Some interesting pieces about Totterdown, it’s history, geography, and origin.  If you have any extra information about the origins of Totterdown, please let us know.

Support our local heroes…

Our local independent businesses are here to help us all through this current madness… many of them are continuing to stay open, providing brilliant service as ever and always, always a friendly face in the chaos. This is not an exhaustive list – please check with the venues and retailers themselves regarding opening hours and events. You can also keep up to date with opening hours etc via their Facebook or webpages. Please support these local heros… A capella café & pizzeria DELIVERIES NOW FROM 12pm TUESDAY-SATURDAY. Call 0117 971 3377 You can now get our full evening pizza menu delivered from 12pm. We are also opening up our cafe lunch & breakfast menu for delivery 12pm-4pm and waving the delivery charge until 5pm. (£10 minimum order) Your order will be delivered by our own locally employed A cappella staff. You can pay by card over the phone and if you wish we can leave your order by the door. Just let us know. Award winning pizza, salads, tapas, breakfast, lunch, coffee, cake. See pictures on Facebook for details and please stay safe. Bakehouse The Bakehouse is open from 6am - 6pm. We are baking throughout the day as well.…

Totterdown pubs

If you have an interest in the history of Totterdown's pubs, you may enjoy reading: The Nineteenth-and Twentieth-Century Public House in Bristol English Heritage Project: NHPP 4A1 6942. Totterdown has its own section, and there are other references to Totterdown throughout. Happy reading!  

An exploration of Ravenswell

Raven's well is the source of the medieval water pipe in Bristol - called Temple Pipe built in 1366 to supply water to the friary at Temple Gate and Temple Church.  100 years ago Temple pipe was severed by the building of the railway line. Raven's well is under the three lamps sign post at Totterdown. This was first publicised in Sally Watson's Underground Bristol book which describes several such medieval pipes. So it has been on my wish list for some time. None of us has been before. Text and Images are taken from a posting at More images of the caves are available on this site.

Meaning of Totterdown

The name "Totterdown" comes from the old english term for "Traders Rest" or "Traders Camp". Totter is the old english term for a trader, whilst down refers to a camp, rest or stop.  So it is where traders would rest before reaching the city centre the next day for trading. Now you know! 🙂

1850s petition against St Philip’s Alkali works

In the early 1850’s a petition was got up and signed, by 293 people of Totterdown, Bath Road, the New Cut and neighbourhood, in respect of the nauseous smoke and vapour emitted, both night and day, from the Alkali Works near Marsh Bridge, St Philip’s. In addition, they complained of the several thousand tons of waste deposited upon St Philip’s Marsh, which filled the surrounding atmosphere with an abominable smell of Sulphurated Hydrogen. After heavy rain this waste tended to percolate into the ground, polluting nearby wells. (more…)


An interesting piece of information received from a Totterdown Resident: "I attended, some years ago, a talk on "Farms of Knowle and Totterdown". When this area was farmland the meadow on which Bushy Park and Knowle Road were subsequently built was called Bushy Mead. The next meadow up the hill, as you may guess, was called Lily Mead."

Pylle Hill springs and the Temple Pipe

A spring at Pylle Hill was named Ravenswell. In 1370 the monks of Austin Friars who were building a religious house in Temple Parish (the area north of Pylle Hill of which Temple Meads Station and the leaning tower of Temple Church are the last vestiges) negotiated a grant of spring water from Sir John de Gourney, whose family had by then acquired the Manor of Knowle. The monks constructed a reservoir and a conduit to intercept and conduct the water down to Temple Gate so that the Friars would have access to pure water. Medieval monasteries were notable for water engineering innovation, and Temple Pipe is one of several such spring-to-monastery conduits in Bristol. The water was intended for the use of the orders but where there was an excess its use was extended to local parishioners. The gift of clean water was arranged before the site of Austin Friars was begun.   The Photograph shows the great cistern which is located on the east side of the Wells Road (Copyright JLJ.)The conduit was twice extended in later years to enable the parishioners of Temple to make use of it and various bequests from rich Temple residents and later on the Royal Grant of an annual fair, enabled the pipe to…

Where is Totterdown?

Totterdown is a suburb of Bristol, England, situated area just south of the River Avon and south-east of Temple Meads railway station. It rises relatively steeply from the river bank to a largely terraced Victorian housing area which is notable for its painted homes - often in bright colours - that can be seen from some distance. Like with many places, the defined borders are hazy, with different people having differing opinions. The postal codes, ward boundaries, and parish boundaries all differ.  The boundary defined for Totterdown is shown below.

History of Aldebury

The name Aldebury of Knowle appears in a Bristol charter of 1188, in Charters of 1252 and 1373 other variations on the name appear.  Its location is not given precisely in the Charters but it was certainly in the area of what is now the junction of the Wells and Bath Roads where a map of 1742 gives the name Aldeburyham.  ‘Alde’ probably meant “old” although it could be a contraction of “alder”, referring to the alder trees that favour the banks of the Avon, ‘bury’ indicates a fortified place or simply a settlement, so Aldebury of Knowle was either the ‘old settlement’ or “Alder village” of the Manor of Knowle.

History of Pile Hill/Pylle Hill

A charter of 1373 refers to a place called Pylhillesbrugh; as with Aldebury it was not given a definite location but was in the region of the present junction of the Wells and Bath Roads.  The element ‘brugh’ may be a confusion with ‘burgh’ which has the same meaning as ‘bury’ but more likely it means “bridge”. There are three possible locations where a bridge may once have been needed on the road out of Bristol to Bath. (more…)

The Ward

Totterdown is part of the Windmill Hill ward. If you're feeling curious about the area, you can find out more on the Up My Street website.

Domesday Totterdown

The area today that is known as Totterdown was once part of the Manor of Knowle; called Canole in the Doomsday book, the manor was quite small and its first Norman lord, Osberne Giffard. Osberne held lands in Gloucestershire where he built a castle. The Manor of Knowle was too small to support a household for someone as powerfull as Osberne Giffard and it would have been administered from Osberne’s Court at Brimpsfield near Gloucester. Before the Normans took over, Canole was in the hands of a Saxon called Alnoth and it seems likely that a small settlement had grown up in Saxon times; by the time of the Domesday survey of 1086 this amounted to perhaps just 11 families.

“Totterdown Rising” – A book on local history

"Totterdown Rising" is a book about a community that was split in half to make way for a road that was never built. But it's not a book about a community beaten into submission by a local council's obsession with the motor car, it's a story of how people rebuilt their community and reinvented the very special Spirit of Totterdown. But there is more to the story than a tale of a resurgent community. Kate Pollard's detailed research has uncovered some alarming facts about the role of the City Council in the demolition of Totterdown. It appears that the detailed plans to knock down an entire community, shops and pubs was never voted on and that the council pressed ahead with the demolition before they had received Government backing for the Road plan. In the course of researching this book, Kate Pollard also discovered that many of the houses that were demolished to make way for the Outer Circuit Road were the subject of compulsory purchase orders. In the case of a number of houses, the owners were absent and were not found within the timetable of the demolition process. In case they reappeared at a later date to discover…