We Have Our Lives

Welcome to We Have Our Lives, Bristol Cathedral's contribution to the First World War centenary commemorations.

Read about the lives of some of the men from our diocese who fought and died in the First World War, learn more about our project and submit your own people for us to remember.

This is an extraordinary and moving encounter with men and women who lost their lives a hundred years ago. We hope you will come to know them and reflect on what and how we should remember.
          –The Dean of Bristol

Throughout 2014 - 2018, we are telling the stories of some of those who died as a result of the First World War. We remember a fallen casualty for every month of the conflict, with people hailing from all over the Diocese. With biographies, pictures, and information on areas relevant to each person - ranging from Passchendaele to Football in the war - we hope to illustrate the war in a more personal and human way. The project was formally launched with a special evensong on Armistice Day, 2014.

The South Quire Aisle of the Cathedral is now home to a display, which includes two touch-screen PCs for viewing the online book of remembrance. It also includes changing displays about different wartime themes. These are available to view whenever the South Quire is open, from opening time in the morning at 08:30 to about quarter of an hour before Evensong (17:15 weekdays, 15:30 weekends). This project is, however, more than just an exhibit. We are delighted to have been awarded £6,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund towards education and engagement surrounding the projects. These stories will act as a resource for education days, talks and lectures. In September 2015, it helped to fund a production of a theatre piece entitled Wild Men, which told the story of the Cathedral Choristers who fought in WWI. The Berkeley Chapel has been put aside as a place of quiet reflection and prayer, with a focus on remembrance and conflict, and is now home to a spectacular flower arrangement which will grow and evolve over the next four years.

Current and Forthcoming Exhibitions:

23 January - 9 April March 2017, Bristol's Australian Pioneer: Robert Bush and the Bishop's Knoll First World War Hopsital

An exhibition telling the extraordinary story of Clifton’s Robert Bush, who played cricket alongside W G Grace and later helped establish the Western Australia Cricket Association. Having grown a successful sheep rearing business in Australia, Bush returned to Bristol in 1905 and bought Bishop’s Knoll House. He became Sheriff of Bristol in 1912 and at the outbreak of the First World War, converted his home into a 100-bed hospital for wounded Australian soldiers.

Past Exhibitions

Parcels of Comfort

As the Great War progressed the morale of the soldiers, their families and sweethearts depended heavily on letters and parcels. Reassurance was needed from both sides that they were in each other’s thoughts. As the war showed no signs of ending, the army food got more sparse and dreary and the clothing was woefully inadequate for the cold and mud of the trenches. This is a mixed media exhibition by local textile artists and Cotham School GCSE textile students that gives a fascinating insight into the parcels and their contents. 

No News of Fred

On July 1st 1916, a staggering 20,000 British men were killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme – the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army. Among them were young volunteers like 19-year-old Fred Wood of Easton, who was experiencing battle for the first time. Fred was one of the first to go ‘over the top’ on that fateful day, and also one of the first to die. Amidst the chaos of slaughter he disappeared forever, his body never found. To mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, Bristol Cathedral is hosting an exhibition called ‘No News of Fred’ in which local author Jacqueline Wadsworth traces the final days and hours of Fred Wood, the great-uncle she never knew. The exhbition ran from 1 June - 31 August 2016

Bristol's Lost City

Ask most Bristolians where or what was the 'White City' and you'll get a blank look. For Clive Burlton, author of 'Bristol's Lost City', a picture of his Grandfather outside the 1914 Bristol International Exhibition led to uncovering a forgotten episode of Bristol's past. 
In this short film, Clive Burlton explores Bristol's transition from peacetime to wartime through the eyes of the White City site. Watch the video. This exhibition ran in Spring 2016.

We are moved by war

Glenside Hospital Museum houses collections relating to the history of Bristol Psychiatric and Learning Disability Hospitals. The Museum, set within the grounds of the building which opened in 1861 as The Bristol Lunatic Asylum, tells the 130 year story of a psychiatric hospital and is now part of the University of the West of England's School of Health and Social Care campus.  Here relatives, volunteers and researchers have been uncovering the story of the lunatic asylum when it was taken over by the War Office. The focus is the museum's collection of postcards, which show the wounded soldiers and staff. 100 years ago, Bristol was struggling to look after the many wounded as they arrived from the Fronts through Avonmouth.  It was decided that Bristol’s lunatic asylum should be converted into a military hospital and from 1915-19, it became Beaufort War Hospital; made famous through the paintings of Sir Stanley Spencer who worked there as a medical orderly. Stanley Spencer wrote in 1915: 'I had to scrub out the Asylum Church. It was a splendid test of my feelings about this war. But I still feel the necessity of this war...' Would your feelings about war echo Spencer's? 

The exhibition was designed to reflect the dilemmas presented by war and ran from 22 September - 31 December 2015. 

Since the project began we have:

  • displayed personal collections of local families' wartime memorabilia
  • showcased a selection of WWI poetry written by women
  • given away 700 free copies of Bristol 2014 Great Reading Adventure book
  • exhibited the work of a local primary school, who worked on the theme of Poppies
  • hosted Haunted by War: an exhibition of paintings by Colin Monk
  • given away 400 free copies of The Gospel according to St John; a WWI facsimile
  • presented Wild Men; a theatre and music performance which told the story of the Cathedral Choristers who fought in WWI.

It is hugely important to us that people participate in this project. We would like you to come to us with any prayers, memories, pictures, or simply names of relatives, or anyone dear, who died as a result of the First World War. Each month we will hold a requiem mass, gathering together the names of those we have been asked to remember. Please use the form to the right to get in touch or email We also remember the Cathedral choristers who died in the conflict. For the full list click here.  


External Links:

Heritage Lottery Fund, for information about WWI projects across the UK

Bristol 2014, a partnership in the city focussed on the commemorations.

Bristol and Avon Family History Society, who may be able to help you research your relatives.

The Church of England's World War One page, with news and resources for the centenary.

Glenside Hospital Museum, which has an exhibition of WWI postcards.

Download Researching your Bristolian Ancestors in the First World War: A Guide