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A Visitors Guide to Bristol University

Andrew Fogg

Hundreds of people flock year round to go on tours of Bristol University: its mixture of old and new buildings has always been popular with visitors. It’s important to know which places to visit, however, especially given that the university’s facilities are dotted all over the city. This guide picks out the very best of Bristol Uni: with its combination of beautiful buildings and unique gardens, there’s something for everyone.

Wills Memorial Building
If you haven’t visited the Wills Memorial Building yet, you definitely have to see it. Located at the top of Park Street this local treasure frequently holds tours for the public. The building is currently home to the Law and Earth Science faculties, and with two libraries that look like something out of Harry Potter, it’s not to be missed. In fact, having only been open since 1925, Wills Memorial is one of the last Gothic buildings to have been constructed in the country, making it a very special place for students as well as the city in general.

Wills Memorial Building, Bristol
Wills Memorial Building. Photo Credit: Elliott Brown.
To find out more about the Wills Memorial Building’s tours, visit the Bristol University website.
The Great Hall
Its name is rather self-explanatory: this hall is within the Wills Memorial Building and is like no other. Not only do you have to follow a stone staircase to reach the grand room, but once you’re inside the architecture is simply magical. Its arch ceiling is made of oak, topped off with panelled walls – it’s a spectacle not to be missed by any visitor.

The Great Hall in the Wills Memorial Building.
The Great Hall in the Wills Memorial Building. Photo Credit: Robert Cutts.
The Royal Fort Gardens & Goldney Gardens
The Royal Fort Gardens may be hidden behind the Physics department, but they’re not a site to be overlooked. Strolling through this lesser-known gem is a great opportunity to de-stress. The gardens contain a pond and a diverse range of greenery to promote biodiversity, and are also home to Jeppe Hein’s piece ‘Follow Me’ – a mirror maze located at the bottom of the garden. Last year Katie Paterson’s captivating work ‘Hollow’ was installed in the grounds, an educational display of 10,000 tree samples from across the world.
Opened to the public only recently, Goldney Gardens has played a big role in attracting visitors to the university. These 10 acre grounds are a beautiful place to explore, from their famous orangery, canal and statue of Hercules. This national treasure is neatly tucked away in Clifton and contains its very own grotto, standing as one of the last eighteenth century garden grottos in Britain.

Goldnoy Gardens in summer.
Goldney Gardens. Photo Credit: Peter
Tours of both The Royal Fort Gardens & Goldney Gardens are offered by the University.
Wills Hall
Separate from Wills Memorial Building, Wills Hall is the most beautiful of the student residences in Bristol. Comprised of an old quad and its own chapel, this accommodation area attracts hundreds of visitors every year – and is a particularly good spot for prospective students to discover. Indeed, with weekly formals hosted in the oak-panelled dining room, Wills not only provides the opportunity for students to get a traditional university experience, but provides a little touch of history – Winston Churchill officially opened Wills Hall in 1929.
There it is, a guide to the very best of Bristol University. With all these mesmerizing buildings, captivating gardens and beautiful halls, there is something for every visitor to enjoy.