Manor Hall, Bristol

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Manor Hall
Manor crest.png
University University of Bristol
Location Clifton, Bristol, England
Coordinates 51°27′16″N 2°36′43″W / 51.4545°N 2.6120°W / 51.4545; -2.6120
Motto Estote ergo prudentes sicut serpentes et simplices sicut columbae
Motto in English Be ye as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves
Established 1932 (1932)
Architect Sir George Oatley
Status Student hall of residence
Warden Dr Martin Crossley Evans, MBE, JP
Residents 350
Website Manor Hall Official Website
Manor Hall, Bristol is located in Bristol
Manor Hall, Bristol
Location within Bristol

Manor Hall is a student hall of residence at the University of Bristol.[1] Situated in the Georgian/Victorian suburb of Clifton, Bristol, it provides self-catering accommodation for around 340 residents, both in the main hall itself and also in a number of nearby surrounding annexes.[2][3] The majority of residents are first year undergraduate students, but a number of 'returners' choose to stay on to contribute to the hall's life and community in subsequent years of study.[4][5]

The Main Hall[edit]

Entrance to Manor Hall viewed from Tottenham Place
A view of the front of Manor Hall taken from within its gardens

The main hall was erected between 1927 and 1932 as a women's hall of residence in the grounds of its present annex Manor House, from which the Hall takes its name.[6]

The hall owes its existence to the generosity of the late Henry Herbert Wills and was designed by the leading neo-classical architect Sir George Oatley, who also designed the Wills Memorial Building and Wills Hall; both of which also belong to the University.

When the hall opened in 1932 a number of smaller residences for women: Belgrave House, Elton House, Heathside and Royal Park, were closed and their residents moved to the new building. The first warden, Mrs Jessie D. Skemp, the former Warden of Belgrave House, was the widow of the Professor of English who was killed during the Great War.[7]

The gardens were laid out by Hiatt Cowells Baker in 1934 and are occasionally opened to the public.[7] The building is symmetrical, consisting of East and West facing sides, with a single corridor of student rooms occupying each floor. It houses around 140 students and includes a library, computer room, bar, common room, music room and laundry facilities.[2]

In July 2012 the hall was closed for the most significant refurbishment in its history including upgrades to the heating system, kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms and communal areas.[8] It reopened in September 2013 with the official celebrations being held on 7 June 2014.[9]


In addition to the main hall, Manor Hall comprises a number of smaller annexes located within its grounds and on nearby streets. These buildings, as with the main hall, have a very rich history; with the oldest dating back as far as 18th century.

Manor House[edit]

This annex came to the University in 1919, again through the generosity of the Wills family, and was furnished partly from funds raised by concerts given by the famous Bristol contralto Dame Clara Butt.[7]

The building was erected close to the site of the medieval manor house burned by Prince Rupert’s men in 1643 during the Storming of Bristol. Purchased by the Society of Merchant Venturers in the late 17th century the site remained ruinous for many years. On 17 September 1700 the Society mandated that "a lease for five lives was granted to Whitchurch Phippen of the site or ruins of the Great House at Clifton heretofore burnt down, and since called the Old Castle, late in the holding of Mary Hodges".[10] The new manor house was built in the early 18th century and extensively altered and extended in the mid-18th and 19th centuries.

In the 19th century it was successively the home of the notable scientists Dr William Budd FRS, who discovered the origins of typhoid,[11] and Professor John Beddoe FRS,[12] the social anthropologist who wrote The Races of Man. In the 1890s the house became a school preparing young gentlemen for colonial civil service examinations and for the army and navy. The school closed in 1915 and the house became the home of The Red Maids' School, which was evacuated from Westbury while their buildings were used as a Red Cross Hospital during the Great War.[7]

Manor House was extensively refurbished by the University in the summers of 1997 and 1998, and officially reopened in April 1999.

Richmond House[edit]

Sinclair House

Richmond House is one of the oldest houses in Clifton having been built between 1701-1703 on the site of the medieval manor house burned during the Civil War, which had once been the home of Richard Amerike. The building is an English Heritage Grade II listed building.[13] Amerike sponsored the explorer John Cabot, who sailed from Bristol in 1497 and discovered Newfoundland and is now believed by some scholars to have given his patronymic to name the continent of America.

