Founding Wills Hall

Wills Hall was built between 1925 and 1929 as the first dedicated residence for male students of the University of Bristol. It became a mixed hall in 1985. It was officially opened by Winston Churchill in December 1929, although the first 150 residents had arrived on 4 October that year and were already firmly ensconced. 


Clifton Hill House had been founded as a hall for women students in 1909. There was a plan to merge two houses in Tyndall's Park before WW1 to provide accommodation for male undergraduates, but this plan was thwarted by the war. When Goldney House became available in 1921 consideration was given to using that site for a men's hall, but on that occasion, the Warden of Clifton Hill House, was unhappy about the proximity of such a hostel to her women students, so the project was not pursued.

Sir George Alfred Wills and Henry Herbert Wills stepped in to solve what was by the early 1920s an urgent accommodation problem (plus ça change...). They settled on the house and estate of Downside in Stoke Bishop, whose owner had recently died. They purchased it, and donated it to the University. The architect was Sir George Oatley. Henry died in 1922, so Sir George Wills was the one who led the project, and he dedicated it to his brother. Sadly neither brother lived to see the Hall opened.