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The Wills Memorial Building, Bristol University | by ell brown
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The Wills Memorial Building, Bristol University

I saw the Clifton Suspension Bridge, and SS Great Britain (from the car) but was unable to get them from foot.


Instead I only got the Museum and University.


A red brick University in Bristol. It is next door to the Museum and Art Gallery


a memorial building part of Bristol Uni, in memory of Henry Overton Wills III designed by Sir George Oatley.


The University tower is a Grade II* listed building.


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 style. 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 canted bay. 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 openwork pendents. 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. Linenfold panelling. 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).


University Tower and Wills Memorial Building - Heritage Gateway

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Taken on March 26, 2009