Queen Square, Bristol

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Queen Square, Bristol
An equestrian statue stands at the centre of a grass-covered square, with several paths leading towards the centre from the corners and sides in a star-shape. People sit on benches or walk on the paths.
The centre of Queen Square, seen from the south-west corner
Location of Queen Square in Central Bristol
Location of Queen Square in Central Bristol
Queen Square
Central Bristol
LocationBristol
OS gridST591722
Coordinates51°27′02″N 2°35′42″W / 51.4505°N 2.595°W / 51.4505; -2.595Coordinates: 51°27′02″N 2°35′42″W / 51.4505°N 2.595°W / 51.4505; -2.595
Area2.4 hectares (5.9 acres)
Created1699
Operated byBristol City Council

Queen Square is a 2.4 hectares (5.9 acres) Georgian square in the centre of Bristol, England.[1] Following the destruction of the 1831 riot, Queen Square declined through the latter part of the 19th century, was threatened by a planned main line railway station, and then bisected by a dual carriageway in the 1930s. By 1991 20,000 vehicles including scheduled buses were crossing the square every day, and over 30% of the buildings around it were vacant.[2]

In 1999, a successful bid for National Lottery funding allowed Queen Square to be restored to its approximate 1817 layout. The buses were diverted, the dual carriageway was removed, forecourts and railings were restored, and Queen Square re-emerged as a magnificent public space surrounded by high quality commercial accommodation.[2][3]

History[edit]

The site of Queen Square was once part of a large area of marsh land which Robert Fitzhardinge, founder of the abbey which is now Bristol Cathedral, included in its endowments. When the marsh was cut in two by the digging of St Augustine's Reach in the 13th century, the Abbot gave the eastern portion (which became the Town Marsh) to Bristol, and retained the western portion (which became Canon's Marsh).[4] The Town Marsh lay outside a fortified wall which was built to the north of the current line of King Street; new building took place to the north of this wall on land made available by blocking the old course of the River Frome.[5] The Town Marsh became an important open recreation area, with bear-baiting and a bull ring,[4] and was also a used to practice weaponry, play bowls, hang pirates, store gunpowder, and dump rubbish.[6] By the 1660s buildings were appearing on King Street and Prince Street.[7]

In 1699 Bristol's Council had debts of £16,000 which they could barely service: a new source of income was required. Town Clerk John Romsey, together with his business crony, Mayor John Batchelor, proposed to address this problem by selling off building plots on the marsh at an annual ground rent of one shilling (£0.05) per 1 foot (0.30 m) of frontage.[8] There was a rush to take out leases, sometimes on more than one property, which the Sheriff and three subsequent mayors all joined. The leases stipulated that the buildings must be of three stories of set heights, and of brick - an unusual material for Bristol at that time, possibly chosen because Romsey had a friend who owned a brick kiln.[8]

The square was named in honour of Queen Anne, who visited Bristol in 1702, and it became the home of the merchant elite. It was conveniently placed for both arms of the harbour, but its low-lying position surrounded on three sides by a tidal river had disadvantages too: an 'assemblage of nastiness' floated in the river, and when the tide failed to carry this away it offended the eyes and nostrils of those living in the square. This was one of the factors which ultimately led the wealthy to the move up the hill to Clifton.[9]

Privateer Woodes Rogers lived on the west side of the square; a plaque commemorates this on the building that now occupies the site of his former home. Rogers circumnavigated the globe in 1707-1711, rescuing Alexander Selkirk (the inspiration for Dafoe's Robinson Crusoe) from Juan Fernández Island during his voyage.[10]

William Miles (1728–1803), Sheriff of Bristol in 1766, Mayor of Bristol in 1780 and Warden of the Merchant Venturers, lived at number 61 (now renumbered as 69/70/71) and the house became the offices of his family's extensive business interests.[11][12][13]

The first overseas US Consulate was established at what is now No.37 Queen Square in 1792.[14][15]

1831 Riot[edit]

In 1831 Queen Square was the focus of a riot, in which half the buildings in the square were destroyed.[16] The trigger for this was the arrival in Bristol of Recorder Sir Charles Wetherell, who misjudged Bristolians' support for some of his earlier positions to mean that they agreed with his opposition to the Reform Bill.[17] Wetherell arrived in Bristol on 29 October 1831 and was received by a mob who jeered and threw stones at him. At the Guildhall, he inflamed the situation by threatening to imprison any member of the mob who could be identified; they followed him to the Mansion House in Queen Square from which he was able to escape in disguise.[18]

The Mayor and Corporation, who actually supported reform, remained trapped in the Mansion House.[18] Their appeals for help fell on deaf ears; Bristolians despised the Corporation and were not inclined to defend them. To make things worse, as soon as the dignitaries were inside the Mansion House the Special Constables who had been defending them set about getting their own back on the crowd, reviving the disturbance.[19] There followed three days of rioting, looting and arson, fuelled by plentiful supplies of alcohol from the well-stocked cellars of residents, which were finally brought to a halt when Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Brereton of the 14th Dragoons led a charge with drawn swords through the mob. Hundreds were killed and wounded and the mob dispersed. Brereton was later court-martialled for leniency because he had initially refused to open fire on the crowds, but shot himself before the conclusion of his trial.[20][21]

About 100 people involved were tried in January 1832 by Chief Justice Tindal.[22] Four men were hanged, despite a petition of 10,000 Bristolian signatures which was given to King William IV.[20]

Decline[edit]

Gentlemen, there is no "architecture" in this square and you know it.

