Bristol Cathedral was founded in 1140 as an Augustinian abbey. The exact date of the introduction of boy choristers is not known, but it was probably in the 14th century, when records show there were 3 to 6 boys. The abbey church was made a cathedral by Henry VIII in 1542, in which year Thomas Denny was appointed Organist and Master of the Choristers, who were to be 6 in number. At this time the nave was in ruins and for the next 300 years the building could accommodate a congregation of only 300. After the chancel was altered in 1861, allowing a congregation of a thousand, the number of choristers was increased from 6 to 12 and from 1877 when the rebuilt nave was opened, the number was raised to 18 in line with other cathedrals.
The present choir has 16 choristers (day pupils at the adjacent Bristol Cathedral School) and 6 to 9 lay clerks. (A voluntary girls' choir was formed in 1993 of about 26 girls ages 11 to 18 from local schools.)
The picture shows the choir in the choirstalls of c.1520.
Bristol Cathedral Choir Westminster Cathedral Choir by Gregory C. Atkin.
The View of a Former Cathedral Chorister of Choral Life in the Twentieth Century. Atkin throws a considerable amount of light on what was encountered by cathedral choristers and lay clerks at Bristol Cathedral and Westminster Cathedral in the middle of the twentieth century. The book is written from personal observations and experience in these establishments at that time.
Bristol Cathedral Choir By Jane Collard, David Ogden & Roger Burgess. ix, 142 pages, colour & monochrome illus, 21 cm. An update to E.T. Morgan's pioneering work "History of Bristol Cathedral School" (1913). The City's only royal educational foundation - where the Cathedral choristers are educated - is one of the country's foremost independent schools.
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