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Coordinates: 51°27′08″N 2°36′55″W / 51.4523°N 2.6154°W / 51.4523; -2.6154

Goldney Hall, University of Bristol
Full name Goldney Hall
Motto N/A
Established c1720
Warden Professor Gregor McLennan
Website Goldney
JCR Website JCR

Goldney Hall also known as Goldney House is a self-catered hall of residence in Clifton, Bristol, one of three in the area providing accommodation for students at the University of Bristol.[1]

The hall was built in 1714[2] and is a listed building occupying a hilltop position overlooking the city of Bristol and Brandon Hill.[2] The grounds, which are used for weddings and receptions, include an orangery, gothic tower and grotto. The house and grounds have been used as a film location. The Hall's gardens occupy a 10-acre (40,000 m2) site and are known nost notably for their five follies:

  • Ornamental Canal
  • Gothic Tower
  • Rotunda
  • Mock Bastion
  • Shell-lined Grotto




Goldney Hall
The canal and gothic tower

The Goldney families influence in Bristol can be trace back as far as 1637 when Thomas Goldney I was sent, by his father, to Bristol from Chippenham in Wiltshire to serve as an apprentice for seven years. [4] Goldney Hall was built for his son Thomas Goldney II who was born in 1664.

The lease documents from this time are available online and can be viewed [1]

Thomas Goldney was able to purchase the home for a fee of £100 in 1705.[4]

It was built in 1714, possibly by George Tully for Thomas Goldney II[5] ,a Bristol merchant who was a partner of William Champion in the Coalbrookdale Works. Goldney was a Quaker and businessman with interests in banking, shipping and the iron and brass.[5]

Goldney’s wealth came from the technologies which sparked Britain’s industrial revolution and the overseas voyages of Captain Woodes Rogers on The Duke. Rogers' crew rescued the real life Robinson Crusoe, Alexander Selkirk, from Juan Fernandez island. [5]

The gardens and orchards were designed by Goldney’s son Thomas Goldney III. The house was recased, altered and extended in 1864-5 by Alfred Waterhouse[6] who also designed the Natural History Museum. The house later passed down to other wealthy Bristol families – The Wills and the Frys. Lewis Fry(1832–1921) who was a member of the prominent Bristol Fry Family and became the Liberal MP for Bristol and first chairman of the University of Bristol University Council.

The main house is a Grade II listed building.[7] The building became part of the University of Bristol in 1956. [8]

Other facilities in the main house include a Bar, library, common room and dark room.[9] A ornate mahogany parlour exists but if off-limits to students.

When the hall was first acquired by the university, it was home to 19 female students and was a catered hall. The hall is now comprises 11 blocks, 2 of which have en-suite facilities. The hall can accommodate 267 students in addition to a few residents in the main house. Originally opened in 1956, the student blocks were almost completely rebuilt and refurbished in 1994 after a benefaction from Lord and Lady Sainsbury through the Linbury Trust[5], when the hall achieved its current size and layout.


GHOSTS (Goldney Hall Old Students' Society) is the society by which old residents can stay in touch. [10]

Goldney Ball

The Goldney Ball is an annual event held in the grounds of Goldney Hall to mark the end of term and the summer exam period for students in the Bristol area. Previous artists to perform at the Ball include former Squeeze musician Jools Holland and the Scratch Perverts.[11] Profit from the event is donated to local, national and international charities.[12]


The hall also has an orangery,[13] attached to the main house, Rotunda[14] and a gothic tower approximately 95 metres to the south,[15] which was built in 1764 to house a steam engine to pump water via a short canal[16] for the cascade in the Grotto. The grotto itself is a Grade I listed building.[17] and receives around 10,000 visitors per year. [5] The Grotto is not open to either the public or students of the hall for most of the year and only opens to visitors a few times per year.

The statue of Hercules is also grade II* listed.[18] The grounds are regularly used for weddings, especially during the summer months.

The 18th century gardens are occasionally open to the public.[19]


A statue in Goldney Grotto
The gothic tower and statue of Hercules

The Grotto at Goldney House is a highly decorated grotto, dating from 1739, in Clifton, Bristol, England.It is 85 m south of Goldney Hall which is used as student accommodation by the University of Bristol.

