Some parts of St Mary Redcliffe date back to the beginning of the 12th century. However, most parts are the work of 15th century masons. The strong vertical lines of the gothic church direct the eye upwards giving the impression of great space and height. Much of the medieval church decoration was lost during the Reformation and the English Civil War. Little of the stained glass remained. In the west window of St John's Chapel, for instance, the mediaeval glass survived the destruction.
In the times of Queen Anne, the interior of St Mary Redcliffe was decorated in the flamboyant Baroque style. A great altarpiece by William Hogarth was commissioned to fill the east end of the chancel. The Churchwardens paid him £525 for his paintings of the Ascension flanked by The Sealing of the Sepulchre and the Three Marys at the Tomb.
During the Second World War a bomb exploded in a nearby street, throwing a rail from the tramway over the houses and into the churchyard of St Mary Redcliffe, where one end became embedded in the ground, with the other end protruding at an angle. The rail is left there as a monument.