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Central Library and Attached Walls and Railings

A Grade I Listed Building in Bristol, City of Bristol

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Latitude: 51.4515 / 51°27'5"N

Longitude: -2.6022 / 2°36'7"W

OS Eastings: 358252

OS Northings: 172674

OS Grid: ST582726

Mapcode National: GBR C6L.GJ

Mapcode Global: VH88M.VS64

Entry Name: Central Library and Attached Walls and Railings

Listing Date: 1 November 1966

Last Amended: 30 December 1994

Grade: I

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1202131

English Heritage Legacy ID: 379311

Location: Bristol, BS1

County: City of Bristol

Electoral Ward/Division: Hotwells and Harbourside

Built-Up Area: Bristol

Traditional County: Gloucestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Bristol

Church of England Parish: Bristol St Stephen with St James and St John the Baptist with St Michael and St George

Church of England Diocese: Bristol

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Listing Text


901-1/15/70 (South side)
01/11/66 Central Library and attached walls
and railings
(Formerly Listed as:
(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
'...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

Listing NGR: ST5825272674

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

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