Guildhall / The Assize Court / The Guildhall

23 May 2006
Guildhall, Small Street, Bristol, BS1 2HN
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The Assize Court, Small Street, Bristol, BS1 2HN
The Guildhall, Broad Street, Bristol, BS1 2HN
Guildhall, Broad Street, Bristol, BS1 2HN
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This information is taken from the statutory List as it was in 2001 and may not be up to date.


ST5873SE BROAD STREET, Centre 901-1/11/538 (South East side) 04/03/77 Guildhall (Formerly Listed as: SMALL STREET (North East side) The Assize Court) (Formerly Listed as: BROAD STREET (South side) The Guildhall)


Guildhall and assize courts, now courts. 1843-6. By RS Pope. Statuary by Thomas of Bristol. Stained glass by Rogers of Worcester. Assize Courts attached to the rear, 1867-70, by TS Pope and J Bindon, reconstructed internally 1961. Squared limestone ashlar, ashlar gable stacks and a slate roof. Axial through passage and stairs, offices and courts either side, and left-hand courtyard. Tudor Collegiate Gothic Revival style. Guildhall of 3 storeys, attic and basement; 7-window range. An ornate, symmetrical front has a moulded plinth, 2 bands over the ground-floor windows with folded scrollwork, beneath one with sunken panels with shields and Tudor roses, first- and second-floor sill bands, cornice and a parapet with sunken trefoil-headed panels separated by raised semicircular-arched sections. A central 4-storey square entrance tower has a cornice, raised up to a central balustrade section as the parapet, with diagonally-set square stacks on the corners; at each end is a 2-storey octagonal oriel turret with blind Perpendicular Gothic panelling. Tudor-arched doorways to the middle and at each end with splayed, panelled reveals, hoodmoulds and double doors with strap hinges; the larger central one has square ground-floor buttresses each side with octagonal upper sections. Mullion windows have ogee trefoil heads, panel tracery above, and moulded cills and surrounds with leaded casements. The tower has a 2-storey oriel bay on thick brackets, paired corner colonnettes to round finials and a balustrade; a large Tudor-arched cross window has 4 paired lights. The tower above has a rectangular 3-light window with label mould and a band above of scrollwork. 2-light ground-floor windows are separated by diagonally-set square panels with shields; 2-light first-floor and 3-light second-floor windows have paired panels between with shields. The sections between the upper windows have shallow buttresses flanking first-floor statues of Queen Victoria, Edward III, Foster and Dunning, and Colston and Whitson in shallow statue niches with hands above holding suspended shields. The former Assizes' elevation to Small Street is an asymmetrical 12-window range, 3:3:6 windows as the front with red sandstone relieving arches to the upper floors. Plinth, ground-floor band, and a blind parapet with octagonal buttresses between panelled sections. The entrance tower has 1-window sections set back to each side. The left-hand section has 3 steep gables behind the parapet, with a full-height canted bay with cross windows at the left end; between are paired Tudor-arched doorways set in a raised section with sunken panels in a crenellated top, left-hand double doors, right-hand blocked with a C20 window. Tudor-arched main doorway as the front, beneath a first-floor crenellated oriel with attached colonnettes to the corners; the tower has a 3-light window and flanking statue niches with canted canopies, and a pyramidal roof with 3 steep dormers with sunken quatrefoils to each face. Right-hand section is articulated by full-height attached colonnettes, with 4-light windows between, beneath the string course on the ground floor, and mullioned to the second floor. Right-hand carriage arch as the front set in a single-storey coped wall with the Royal Arms over the arch. INTERIOR: courtrooms extensively modernised, with most original decoration in the stair wells. Central hall leading to an open-well stair with cantilevered stone treads and wrought-iron barleysugar balusters with leaves, a first-floor band of quatrefoils, rear Tudor-arched window with a statue, and a Tudor-arched ceiling with moulded ribs on corbels; similar statuary to central front rooms, with Tudor-arched vaulting on 2nd floor with carved bosses, 3 statues to the sides and front and panelled window reveals. Court 6 has a fine relocated Jacobean-style fire surround dated 1626 from a house on Welsh Back with paired Ionic columns to an entablature, with carved frieze and acanthus modillion cornice, and a top frieze with acroteria; Court No.1 has a 4-bay timber panelled roof with arch-braced ties, 3-light mullion and transom windows all along each side with blind panels; jurors' assembly room with painted legal corbel heads to a timber beams. SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: pair of attached wrought-iron lamp standards outside the main Small Street entrance with barleysugar standards, scrolled brackets and globe lanterns with crown decoration. The Guildhall was the earliest Gothic town hall in England, effectively incorporating decorative elements into the facade.

The Assizes were influenced by Godwin's Congleton Town Hall; they incorporated a late Norman hall in the Law Library, destroyed in the internal reconstruction of 1961. The Small Street front is set back, with the returns of the neighbouring buildings Nos 17 & 22 Small Street (qv) rebuilt in random ashlar to match the Guildhall. A hall house of c1100, altered C16, was incorporated into the Assizes design, and destroyed 1961. Although separately built, the Guildhall and former Assizes internally and functionally now one building. (Crick C: Victorian Buildings in Bristol: Bristol: 1975-: 17, 50; Gomme A, Jenner M and Little B: Bristol, An Architectural History: Bristol: 1979-: 299, 317; The Buildings of England: Pevsner N: North Somerset and Bristol: London: 1958-: 414).

Listing NGR: ST5878973083


This is part of the Series: IOE01/1571 IOE Records taken by Michael Perry; within the Collection: IOE01 Images Of England


© Mr Michael Perry. Source: Historic England Archive

This photograph was taken for the Images of England project

People & Organisations

Photographer: Perry, Michael

Rights Holder: Perry, Michael


Ashlar, Limestone, Slate, Wrought Iron, Medieval Hall House, Monument <By Form>, House, Domestic, Dwelling, Statue, Gardens Parks And Urban Spaces, Sculpture, Garden Ornament, Street Furniture, Lamp Post, Guildhall, Commercial, Civil, Meeting Hall, Public Building, Town Hall, Courtyard, Assize Court, Law Court, Legal Site