History

There is currently widespread discussion about the ethics of donations from the Wills family to the University of Bristol, because the family profited from the exploitation of slaves in the 19th century. The WHA is actively engaged in these debates. We will publish the WHA’s considered response to the University’s consultation in due course.

Wills Hall is named for Henry Herbert Wills (1856-1922), a philanthropist and businessman, a member of a family of tobacco merchants prominent in Bristol and a family ultimately responsible for the foundation of the University. Wills Hall was funded and built in HH's memory in the 1920s by his brother George Alfred Wills (1854-1928), and an elegant Latin inscription on the inner wall of the entrance to the Hall commemorates this (check out our donations page, which has a photograph). HH's widow, Dame Monica Wills (1861-1931) provided funds to build the Chapel on the same site in 1930. The links below expand on some aspects of the Hall's history.