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Christmas Steps, Bristol facts for kids

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Christmas Steps
Looking down Christmas Steps
Christmas Steps is located in Bristol
Christmas Steps
Christmas Steps
OS grid reference ST586731
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town BRISTOL
Postcode district BS
Dialling code 0117
Police Avon and Somerset
Fire Avon
Ambulance Great Western
EU Parliament South West England
List of places
51°27′22″N 2°35′48″W / 51.4561°N 2.5968°W / 51.4561; -2.5968

Christmas Steps is a historic street in the city centre of Bristol, England.


The street was originally called Queene Street in medieval times before becoming known as Knyfesmyth Street, after the tradesmen there. The Middle English pronunciation of Knyfesmyth, with the K sounded, may be the origin of the street's modern name. An alternative theory is based on the nativity scene found in a stained glass window of The Chapel of the Three Kings of Cologne, which stands at the top of the steps.

In the 17th century, the Christmas Steps is also believed to have been called Lonsford’s Stairs for a short period, in honour of a Cavalier officer who was killed at the top of the steps during the siege of Bristol in the English Civil War.

After the main set of steps the steps continue on the other side of Colston Street and then again across Perry Lane, leading to St Michael's Church these steps were originally unbroken by road and known as St. Michael's steps.


The steep-slanted steps were constructed in September 1669 and were paid for by wealthy wine merchant, Jonathan Blackwell. Prior to this there had been a steep, muddy and narrow street leading from the bridge over the Frome outside the city walls near the old St Bartholomew's Hospital, towards St Michael's church.

The four flights of steps which are dated 1865 and 1881 are grade II listed buildings, and are now home to a variety of shops.

The listed buildings on the steps include:

  • No.1 The Sugar Loaf Public House c1720
  • No 12 c1800
  • No 13 & 14 c1800
  • No 15 Late C17, refronted early C19
  • No 16 early C19
  • N0 18-19 early C19
  • No 20 early C19
  • No 3 c1800
  • No 4 c1800
  • No 5 c1800
  • No 6 & 7 c1800

In popular culture

  • The song Christmas Steps by Mogwai is named after the street.
  • Appears in the last chapter of Terry Pratchett's novel Dodger as the location of the pharmacist where Dodger buys hair dyes to disguise himself and Simplicity.

Exhibitions and galleries

Antlers Gallery have exhibited several projects at the gallery space in 11, Christmas Steps. Exhibitions include:


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