— Bristol Councillor, arguing in favour of building the Inner Circuit Road through Queen Square, 1930s[23]

The north and west sides of Queen Square were quickly rebuilt after the riots of 1831, but prosperous Bristolians took to the hills and moved to the 'Tory redoubt' of Clifton.[16]

In the early 1860s, when the Bristol and Clifton Railway Company proposed to build Bristol Central railway station in Queen Square, there was no objection on conservation grounds and the scheme received general approval, supported by the Great Western Railway and backed by many of the city's business leaders. Ultimately concerns that it would 'divert the commerce of the city', which is to say take trade away from various industries in the docks, led to the scheme's demise.[24] However in 1937 Bristol Corporation approved the construction of a dual carriageway road diagonally across the square, from the north-west to the south-east corner, destroying its peace and tranquillity. This formed part of the Inner Circuit Road, connecting Redcliffe Way with The Centre, and involved the demolition of property in both corners of the Square and the re-alignment of the Rysbrack statue.[25]

Restoration[edit]

By 1966 the Corporation were looking at the possibility of reducing the flow of traffic through the square by changing the route of the Inner Circuit Road to pass along The Grove and thence across the mouth of St Augustine's Reach. They even considered it possible that the road across Queen Square might eventually be closed if circumstances permitted.[26] By the 1980s it was recognised that the dual carriageway was a "massive intrusion" on the amenity of the Square, and plans were made to "put things right".[27]

In 1992 the dual carriageway was closed to through traffic for an initial six-month trial period.[28] It never reopened. Buses continued to pass around the Square, however, until they were eventually diverted via The Grove and Prince Street.

The square has now been restored to a very high standard. The railings and forecourts of the surrounding buildings have been reinstated, and the central open space with its promenades and equestrian statue restored to their former grandeur. The restoration is recognised as a major success.[1][2]

Queen Square today[edit]

Queen Square is now a popular place for visitors and office workers to relax, and receives an estimated 1.6 million visitors per year. It regularly hosts outdoor theatre and cinema, music concerts, business exhibitions and other major events, and an annual petanque league run by the Queen Square Association.[1][29]

Sites of interest[edit]

Listed buildings[edit]

The majority of buildings on Queen Square are listed. Some, like the central statue, are of outstanding value in their own right; others such as No.12 are included mainly for their group value:

Number Grade Year listed Description
I 1959 Equestrian statue of William III, Queen Square[30]
Custom House II* 1977 (amended 1994) Custom House and attached rear area wall and piers, Queen Square[31]
1 to 9 II* 1959 1-9, Queen Square[32]
10 and 12 II 1959 (amended 1994) 38, Welsh Back, 10 and 12, Queen Square[40]
17 and 18 II 1959 17 and 18, Queen Square[41]
18-21 II 1977 (amended 1994) Queen Square House and attached front area walls and piers[42]
22, 23 and 24 II 1959 22, 23 and 24, Queen Square[43]
27 and 28 II* 1959 (amended 1994) 27 and 28, Queen Square[33]
29 II* 1959 (amended 1994) 29, Queen Square[34]
36, 37 and 38 II* 1959 (amended 1994) 36, 37 and 38 Queen Square[44]
46 and 47 II 1959 (amended 1994) Numbers 46 and 47 and attached railings and piers[45]
48 II 1959 (amended 1994) Number 48 and attached railings and piers[46]
49 and 50 II 1959 (amended 1994) 49 and 50, Queen Square[47]
51 II 1959 (amended 1994) Phoenix House and attached railings and piers[35]
52 and 53 II 1959 (amended 1994) 52 and 53, Queen Square[48]
54 II 1959 (amended 1994) Number 54 and attached railings and piers[49]
55 II 1959 55, Queen Square[50]
56 II 1959 56, Queen Square[36]
57 II 1959 (amended 1994) 57, Queen Square[37]
58 II 1959 (amended 1994) 58, Queen Square[38]
59 to 62 II 1959 (amended 1994) Numbers 59 to 62 and attached railings and piers[39]
69 to 72 II 1959 69-72, Queen Square[51]
73 II 1959 (amended 1994) Number 73 and attached front area railings[52]

Queen Square uses a clockwise-consecutive house numbering system, with No.1 near the middle of its north side.

