© Mr Michael Perry
GUILDHALL, SMALL STREET (north east side)
BRISTOL, BRISTOL, BRISTOL
Mr Michael Perry
23 May 2006
04 March 1977
Date of last amendment:
30 December 1994
The Images of England website consists of images of listed buildings based on the statutory list as it was in 2001 and does not incorporate subsequent amendments to the list. For the statutory list and information on the current listed status of individual buildings please go to The National Heritage List for England.
ST5873SE BROAD STREET, Centre
901-1/11/538 (South East side)
(Formerly Listed as:
(North East side)
The Assize Court)
(Formerly Listed as:
Guildhall and assize courts, now courts. 1843-6. By RS Pope.
Statuary by Thomas of Bristol. Stained glass by Rogers of
Worcester. Assize Courts attached to the rear, 1867-70, by TS
Pope and J Bindon, reconstructed internally 1961. Squared
limestone ashlar, ashlar gable stacks and a slate roof.
Axial through passage and stairs, offices and courts either
side, and left-hand courtyard. Tudor Collegiate Gothic Revival
Guildhall of 3 storeys, attic and basement; 7-window range. An
ornate, symmetrical front has a moulded plinth, 2 bands over
the ground-floor windows with folded scrollwork, beneath one
with sunken panels with shields and Tudor roses, first- and
second-floor sill bands, cornice and a parapet with sunken
trefoil-headed panels separated by raised semicircular-arched
A central 4-storey square entrance tower has a cornice, raised
up to a central balustrade section as the parapet, with
diagonally-set square stacks on the corners; at each end is a
2-storey octagonal oriel turret with blind Perpendicular
Gothic panelling. Tudor-arched doorways to the middle and at
each end with splayed, panelled reveals, hoodmoulds and double
doors with strap hinges; the larger central one has square
ground-floor buttresses each side with octagonal upper
sections. Mullion windows have ogee trefoil heads, panel
tracery above, and moulded cills and surrounds with leaded
The tower has a 2-storey oriel bay on thick brackets, paired
corner colonnettes to round finials and a balustrade; a large
Tudor-arched cross window has 4 paired lights. The tower above
has a rectangular 3-light window with label mould and a band
above of scrollwork.
2-light ground-floor windows are separated by diagonally-set
square panels with shields; 2-light first-floor and 3-light
second-floor windows have paired panels between with shields.
The sections between the upper windows have shallow buttresses
flanking first-floor statues of Queen Victoria, Edward III,
Foster and Dunning, and Colston and Whitson in shallow statue
niches with hands above holding suspended shields.
The former Assizes' elevation to Small Street is an
asymmetrical 12-window range, 3:3:6 windows as the front with
red sandstone relieving arches to the upper floors. Plinth,
ground-floor band, and a blind parapet with octagonal
buttresses between panelled sections. The entrance tower has
1-window sections set back to each side. The left-hand section
has 3 steep gables behind the parapet, with a full-height
canted bay with cross windows at the left end; between are
paired Tudor-arched doorways set in a raised section with
sunken panels in a crenellated top, left-hand double doors,
right-hand blocked with a C20 window.
Tudor-arched main doorway as the front, beneath a first-floor
crenellated oriel with attached colonnettes to the corners;
the tower has a 3-light window and flanking statue niches with
canted canopies, and a pyramidal roof with 3 steep dormers
with sunken quatrefoils to each face. Right-hand section is
articulated by full-height attached colonnettes, with 4-light
windows between, beneath the string course on the ground
floor, and mullioned to the second floor. Right-hand carriage
arch as the front set in a single-storey coped wall with the
Royal Arms over the arch.
INTERIOR: courtrooms extensively modernised, with most
original decoration in the stair wells. Central hall leading
to an open-well stair with cantilevered stone treads and
wrought-iron barleysugar balusters with leaves, a first-floor
band of quatrefoils, rear Tudor-arched window with a statue,
and a Tudor-arched ceiling with moulded ribs on corbels;
similar statuary to central front rooms, with Tudor-arched
vaulting on 2nd floor with carved bosses, 3 statues to the
sides and front and panelled window reveals.
Court 6 has a fine relocated Jacobean-style fire surround
dated 1626 from a house on Welsh Back with paired Ionic
columns to an entablature, with carved frieze and acanthus
modillion cornice, and a top frieze with acroteria; Court No.1
has a 4-bay timber panelled roof with arch-braced ties,
3-light mullion and transom windows all along each side with
blind panels; jurors' assembly room with painted legal corbel
heads to a timber beams.
SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: pair of attached wrought-iron lamp
standards outside the main Small Street entrance with
barleysugar standards, scrolled brackets and globe lanterns
with crown decoration.
The Guildhall was the earliest Gothic town hall in England,
effectively incorporating decorative elements into the facade.
The Assizes were influenced by Godwin's Congleton Town Hall;
they incorporated a late Norman hall in the Law Library,
destroyed in the internal reconstruction of 1961.
The Small Street front is set back, with the returns of the
neighbouring buildings Nos 17 & 22 Small Street (qv) rebuilt
in random ashlar to match the Guildhall. A hall house of
c1100, altered C16, was incorporated into the Assizes design,
and destroyed 1961. Although separately built, the Guildhall
and former Assizes internally and functionally now one
(Crick C: Victorian Buildings in Bristol: Bristol: 1975-: 17,
50; Gomme A, Jenner M and Little B: Bristol, An Architectural
History: Bristol: 1979-: 299, 317; The Buildings of England:
Pevsner N: North Somerset and Bristol: London: 1958-: 414).