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Merchant Venturers' Almhouse

In 1696 the Bristol Society of Merchant Venturers built their almshouses here for sick and elderly sailors, and the building still survives. The Almhouse carries the Merchant Venturers coat of arms. As sailors sailing on the slave ships to West Africa often went blind or fell ill from various fever, it is likely that some of them may have been housed in this almshouse.

The almshouses were originally built around a quadrangle however bombing and road realignment mean that it is now left with only three sides. It used to be accompanied by the Merchants Hall but this was destroyed in the Bristol Blitz of World War II.

The plaque on the wall is a poem:

"Freed from all storms the tempest and the rage Of billows, here we spend our age. Our weather beaten vessels here repair And from the Merchants' kind and generous care Find harbour here; no more we put to sea Until we launch into Eternity. And lest our Widows whom we leave behind Should want relief, they too a shelter find. Thus all our anxious cares and sorrows cease Whilst our kind Guardians turn our toils to ease. May they be with an endless Sabbath blest Who have afforded unto us this rest."

Content generated during research for the paperback book 'Bristol: Ethnic Monorities and the City 1000-2001' (ISBN 13 : 978-1-86077-477-5 ) for the England's Past for Everyone series