In the 1790s the house was used as a boarding school for young gentlemen run by a Mr William Sewell. From the 1860s until the 1940s the house was the home of the Revd Sydney Smith and his large family of maiden daughters, one of whom became one of the first women on the city council in 1920 and one of the first female Justices of the Peace. A noted horsewoman, the site of her former stables is now occupied, in part, by Sinclair House.[7]

A popular piece of trivia amongst residents is the fact that the house once contained the oldest working flushing toilet in Bristol. Due to an incident in December 2008, the ancient toilet was damaged and a modern toilet was installed in early 2009.

2, 3 and 4 Tottenham Place[edit]

2, 3 and 4 Tottenham Place were built on Honeypen Hill in the 1830s as private residences; overlooking a former quarry and the overflow to Old Clifton Churchyard.[7] The latter is known as the Strangers' Burying Ground from the number of people who travelled to Clifton and Hotwells for their health in the late 18th and early 19th centuries and died while taking the waters.[6] The Churchyard was disused after 1875 and, until recently, was the home of a family of urban foxes.

The houses were named after a local resident, Ponsonby Tottenham, a relative of the then Marquess of Ely. The houses came into the University’s possession in the 1940s and 1950s.[7]

Sinclair House[edit]

Sinclair House was built partly on the site of Holland Cottage which were destroyed during the German air raids of November 1940. Opened in 1978, the house is named after the The Lady Sinclair of Cleeve, who was involved in the affairs of the University for many years and served on the hall advisory committee of Manor Hall until her death. The building consists of twelve flats, each housing five students, and ten ground floor flats for overseas postgraduate students and their families.[6]

The British Council contributed to the project on the understanding that preference would be given to students from the Commonwealth, or to those on British Council Scholarships.[7]

It was refurbished during the summer of 2013 in conjunction with the main building.

Richmond Terrace[edit]

The newest of Manor Hall's annexes was originally a row of spacious townhouses constructed in the 1780s as part of the building boom of Clifton in between wars with France. 30-35 Richmond Terrace was a hotel prior before being acquired by the University in 2006. The building underwent a major refurbishment and it now provides self-catered en suite accommodation for 92 students. It was previously managed by University Student Houses and became a Manor Hall annexe in 2012.[14]


The current Warden of Manor Hall is Martin J. Crossley Evans MBE JP, who has held the position since 1984.[15] He is the third longest serving Warden in the history of the University of Bristol[15] and the current Head Warden within the University.

Former Wardens[edit]

  • 1932-1945: Jessie D. Skemp (1882-1961)[15]
  • 1946-1956: Gladys M. Morgan (1894-1957)[15]
  • 1956-1968: Marjorie Tait (1908-1972)[15]
  • 1968-1974: Audrey N. M. Rich [15]
  • 1974-1984: Sheila B. Brennan (1922-2006)[15]

Student life[edit]

All current undergraduate residents are members of the hall's Junior Common Room.[16]

A Junior Common Room Committee is elected annually at the beginning of the Summer Term from amongst the residents and is responsible for organising many of the social and recreational activities in the hall, including the Freshers’ Welcome at the start of the academic year, sporting activities, hall 'formals' (dinner followed by various entertainments), and the annual garden party.[16]

In addition to the Junior Common Room the hall has several student societies established exclusively for its residents including a Music and Drama Society, Club Bar, Christian Union and Charity Committee, the latter being involve in year round fundraising activities for a number of charities to which the hall has a close association.[17]

Annual traditions at Manor Hall includes the running of two musical/dramatic productions a year, three formal dinners, and a garden party to celebrate the end of the academic year in addition to other events that are ran throughout the year.

Music and Drama Society[edit]

The Manor Hall Amateur Dramatics Society, known as 'MAD', was formed in October 1933.[18][19] Its first production was a nativity play, The Child in Flanders, by Cicely Hamilton, which was performed on 8 December 1933.[19] Recent productions include Mostellaria, And Then There Were None, Road, The Crucible and The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole.

