Heritage Category:
Listed Building
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Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

City of Bristol (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
ST 58252 72674



ST5872NW COLLEGE GREEN 901-1/15/70 (South side) 01/11/66 Central Library and attached walls and railings (Formerly Listed as: COLLEGE GREEN (South side) The Central Library)


Library. 1906. By Charles Holden. Limestone ashlar with Pennant ashlar panels, lateral stacks and green slate cross-gabled roof. Open plan. Free Early Tudor style with Modern Movement influences. 2 storeys, attic and 2 basements; 14-window range. A symmetrical front has shallow projecting wings with paired buttresses to the lower half, a parapet and gables set back with clasping buttresses, linked by a parapet in front of the recessed attic storey. Semicircular-arched doorway in the left-hand wing has splayed sides and a moulded arch, with a carved architrave to a flat-headed doorway with double half-glazed doors, and a segmental-arched plate-glass overlight. A tall shallow mullion and transom oriel above has a carved base and a parapet; the right-hand wing has a mullion and transom window below the oriel. Outer ground-floor windows to the wings are set in semicircular recesses; all ground-floor windows have 2-lights with moulded surrounds. The central section has 3 full-height segmental-arched recesses, with paired ground-floor windows and first-floor canted oriels with chequerboard panels to the sides, and a coved cornice; above are carved figures of Bede, Alfred the Great and Chaucer in the tympanum. Shallow buttresses to the second floor flank the windows. The gables have round mullion and transom windows, a gabled moulded cornice with Tudor roses and a shield. The left return and rear elevations are a complex and skilfully articulated pattern of recessed planes and blind arches, and include the 2-storey bowed stair block with buttresses between rising mullion windows. INTERIOR: a vaulted entrance hall with marble-clad piers to mosaic vaults; a large ashlar-clad winder stair, to the upstairs hall, 1:3:1 bays with a semicircular-arched vault, Ionic pilasters to an entablature and dentil cornice, Tuscan columns between to a balcony and columns along the central bay to the entablature; doorways to winder balcony stairs with segmental pediments and first-floor oculi with festoon decoration. A very finely carved overmantel attributed to Grinling Gibbons was moved from the old King Street Library to the Reference Library. SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: attached front area walls, railings and lamps. '...one of the great masterpieces of the early Modern Movement' (Gomme). The N front acknowledges the Great Gatehouse to the left (qv), while the fine rear elevations can be compared with contemporary work in Glasgow by Mackintosh. A supreme example of Edwardian Free Style, which in its bold rationalist design was to have great influence in shaping the work of other architects in the vanguard of architectural development.

Listing NGR: ST5825272674


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This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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Date: 12 Apr 2004
Reference: IOE01/11854/27
Rights: Copyright IoE Ms Ruth Povey. Source Historic England Archive
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