Manor Hall, Bristol

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Manor Hall
Manor Crest.jpg
University University of Bristol
Location Lower Clifton Hill, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 4JA
Coordinates 51°27′16″N 2°36′43″W / 51.4545°N 2.6120°W / 51.4545; -2.6120
Motto Latin: estote ergo prudentes sicut serpentes et simplices sicut columbae
Motto in English "Be ye as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves" (Matthew 10:16)
Established 1932 (1932)
Architect Sir George Oatley
Status Student hall of residence
Warden Martin J. Crossley Evans
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. The majority of residents are first year undergraduate students, but a number of second and third year students choose to stay on to contribute to the hall life and community.


The Main Hall[edit]

Entrance to Manor Hall

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.

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 Arthur R. Skemp, the former Warden of Belgrave House, was the widow of the Professor of English who was killed during the Great War.

The gardens were laid out by Hiatt Cowells Baker in 1934 and are occasionally opened to the public.

The building is symmetrical, consisting of East facing and West facing sides, with a single corridor of student rooms occupying each floor. It houses around 150 students with library, computer room, bar, common room, music room and laundry.

In July 2012 the hall was closed for the most significant refurbishment in its history including upgrades to heating, kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms and communal areas. It reopened in September 2013. The official celebrations for the 80th Anniversary and Reopening will be held in Spring 2014.


In addition to the main hall, Manor Hall comprises a number of smaller annexes, located close to the main hall entrance. 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.

The building was erected close to the site of the medieval manor house burned by Prince Rupert’s men in 1643 during the siege of Bristol. Purchased by the Society of Merchant Venturers in the late 17th century the site remained ruinous for many years. In 1701 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". 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, and Professor John Beddoe FRS, 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, evacuated from Westbury while their buildings were used as a Red Cross Hospital during the Great War.

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, 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. He sponsored the explorer, John Cabot, who sailed from Bristol in 1497 and discovered Newfoundland, and is now believed 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 Mr Smith and his large family of maiden daughters, one of whom became one of the first women on the city council (1920) and one of the first female JPs. A noted horsewoman, the site of her stables is now occupied, in part, by Sinclair House.

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. 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. 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.

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 Rt. Hon. The Lady Sinclair of Cleeve, who was involved in the affairs of the University for many years and served on the hall committee of Manor Hall until her death. The house consists of twelve flats for five students each, and ten ground floor flats for overseas postgraduates and their families.

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. Mr P J L Allen, MA, the former Regional Director of the British Council and the current Chairman of the Manor Hall Committee, oversaw the construction of Sinclair House.

It was refurbished during the summer of 2013 in conjunction with the main building. Rumours arose that it may have also been due to cannabis being found growing in the Sinclair Garden.

Richmond Terrace[edit]

The newest of Manor Hall's annexes was originally a row of spacious town houses 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.


The current Warden of Manor Hall is Martin J. Crossley Evans MBE JP, who has held the position for 29 years (as of July 2013). He is the third longest serving Warden in the history of the University of Bristol and the current Head Warden within the university.

Former Wardens[edit]

  • 1932-1945 Jessie D. Skemp (1882-1961)
  • 1946-1956 Gladys M. Morgan (1894-1957)
  • 1956-1968 Marjorie Tait (1908-1972)
  • 1968-1970 Audrey N. M. Rich
  • 1970-1974 Talwinder Minhas
  • 1974-1984 Shelia B. Brennan (1922-2006)

Student life[edit]

All current residents are members of the Junior Common Room.

A Junior Common Room Committee is elected annually at the beginning of the Summer Term from among 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.

The Hall has several student societies established for its residents including the Junior Common Room Committee, Music and Drama (MAD) Society, Club Bar, Christian Union and the Charity Committee.

Annual traditions at Manor Hall include 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.

Music and Drama Society[edit]

The Manor Hall Amateur Dramatic (MAD) Society was formed in October 1933. Its first production was a nativity play, The 'Child in Flanders', by Cicely Hamilton, which was performed on 8 December 1933. 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 to help keep in contact with one another and the hall community. The Association is responsible for the organisation of the annual Summer Ball to celebrate the years graduands, in 2014 the Summer Ball will officially commemorate 80 years of the Hall being open as well.

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 on a red background. The late Sir John Wills, Bart. of Langford Court, Somerset, grandson of the Sir George Wills who purchased Manor House for the University, kindly 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.

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.

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).

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 Herbert Isambard Owen, the Vice Chancellor from 1909 to 1921, took the shade from a band of limestone in the Avon Gorge.

Notable alumni[edit]


External links[edit]