Manor Hall Association[edit]

Students who have lived in the hall for one academic term are entitled to join the Manor Hall Association, which acts at the hall's alumni network,[20] to help keep in contact with one another and the hall community. The Association is responsible for the organisation of the annual Summer Ball, usually held to celebrate the achievements of that years graduands, in 2014 the Summer Ball also served as the official celebrations for the hall's 80th anniversary[9] (two years after the fact due to the refurbishment works taking place in the main building during the 2012/13 session of the University). In addition to this the occasion marked the 30th anniversary of the current Warden, Martin Crossley Evans, who is currently the second longest serving warden in the University's history. At this event he was presented with a pocket watch inscribed with the Hall's motto on behalf of the alumni.[21]

The Association itself has a long history, and in fact predates Manor Hall being originally formed in 1925 as the ‘Elton House Old Students’ Association’ by Winifred Armstead.[22] In 1932, when the ladies from Elton House relocated to the newly built Manor Hall, the Association was renamed accordingly. The Association is run by a committee of volunteers and was wound up pro tem in 2005 due to incumbent committee growing too old to continue its work. The then chairman of the Association wrote to the chairman of the Wills Hall Association who agreed to allow members of the Manor Hall Association to join with Wills Hall until such a time as new officers could be found to continue its work.

In 2007 a number of final year students who had served on the Hall's Junior Common Room committee during their residency in the Hall learned of the abeyance of the Hall's Old Students' Association and the decision was taken that its work should continue and that alumni of the Hall should have an effective mechanism to keep in touch with not only Manor Hall but also each other. To this end the Association was brought out of abeyance in December 2007 with Christopher Didcote acting as its first Chairman.[22]

The Association has changed much since its original formation and now plays a prominent role in the day-to-day life of the Hall. With all current residents now forming part of its membership.[20] Today the Association's committee is elected annual at its AGM.

The Elton House Award[edit]

Each year the Association presents up to two of its members with the Elton House Award for outstanding contribution to the Manor Hall Community. The award itself was established in 2008 to not only mark the recent reformation of the Association but as a way of recognising the often considerable time and effort select individuals invest into the life of Manor Hall. The name is taken from Elton House, one of the student hostels that Manor Hall was built to replace in 1932 and from where the predecessor of the Manor Hall Association took its name.[23]

Whilst any member of the Association is eligible to receive the award if has nearly exclusively been the case that it is presented to an undergraduate student of the University who is a current resident of the Hall.[23] The criteria for selection are broad with no explicit outline for what a candidate's contribution has to involve; simply that it must, in the opinion of their peers, have made a demonstrable positive impact on life within the Hall. Nominations are usually opened in the Summer term and any member is able to nominate. A special awards committee is then formed representing members of the Association and the Hall's Junior and Senior Common Rooms who will consider the nominations and ultimately decide who should win the award by a secret ballot. Although two presentations can be made in any one year it is often the case that only one individual wins.

Winners of the award receive, amongst other things, three year's honorary membership of the Association, a certificate and an Elton House Award pin. The presentation usually takes place during the Association's Summer Ball.

The MHA Fund[edit]

In 2012 it was decided that the Association would set up a charitable fund for the use of Manor Hall and its residents. The aim of this fund is to provide financial support to either the Hall or any of its student run committees.[24] The fund is operated on an application basis by where the Association will review legitimate applications for finance from those currently involved in the life of the Hall for the acquisition of assets that will provide some tangible benefit to the Hall and future generations of students who reside there. Fundraising activities are conducted throughout the year, usually in the form of prize raffles at hall events.[24]

Crest, motto and tie[edit]

The hall crest is divided into two halves. The upper half is described heraldically as "gules, a sun in splendour"; or a golden sun. The late Sir John Wills, Bart. of Langford Court, Somerset, grandson of the Sir George Wills who purchased Manor House for the University, gave his permission for this motif to be taken from his family's coat of arms and used as part of the badge of the hall. The University also took the "sun in splendour" from the coat of arms of the Wills family when it was granted its coat of arms in 1909.[25]

The lower half is a serpent, "nowed" or coiled. This is a grass snake, and comes from the crest of the Wolstenholme family of Neston. Co. Chester, and Liverpool. The serpent is traditionally a symbol of education, wisdom, healing and learning.[25]

The hall motto comes from Matthew 10:16, "Estote ergo prudentes sicut serpentes, et simplices sicut columbae", (be as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves).[26]

