Graves Lectures

The Arthur Graves Memorial Fund was established to provide annually (or as funds permit) for fees and expenses incurred in connection with a lecture in memory of Arthur Graves, fifth Warden of Wills Hall, on a topic to be agreed with the Warden in discussion with representatives of the Wills Hall Association, but normally consonant with Colonel Graves' own wide national and international interests and experience.

Arthur Graves was Warden of Wills Hall from 1973 to 1982 but his link with Wills goes back to 1938, when Arthur became a student in the Department of Geography.

At the outbreak of the war in September 1939 Arthur joined the army and served as a troop commander in North Africa, Sicily and Italy and was wounded in the final battle for Tunis. He was mentioned in despatches on the 30th October 1943, and stormed and disabled a gun emplacement almost single-handedly. Arthur subsequently trained as an Air Observation Post (AOP) pilot and served in north-western Europe at the end of the war with 664 Squadron RCAF, flying Austers and was awarded the Army Flying Badge in January 1945.

In spite of having an active war, Arthur still had time to make the best use of his rare spells of leave and during 1944 he married his fiancée, Betty Scannell. His only son, Michael Crispin, BA 1977, history, who worked actively both for Convocation and the University's Association of Alumni, predeceased him and Arthur's next of kin is his daughter in law, Lynn, who maintains close links with the WHA and regularly attends events.

After demobilisation in 1946 Arthur returned to the Department of Geography, graduating with an upper second class BSc in Geography and subsidiary Geology in 1947 before being appointed Assistant Lecturer in the Department of Geography in 1949. He specialised in Topographical Survey, Meteorology, Cartography and Historical Geography.

Arthur believed that it was important for academic staff to be involved in all aspects of student life and worked closely with the Students’ Union and the Officer Training Corps. He later rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and was awarded the Territorial Decoration.

He returned to Wills Hall as Warden. Arthur once again took an active part in the life of the Dame Monica Wills Chapel, became a member of the staff-student discussion society, Barneys, of which he later became President, and presided with firmness and gravitas at the nightly formal dinners. Times in Hall were not always straightforward and he had to face down some difficult situations, such as when a group of radical students decided to kidnap and auction him for charity during a formal dinner! He put up a spirited defence and his aspirant kidnappers fled empty-handed.

Arthur’s last years at Wills were clouded by the illness and death of his wife and he decided to take early retirement in 1982 as he felt unable to remain as warden without Betty’s love and support.

Arthur remained heavily involved as an alumnus of the University and Wills Hall, serving on numerous committees including Convocation and Alumni Association and the Wills Hall Association. His membership ran from ran from 1946 until shortly after his 90th birthday in 2000.

Arthur passed away in 2016 but clearly made a huge impact on so many people across the University and beyond. It was in this spirit that the Warden and the Wills Hall Association decided to set up the Arthur Graves Memorial Fund to provide annually (or as funds permit) for fees and expenses incurred in connection with a lecture in his memory, on a topic to be agreed with the WHA President and Chair, but normally consonant with Colonel Graves' own wide national and international interests and experience. When funds permit, they may be deployed to support other educational activities or events in Wills Hall or in cooperation with other University of Bristol Residences.

Arthur Graves Lecturers

2018 – Dr David Richards, School of Geographical Sciences
2019 (Spring) – Dr Dominque Thompson, former Director of Bristol Student Health Service
2019 (Summer) – Ben Monk and Tom Blake, Bristol University Royal Naval Unit 
2020 – Kim Slim, Head of Grenfell Rehousing and Resettlement

2021 – Professor Robert Vilain, Chair of the WHA