their young children, but I think, on a day of funny weather, a walk through town and across College Green to visit Bristol Cathedral might surprise you. Religious or not, there’s so much to look at and many, many places to just sit and be at rest. I recommend!


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  1. Great post. I will have to visit when next in Bristol. I take my kids to visit old churches and cathedrals. I also worry a bit though as they are quite noisy and boisterous! However, I always remind them the rules before we go in and that this is calm, quiet time and reward them with the park or beach after so they can still get all their energy out! Our local Cathedral is St Davids so we go there and then to Newgale beach xxx

  2. I’m embarrassed that I’ve lived here 5 years and never visited! x

  3. I used to walk past the cathedral every day when I lived in Bristol but I’ve never actually been in it! x

  4. Even though we’re not religious, I do love going to churches and always like the peaceful feel to them and of course marvelling at the architecture and history contained within their walls.

  5. i actually loved going to old churches and a cathedrals as a kid. i loved the colours of the stained glass windows, the (sometimes) tapestries and weavings ..and also that everything seemed so huge!

  6. We didn’t have time to go inside when we came to visit recently, but it’s on our list for next time!

  7. I haven’t taken E to visit any churches, but I think she would like the hugeness of a cathedral.

  8. We’re not religious but I have taken F into the cathedral as it’s great to explore different types of architecture. x

  9. I agree that there is a lot for a child to see and experience in such a beautiful building, although I would hate to be somewhere like than mid meltdown tantrum – not so fun, but yes on a good quite day 🙂

    Laura x

  10. Honor Giles Honor Giles

    After Eleanor and Tibbs left, I also discovered that there was a very pretty garden at the back of the cathedral, with benches and tables. You can picnic there in the sun. There were several visiting children who were transfixed by the sound of the choir as they rehearsed for the service. There is definitely something special about the beautiful voices filling the great space. The Evensong service is not really appropriate for young children, but as those attending are allowed to sit in the spare choir stalls along with the choir, it is a very calming and fulfilling experience for those who like that kind of thing!

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