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

Citations

  1. ^ a b c "Queen Square". Green Flag Award. Archived from the original on 5 January 2010. Retrieved 11 February 2011.
  2. ^ a b c "Queen Square Regeneration". The Landscape Institution. Archived from the original on 30 March 2018. Retrieved 29 March 2018.
  3. ^ "Queen Square-Bristol". The Academy of Urbanism. Retrieved 2018-05-23.
  4. ^ a b Wells 1975, p. 135.
  5. ^ Hughes, Root & Heath 1996, p. 9.
  6. ^ Hughes, Root & Heath 1996, p. 9-10, 12.
  7. ^ Hughes, Root & Heath 1996, p. 13-14.
  8. ^ a b Mowl 1991, p. 10-11.
  9. ^ Little 1991, p. 48.
  10. ^ "Woodes Rogers blue plaque in Bristol". Blue Plaques. Archived from the original on 21 August 2016. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 14 March 2012. Retrieved 25 August 2009.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 12 August 2009. Retrieved 25 August 2009.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 18 March 2012. Retrieved 25 August 2009.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ "The American Consulate". Architecture Centre, Bristol. 2008. Retrieved 2018-06-07.
  15. ^ Hughes, Root & Heath 1996, p. 31.
  16. ^ a b Mowl 1991, p. 159.
  17. ^ Robinson 1987, p. 76-78.
  18. ^ a b "The Bristol 1832 Reform Bill riots". The Victorian Web. Archived from the original on 8 February 2007. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  19. ^ Robinson 1987, p. 79.
  20. ^ a b "Revolting riots in Queen Square". BBC Bristol. Archived from the original on 22 April 2009. Retrieved 7 March 2007.
  21. ^ Robinson 1987, p. 98-99.
  22. ^ Trials of the persons concerned in the late riots. Broadmead, Bristol: Philip Rose. 1832.
  23. ^ Foyle 2004, p. 162.
  24. ^ Byrne 2013, p. 38.
  25. ^ Eveleigh 1998, p. 48-49.
  26. ^ City centre policy report and map 1966. City and County of Bristol. City of Bristol Printing and Stationery Department. 1966.
  27. ^ The City Centre Draft Local Plan, Avon County Council and Bristol City Council, February 1990
  28. ^ Queen Square Experimental Closure to Through Traffic, leaflet, Avon County Council and Bristol City Council, 1992
  29. ^ "Queen Square". Visit Bristol. Archived from the original on 21 May 2018. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  30. ^ a b Historic England. "Equestrian statue of William III, Queen Square (1218127)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
  31. ^ a b Historic England. "Custom House and attached rear area wall and piers, Queen Square (1282153)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
  32. ^ a b Historic England. "1-9, Queen Square (1217926)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
  33. ^ a b Historic England. "27 and 28, Queen Square (1282151)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
  34. ^ a b Historic England. "29, Queen Square (1202467)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
  35. ^ a b Historic England. "Phoenix House and attached railings and piers (1202472)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
  36. ^ a b Historic England. "56, Queen Square (1282152)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
  37. ^ a b Historic England. "57, Queen Square (1218091)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
  38. ^ a b Historic England. "58, Queen Square (1202474)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
  39. ^ a b Historic England. "Numbers 59 to 62 and attached railings and piers (1218102)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
  40. ^ Historic England. "38, Welsh Back, 10 and 12, Queen Square (1282150)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
  41. ^ Historic England. "17 and 18, Queen Square (1217966)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
  42. ^ Historic England. "Queen Square House and attached front area walls and piers (1202465)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
  43. ^ Historic England. "22, 23 and 24, Queen Square (1202466)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
  44. ^ Historic England. "36, 37 and 38 Queen Square (1202468)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
  45. ^ Historic England. "Numbers 46 and 47 and attached railings and piers (1202469)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
  46. ^ Historic England. "Number 48 and attached railings and piers (1202470)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
  47. ^ Historic England. "49 and 50, Queen Square (1282151)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
  48. ^ Historic England. "52 and 53, Queen Square (1218080)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
  49. ^ Historic England. "Number 54 and attached railings and piers (1202473)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
  50. ^ Historic England. "55, Queen Square (1218086)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
  51. ^ Historic England. "69-72, Queen Square (1202475)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
  52. ^ Historic England. "Number 73 and attached front area railings (1218119)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2018-05-01.

Sources

  • Foyle, Andrew (2004). Pevsner Architectural Guides-Bristol. Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-10442-1.
  • Wells, Charles (1975). "13 Queen Square". Bristol's History Volume 2. Reece Winstone. ISBN 0 900814 47 0.
  • Mowl, Timothy (1991). To Build the Second City-Architects and Craftsmen of Georgian Bristol. Redcliffe Press. ISBN 1 872971 26 1.
  • Robinson, Derek (1987). A shocking history of Bristol. Abson Books. ISBN 0 902920 12 X.
  • Byrne, Eugene (2013). Unbuilt Bristol - The city that might have been 1750-2050. Redcliffe Press. ISBN 978-1-908326-27-0.
  • Little, Bryan (1991). The Story of Bristol-From the Middle Ages to Today. Redcliffe Press. ISBN 1 872971 40 7.
  • Eveleigh, David J (1998). "Chapter Three - The City Centre". Britain in Old Photographs - Bristol 1920-1969. Sutton. ISBN 9780750919074.
  • Hughes, Pat; Root, Jane; Heath, Christopher (1996). The History and Development of Queen Square (PDF). Bristol City Council.