© Ms Ruth Povey
UNIVERSITY TOWER AND WILLS MEMORIAL BUILDING AND ATTACHED FRONT WALLS AND LAMPS, QUEEN'S ROAD (north east side)
BRISTOL, BRISTOL, BRISTOL
Ms Ruth Povey
30 June 2001
01 November 1966
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 QUEEN'S ROAD
901-1/10/230 (North East side)
01/11/66 University Tower and Wills Memorial
Building and attached front walls
(Formerly Listed as:
University Refectory and Dining Room)
University building. 1914-25. By Sir George Oatley. Extended
c1950 by Ralph Bretnall. Limestone ashlar with ashlar cross
axial stacks and slate roofs.
Tower, 3 sided quadrangle to the right, left-hand block, and
rear hall; double-depth plan. Perpendicular Gothic Revival
Plinth, windows with Perpendicular panel tracery, cornices
with grotesques and stepped crenellated parapets. Very large
2-stage square tower and octagonal belfry has massive clasping
buttresses with ashlar corners; central doorway has a splayed
Tudor arch with octagonal buttresses, a frieze above with 9
carved figures in niches, and half-glazed traceried 2-leaf
doors. Large 2-centred arched window above has 3 transoms and
2 king mullions, to blind traceried panels with pairs of
painted shields. Second stage has a Tudor arch between the
buttresses beneath a panelled wall, over 3 ogee-headed windows
separated by pinnacle buttresses. Octagonal tops to the
buttresses with corner pinnacles and swept caps. Belfry has
tripartite windows to each side, flanking ones blind, and
panel tracery above.
To the left is a single-storey screen with parapet, 4 bays
with mullion windows, and a canted left-of-centre bay with a
Tudor-arched door; behind is a 2 storey symmetrical block with
a tall canted bay, and Tudor-arched window above set back
between wide ashlar buttresses.
The quadrangle has a rear 3 storey, 7-bay range, with
buttresses between full-height Tudor-arched 4-light windows,
and a central 3-window canted bay with 3-light windows, all
with Tudor-arched heads, and ogee-headed upper ones. To the
right is a squat square 3-bay tower with octagonal clasping
turrets, and a forward projecting 5-bay wing with similar
windows to the rear of the quad, a gabled end elevation with
large clasping octagonal turrets and a central full-height
To the right set back is a mid C20 extension in a similar
style. The Great Hall to the rear has 6 bays separated by
flying buttresses, and aisles with shallow segmental-arched
5-light mullion windows between the buttresses to a parapet.
To rear of E courtyard projects the Council Room, polygonal
with 9 bays divided by buttresses, 3-light windows with panel
tracery, the inner windows blind.
INTERIOR: a fine and consistent late Gothic style interior
with good blind-tracery stone panelling, joinery and
plasterwork. A very large 3-bay entrance hall has panelled
tracery walls and fan vaulting; in the belfry is Britain's 4th
largest bell 'Great George'. A long stair to each side of the
hall rises to three 2-centre arches below an enriched wall
divided into 3 by buttresses, and a 7-bay cross passage with
fan vaulting, and Tudor-arched doors to the Great Hall. This
has 6 bays with large trilobate stone arches at each end, to a
5-bay N apse containing the organ, and a S balcony on timber
fan vaults. Linenfold panelling all round. Hammer beam roof on
large corbels, tracery panels over the bracing and large
In the left-hand block is the Reception Room, 3 fully-panelled
bays with elliptical arches at each end, 2 Tudor-arched
fireplaces, and panelled plaster ceiling with pendents.
Council Room has attached piers to a vaulted roof with
intersecting ribs, forming a 14-sided ceiling light with
tracery glazing bars. The inner wall has a wide segmental arch
over 5 blind windows with tracery panels and shields.
SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: attached dwarf walls extend approx 20m W
and 40m E of the tower, with 4 tall cast-iron lamps.
HISTORICAL NOTE: The university started as the College of
Science and Literature in 1876 and received its charter in
1909. The tower is "up to the boldest Gothic displays of Yale"
(Pevsner), and "...a masterpiece, monumental in scale and the
dominating landmark of the city." (Crick) The Great Hall was
gutted in the Second World War, and subsequently rebuilt.
(Gomme A, Jenner M and Little B: Bristol, An Architectural
History: Bristol: 1979-: 323; Crick C: Victorian Buildings in
Bristol: Bristol: 1975-: 70; The Buildings of England: Pevsner
N: North Somerset and Bristol: London: 1958-: 417).