Frenchay was first recorded in 1257 as Fromscawe and later as Fromeshaw, meaning the wood on the Frome.
Frenchay's largest place of worship is the Anglican church of John the Baptist, adjacent to the large village common, which is overlooked by period houses. Also overlooking the common is the village school which dates from 1842. The village also contains a Catholic church, a Quaker Meeting House and a Unitarian chapel. WG Grace, the famous Victorian cricketer, whose family lived in the next village, was captain of the village cricket team and played on the common.
The main campus of University of the West of England is named Frenchay Campus, though is not in Frenchay itself, and there is a business park nearby.
Frenchay is also home to Frenchay Hospital, greatly expanded during World War II for the US Army, which treated wounded soldiers returning from the D-Day landings in Normandy. Frenchay is still one of Bristol's major hospitals, and is famous for its burns unit. Close to the motorway, and with its own helicopter landing spot, it treats many road traffic accidents. Its facilities have been greatly extended in recent years, although wartime buildings are still much in evidence. The hospital is currently under threat of closure, despite the Save Frenchay Hospital campaign to save it. Facilities are expected to merge with Southmead Hospital, if it does close, further towards the centre of the city.
Frenchay village has lots of green space, including the common, walks along the River Frome, and an area called Hilly Fields. One of the hubs of the village is the Village Hall, and there is an annual village flower show.
Frenchay's earliest place of worship was the Quaker Meeting House. The present one dates from 1809, and it replaced an earlier one of 1670.
Many Quaker merchants from nearby Bristol made their homes here, including Joseph Storrs Fry, the Quaker chocolate manufacturer, who styled his company J S Fry & Sons. He moved to Grove House (now Riverwood House) in 1800. He died in 1835 and is buried in the burying ground behind the Meeting House along with his wife and daughter, Pricilla.
Frenchay Park, an adjacent suburb, is situated within Bristol city limits.
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