For many students arriving at Bristol University, the tumbling hills of Stoke Bishop (once also known as Suffhopestoke and Bishop’s Stoke – now referred to by some as ‘Stokey Bish’) will be their first home in the city of pirates and Banksy. Wills, Churchill, Badock and Hiatt Baker halls of residence are all located in this leafy and affluent suburb in the north-west of town, snuggled in-between Westbury-on-Trym, Sneyd Park and Sea Mills..
The area is concentrated around the pretty little village hall and a row of shops on Druid Hill, which is home to a number of small local businesses and the best-named off licence in Bristol (Aimee’s Wine House) as well as some beautiful and very expensive houses. It also encompasses Trinity College, which occupies the historic Stoke House. The house was built in 1669 as a family mansion for Sir Robert Cann, Member of Parliament, Mayor of Bristol and Merchant Venturer, on a nine-acre, partly wooded site and is currently used by those studying theology.
There are plenty of green spaces in and around Stoke Bishop for joggers, dog walkers, cyclists or people simply seeking a bit of fresh air and peace and quiet. The Downs are just to the south and Stoke Lodge, to the north of the area, is used by local schools for athletics, football and cricket. Just round the corner you’ll find the excellent Coombe Dingle Sports Complex which is home to many local sports clubs, as well as the Avon Lawn Tennis Association and Clifton High School and University of Bristol sporting facilities. Members of the public can also hire the pitches and courts here.
St Mary Magdalene Church is a lovely place of worship, situated in Mariner’s Drive and has recently completed building work to develop and improve the facilities. The church can now host many different community events including concerts, plays, dinners, and even birthday parties. But probably not bullfighting or extreme sports.
I know what you’re all asking: “How can I get to this urban utopia from the centre of town?” The eco-conscious Bristol bike set would suggest you cycle up Park Street, up Whiteladies and across the Downs, but in practice that will likely to kill most normal people. If not, the return journey almost certainly will
If you can only compute facts and stats, this is where you should tune back in. According to the recent census, nearly half of the population of Stoke Bishop fall into the 45-plus age range and are either male or female. 32 people from the region stated their religion as ‘Other’ – my guess is they are all druids, enticed to the area by the thought of living on or near Druids Hill. Lots of people seem happy and the area scores a whopping 71 on the ‘Liveability Indicator’ scale.
An affluent neighbourhood with a lively community and some beautiful properties scattered about, Stoke Bishop comprises a pretty corner of the city that shouldn’t be overlooked.