It was built between 1737 and 1764 (dated 1739) and has been designated by English Heritage as a grade I listed building. It is decorated inside with shells, quartz and rock crystal and inside is a pillared hall with fountains, rock pool, statue of Neptune and a Lion's Den. In 1762-5 Thomas Paty was employed in "grinding, gooping and laying" tiles for the Grotto.[17]

The grotto was built as the centrepiece of the gardens by Thomas Goldney III, a Bristol merchant who was a partner of William Champion in the Coalbrookdale Works.


Architecture and decoration

The fountains were supplied by an early Newcomen steam engine[20] hidden within a gothic tower approximately 20 metres to the north.[15]

The grotto is approximately 36 ft (11 m) long by 12 ft (3.6 m) wide and consists of 3 chambers, divided by pillars encrusted with quartz crystals. The central chamber houses a life size plaster of paris lion with a lioness sitting in a den behind. Another chamber hosts a seated sea god with water running from an urn over giant clams into a pool. It is lined with over 200 species of shell brought back from such locations as the Caribbean,[21] and African waters.[22] The roof of the central hall is composed of closely fitting block of Bath stone carved into pseudo-stalactites. On a panel on the door is the portrait of a lady, thought to be Ann Goldney (1707-96), the younger sister of Thomas Goldney III.[23]

It is the only Grotto in Britain with both a shell room and running water, and its restoration is one of the strategic initiatives of the warden.[24]

Film location

Goldney Hall is a popular location for filming with The Chronicles of Narnia, The House of Eliott and Truly, Madly, Deeply as well as the 2002 Christmas episode of Only Fools and Horses, [5] Casualty and Skins being filmed there.[25]

Notable former residents

See also


  1. ^ "Bristol University Student Residences". Retrieved 2007-03-22.  
  2. ^ a b Goldney Ball 2008 presents The Seven Deadly Sins - June 14th 2008
  3. ^ Goldney Hall
  4. ^ a b The National Archives | Exhibitions & Learning online | Black presence | Learning journeys
  5. ^ a b c d e f Goldney Hall
  6. ^ Burrough, THB (1970). Bristol. London: Studio Vista. ISBN 0289798043.  
  7. ^ "Goldney House and attached walls". Images of England. Retrieved 2007-03-16.  
  8. ^ Goldney Hall Students' Handbook 2007 – 2008 – History
  9. ^ Goldney Hall
  10. ^ Goldney Hall
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ "The Orangery approximately 20 metres south-west of Goldney House". Images of England. Retrieved 2007-03-20.  
  14. ^ "Rotunda, bastion and connecting wall approx 150m south-west of Goldney House". Images of England. Retrieved 2007-03-20.  
  15. ^ a b "Gothic tower approximately 95 metres south of Goldney House". Images of England. Retrieved 2007-03-16.  
  16. ^ "Canal approximately 50 metres south-west of Goldney House". Images of England. Retrieved 2007-03-20.  
  17. ^ a b "Grotto approximately 85 metres south of Goldney House". Images of England. Retrieved 2007-03-16.  
  18. ^ "Hercules statue approximately 100 metres south of Goldney House". Images of England. Retrieved 2007-03-20.  
  19. ^ Goldney Hall
  20. ^ "Tower 1764". University of Bristol. Retrieved 2007-03-17.  
  21. ^ "The Grotto". University of Bristol. Retrieved 2007-03-17.  
  22. ^ Tim Knox (January 6, 2002). "The artificial grotto in Britain." (in English). The Magazine Antiques. Retrieved 2007-03-16.  
  23. ^ Robert J. G. Savage (1989). "Natural History of the Goldney Garden Grotto, Clifton, Bristol" (in English). Garden History 17 (1): 1–40. doi:10.2307/1586914. Retrieved 2007-03-19.  
  24. ^ "Warden Goldney Hall" (PDF). University of Bristol. Retrieved 2007-03-19.  
  25. ^ Titles with locations including Goldney Hall, Clifton, Bristol, England, UK from Retrieved 3 January 2007.
  26. ^ Epigram Online - Hall Hauls

Further reading

Jackson, Hazelle Shell Houses and Grottoes (Shire Books, 2001).

External links


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