The origins of Bristol Cathedral date back to 1140, when Robert Fitzharding(e) founded St Augustine’s Abbey on the Deanery Road site and it is a phantom monk that is said to remain and haunt the building. This abbey was designed in the Norman style though very little of this remains today, though the gatehouse and chapterhouse are 12th century. Alterations and additions continued to be added until 1539 and Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries when it was closed and several parts of the Abbey demolished, including the new unfinished Nave.
In 1542 the building became Bristol Cathedral and the Diocese of Bristol created with the first Bishop being Paul Bushe (born 1490 – died 1558). Further major additions to the Cathedral were made during the Gothic revival in the 19th century.
The ghost is said to be a monk dressed in a grey habit. It has been put forward that as the ghost was not wearing a black habit it could not have been an Augustinian monk and therefore must have been a visitor to the abbey. However, Augustinians were assigned the black habit by the Pope to distinguish them from Franciscan monks, but this was probably some time after the abbey was built, as in 1274 at the Second Council of Lyon, Augustinian monks were wearing a variety of coloured habits and in 1290 the variety of habits was noted at the Rome Province Chapter. Therefore we cannot assume the monk was not an Augustinian based dress code. The monk is said to haunt both the Cathedral and the library next door and has apparently been seen by a number of visitors. According to one article in the Bristol Evening Post the ghost usually appears around 4.30pm.