Tuesday, July 25, 2017

A Mermaid Guide To Bristol

Bristol is a city with a maritime history, and one of the reasons I love living here so much is because of the beautiful harbour, tidal river and abundance of nautical features. The whole city is arranged around the water, and it has really influenced the look and feel of the city-some parts of Bristol look so much like the seaside that I almost expect to turn a corner and find a beach! So it makes sense that there are lots of mermaid treasures to be found, if you look hard enough.
For this guide, I've planned it like a walking tour, with each place in order to take you through the city. I really loved putting this guide together because it made me go off on all sorts of adventures and look in places I probably wouldn't have noticed otherwise, so I will definitely be doing some more themed tours of Bristol. But for now, here is my guide to all things mermaid-y in Bristol, UK.

The Floating Harbour, BS1 5JQ

I couldn't do a mermaid tour without including the Floating Harbour. It's one of Bristol's main attractions, filled with beautiful boats and ships, lots of wildlife, and surrounded by shops and cafes. It's a wonderful place for a walk, watching the shimmering water. I can definitely imagine an urban mermaid living here.

Don't try swimming though, because it's a busy working harbour and the water isn't safe for that! If you want to explore the harbour more, you can go on a Bristol Ferry, or even a tour on a tall ship.

M Shed, Princes Wharf, Wapping Road, BS1 4RN

If you head to the Bristol People gallery, you can find the wonderful "Fruits of My Life" vessel by Kate Malone. The whole of the lower section is densely covered in ceramic sea life, with crabs, fish and even squid swimming their way through the blue tinged glaze.

You can also pick up some lovely mermaid-y gifts in the M Shed shop, which stocks everything from sparkly aura crystals to beautiful fish themed glassware, or have a bite to eat in their cafe while overlooking the harbour.

Merchant Venturers Almshouses, King Street, BS1 4DT

On the end of this row of almshouses, dating from 1699, is a colourful plaque depicting a mermaid and a satyr. I couldn't find out much about the meaning behind the plaque, but the almshouses were built for sailors, so perhaps that explains the mermaid.

Broad Quay House, Broad Quay, BS1 4DJ

Just across the road from the almshouses is Broad Quay House, which has lots of plaques with themes to do with Bristol's history as a maritime city.

One of these is a plaque which commemorates a  public house called The Mremayd on the Backe (yes they really spelled it like that). It has (of course) a mermaid at the centre, flanked by what appear to be very stylised seahorses.

Neptune Statue, The Centre

Right in the city centre is this impressive statue of Neptune, towering over the promenade with his trident. It dates from the 1720s and moved around several locations in Bristol before finally being erected here, at the top of the fountains which mark the beginning of the harbour.

City Hall, College Green, BS1 5TR

The front view of City Hall is well known for its golden unicorns, but if you head around the back, you can see carvings of children riding on seahorses.

Why? Well apparently, they are meant to represent the spirit of Bristol. I'm not entirely sure how small children riding over-sized seahorses does this, but they are pretty.

Brandon Steep, BS1 5UU

From the back of City Hall you can wend your way up this hidden away road, which as the name suggests is very steep. The wall at the side of the road is covered in guerilla art, which has been left in place in memory of the artist, Bob Ballard. 

One of the artworks is a rather unusual mermaid, who appears to be clutching a pair of fish to her ample hips.

Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, Queens Road, BS8 1RL

Bristol Museum is a treasure trove of mermaid gems. The Natural History galleries on the ground floor have a whole section on the coasts and seas of South West England,

with a collection of colourful seashells and seaweed displayed against gorgeous painted backgrounds with sea scenes.

If you head upstairs to the Silver and Ceramics galleries, you can spot some beautifully ornate shell shaped dishes, perfect for mermaids!

Finally, in the art galleries, you can see the mesmerising painting "The Fisherman and the Syren", by Frederic Leighton, an artist associated with the Pre-Raphaelites.

You can pick up a postcard of The Fisherman and the Syren in the gift shop, as well as a range of aquatic gifts including octopus and seahorse plushies, ammonite necklaces and ammonite shaped chocolates.

The Victoria Rooms, 88 Queens Road, BS8 1SA

In front of the Victoria Rooms is one of my favourite things in all of Bristol, the stunning mermaid fountain. It was built in 1912 and sculpted by P.F. Poole, in an Art Nouveau style.

There is a merman on one side, a mermaid on the other, and the water gushes out of a series of shells. The whole fountain is swathed in seaweed and shells, and nestled into these are statues of fish, a turtle, and a sea lion. It couldn't get any more mermazing, and it is truly spectacular. Perfect for photo opportunities.

I hope you enjoyed this mermaid themed tour of Bristol, if you decide to take it in real life then please let me know! I'd also love to hear your recommendations of mermaid-y destinations, so if you have any please leave them in the comments.

You can also see my Mermaid Guide To Cardiff here


  1. What an absolutely beautiful post! I loved seeing all the nautical theme plaques! xx

  2. Oh I loved this post, and I had no idea half of this was here, which is a shame as I used to live about 30 minutes away when I was at uni in Bath, so I'll have to come back someday and visit the museum for sure. Love the shots you got of the fountain too, gorgeous! - Tasha

  3. What a lovely tour! Hopefully I can one day see all of that in person.