Homeopathic Hospital, 1920-25 by Oatley and Lawrence for Melville Wills.
Reason for Listing
The Bristol Homeopathic Hospital is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: It is a striking building combining stripped down classical proportions with the Jacobethan Cotswold vernacular style
* Architectural interest: despite much interior alteration the original plan form of the hospital, with wards and rooms leading from arterial corridors, is still legible
* Historic interest: built to designs by Sir George Oatley, a significant and prolific late-C19 and C20 architect, responsible for numerous notable buildings in Bristol and further afield, and commissioned by WM Wills
* Rarity: it is a good and externally well-preserved example of a rare type of specialist hospital
* Group value: in its prominent position at the top of Cotham and St Michael's Hills, it has strong group value with many other listed buildings
Homeopathic treatments had been available in Bristol since 1854 and the service developed and expanded, initiating the commissioning of the new hospital. The benefactor was Walter Melville Wills following his appointment as president of the Bristol Homeopathic Hospital in 1916, at which point it was housed in a building in Brunswick Square. The commission was a gift to the city in remembrance of his son, killed in action in 1915. The Wills family owned a successful Bristol tobacco company and bequeathed the city a number of prominent buildings. George Oatley, at that time in partnership with his brother-in-law GC Lawrence, was the chosen architect for the project. Oatley was well established and had been commissioned by the family to design public buildings previously. Construction began in 1921 with the engraved foundation stone laid by Edward, Prince of Wales.
The building ceased operation as a homeopathic hospital in 1986 when services were transferred elsewhere. It was converted to use as halls of residence for the University in the early 1990s, and in 2004 it was renovated and returned to its primary use as a health centre. During the two major phases of renovation the interior fittings have been removed, the sun balconies enclosed, and the internal spaces reordered and subdivided.
Homeopathic hospital, 1921-25 by Oatley and Lawrence for Melville Wills.
MATERIALS: Bath stone with a stone tile roof.
PLAN: The building lies at the north-east of the site, bounded by St Michael's Hill and Cotham Hill, with formal gardens to the south-west. It has a central entrance and administration block facing roughly north, with two wings in a butterfly plan to the rear forming a convex, south-facing garden elevation.
ELEVATIONS: It is a two-storey building with attic and basement, with a third storey to the administration block. In a Jacobethan Cotswold style with plain ashlar elevations and diagonally positioned, grouped stacks. The large elevations are punctuated by projecting gables.
The north-facing administration block has the most architectural elaboration; the rear wings share motifs but have pared-down detailing. There is a projecting Tuscan-style porte-cochere with semi-circular arches and Doric columns, topped by a low balustrade with a panel bearing the carved name 'BRISTOL / HOMOEOPATHIC / HOSPITAL'. The north block has three bays with offset corner buttressing; it is a symmetrical arrangement with a twin gables. The windows to the gables are modern casements, within their original openings, with stone mullions and transoms. Those in the gable heads have floating cornices. There are ball and spike finials to the ridges and kneelers. A large entrance has been created on the east elevation of the block.
The other elevations share the characteristic arrangement of projecting gables and returns with occasional raking dormers. At either end, and between the two wings on the garden-facing elevation are arcades with colonnades above, now glazed, with square pillars and Doric columns. There are also large casements with blind, semi-circular arches, mirroring the rhythm of the arcading. There are two plaques with stylised flowers, alluding to the use of the building. Some of the original guttering and downpipes remain, with hoppers bearing the stylised initials 'WMW', and with barley-twists and bosses.
INTERIOR: The north block contains the lifts, staircases, reception and storage rooms. The floor plan on each of the three floors of the ward wings is similar: corridors run along the north with consultation rooms leading off to the south. The attic storey above the administration block has a large central space, originally an operating theatre, with consultation rooms to the sides and corners, with a glazed balcony and top-lighting on the north and service rooms at the south.
SUBSIDARY FEATURES: The gardens to the south of the building were laid out in 1927, again for WM Wills, and are attributed to James Pulham and Son. There is a central rectangular pool with pulhamhite, and a semi-circular feature at either end and a stepped paved surround. This sits within a paved cruciform patio with turf infill and low stone walls, steps, and piers with ball finials.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.