Celebrating the gift of water...
Every year the Priest, Churchwardens and people of St Mary Redcliffe walk the route of an ancient conduit given to the parish by Lord Robert de Berkeley in 1190 and give thanks for the gift of fresh water. The historic event asserts the church’s right of way along the 2,514 metre (2,750 yard) route of an 824-year-old pipeline linking it with an ancient fresh water spring in the Knowle area of Bristol.
The conduit dates back to 1190 when Robert de Berkeley, Lord of the Manor of Bedminster, granted the right to lay a pipe from the Ruge Well at the top of Knowle Hill through south Bristol to the churchyard of St Mary Redcliffe.
The Pipe Walk route covers just under two miles from the spring near St Barnabas Church in Daventry Road through Lower Knowle and Bedminster to Redcliffe Hill. It takes in Victoria Park where first-time Pipe Walkers traditionally are ‘bumped’ on one of several old stone markers indicating the route. Also in the park is a labyrinth constructed by Wessex Water in 1984 at the point where the pipe is crossed by a twentieth-century foul water interceptor.
Elsewhere the pipe runs through allotments and private gardens. Throughout the walk periodic stops are made for manhole inspections.
Originally made of lead but replaced with cast iron by the Victorians, the pipe was broken as a result of bomb damage during the Second World War.
The pipe ends just inside the church gate on Redcliffe Hill where a Latin inscription commemorates Lord Robert de Berkeley’s philanthropy