Looking for an idyllic suburb to call home? Look no further than Kingsdown and Cotham – two affluent neighbourhoods located on the northern side of the River Avon and just a short stroll away from the bustling city centre.
Cotham, the larger suburb of the two, is nestled between Clifton and St. Pauls, and shares many similarities with nearby Redland, boasting a wealth of late Victorian and early Georgian properties, many of which are the neoclassical style. In fact, Cotham has become known for the conversion of these grand old houses into flats, as well as their use as boutique hotels and bed and breakfasts.
According to the 2011 Census, Cotham is home to 12,554 residents, though this number is likely to have increased significantly in recent years, due to the area growing in popularity. Meanwhile, Kingsdown is a smaller but equally charming neighbourhood, often regarded as part of the same area as Cotham, though locals will argue that it has its unique sense of community.
Cotham and Kingsdown Location in Bristol
Cotham and Kingsdown are located next to each other, just north of the city centre and the University of Bristol. The two suburbs are sandwiched between two railway stations, Redland Montpelier, from either of which you can travel throughout Bristol and beyond.
Cheltenham Road borders the east side of Cotham from the St. James Barton Roundabout, locally known as ‘The Bearpit’, through Stokes Croft and up to where it becomes Gloucester Road.
The History of Cotham and Kingsdown
Discover the fascinating history of Cotham and Kingsdown, where the top of Saint Michael’s Hill served as a traditional location for hangings centuries ago. Today, the area is home to Cotham Park RFC, whose club crest even features gallows as a nod to the past. In the 16th century, the spot also witnessed the burning of three Marian Martyrs during the oppressive period of Protestant religious reform.
Meanwhile, Kingsdown derives its name from its historical use as a horse exercise ground for the King’s horses belonging to the Royal Garrison of Bristol in the Middle Ages. By the 17th century, the area had become a significant location with the construction of the 13-gun Prior’s Hill Fort in Fremantle Square, which played a crucial role in the lead-up to the English Civil War.
Shopping in Cotham and Kingsdown
You can enjoy a fantastic shopping experience in Cotham and Kingsdown, which are both conveniently located close to various shopping destinations. To the east and north, you will find the trendy Stokes Croft and Gloucester Road, while Bristol’s city centre and Cabot Circus shopping quarter are situated further south.
In Cotham, you have Corks of Cotham, an independent shop that stocks a wide selection of beer, spirits, wine and cider. You can also find them at North Street and Wapping Wharf. Nearby at Kings Square is jewellery designer Jack Turner, who offers an array of beautiful handcrafted silver items.
Cotham is also home to Bannatyne Health Club and Spa for those that enjoy a bit of relaxation or a workout, and for those who appreciate fine art, you can find Serchia Gallery, a not-for-profit gallery for contemporary artists.
In Kingsdown, you’ll find a Co-op supermarket for all your grocery needs at Clarence Place, St Peter’s Hospice, and the Well Kingsdown pharmacy on St Micheal’s Hills.
Cotham and Kingsdown Bars and Restaurants
Despite their size, both Cotham and Kingsdown boast an impressive array of bars and restaurants that cater to all tastes. Whether you’re looking for a traditional or gastro pub, you’ll find it all in these two neighbourhoods.
Experience European cuisine at The Kensington Arms on Stanley Road, where you can also enjoy a delicious Sunday lunch. For classic pub food, head to the Cotham Arms on St Michael’s Hill, or to the Green Man pub on Alfred Place, which offers a range of local micro-brewery ales and stouts in a comfortable glass-fronted pub with a small garden.
Enjoy regular live music at the vibrant White Bear on St. Michael’s Hill or head to the Highbury Vaults, which serves real ales and snack-type food within a 19th-century building with a patio garden and atmospheric dark-wood panelling. Beerd, located just across the road, is the perfect destination for handmade pizzas and an extensive selection of draught and bottled craft beers.
If you’re looking for a wider variety of places to eat and drink, head to Stokes Croft and Cheltenham Road to the east of Cotham. Stokes Croft is particularly known for its lively nightlife and late-night clubs, including the Canteen, Pipe and Slippers, Crofters Rights, Number 51, Love Inn and the legendary Lakota.
With so many excellent food and drink venues in this area, it’s impossible to list them all, but The Crafty Egg in Stokes Croft is a must-visit and one of Bristol’s best brunch spots.
For a relaxing stroll, head to the northwest of Cotham to Lovers Walk, a picturesque pathway in a park. Kingsdown also has a couple of small green spaces, perfect for local residents in and around the area.
Discover the charm of these sought-after Bristol suburbs and make Kingsdown or Cotham your new home.