The hall tie has the golden sun of the Wills family placed on a red background. The red is the shade known as Bristol or "Bristowe" red, chosen by the founders of the University for the hoods of all Bristol graduates. "Bristowe Red" is supposed to recall the famous dye used in Mediaeval Bristol, but in fact Sir Isambard Owen, the Vice Chancellor from 1909 to 1921, took the shade from a band of limestone in the Avon Gorge.[25]

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ "University of Bristol: Manor Hall". Welcome to Manor Hall. Retrieved 6 February 2015. 
  2. ^ a b "University of Bristol Accommodation Office". Manor Hall. Retrieved 6 February 2015. 
  3. ^ "University of Bristol Accommodation Office". Richmond Terrace. Retrieved 6 February 2015. 
  4. ^ "University of Bristol Accommodation Office". Returning to University Residences. Retrieved 6 February 2015. 
  5. ^ "University of Bristol: Manor Hall". Returner Accommodation. Retrieved 6 February 2015. 
  6. ^ a b c "Bristol University: Manor Hall". History of Manor. Retrieved 6 February 2015. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h Manor Hall: Guide (PDF). University of Bristol. 2014. pp. 20–21. Retrieved 6 February 2015. 
  8. ^ "Manor Hall Association". Refurbishment Update. Retrieved 6 February 2015. 
  9. ^ a b "Manor Hall Association". Summer Ball 2014. Retrieved 6 February 2015. 
  10. ^ Latimer, John (1903). The History of the Society of Merchant Venturers of the City of Bristol With some Account of the Anterior Merchants' Guild. J W Arrowsmith. pp. 168–. Retrieved 6 February 2015. 
  11. ^ "Clifton RFC History". Arthur Budd. Retrieved 6 February 2015. 
  12. ^ Transactions - Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society (Volume 13). C T Jefferies and sons. 1889. pp. 43–. Retrieved 6 February 2015. 
  13. ^ The National Heritage List for England. English Heritage. 2015. Retrieved 6 February 2015. 
  14. ^ "Manor Hall Association". Manor Hall Welcomes Richmond Terrace. Retrieved 6 February 2015. 
  15. ^ a b c d e f g "Manor Hall Association". Wardens of Manor Hall. Retrieved 6 February 2015. 
  16. ^ a b "University of Bristol: Manor Hall". Junior Common Room. Retrieved 6 February 2015. 
  17. ^ Manor Hall: Guide (PDF). University of Bristol. 2014. pp. 18–19. Retrieved 6 February 2015. 
  18. ^ "University of Bristol: Manor Hall". Music and Drama. Retrieved 6 February 2015. 
  19. ^ a b Manor Hall: Guide (PDF). University of Bristol. 2014. p. 21. Retrieved 6 February 2015. 
  20. ^ a b "Manor Hall Association". Constitution of the Manor Hall Association. Retrieved 6 February 2015. 
  21. ^ "Manor Hall Association". Oration for the Warden's 30th Anniversary. Retrieved 6 February 2015. 
  22. ^ a b "Manor Hall Association". About the Association. Retrieved 6 February 2015. 
  23. ^ a b "Manor Hall Association". The Elton House Award. Retrieved 6 February 2015. 
  24. ^ a b "Manor Hall Association". The MHA Fund. Retrieved 6 February 2015. 
  25. ^ a b c Manor Hall: Guide (PDF). University of Bristol. 2014. p. 22. Retrieved 6 February 2015. 
  26. ^ "King James Bible". Matthew 10. Retrieved 6 February 2015. 
  27. ^ "University of Bristol Public and Ceremonial Events Office". Jennifer Lucy Bate. Retrieved 6 February 2015. 
  28. ^ "University of Bristol Public and Ceremonial Events Office". Professor Carol Black. Retrieved 6 February 2015. 
  29. ^ a b "University of Bristol News". University hall of residence celebrates its 75th year. Retrieved 6 February 2015. 
  30. ^ a b "University of Bristol Public and Ceremonial Events Office". Emily Watson. Retrieved 6 February 2015. 
  31. ^ "University of Bristol Department of Theatre". About the Department of Theatre. Retrieved 6 February 2015. 

External links[edit]