Ancient trading street is still home to market stalls and shops
Plans promoted by Bristol's mayor would see traffic removed from Corn Street to create a more pedestrian- friendly, Continental- style environment.
The traffic-free zone, which would include the top end of Small Street, would last for a year, but would be extended if successful.
It is also hoped to reduce the number of traffic signs and launch a monthly Saturday market.
Mayor George Ferguson said: "The Old City area is the historic heart of the city and a key part of our heritage. The launch of a Saturday market there will also give local businesses a shot in the arm."
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It is generally assumed that Corn Street derives its name from the Corn Exchange – now part of St Nicholas market – where dealers would once buy and sell grain. But this simply isn't so.
Corn Street, which officially ends at St Nicholas Street, where there was once a church and old city gate, was so named as far back as medieval times.
There was a twice weekly corn market held here from 1813 onwards.
The correct name for the city's 18th-century market hall, which first opened its doors in 1743, is simply The Exchange.
Some historians, however, have linked the street's name to John Corn who once owned land here, or to Coernicus, a Warden of Bristol Castle.
I'll plump for the more obvious, simpler derivation.
Corn Street is one of the city's oldest thoroughfares, the others being High Street, Wine (once Wynch Street) and Broad Street.
Markets were held near Bristol's High Cross, where the four roads met, until the cross's removal, in the interests of public safety, in 1733.
Corn Street once boasted four medieval churches, of which only one, All Saints – the burial place of merchant and philanthropist Edward Colston – survives.
This was the church of the Guild of Kalendars, a collection of priests and laymen who kept the town records in order.
No longer used for services, the building now functions as a diocesan education and resource centre.
Of the others, part of St Werburgh's was removed to the district that now bears its name in 1878 (it's now a climbing centre) and St Ewen's and St Leonard's have both been demolished.
The Corporation and merchants (often one and the same) would meet and conduct their business at the Tolzey, a sort of lean-to erected against the side of All Saints church.
The writer Daniel Defoe, on a visit to the city, relates how this became so thronged with ship owners, traders and merchants that they overflowed into the surrounding taverns and coffee houses.
In the 18th century, many goods were traded at these Corn Street coffee houses.
In 1758, the Bristol Journal newspaper announced the auction here of 100 hogsheads of white sugar and 70 casks of coffee, captured from a French ship in the Caribbean.
The Tolzey Court, which existed, at least in name, until 1971, also met here.
The four flat-topped "nails", which stand outside the Exchange, were used by merchants when closing a sale.
Before the Exchange was built the nails were located in Tolzey Walk, the narrow, gated lane which connects High Street with the market.
The oldest nail, although undated, is said to be late Elizabethan.
The second oldest was given by Bristol merchant Robert Kitchen, who died in 1594, with the other two nails being dated 1625 and 1631.
One bears the name John Barker, a wealthy Bristol merchant who owned storehouses in Wine Street and Small Street.
Barker was town mayor during the reign of King Charles I and represented Bristol as an MP in the 1623 Parliament.
The Old Council House, which dates back to 1829, now serves as a city registry and wedding venue.
The first proper meeting place for the town council, opened in 1551, was sited next to St Ewen's church.
Once a mixture of shops, churches and houses, by Victorian times Corn Street had became the heart of the city's commercial and banking centre.
Nearby Lloyds Bank, originally the West of England and South Wales District Bank, and which dates back to the 1850s, was modelled on St Mark's Library in Venice.
Built by the well known Bristol architects Gingell and Lysaght, it carries a wealth of detail, including female statues representing the sources of wealth – Peace and Plenty, Justice and Integrity.
Other banks and insurance offices were quick to take up residence, outdoing each other in employing the very best architects and builders.
A couple of banks survive, but many have now been converted into cafes, pubs, bars and restaurants.
The Bush Tavern, a famous coaching house known to Charles Dickens (and used in his Pickwick Papers) survived until 1854, when it was demolished to make way for Lloyds Bank. A commemorative plaque now marks the site.
The Commercial Rooms, now tastefully converted into a charming pub, opened in 1811 as a place for the city's merchants to gather and conduct their business in convivial surroundings.
Plans to demolish numbers 32, 34 and 36 Corn Street in the early 1970s led to an outcry and their being "listed" as architecturally important.
The top end of Corn Street, once well known for the strong smell of roasted coffee wafting from Carwardine's cafe, was barred to traffic in 1976.
Now, thanks to the mayor's initiative, the rest of the street will soon follow suit.