BRASSERIE CHANCERY LANE
Brasserie Blanc Bristol is within Quakers Friars. Quakers Friars is a scheduled ancient monument anda Grade 1 listed building, built in 1747 at the heart of the redeveloped Cabot Circus shopping centre. Originally a Quaker meeting house the premises had more recently served for many years as Bristol’s registry office. Many residents of Bristol having been married within its walls.
We have often thought that the exterior would not look out of place in a western movie. The exterior appearance of the building having a similar presence as The Alamo or a Spanish Missionary building. Something very unusual to find in the middle of Bristol. This appearance is somewhat explained by the non-conformist religious use. The meeting room having to have a part defensive quality in case of mob uprising against the congregation. Thus the external windows are small in proportion to the elevations and the window cills well above head height. The square interior plan does not fully rely on the external windows for illumination but a large central roof lantern.
The double height interior space is defined by 12 giant order doric columns which support a balcony at first floor level. The meeting house is backed onto by Bakers Hall and Cutlers Hall which predate the meeting house by at least another two centuries. From the above it can be seen that the conversion of the building into a restaurant would have to be very sensitively handled. Fortunately the main meeting room space is well suited to be a grand brasserie dining room. One aspect however was problematic. That defensive outlook had resulted in tiny staircases up to the balcony seating areas that only a single person could use at a time. The one big intervention was the introduction of a generous symmetrical stair to gain access to the balcony and the kitchens outside of the main space. The restoration of this building and its fabric was carried out by some of the best builders and craftsmen in the country. The knowledge that they imparted was priceless.